Unit Elections

Order of the Arrow is the Boy Scouts of America's National Honor Society. Membership is both a privelege and responsibility. Tamegonit Lodge encourages EVERY Boy Scout Troop and Varsity Team in the Heart of America Council to hold an annual election to recognize those boys in your troop that are deserving of membership to the Order of the Arrow.

For information on lodge or chapter youth leadership positions, go to the Lodge Executive Committee page.

This one-page flyer about Unit Elections is very helpful to units wishing to conduct an OA unit election.

People eligible to vote in an Order of the Arrow Election

To become a member of the Order of the Arrow, a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout is chosen by vote of the youths in his unit. This is a unique feature of the Order since the majority of those who select their candidates for this honor are not members of the lodge. However, lodge members in the unit have a vote as well as nonmembers. In this way membership is controlled by the youths in their own units and not by those who are already Arrowmen. It is important that the members of the unit have the membership requirements properly explained to them.

In Boy Scout Troops and Varsity Scout Teams, every registered active member of the unit under age 21 at the time of election is eligible to vote. A Boy Scout or Varsity Scout who carries a current national membership card and participates in at least some unit activities during the year is considered to be a registered active member of the unit. For example, a youth away at college who participates in some unit activities when home, such as a campout, camporee, or occasional unit meeting, should be considered a registered active member. A youth who moves away or drops out of the unit because of other interests would not be counted in the registered active membership figure.

All elections must be conducted by the Order of the Arrow lodge of the council in which the unit is chartered. No unit may visit outside its own council and hold an OA election under the auspices of an OA lodge of another council. Elections are held only in Troops or Teams. There will be no exceptions to this policy.

Membership Requirement to be elected to Order of the Arrow

  • Unit leader approval - To become eligible for election, a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout must be registered with the Boy Scouts of America and have the approval of his unit leader prior to the election. The unit leader must certify his Scout spirit (i.e., his adherence to the Scout Oath and Law and active participation in unit activities). The unit leader must also certify that the nominee meets all specified requirements at the time of this annual election.
  • Youth membership qualifications - All members of, or candidates for membership in, the Order of the Arrow who are under 21 years of age shall be considered youth members or candidates for youth membership, subject to meeting the following requirements:
    • Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America.
    • Hold the First Class rank of the Boy Scouts of America, as a minimum.
    • After registration with a troop or team, have experienced 15 days and nights of Boy Scout camping during the two-year period prior to the election. The 15 days and nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. The balance of the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps. Candidates for youth membership shall be elected by other youth members in accordance with policies set forth by the national Order of the Arrow committee.
  • Scouts with special needs - The Order of the Arrow is committed to including Scouts and Scouters who have special needs because of a disability. In the case of special-needs troops, election teams should follow the same procedures, keeping in mind that any Scout who is classified as a youth member of a troop, regardless of age, will be considered a youth (voting) member.  All other membership requirements remain the same. When inducting a Scout or Scouter with a special need, as with any candidate, lodges should make the activities challenging within the individual’s limitations, and plan accordingly. Accessibility to ceremonial circles, sleeping sites, and appropriate work projects should be taken into consideration to ensure a meaningful induction.
  • Adult membership qualifications - All members of, or candidates for membership in, the Order of the Arrow who are 21 years of age or older and who are registered members of the Boy Scouts of America shall be considered adult members or candidates for adult membership. Individuals shall be selected as candidates based on the following:
    • Adult leaders in units - Each year, upon holding a troop or team election for youth candidates that results in at least one youth candidate being elected, the unit committee may nominate adults to the lodge adult selection committee. The number of adults nominated can be no more than one-third of the number of youth candidates elected, rounded up where the number of youth candidates is not a multiple of three. In addition to the one-third limit, the unit committee may nominate the currently-serving unit leader (but not assistant leaders), as long as he or she has served as unit leader for at least the previous twelve months. Recommendations of the adult selection committee, which consists of the lodge adviser, the chairman of the council committee on which the lodge adviser serves, and the lodge staff adviser, with the approval of the Scout executive, serving as Supreme Chief of the Fire, will be candidates for induction, provided the following conditions are fulfilled:
      • Selection of the adult is based on the ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose, and not for recognition of service, including current or prior achievement and positions.
      • The individual will be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities that fulfill the purpose of the Order.
      • The camping requirements set forth for youth members are fulfilled.
      • The adult leader’s membership will provide a positive example for the growth and development of the youth members of the lodge.
    • Adult leaders in council and district positions - The lodge adviser, district chairmen, council president, or members of the professional staff may nominate adults to the lodge adult selection committee. All requirements set forth for adult leaders in units must be fulfilled, with the exception of the camping requirements, which may be waived at the discretion of the lodge adviser and Scout executive. A request for waiver of the camping requirement should be sent to the Lodge Staff Advisor.  Recommendations of the adult selection committee, with the approval of the Scout executive, serving as Supreme Chief of the Fire, will become candidates for induction. Adults may be nominated for membership only one time per year as either unit Scouters or district/council Scouters, but not both. How they are nominated depends on where they maintain their primary registration. Because the Order of the Arrow is principally a youth organization, unit, district, and council Scouters are not selected for membership as a recognition. Selection should take place only when the adult’s position in Boy Scouting or Varsity Scouting will make Order of the Arrow membership more meaningful in the lives of the youth membership.
  • Camp staff members (paid but not considered members of the professional service) shall be elected only by members of their own unit if they are under age 21 and meet the youth membership requirements. Staff members over age 21 must meet the adult membership requirements and be selected as either unit Scouters or district/council Scouters.
  • Honorary Membership - Honorary membership in the Order of the Arrow is not authorized and shall not be given. Membership in the Order shall be gained only through fulfillment of membership requirements as stated in the official literature of the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America. Visiting Scouts or leaders cannot be given honorary memberships in the Order.
  • Life Membership - A life membership in the Order of the Arrow is not authorized and shall not be recognized. Membership in the Order of the Arrow requires current registration with the Boy Scouts of America. There is no official or authorized life membership registration status for the Order of the Arrow in the Boy Scouts of America.

Election Timing

Units are encouraged to coduct their Unit Elections between January 1 and March 31 of of the calendar year. Unit Elections should be scheduled through your Chapter Chief and/or Chapter Elections Team. To contact your Chapter leadership to hold a Unit Election, click Chapter Leadership. Conducting your election before April 1 allows your units to be able to register for any of the year's Induction Events.

Announcement of Results & Call-out Ceremonies

As soon as the election is completed, the unit leader may or may not choose to announce to the entire unit the names of members who have been elected.

Newly elected candidates will be called out at the earliest possible time, either at a resident camp, a camporee, or a special ceremony. The Guide to Inductions, which is available for download and printing at www.oa-bsa.org, contains information on how to conduct a call-out ceremony. Call-outs should be conducted by Tamegonit Lodge or one of its Chapters of the council in which the Troop or Team is chartered. This is the preferred method of call-out.

It is recognized that there is some value in holding a call-out at a summer camp. A lodge may not call out candidates from a visiting out-of-council troop or team unless the unit leader presents a letter from the home lodge chief and lodge adviser, requesting the call-out and identifying the members to be called out. A signed copy of the home lodge’s unit election report must accompany this letter. The home lodge chief and lodge adviser must receive confirmation of the call-out following the event.

Candidate Status (time limits, lodge jurisdiction)

Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, or adults remain candidates until completion of the Ordeal and Ordeal ceremony. If this period of candidacy exceeds one year, the candidate’s name will be dropped. To become candidates again, they must be elected/selected again. The executive committee of the lodge may extend the one-year limit if a candidate is ill or there are other unusual circumstances.

If a candidate permanently relocates to a new Boy Scout council prior to completing the Ordeal, the candidate should immediately join a troop or team in the new council. A copy of the election report must be presented to the new unit leader to arrange induction in the new lodge.The candidacy period is not restarted or extended.

Ordeal Candidates: Candidates for membership in the Order must complete the Ordeal and must be inducted into the Order by the lodge that serves the council in which the unit is chartered. Out-of-council Ordeals are not permitted except when religious custom and observance precludes attendance at the Ordeals of a Scout’s home lodge (e.g., Sabbath-observant Jewish Scouts). In this special case, the region Order of the Arrow chairman may be petitioned for an exception to permit the Scout to be inducted by another lodge.

Sealing your membership in Order of the Arrow - Brotherhood Membership

From the inception of the Order of the Arrow in 1915, it was intended that all members should be of the same rank or standing. Brotherhood membership does not carry with it any degree of rank, status, or special privilege within the lodge. It is not to be thought of as a separate honor in the same sense as the Vigil Honor. Except for making the necessary arrangements for Brotherhood ceremonies, it is not necessary for Brotherhood members to meet as a separate group. Social and service activities are not held for Brotherhood members apart from other members of the lodge.

The Brotherhood is an opportunity for members to evaluate their unit service since their induction, to contemplate their future service to the lodge, and to reaffirm their belief in the high purposes of the Order. The ceremony is intended as a source of inspiration, motivating its members to render even greater service to Scouting. Brotherhood membership can only be conferred by an Arrowman’s home lodge - the lodge that serves the council in which the Arrowman’s unit is chartered.