Membership in the Order of the Arrow

The Order of the Arrow has more than 160,000 active members located in lodges affiliated with over 270 BSA local councils. As of August 2018, there is now an OA lodge in every council across the United States.

Membership Requirements

As of February 1st, 2019, Unit elections are permitted in Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Sea Scout units. 

The Order of the Arrow membership requirements are as follows:

The Membership Journey:

Order of the Arrow Unit Election: 

The Unit Election is the first step in the membership journey. 

During a Unit Election, youth members of the unit elect Scouts who they believe represent the best of Scouting’s values, and as such, are worthy of becoming members in the Order of the Arrow. Those elected become candidates.

Once a candidate has been elected by the members of their unit an announcement can be made that night or at a later date. 

Membership Levels

While there are three levels of membership called "honors" (Ordeal, Brotherhood and Vigil) in the Order of the Arrow, all members—regardless of honor—are considered equal.

Induction (Also Known as Ordeal)

The Induction ceremony, called the Ordeal, is the first step toward full membership in the Order. During the experience, candidates maintain silence, receive small amounts of food, work on camp improvement projects, and sleep apart from other campers. The entire experience is designed to teach significant values. All candidates for membership must complete the Ordeal.

Candidates selected as of January 1, 2023, have 18 months from the date of election to complete their Ordeal. 


After 6 months of service as an Ordeal Member and fulfilling certain requirements, a member may take part in the Brotherhood Ceremony, which places further emphasis on the ideals of Scouting and the Order. Completion of this Ceremony signifies full Membership in the Order of the Arrow.

Vigil Honor

After two years of exceptional service as a Brotherhood member, and with the approval of the national Order of the Arrow committee, a Scout or Scouter may be recognized with the Vigil Honor for their distinguished contributions to their lodge, the Order of the Arrow, Scouting, or their Scout camp. This honor is bestowed by special selection and is limited to one person for every 50 members registered with the lodge each year.