OA and Lodge History

The History of the Order of the Arrow (OA)

Founded in 1915 at Treasure Island Scout Camp

The Order of the Arrow was created in 1915 by E. Urner Goodman, a young Camp Director at Treasure Island Scout Camp in the Philadelphia Council. Together with his Assistant Director, Carroll A. Edson, Urner felt that some sort of recognition was needed to honor those Scouts who were committed to the service of others above and beyond the call of duty.

Officially integrated into the Boy Scout program in 1948

Although it took over 30 years to become fully integrated into the Scouting program, the OA flourished through the 1920’s and 30’s, and finally, in 1948, became the Honor Camper Society of the Boy Scouts of America. Soon after the integration, a greater focus was put on youth leadership within the organization.

The lodge becomes an integral part of the Council

In 1998 the Order of the Arrow created its first strategic plan. This document outlined ways that the OA could help the Boy Scouts of America accomplish their goals and strengthen the local program. One of the plan’s initiatives called for every lodge to become an integral part of its council’s operations. For many lodges, this was the first time a communication link had been established between the lodge leadership and the council Scout executive. It was also at this point that the Order of the Arrow officially became “Scouting’s National Honor Society.”

“A Legacy of Servant Leadership”

As the Order moves forward in the 21st century, it is strengthening its ties to the values that the organization was founded upon: brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service. The OA’s second strategic plan, unveiled in 2002, calls for the fortification of the lodge’s ties to each council, and to provide expanded leadership development and service opportunities to the youth of Scouting.

Today, with over 300 lodges nationwide and 180,000+ members, the Order has helped produce many of Scouting’s most outstanding leaders.

With nearly 100 years of history, scouts have honored their peers who “best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives” with membership in the OA.

Truly the OA is Scouting’s National Honor Society with the focus on leadership development, membership extension, adventurous programming, and broader service to Scouting and the community.