OA Obligation Timeline

Profile - OA Obligation Through the Years

It is not known when the first WWW Obligation was used. Because it is part of the First Degree/Honor ritual it is believed that it likely was used in some form as early as 1916. The first known version of the Obligation dates to 1921. It read:

I, (your name), do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout, that I will always and faithfully preserve unbroken the secret rites, mysteries, signs and symbols of the Order of the WIMACHTENDIENK WINGOLAUCHSIK, WITAHEMUI, which I have now received or may be taught at any future time. I will always regard the bonds of brotherhood in this Order as sacred and binding, and will seek to preserve a cheerful spirit even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, and will endeavor, so far as in my power lies, to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others. I will attend, so far as I am able, all regular and special meetings of the Order and do what I can to promote interest in them.

The 1931 ritual contains a slightly different version of the Obligation. The most significant change was the term “as sacred and binding” to “as binding”. This was to satisfy religious groups that objected to the concept of sacred rituals for their congregants. It was also done as preparation for achieving the goal of becoming an official BSA program.

Other changes were the Arrowman no longer states his name, the name Order of the Arrow is stated before the actual name, WWW, which was changed to only have the first word in the name stated and the last two words just the letter “W” presumably to be spoken, but not written. There was also a minor change where “the bonds of brotherhood in this order” becomes “the bonds of brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow”. The 1931 Obligation was said as follows:

I, do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout, that I will always and faithfully preserve unbroken the secret rites, mysteries, signs and symbols of the Order of the Arrow, WIMACHTENDIENK, W. ______, W. ______, which I have now received or may be taught at any future time. I will always regard the bonds of brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow as binding and will seek to preserve a cheerful spirit even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, and will endeavor, so far as in my power lies, to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others. I will attend, so far as I am able, all regular and special meetings of the Order and do what I can to promote interest in them.

The 1935 revision of the Obligation was very minor. The word “secret” was removed before the word “rites”. This change was again to satisfy religious groups that objected to secret rituals. This change was part of the Order of the Arrow’s agreement with the BSA in order to become an official BSA program. Among other requirements the OA agreed to re-write rituals such that they would satisfy religious organizations. The 1935 version was:

I, do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout, that I will always and faithfully preserve unbroken the rites, mysteries, signs and symbols of the Order of the Arrow, WIMACHTENDIENK, W. ______, W. ______, which I have now received or may be taught at any future time. I will always regard the bonds of brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow as binding and will seek to preserve a cheerful spirit even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, and will endeavor, so far as in my power lies, to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others. I will attend, so far as I am able, all regular and special meetings of the Order and do what I can to promote interest in them.

The change made for the 1941 Obligation was extremely minor. Once again the Arrowman would state his name as he spoke the Obligation. The 1941 version was spoken as follows:

I, (your name), do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout, that I will always and faithfully preserve unbroken the rites, mysteries, signs and symbols of the Order of the Arrow, WIMACHTENDIENK, W. ______, W. ______, which I have now received or may be taught at any future time. I will always regard the bonds of brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow as binding and will seek to preserve a cheerful spirit even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, and will endeavor, so far as in my power lies, to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others. I will attend, so far as I am able, all regular and special meetings of the Order and do what I can to promote interest in them.

The 1948 version of the Obligation had the most significant changes of any revision. This was because in 1948 the OA became fully integrated into the BSA and all rituals including Obligations were reviewed. The phrase “faithfully preserve unbroken the rites, mysteries, signs and symbols” was changed to “faithfully observe and preserve the traditions”. “Bonds of brotherhood” was changed to “ties of brotherhood”. Finally, the entire last sentence regarding meetings and promotion was removed. The 1948 version strongly resembles today’s Obligation. It was spoken as follows:

I, (your name), do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout, that I will always and faithfully observe and preserve the traditions of the Order of the Arrow, WIMACHTENDIENK, W. ______, W. ______, which I have now received or may be taught at any future time. I will always regard the ties of brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow, as lasting, and will seek to preserve a cheerful spirit even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, and will endeavor, so far as in my power lies, to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others.

The 1951 Obligation was altered to once again say “Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui”:

I, (your name), do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout, that I will always and faithfully observe and preserve the traditions of the Order of the Arrow, WIMACHTENDIENK, WINGOLAUCHSIK, WITAHEMUI which I have now received or may be taught at any future time. I will always regard the ties of brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow, as lasting, and will seek to preserve a cheerful spirit even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, and will endeavor, so far as in my power lies, to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others.

The 1962 Obligation changed the phrase “which I have now received or may be taught at any future time” to “which I have now received”. The Obligation was now stated:

I, (your name), do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout, that I will always and faithfully observe and preserve the traditions of the Order of the Arrow, WIMACHTENDIENK, WINGOLAUCHSIK, WITAHEMUI which I have now received. I will always regard the ties of brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow, as lasting, and will seek to preserve a cheerful spirit even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, and will endeavor, so far as in my power lies, to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others.

The 1986 version again tinkered with the phrase after the three W’s and completely removed the words “which I have now received”:

I, (your name), do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout, that I will always and faithfully observe and preserve the traditions of the Order of the Arrow, WIMACHTENDIENK, WINGOLAUCHSIK, WITAHEMUI. I will always regard the ties of brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow, as lasting, and will seek to preserve a cheerful spirit even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, and will endeavor, so far as in my power lies, to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others.

The final change came in 1999. The Obligation had required the Obligor to state his name since 1941. This always created an awkward moment when said in groups. The Obligor's name was removed. This is the current way to say the Order's Obligation:

I do hereby promise on my honor as a Scout, that I will always and faithfully observe and preserve the traditions of the Order of the Arrow, WIMACHTENDIENK, WINGOLAUCHSIK, WITAHEMUI. I will always regard the ties of brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow, as lasting, and will seek to preserve a cheerful spirit even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, and will endeavor, so far as in my power lies, to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others.