Since 1999, the National OA Committee has annually selected lodges from each region
to receive matching service grants. For 2018, 27 lodges in councils across the nation
were chosen to receive a combined total of $50,000 in matching grants via the OA
Service Grant program.
Shunkah-Mahneetuis a small lodge in a council dominated by LDS Church chartered troops of approximately 22,000 youth. The lodge only has about 50 dues paid members. At least that was the picture before the lodge implemented new mailing program to boost membership.
Unit elections are a particular challenge for this lodge, and unfortunately all too few happen. So they tend to rely heavily on summer camp elections instead. Within the LDS community, the OA is a significant challenge, Shunkah-Mahneetu is working hard though to change that with the implementation of SURGE, a program that addresses some of the concerns that LDS Church members have in joining the Order of the Arrow. Below is the roadmap of how the South Fork chapter reversed their membership slide and grew relations with local units.
As a Chapter Adviser for two districts, Christopher Parrett started the process by reaching out to every Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster in his districts with a direct mailing of a brochure about the Order of the Arrow and a letter of introduction asking for the opportunity to visit their troop and stage a unit election. This ensured that all the scoutmasters in the two districts knew of the OA, and felt reached out to.
Another brochure was produced, this time aimed at the newly elected youth. The chapter hand delivered these to each boy after they have been called out at summer camp. South Fork Chapter “adopted” one of the three council summer camps. The chapter made the drive up to camp each Thursday afternoon to help staff the callout and support the summer camp, growing council relations. Each week, different youth from the chapter were chosen to go to share the responsibility across the whole chapter over the six weeks of summer camp giving everyone an opportunity to serve.
At the conclusion of the Callout Ceremony just before the newly elected were dismissed, the chapter made a point of impressing upon them that they were now candidates of the OA, and strongly encouraged them to come and attend a chapter meeting before their Induction. They found that their retention and ordeal completion rate improved greatly if they could get the new boys into the chapter and start forming relationships with the other Arrowmen before they showed up for their ordeal.
A week prior to their ordeal weekend (Shunkah-Mahneetu does three ordeals a year) an invitation/reminder is mailed out to each candidate. This is sent out in a highly decorated envelope with the intent to garner the candidates full attention and interest.
Email invitations go out with links to Pre-Register for the upcoming event.
The last and final step of this process is the phone tree. Brought together by the lure of pizza, youth Arrowmen from the chapter gather together for a time of fun and fellowship as well as work as they hit the phones. The boys call each candidate and personally invite them to attend, giving it a personal touch. Now, the South Fork chapter makes up 31% of the lodge’s youth members despite it being the lodge’s newest chapter.
In July, over 640 Arrowmen from across the nation came together for two weeks in West Virginia to form Operation Arrow, the largest operating OA staff the jamboree has ever seen. With a staff of this size, the OA cheerfully gave service to all aspects of the jamboree. From helping with service projects and leading troops on their treks to ushering the jamboree shows and providing a smile all throughout the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Additionally, there was a small staff working behind the scenes that were dedicated to the task of educating everyone at the jamboree exactly what the Order of the Arrow is.
Arrowmen from all around the Region gathered in the Pacific Northwest for a
weekend full of top-tier training, coffee, and donuts on the first weekend of October.
Camp Kuratli, just outside of Portland, OR, served as the location for one of the last
National Leadership Seminars (NLS) of the year. The weekend was filled with state of
the art leadership training that is comparable to any training in the business world.
The 2017 National Scouting Jamboree is over, but the impact that Operation Arrow had on not only the participants but also the entire staff is continuing to live on. Operation Arrow was the OA’s initiative to have the largest OA staff on Jamboree, and that goal was exceeded. Over 650 Arrowmen from across the nation participated in helping perform this extraordinary event.
On Friday, September 15th, 530 Arrowmen from all around Area 4 gathered at the Irvine Outdoor Education Center in Irvine, California for a weekend filled with fun and fellowship – an event that took two years to plan and hasn’t occured for nearly 27 years.
Planning for the Areaclave began back in 2016, when two Section Chiefs, Matthias Leier and Javier Venegas of W-4N and W-4S started brainstorming a potential Area Conclave. Then in 2017, the planning continued in under the leadership of chiefs, Jorge Salazar and Matthew McMahan, who headed a joint area CoC in the year leading up to the Areaclave. At Areaclave, trainings, patch trading, auctions, sports, museums, shows, and lodge fairs were amongst the many activities offered to the Arrowmen in attendance.
The Scouting family has stepped up in a big way to support Puerto Rico. In less than two weeks, Scouts and Scouters have purchased more than $32,000 in patches.
Area Director Jim Hans recently visited Puerto Rico to survey the damages to the offices and camp.
“Two months post Maria, and the damage is still astounding,” he writes. “Most still don’t have electricity, and while roads have been cleared, debris is everywhere. On my way to camp I drove for three to four miles on a road where every single power pole was laying on the ground It will take months to get things back to normal.
This year, the National Leadership Seminar (NLS) is going international. The Western Region doesn’t just serve Arrowmen in 16 different states across the US, including Hawaii and Alaska but also Scouts and Scouters across the world in Japan, Australia, and many other countries as well. Just like any Arrowmen from around the Region, those who live in Japan and other foreign countries deserve to be taught how to be effective leaders and experience an Order of the Arrow staple.
Area 4 Teams Up for the 2017 Area 4 Area-Conclave
“What’s better than two section conclaves?” This is the question that was asked at one W-4N Council of Chiefs (COC) meeting in the fall of 2015.