All Order of the Arrow Ordeal Secrets Revealed – Again!

Don’t worry – the incendiary headline is strictly for Google’s benefit.

My most popular posts, in which I supposedly reveal the innermost secrets of the Order of the Arrow (OA), AKA the pseudo-Taliban wing of the Boy Scouts of America, continue to attract an unreasonable amount of attention from angry Boy Scouts who think I have violated a sacred trust I established when I was hazed by white guys in Indian headdresses thirty-plus years ago.

If you need a history of my squabbles therewith, the original post can be found here; my follow-up where I discover I’m top-ranked in OA ordeal Google searches is here, and a particularly nasty follow-up on the subject can be found here.

I always find myself amazed at the incoherence of the comments that show up after all these years. You can see them yourself in the comments section in the sidebar, but some of them are just too delicious to avoid calling more attention to them.

Witness today’s excursion into rhetorical genius from our new friend “AnnoyedScout”:

Ordeal is not really a horrible thing and if you had any sense you would take this down; or at least edit it. You make it seem like they kill you just so you can get ordeal level. Having gone through ordeal it is not as horrible as people may think. If you actually got to first class and above without your parents doing everything for you like me it is easier than if your parents did. I do not think this reflects the OA at all. There are a lot of fun things about ordeal. Also ruining OA secrets for people just seeing how wretched this site is like all of the others is not okay. If I sent this to national you would be in so much trouble. If you remember in your induction you promised not to tell anyone any of this.

Except I don’t remember. Anything. I remember people smacking me in the back of the head if I peeked while they led me around on a rope, and I remember freezing and starving and doing slave labor, but if there are super secret loincloth secrets, I don’t remember what they were. And I haven’t revealed them here – not out of principle, but out of, you know, not remembering any of them.

I asked AnnoyedScout if he would, in fact, report me to the BSA national office, and that I’d be happy to print any nasty letter they send to me in its entirety. I shudder to think what other “trouble” I might be in. Can the BSA slash my credit rating? Or just revoke my neckerchief privileges?

Here’s another party recently heard from – someone who playfully refers to themselves as “Order of the Arrow member.”

That is a time honored ceremony going back hundreds of yours you disgrace the brotherhood by reveling these secrets

Not to put too fine a point on it, but, no, it does not go back hundreds of mine. Or yours. Or even years, for that matter. It goes back to 1915, when the Order was first established. Am I supposed to presume that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were Order of the Arrow members and were given a carrot and a gumdrop for dinner?

But I love reveling secrets. Revelry is always fun, unless the Order of the Arrow is involved.

Here’s “Zach Ness” from late last year:

I didn’t think ordeal was that bad i’ve been through worse not that i care a whole lot for the organization i just think if kids wanna be in it its their problem and if parents wanna force their kids into it shame on them but the order deserves better then this…

Better than what?

These are the bad eggs that deserve whatever Dixie Cup boiling they get. But I also had a pleasant exchange with a guy named Randall Cone from Atlanta, who was gracious enough to use his own name, proper grammar, and reasonable arguments. Here is his summation:

[The] OA just wasn’t for you at that time. Just as people who don’t skydive aren’t defective and people who smoke aren’t ALL dangerous (just a few of them). The guys that elected you may not have known you very well and the responsibility of the vote is to select the boys that WILL fit in with OA. I was inducted at age 16. When I was 14 I would have hated every second of my ordeal. If you completed ordeal then you are entitled to maintain your membership. Maybe you should attend a few functions and be one of the people that insure that ordeal isn’t the experience that you had. They still camp but most of the time it’s in permanent shelters with mattresses and good food.

Randall Cone
Atlanta, GA

Fair enough. And I have received a number of off-blog reports from people I respect that much of the hazing extremes that marred my own experience have been curtailed in the current order. So more power to them.

I should note, however, that the good Mr. Cone has revealed just as much detail about the OA as I ever have. Are you reporting him to “national” too, AnnoyedScout? I’d hate to be the guy that kept Randall Cone out of a neckerchief.

Up Yours, GOP!
Hell

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  1. Sooooo. My question is how did all of the people find you if they dont want to know the secrets? It is kind of hard to do. And they tell you rigth on the website what the ordeal is. As we all know boy scouts is pretty good about preparing everyone for the ordeal. Got a email a week before telling me. Thanks to whom ever posted this.
    BOOM

  2. Stallion will some day grow up to realize that “secrecy” is really about respect, discretion and loyalty. These values are critical to marriage, job security and patriotism. It’s not about secrecy, but values to a cause — whatever that may be. Lack thereof, in the extreme, often becomes treason by someone’s definition.

    • Indeed! And given that I have no respect or loyalty to an organization that hazed me mercilessly as a child, I see no reason to exercise discretion.

      I am therefore an Order of the Arrow traitor and proud of it.

      • If you are really a member of the Order of the Arrow, what do the three Ws stand for? I’ll bet you don’t know!

        • Honestly, did you read my posts? I haven’t been to an Order of the Arrow meeting since the Ordeal hazing ritual about 35 years ago. So of course I neither know nor care what the 3 W’s are, let alone what they stand for.

          Although I’m sure I could Google it.

          (Which I won’t.)

      • Greetings, “stallioncornell”. I do not hide behind anonymity.

        An obvious, but pertinent statement: “No one but you, can be you.” None of us can or should comment on your personal experiences since your perceptions equal your reality. Neither I, nor anyone else besides you can understand your experiences as you have.

        Having first explained that fact, it is important to explain another: I don’t believe the year or ‘era’ in which you experienced your ordeal has anything to do with your hazing experience. Hazing has never been permitted by the Order (or the BSA for that matter). Both the written and unwritten codes expressly forbade and currently forbid it. To this end, how you now hold the entire Order accountable for the actions of a few miscreants is equally abominable to your experience.

        Whether you experienced your ordeal under the heavy hands of Budweiser-fueled, Silent Generational sadists, and Lord Of The Flies driven Scouts; or loin cloth wearing, no caffeine, weird rock transcription worshiping polygamists, and brain washed, Children Of The Corn driven Scouts, should make no difference. Hazing is as wrong as *stereotyping*. And what is right is right even if no one is doing it. And what is wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.

        I first experienced my honor into Brotherhood in 1991 at the age of 16. I experienced my Ordeal at 14. I endured events as you have similarly described by action, but I took away nothing but positive feelings. After I was told not to look, I’m sure I peeked. I’m sure I got a quick, but gentle slap on the back of the head. I learned not to peek and instead to hold my honor as I had originally promised not to peek. I took part in ceremonies designed to unify and solidify bonds of fellowship…

        I had a day of eating similar foods (minus the gum drop). I encountered days of similar work. However, my take away to this day is still a feeling of alignment with those who walked the path before me, of understanding the value of service to others. My “slave labor” afforded thousands of campers the ability to experience a great summer week instead of a crappy, bug infested week without campfires or fun activities. No one “hazed” me. If I had felt hazed for one instant I would have reported those who hazed me in conflagration with the values espoused by the Order. If it became an even larger issue, I would have quit.

        It is exactly what you describe in your original post that offers controversy. Your story tries to indicate that you were “hazed mercilessly”. While the term hazing can have different meanings to different people, your description of hazing, to me at least, makes you seem like an intolerant, immature, whining infant. You accepted your Troop’s nomination into the Order. You had to have known what the Order was about long before you conducted your ordeal. For someone so tied to the proper use of vocabulary and grammar, what part of ‘ordeal’ do you feel was misrepresented? Why not just quit if Scouting wasn’t your bag?

        It is a good thing you do not remember anything about the Order to further denigrate it, and yourself (by proxy having taken the oaths,) any further. The “secrets” of the Order exist to elate future Ordeals and Brothers who desire a path of self discovery through trials. This is why such secrets are now completely open to parents who wish to be assuaged that their sons are not joining a cult. The Order’s “secrets” do not exist to create a secret society to be falsely feared, let alone by small minded individuals with an apparent childish vendetta against a group with values and methods he cannot understand.

        It is true: No matter where you go in America, you can find small minded people in positions of power over others. Whether you’re looking at Paris Island or Salt Lake City; the “City of Brotherly love” or the state of multiple matrimony… Unfortunately, the internet provides those with even false gripes to have a limited amount of power. Your blog exemplifies this. You now feel that you have the power to ruin for others what you felt was ruined for you.

        Your problem isn’t with the Order of the Arrow, sir. The problem you have is with yourself. Once you realize this, you will be able to see that your fellow Scouts didn’t haze you – instead, as a youth you allowed yourself to take part of an honor that simply wasn’t meant for you.

        Your experience wasn’t tragic. However, what is tragic is your current need to denigrate the Order.

  3. Things must have changed in the OA. When i went to my ordeal, it was a great time. I even met a cousin of mine i never even knew about. We even have the same first names. I respect your opinions about the OA, but things change with time. Now, i have to say that this entire article is a bit of a disgrace. I mean, its a secret society based upon ideals that are THOUSANDS of years old, as old as the Native American people. You creating this article is kind of a slap in the face to the thousands of people who have kept these secrets.

    • Which THOUSAND-year-old Native American secrets do I reveal? Was the part about the carrot and the gumdrop based on the ancient wisdom of the Aztecs?

      • Yes. And the Greeks, the Romans, the Phoenecians, the Chinese, and many other civilizations that held (or still hold) self deprivation ceremonies to find multiple paths to enlightenment. The main difference with our 100 year old ceremony is that the Order conducts these ceremonies ceremoniously by only having our young men deprive themselves willingly for a very short symbolic period of time. This helps them to align their minds and spiritual selves with the “thousand year old secrets” discovered by those who have walked the path before them.

        For you to have missed that point and to continue carrying on like a child through your adult years IS the point.

        Yours In The Brotherhood Of Scouting,

        Scott C. Kuperman

  4. Your a nasty person, ruining the experience most find just fine. Internet hate mongering at it’s worst

    • And your use of grammar is atrocious. You should have said “you’re a nasty person,” not “your a nasty person.” Also, “it’s” should not have an apostrophe as you accuse me of Internet hate mongering.

      • You don’t start a sentence with “And”, “You’re” should be capitalized, and you forgot quotation marks at the end.

  5. As a descendent of Cherokee blood I find the misappropriation of native american symbolism offensive. Going forward as a Scouter I will try to disassociated myself from anything we find offensive to my culture, but at the same time continue the tradition of training my children and other scouts the morals of scouting and the survival skills both ancient and new.

    However, as a proud member of the OA I take it for the positive message and experience. Going through the ordeal was fun and easy–complaining about it especially after so many years simply paints the picture of a very weak person both physically and mentally. As other members pointed out, you had to know what was instore for you when you started the ordeal. At least you were provided food rations albeit small, we had to catch our own grasshoppers to eat raw. We had to sleep out under the stars or build shelter if it rained. Simple tasks in the larger scheme of things.

    With internet as a commodity these days there are no real secrets you can take pleasure in revealing. All you are doing is admitting how physically weak you were as a kid, and how mentally weak you are as an adult. If you call breaking a sweat to contribute to your own community of scouts “slavery” you are also admitting how selfish you are, both refusing to help your brothers and underminding the true slavery that took part on this planet.

    You should be ashamed not in revealing “secrets” but in your closed-mindedness and weakness.

    • I appologize for coming off very offensive in my first comment. I read what I wrote and realized how patronizing it can be taken without tone of voice to help guide context and intent.

      You should, however, consider what image your are painting with your complaining to others–especially to those who had it harder than you but thrived from the experience. Consider the feelings, too, not of those you think you are offending but others you may not realize you are insulting or belittling.

      As advice, I am merely suggesting a bit more tact in choice of analogous words and more reflection on what you truly experienced in comparison to what others may have gone through. You could benefit from a bit of research into how many members pass the ordeal annually… You are not at fault, the people at fault are those who voted you in–they should’ve recognized you weren’t physically or mentally ready for membership let alone the ordeal.

      • “I appologize for coming off very offensive in my first comment. ”

        Not to worry. You managed to come across the same way in your second comment, too.

    • Please, I’m more that likely, more native american that you. My Mother is Cherokee, Blackfoot, and Pawnee. My dad however is German but I am proud to be a part of an organization that uses traditions and celebrations as part of their experiences. My and some of the other members who were either half or full blooded would get together and put on shows in full traditional dress for young scouts and cub scouts just to share our culture and music with them.

      As a matter of fact, none of the professional teams bother me either, Redskins, Indians, I think it’s a way of keeping our culture, and our heritage alive. What I do feel however is that you are probably one of the radicals who have never lived on a reservation or took part in dances or celebrations, probably not even registered with your local tribe (they are everywhere, just gotta know where to look). No rather than actually taking part and being an active member of a tribe, you google “what does it mean to be Cherokee” or “Religion as a Cherokee” or even “I’m Cherokee what do I do” like it’s a disease…

      I just don’t understand why so many young natives are in an uproar about things they have no control over and don’t fully understand. Try reading a Book

  6. To All: it’s not meant to be kept a secret from anyone, we are asked not to mention it to younger scouts because we want them to want to know more, and to want to seek out membership. by revealing everything to the new scouts there is a certain level of fear there, that if they knew everything there is to know then they may not want to strive to make it.

    by not saying anything, and keeping it to ourselves there is a certain air of mystery that keeps them wondering what is it, what is going on, how can I be a part of this. As for Adults, and the rest of the public, we want them to know about it, because Scouting especially “Elites” like myself (OA 1994, Eagle 1996) go out into our neighborhoods and we offer services.

    I remember one service project I had to do for my life rank was my Scoutmaster set up a week in the summer where we visited a hospice and helped the caregivers out with anything they needed that wasn’t considered “taboo” helping the people to the bathrooms, cleaning the rooms, changing sheets, things like that. I had a ton of fun.

    Another time we offered to wash the firetrucks at our local fire house and help firefighters out with chores around the bay and parking lot.

    so it’s not meant to be a secret from everyone, just a mystery to younger scouts to keep their interests.

    To StallionCornel: I have no qualms with what you have said. This country was founded with the right of free speach, to assemble without fear of persecution, and no one should be persecuting you.

    So your experience was a bad one, maybe it wasn’t something you were prepared for or something that just wasn’t your cup of tea. You feel you need to share your experiences in your blog, then I stand with you. I served this country by signing up for the Army to do exactly that, protect our rights and defend our country from terrorists, radicals, and extremists and I do not regret that nor is it anymore true today at 37 years old than it was when I was serving when I signed up in 97 when I was 19.

    As for whether my experiences were bad, I thought it was kinda fun. it’s something I wanted, and I followed through with it all the way. the day without food was a bit crummy but we were allowed Water all day long, that’s what a canteen is for. our Dinner Saturday night was actually a huge feast, one person’s dad brought deer meat, from a fresh kill just days before the ordeal, and we had veggies with salt and butter, and even had roasted marshmallows and smores for dessert. maybe it was a time difference (I did my ordeal in 94) or maybe just the way different Lodges do things differently.

    I do feel a certain level of shame and condemnation for an organization I enjoy would have treated you so horrible and just think that if it had been a different time, a different place that maybe your experience would have been better. So on behalf of the Order I do apologize to you, and hope you can find some peace in that.

    it is my wish for you to get active again, check out your local lodge now where ever that may be and see if things are different. After all it is a brotherhood and camping with other men and women is alot of fun. if it weren’t for the Order, I would have no friends LOL…

    Best of Luck to you and God Bless.

  7. As a vice Chief in my Lodge, I can guarantee there was absolutely no hazing….. Just Because you have no balls and cant take a weekend of little food and hard work because you are a fucking panzi doesn’t mean they were hazing you.

    • I’m just curious – what do you think you’ve accomplished here? Do you think dropping the F-bomb and calling me a “panzi” reflects well on your lodge? Because, from my perspective, if pretty much proves my point that you people are jerks. Which is why I approved your comment – and laughed at you while doing it.

      • I think the real jerk here is the person that is blaming innocent people for something that has happened many years before. Go find the people that “hazed” you and talk to them about it.

        • Funny you should mention that. We have a standing brunch appointment on the second Tuesday of every month.

    • I’m pretty sure that slapping a kid in the back of the head because they opened their eyes and then starving them is hazing, could also be considered child abuse. I think the only reason you think against this is because you treat your children this way, unless of course you not married and your a single man looking for people to cyber bully with all your free time

  8. As you said, your ordeal was over 35 years ago, which would be in the 80’s. An organization can change in 35 years. You were inducted under the Ordeal Ceremony from 1962 if you were inducted before 1990. The ordeal ceremony has been rewritten at least once since your ordeal. If you did not want to go through the ordeal, you could have talked to an adult. Also, in all ordeal ceremonies, you are given 3 chances to accept the challenges or quit. You also cannot blame the Order of the Arrow for ants in your sleeping bag, if you saw you were near ants, you should have moved. If you would like to know more about the ordeal ceremony, please e-mail me.

    • The ants in my sleeping bad were not from the Ordeal. They came when some other scouts in my troop thought it would be funny to throw a dead fish in my tent.

  9. From the time you had gone throught the OA to the time now a lot has changed. We do not do what they call a tapout ceremony where they would hit the Ordeal candidate, nor do we do any hazing. And there are no secrets in the OA now. All you do is ask or it says what is going to happen that weekend on the paper that the candidates receive. And Vigil is a “secret” because everyone has a different experience. No Vigil is the same.

  10. If you are a Vigil Honor, than yo have donated time to a valuable cause, but you were voted by your peers, because you stood out from the rest. As a brotherhood member, you have violated the OA, if you had a problem, then why didn’t you stop and become a sash dasher? But you don’t have to show everything that others have to work for to understand, AKA the secrets. It seems that you only went to the ordeal and the OA meetings, but everyone is allowed to go on their camp-outs, which is needed to get Vigil.

  11. Stallion, I was referred to this site to investigate why our induction numbers are so low this year in my lodge. We would like to respectfully ask you what lodge you were a member of. The folks in my lodge are concerned that other lodges are also encountering the same problem due to tapped -out candidates becoming scared of the ordeal due to this website.

    Thank you,
    Curtis Propst
    Lowell, IN

    • I have no idea what lodge I was in, as I never actually participated in the Order after the Ordeal.

      I was in Troop 198.