Pointers on helping your Scouts become OA members

For more than a century, the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society, has recognized Scouts and Scouters who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Scout Law in their daily lives. More important, it has helped them deepen their commitment to those values. With membership in the OA now expanded to include Venturers, Sea Scouts and girls in troops, it’s a good time to review unit election procedures.

What are the youth qualifications?

Be a registered Scout, Venturer or Sea Scout; be younger than 21; have experienced 15 nights of Scout camping within the past two years (including one long-term camp); hold the First Class rank, the Venturing Discovery Award or the Sea Scout Ordinary rank; be approved by the unit leader; and be elected by the youth members of the unit.

What are the adult qualifications?

Be a registered Scouter, meet the OA camping requirement, and be nominated to and selected by the lodge adult selection committee. The number of adults who may be nominated is based on the number of youth members elected.

When are unit elections held?

The local OA lodge determines the time of year and notifies unit leaders to schedule elections. The goal is to have all elections completed before summer camp.

Who conducts unit elections?

A two- or three-member team from the lodge or chapter visits a unit meeting or activity to conduct the election. (Note: A lodge typically serves the same territory as a council; many lodges are divided into chapters that often align with district boundaries.)

Can our OA troop representative conduct our election?

Only if the Scout has been trained by lodge or chapter leaders and has been asked to do so. The OA troop representative can play an important role ahead of time by promoting the OA and ensuring good attendance at the unit election.

What is the unit leader’s role?

In addition to facilitating scheduling, he or she gives the election team a list of registered active members who meet all eligibility requirements, including attitude and participation. He or she should also verify that at least 50 percent of the registered active members are present for the election.

Who can vote in the election?

Any registered active member younger than 21, whether an OA member or not, may vote. Voters may vote for any or all of the people on the ballot.

What determines a member’s election?

Any member who receives votes from at least 50 percent of those who turn in ballots is elected. New Scouts who don’t know their peers well are encouraged to not turn in ballots; abstentions don’t affect the results.

Do members have to be present to be elected?


How long does the election process last?

About 20 to 30 minutes.

Can we have a second election during the year?

No. However, an election can be rescheduled if 50 percent of the registered active members younger than 21 are not present the first time.

What happens next?

The lodge contacts those who have been elected to schedule their participation in the Ordeal weekend, where they become OA members.


  1. Has anyone seen any new OA election procedure video’s? The one we show to troops id from 2007. It’s covers the history and re-enforces the procedures that we tell them. But it’s time for an updated version.

  2. Is there a way to tell if an adult was elected to OA when he was in Scouts outher then local chapter ours burned down and lost all records

    • A Scout (or Scouter) is trustworthy. Of course, having lodge flaps from their youth is kind of a dead giveaway (flap designs change every 2-3 years), as I know I kept all mine. Of course, my sash doesn’t fit around me like it used to….

  3. I haven’t seen it addressed: Can an eligible, dual-registered Scout be on a ballot more than once in a year?

    • Yes, if eligible, a youth can be on the ballot once per registered unit, as long as you meet the rank and eligibility requirements for the type of BSA program where the election is being held. (Scouts BSA, Venturing, Sea Scouts).

      Each unit is only permitted to have one election per induction year, but if you are cross registered between a Scouts BSA troop, a Venturing crew, and a Sea Scout ship, there is the possibility of being on three ballots that particular induction cycle.

      I hope this helps!

      In Brotherhood,
      Gettemagelensit Witschindin

      • The camping nights DO NOT transfer to other units. If you are Scouts BSA and use a summer camp for your long term camp, you MUST have other nights for your Crew OA camping nights. This is stated in Guide to Officers and Advisors.

  4. Goal of completing elections before summer camp seems strange as summer camp is a requirement. In Florida we complete ordeals in January based on elections in August-November.

      • Mark, i did my ordeal in august in KY. Definitely cannot do that in Central Florida. Article should remember national or even international scope of readership.

    • Would like to see article updated to change this text. Our goal locally is to use summer camp as a method for attaining rank and fulfilling long-term camping requirement, then conducting elections between september and december for january ordeals.

  5. The information about OA Troop Representative is WRONG. A unit cannot conduct their OWN OA unit election. Arrowmen from another registered unit must conduct OA unit election.
    “Those who seek the Arrow shall never find it.”

    • If the patrol campout was conducted under the authority of the troop, then yes. Essentially, you get the permission of the Scoutmaster. In which case it is an official troop campout, which happens to be for only one patrol. All Scouting rules should be followed, including two deep adult leadership.

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