The National Planning Meetings started in 1949. Through the years they have evolved, but the basics have remained the same. In general the purpose of the meeting is to bring the adult leadership of the Order of the Arrow, in the form of the National OA Committee and key volunteers together with the youth leadership of the OA in the form of an assembly of the Area/Section Chiefs.
The meetings have almost always been held during the week or weekend between Christmas and New Years. Together the adult leadership assists and guides the youth leadership as they layout plans for the coming year or two, select a theme for the conference or other national event / theme and create working committees. In particular, the National Planning Meetings make the plans necessary to stage the next NOAC. One of the other key features and the most anticipated portion of the meeting is the election of youth national officers.
The first National Planning was held in December of 1949 for the purpose of planning the 1950 Conference. The meetings were held every other year unless the NOAC skipped a year, always held the December before the upcoming NOAC. Initially the officer elected was the National Conference Chief. Later a National Conference Vice Chief was added. Along the way Deputy Conference Chiefs were appointed (or elected) and later called Conference Vice Chiefs. In 1974 Region Chiefs were added to the elections at the National Planning Meetings. Area Chiefs not elected would be placed on committees and were collectively a part of the Conference Committee.
Starting in 1984 the meetings were moved to nearby the national BSA headquarters, in Westlake, Texas instead of being held at the university holding the upcoming NOAC. The National Planning Meeting became an annual event starting in 1987 when terms of National officers were reduced to one year. This change provided more youth the opportunity to serve in these national offices.
In years without a NOAC to plan the National Planning Meeting could direct its attention to other events and concepts such as ArrowCorps5, National Conservation and Leadership Summit (NCLS) and Philmont OA Trek.