Can my family members attend my Ordeal Ceremony?

In a nutshell, visitors at Ordeals are not encouraged and persons who are not OA members are not permitted at ceremonies. Parents with questions or concerns should contact the Lodge Adviser, Mr. Erich Roetz, or the Ceremonies Adviser, Mr. Gene Hoffman.

OA Members

Any family members who are Lodge members should pay the registration fee, attend the Ordeal, and participate at the event. If there are unusual circumstances that don’t allow them to attend this particular event then the person desiring to visit may contact one of the Key 3 (Lodge Chief, Adviser, or Staff Adviser). Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

We understand family schedules that don’t allow Lodge members to attend every event but we will not make a Lodge policy allowing open attendance while other members bear financial burden for the event. Opening an Ordeal to visitors sends the wrong message to the membership about being in the OA, performing service for Scouting, and paying to attend events.

Non OA Members

If parents are not members but are interested in learning about the organization their son has been elected to join, we offer a video, “Scouting’s Brotherhood of Cheerful Service”, at the Council Service Center. This video explains the purpose and mission of the OA and will help the parents understand the event their son is experiencing.

The May 2006 Order of the Arrow Operations Update states the following:

The Order’s membership requirements have been added to the Handbook along with a rewrite of the section “Why ceremonies?” on page 30. The new text emphasizes that non-OA members should not attend the ceremonies. The lodge adviser is given a procedure to follow for nonmembers to learn about the ceremonies and for parents to ultimately decide whether they want their son to participate.

The referenced passage of the Order of the Arrow handbook says:


Youth and adult candidates for membership into the Order of the Arrow are introduced to the Order’s concepts of servant leadership through a safeguarded ceremonial induction. Nonmembers should not attend the ceremonies.

Although the content of the ceremonies is private, the ceremonies were designed to avoid offending any religious belief and have received the approval of religious leaders. The ceremonies are consistent with Scouting traditions and the spirit of the Scout Oath and Law.

The Order of the Arrow recognizes and respects the right of any parent, Scout leader, or religious leader to be interested in the content of the ceremony. The lodge adviser, or his designee, may discuss the content of the ceremony and any other issues brought to his attention by one of these interested and responsible adults, with the understanding that the adult will maintain the confidentiality of the ceremony.

If after discussing the ceremony with the lodge adviser, the parent, Scout leader, or religious leader continues to have questions about the ceremony, that person will be permitted to read the ceremony text and view the Order’s ceremony training DVD. Following this, parents will be in a position to decide whether to allow their son to participate in the ceremony. Candidates will not become members of the Order of the Arrow without completing the pre-Ordeal and Ordeal ceremonies.


Posted in: Ceremonies, Questions for Candidates and Candidates' Parents