What is the Order of the Arrow?

Photo of E. Urner Goodman is from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._Urner_Goodman

“The Order is a thing of the spirit rather than of mechanics. Organization, Operational Procedures, and all that go with them are necessary in any large and growing movement, but they are not what count in the end. The things of the spirit are what count.”

- E. Urner Goodman, Co-founder of the Order of the Arrow

Mission & Purpose

For over 100 years, the Order of the Arrow (OA) has recognized Scouts and Scouters who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. This recognition provides encouragement for others to live these ideals as well. Arrowmen are known for maintaining camping traditions and spirit, promoting year-round and long term resident camping, and providing cheerful service to others. OA service, activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults are models of quality leadership development and programming that enrich and help to extend Scouting to America's youth.


The mission of the Order of the Arrow is to fulfill its purpose as an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America through positive youth leadership under the guidance of selected capable adults.


As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose is to:

  • Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.

  • Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.

  • Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.

  • Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others.


The mission of the lodge is to achieve the purpose of the Order of the Arrow as an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America in the council through positive youth leadership under the guidance of selected capable adults.


The Order of the Arrow was founded upon the principles of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service. These principles form the foundation for the Obligation of the Order. This is not an easy pledge to fulfill, for there are few who live a life of cheerful service in our world. For some, the Order will be like a supernova, shining brilliantly for a brief time and soon crumbling to ashes. For others, the Order will kindle a flame of brotherhood, brighter than a thousand suns, lasting throughout eternity.


Currently, at the end of the 2018 scouting year the Order of the Arrow has about 136,262 members across ScoutsBSA, Venturing, and the Sea Scouts programs,Membership consisted of about 61,148 youth, 14,554 young adults (ages 18 to 20) and 60,560 adults across 269 lodges, in 267 Councils organized into 48 sections.


Here is a list of some of the common Order of the Arrow terms used in this website for those of you who may be unfamiliar or new.

OA - abbreviation for the Order of the Arrow

Lodge - the basic unit of the Order. There is at least one OA lodge that corresponds with each council in the BSA.

Ho-Nan-Ne-Ho-Ont - the name of our lodge. Ho-Nan-Ne-Ho-Ont is a Seneca Name, and the English translation is “The Doorkeeper.”

Section - a grouping of lodges, one of the subdivisions in the organizational structure of the Order.

Conclave - a once-yearly gathering of all of the lodges in the section.

Fellowship - a gathering of the members of a lodge, generally a weekend event used to enhance the experience of the Order for Arrowmen.

Ordeal - a lodge event at which new members are inducted.

Lodge Executive Committee (also called LEC) - the committee comprising of all officers of the lodge, such as the Lodge Chief and Vice-Chiefs.

Council of Chiefs (Also Known as CoC)