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Joining the Brotherhood

Joining the Brotherhood
A little over a week ago, I took the opportunity to attend another Order of the Arrow event in pursuit of my Brotherhood, the next level after Ordeal.  It was an interesting but different experience which I would like to share some about.

Once again, I won't be sharing information about the actual ceremony itself.  While not secret, I don't want to give away spoilers for those who are or will be seeking this for themselves.  It will ruin things.

My lodge, Shunkah Mahneetu, recently held an experimental new kind of event exclusively for those seeking Brotherhood.  Apparently, it's been difficult to get those candidates to attend a full fellowship with the camping.  There's issues with time constraints which has resulted in very low turnout lately for Brotherhood at fellowships.  This event was a day event designed to address that particular problem.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of the Order of the Arrow ceremony site at Krupp Scout Hollow in Rigby, Idaho
This is a picture of the new ceremonial site, in process of being built, awaiting the candidates for the ceremony.
Given the fact that the overnight fellowship is a well established program and this is brand new and experimental, there's still a few bugs which will be worked out if they decide to keep this new model.  I'm not going to do a serious critique though.  I would not have a reference to the fellowship model with which to compare yet.  This article will mainly be about my own individual experiences during the event.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of a recitation of the Order of the Arrow's obligation at Krupp Scout Hollow in Rigby, Idaho
Here's a recitation of the OA obligation in progress.
This event was held at Krupp Scout Hollow in Rigby.  I've spent some time there lately doing some scouting events.  My wood badge course was held there.  I went to Arrow Tour there (an OA centennial celebration).  I went to BALOO there (cub scout leader training).  Now I was adding another memorable event to the list I've attended at Krupp.

The first thing I want to say about the event is that I really enjoyed being able to talk the whole time.  Having passed the challenges of the ordeal already last year, there was no call for me to repeat them.  I could ask questions and visit with people all I wanted to for a change.

I had different tasks to complete this time.  I still had to do some service but this is a service organization.  That was not surprising at all.  I even expected that I would need to do some service here too.  Thankfully, it was not digging holes in very rocky soil to sink an anchor for a zip line.  It was much lighter duty this time.

I had to do some memorization of the Order of the Arrow song and obligation.  I don't know how fast the boys usually memorize them, but I passively absorbed the song over a few chapter meetings and other OA gatherings.  The obligation required much more active effort on my part.  I was glad I came to the Brotherhood event with it already memorized as there was about 10 minutes given for active memorization purposes.  That would not have been enough time for me as an adult.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of an Order of the Arrow Brotherhood study session in progress at Krupp Scout Hollow in Rigby, Idaho
The study session is in progress here.
We refreshed our memories of what happened during our ordeals.  We learned the deeper meaning behind some of the symbols used and some of the words used in the ceremonies.  It was enlightening.  I do feel that a teenage boy would have found the meanings to be much deeper than I did as an adult, but the Order of the Arrow is an organization for teenage boys not so much for adults.

There was a team of adults and other participants who were busily trying to get the ceremony site prepared for the candidates.  It seems that they were short-staffed.  They were so short-staffed that they asked the candidates, myself included, to go out and assist in the site preparation before they got the props up.  They escorted us in and out.

For our service project, we ended up moving more dirt on the ceremony site in order to make the site flat.  I ended up raking the dirt flat once the wheelbarrows dumped it off.  This was a simple enough job that I didn't need to worry about whether or not the boys would do what they needed to without direction.  They got it done.  Thankfully, rocks were few and far between this time.

Photograph of a Brotherhood level Order of the Arrow sash insignia from the Boy Scouts of America
These workers being teenage boys, there were lots of 'dirty' jokes and references to "I've got a jar or dirt" from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean 2 movie.  Such was my entertainment for a while.

We began the ceremony portion with a hike which contained some discussion points.  These were opportunities for us to look inward and remember.  Most of the boys were not feeling particularly like sharing with the group.  It's probably just as well.  Some points of reverence are just spoiled when shared.

While we were on the hike, our guide took a wrong turn and brought us just outside the ceremony site too early.  It was the first time that the poor guy had walked these trails.  A quick correction from some of the rest of the staff put him back on the right path.

Here I am receiving my OA Brotherhood sash as part of the ceremony.
Once we arrived at the ceremony site, at the proper time, we were greeted by some very familiar sights.  There were a few newer sights as well since the extensive set props had been put up in the time of our absence.

The ceremony team, having been recruited for the task earlier that morning thanks to the short-staffing issue, were reading from cards rather than reciting from memory.  That was a little on the breaking immersion side for me but perfectly acceptable given how long they had to prepare.  If they work together for a while longer, those boys could turn into a proficient ceremony team and do well.  I would like to see that in the near future.

We were told that this was the biggest showing for a Brotherhood ceremony which the lodge has had in 10 to 15 years.  I'm not surprised since there were only two when my spouse went through last year.  This time there were about 18 to 20 candidates, only about three of them being adults (myself included).  This was a really nice turnout and lots of boys graduated into the next level of understanding in the Order of the Arrow with 2 bars added to their sashes.

After the ceremony, there were pocket flap patches to be had all around.

This will be the end of my Order of the Arrow candidate articles.  There is one final level called Vigil.  This honor is by nomination only and decided on by the boys.  If they do not feel I qualify for it, I won't be receiving it.  Until that time, I'm done with my own candidate becoming member stories in the Order of the Arrow.

If you would like to read about my experience as an ordeal candidate, please follow this link to that article.