OA Brotherhood is the final step in the Induction process.
Friend, you have come a long way: after being elected by your peers in the troop as a scout dedicated to the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law, you underwent the Induction Weekend (Ordeal), where you were welcomed into our Brotherhood of Cheerful Service. As an Ordeal member, you have enjoyed the full rights of an Arrowman, participating in your chapter and giving service to the Lodge. Ten months have passed since upon you the white sash was bestowed, and it is now time to reaffirm your commitment, and take a serious look at your future in the Order.
What is Brotherhood, again?
Brotherhood is a recognition of Arrowmen who have become full members of the OA by completing requirements that relate to understanding OA symbolism, reflecting on previous experiences, and planning for future service to Scouting. It is not a rank, but a meaningful recognition. Brotherhood members, unlike the Ordeal members they previously were, will be expected to provide service and leadership for the benefit of the Order, just as a high-ranking Boy Scout is expected to do the same in their troop.
Who is eligible?
Arrowmen with current dues are eligible for Brotherhood once they have spent ten months as an Ordeal member of the OA.
Why get Brotherhood?
OA Brotherhood brings great benefits, including heightened respect among your fellow Arrowmen. You will be seen as a capable and dedicated member, who can be trusted with the great responsibilities of leading in your Chapter and Lodge. Having gained a deeper understanding of the Order, you will enjoy and appreciate OA events and traditions more.
How is it earned?
To earn Brotherhood, you must complete the Brotherhood Application and submit it to your Chapter Chief or Adviser. Then, they you must pass through a Brotherhood Ceremony to confirm your commitment and membership. You will be given a new OA sash with two red bars flanking the arrow.
Reaching Brotherhood, Step-by-Step
Once you have acquired a copy of the Brotherhood Application, look to the following directions for explanations of each requirement. You may begin working on requirements even before you are Brotherhood eligible, though it is recommended to save requirement #5 until you have completed your ten months, as it involves reflection on your progress. Upon completing a requirement, have a Brotherhood or Vigil member confirm that you have done it, and have them sign your application. Finally, submit your application to your Chapter Chief or Adviser, and arrange to attend a Brotherhood ceremony.
1. Memorize the signs of OA membership.
This requirement is easiest done over a long period of time, so it is best to start working early. You must memorize:
- The OA Obligation (requirement met once you can fully recite in room full of people without making eye contact or giggling.*)
- The OA Song (must sing loud and proud before your entire chapter, without voice cracking*)
- The Admonition (and its meaning)
- The Sign of the Ordeal
- The OA Handclasp (must perform at least once with full eye contact and no awkwardness*)
Click on the links to see the OA Obligation and Song. The last three items on this list are very easy, but too sensitive to be shared online, so you must learn these from a Brotherhood or Vigil member at your Chapter meeting or another OA event.
*Not actual requirements, but recommended.
2. Advance in your understanding of the Ordeal.
Your Ordeal and the ceremonies within were full of symbolism, and no one is expected to understand it all the first time through. In order to advance, however, it is necessary to look back at your Ordeal and gain a better understanding of its meaning. Several resources are available to help you do this, including your fellow Arrowmen, your OA Handbook, and OA Jumpstart, a national website made specifically to help new OA members make sense of what they just went through.
The Brotherhood Application asks you to explain the Ordeal to a Brotherhood or Vigil member "in detail". It is a good idea to be able to explain the following things:
- The names, meanings, and actions of each of the Principals (characters) in the Pre-Ordeal and Ordeal Ceremonies.
- The meaning and purpose of the particular conditions placed upon you during your sleep, meals, and interactions with others during the Ordeal.
- The purpose of the activities you performed throughout the day.
- The meaning of the objects used in the Pre-Ordeal and Ordeal ceremonies.
3. Serve your unit.
The Order of the Arrow exists to serve Scouting, so to take its members away from their units would contradict its very purpose. Therefore, you must show that you are an active, registered member of your home unit by having your Scoutmaster sign your application under requirement #3.
4. Plan for service in your Lodge.
In other words, wait at least ten months while you experience the OA and learn about what it's all about. Use this time to learn about all the different functions of the OA and the many jobs available to you. Consider what areas interest you, and where you will begin to make your contribution as a leader in your chapter or lodge. Most importantly, participate in lodge activities and have fun! Make sure to remember the date of your Ordeal so you know when you can get this signed off, and move on to step 5.
5. Review your progress.
For this final requirement you will write a letter explaining your understanding of the Obligation, your fulfillment of it, and your plans of future service to the OA. Do not be frightened by this step, as your letter only goes to your Chapter Secretary. He won't bite. He won't judge. Actually, we can't guarantee either of those things, but your letter will definitely not be graded or rejected. It is a personal reflection in which you make a personal dedication to serve the OA and live by its values. You are trusted to do this reflection honestly; turning in the letter just shows that you mean it.
In your letter, address the following points:
- What does the Obligation mean to you?
- How have you already begun to live by the Obligation? Alternatively, how have your actions changed since first learning the Obligation?
- How do you plan to serve the OA in the future?
There is no length requirement for the letter, and it can easily be written on the back of your application.
As soon as all five requirements have been signed off, and the information on your application is complete, turn it in to your Chapter Chief or Adviser, and find out when you can go through a Brotherhood Ceremony. If the ceremony takes place at a Lodge event, such as an Ordeal, make sure to register for the event and inform someone involved that you intend to go through the ceremony. Congratulations on your achievement!