In 1915, Camp Director E. Urner Goodman and Assistant Camp Director Carroll A. Edson searched for a way to recognize select campers for their cheerful sprits of service at Treasure Island Scout Camp in the Delaware River. Goodman and Edson founded the Order of the Arrow when they held the first Ordeal Ceremony on July 16th of that year. By 1921, as the popularity of the organization spread to other camps, local lodges attended the first national gathering called a Grand Lodge Meeting.
The Order of the Arrow was one of many camp honor societies that existed at local Scout camps across the country. As the years went on and more camps adopted the Order of the Arrow’s program, it gained prominence and became part of the national Boy Scout program in 1934. By 1948, the OA, recognized as the BSA’s national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America. Toward the end of the twentieth century, the OA expanded its focus to include conservation, high adventure, and servant-leadership.
Throughout the years, the Order of the Arrow has played an integral role in the program of the Boy Scouts and in the community service its members contribute to their communities. To date, more than one million people have been members of the Order of the Arrow.
Presently, the Order of the Arrow consists of nearly 300 lodges, which form approximately 48 sections in four regions. Leadership positions and voting rights are restricted to members under the age of 21. Through the program, members live up to the ideals of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service set forth by E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson.
Learn more about the OA’s history on the OA History Timeline.