Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Power of One

Since Saturday there has been an unusual gathering of a most unusual group of Boy Scouts and adult leaders, commonly referred to as Scouters. Every two years or so, the Order of the Arrow, the BSA's Honor Society composed chiefly of Boy Scouts or Scouting alumni, meet at a given college campus. This year the campus chosen is Indiana University, the same site as the very first conference held in 1951. This marks the tenth time that such an august gathering of Scouts has occurred on the Bloomington campus. The fact is that the National Order of the Arrow Conference is a very big deal. It is one of the greatest community service groups in the world and, in this country, a great percentage of Eagle Scouts become members of the order. Founded in 1915, only five years beyond the founding of the Boy Scouts of America, the Order of the Arrow started out as a way to inspire other Boy Scouts to follow the Scout Law and Oath. It became an official part of the BSA in 1934 when its program emphasizing camping and using the theme of the American Indian legend was approved. Later in 1948 the independent Order of the Arrow was merged into the BSA and its operations run by the National Council. This year's conference features about 7,000 members, referred to as Arrowmen and the activities include classroom experiences, competition of dance, singing and drumming groups and a variety of experiential events like scuba, kayaking and extreme sports. It's also a conference intended to honor those who lead the service society with several coveted awards like the Distinguished Service Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award as well as those who have helped the organization, but who are not members themselves (Red Arrow Award). This year's theme is "The Power of One" and was eloquently addressed by Del Loder, this year's recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, an award that has only been presented three times before. Loder, a 55-year member of the Scouting movement, was acquainted with the founder of the Order of the Arrow, E. Urner Goodman, and actually helped chair the committee that perfected several of the ceremonies handed down from its inceptions and made them acceptable to the BSA and sponsoring religious organizations. This makes his 27th appearance at a National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) and it is certain that this may have been his most emotional. When the conference ends in another day or so, the thousands of members of the OA will depart for their respective troops or Venturing crews. Yet, there will be a better connection to this fraternity of cheerful service between Arrowmen and their lodges. There will be memories to last for a lifetime and a purposeful lifetime to make more memories. The Order of the Arrow has an will continue to set the highest standard for dedication to the principles of the Scout Oath and Law and will forge young men into the leaders of tomorrow.

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