The Order of the Arrow High Adventure Program (OAHA) allows Arrowmen to enjoy the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) national high adventure bases in a way unlike anything else. Joey Dierdorf, youth OAHA coordinator and former OA Trail Crew foreman at Philmont Scout Ranch, sheds light on what OAHA is and why you should take this opportunity to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Jumping right in, Joey wants to set the record straight. Most Arrowmen perceive OAHA as just a cheaper way to go to a national high adventure base. However, that is only a small part of what makes it so special. “It is not just a cheap experience; it is a rich, rewarding experience. All of the programs offer some amazing opportunities.”

There are five unique OAHA programs offered to Arrowmen:

  • Summit Experience acts as your introduction to the OAHA and gives you the chance to take part in some of the wide range of activities offered at the Summit Bechtel Reserve (SBR). This includes whitewater rafting, zip lining, climbing, shooting, mountain biking, and much more.

  • Wilderness Voyage and Canadian Odyssey are held at Northern Tier where you canoe across lakes in Minnesota and Ontario.

  • Trail Crew is located at the Philmont Scout Ranch where you can hike from the Tooth of Time to Baldy Mountain.

  • Finally, there is the newly redesigned Ocean Adventure held at the Dry Tortugas National Park where you can enjoy snorkeling, fishing, and sailing in the Florida Keys.

Each one of these trips is split into two halves, with the first being focused on environmental sustainability and stewardship and the second focusing on enjoying your own self-designed adventure, meant to experience the national high adventure bases to the fullest extent. Unlike a standard high adventure program, you will spend the rest of your trip however you choose.

“For example,” Joey said, “if you take part in Trail Crew at Philmont, you get to look at the map and decide the trek you want to take, whereas at the regular base you may get your itinerary in a lottery which can be frustrating if you don’t get what you want.”

You get the opportunity to work with your foremen to decide which locations and activities on the base you want to take part in and they will make an itinerary based upon your choices as opposed to an itinerary that is just given to you.

“You could give your foreman your ‘top five greatest hits of Philmont` and we will make a trek that is fit for you as it is all about customizing the experience to the wants of the crew which is something you do not get with a regular trek.”

It is not just the activities which shift on your OAHA adventure, but your entire attitude does as well. “Not only are you meeting Arrowmen from across the nation, but you are also getting the opportunity to see the base in a way not a lot of Scouts get to see,” Joey stated. When you go on an OAHA trek, you will be in the company of many other Arrowmen who care about the OA just as much as you. Joey recommends that you take this opportunity to learn about Arrowmen from all over the country and how you can work together to solve some of the problems your units, chapters, lodges, or sections may face.

Even if you have already been on an OAHA trek, do not hesitate to try another! Every trek will be a different experience with a different foreman, crew, and journey. The former region chief related the individual experiences to a Brotherhood ceremony, “The person who is playing Kichkinet has a different experience than someone who is going through the ceremony for their first time bearing the burden of their brothers; every time it is going to be completely different and with it, a completely different meaning and value.”

Joey offered some final thoughts, “You are going to come out of that opportunity with a shared experience and a deeper understanding of not only yourself, but also what the Order of the Arrow means. There is no other program the OA offers that allows people to see our three core principles of Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service come out in a closed environment than OA High Adventure.”