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50th Anniversary of OA in BSA

1998 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Order of the Arrow being fully integrated into the Boy Scouts of America. While a concern at the time was that the OA would lose its autonomy and independence that did not prove to be the case at all. The OA had always been a complement to the BSA and had actually been run by professional Scouters volunteering their time. After 1948 primarily volunteers set the course and guided the OA.

OA Official Part of BSA

It was announced at the 1948 NOAC that the Order of the Arrow would be fully incorporated into the Boy Scouts of America. In a process that had started in 1921 with the first national organization, the Order of the Arrow had finally realized its most ambitious and desired goal. This announcement was met with some acrimony from Arrowmen concerned about the BSA taking over the Order. While the national OA leadership had been fully dedicated for over 15 years to achieving this goal, many Arrowmen took pride in the autonomy of the Order.

It had happened incrementally. In 1922 WWW was labeled an Official BSA experiment. Starting in 1932 the OA was thoroughly investigated by the BSA and made a Scout program in 1934, effective January 1, 1935. Once an official program the Order grew rapidly. The OA grew from 43 active lodges at the end of 1934 to 362 active lodges in 1948. The OA had become a true national organization operating in every region of the country.

OA Becomes Official Scout Program

In 1933, the National Council (BSA) after methodical analysis concluded that programs like the OA could enhance Scouting. The OA had been assured that they would become an official Scout program.

Still to be sorted out were issues concerning the structure between the OA and BSA, methods of handling the Vigil Degree, issues regarding Arrowmen that no longer were registered as Scouts and adjustments desired by religious groups.

OA Becomes Official Experiment

 For the first 17 years of its existence, the Order had operated autonomously. While made up exclusively of Scouts the Order did not report to the national office. The one nod to the BSA authority was the Scout Executive, the Supreme Chief of the Fire, who possessed the authority to terminate the lodge.

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