Order of the Arrow Ordeal Secrets – And More!

So I’ve finally figured out how to make Google Analytics work with WordPress, and, in the process, I find out that most frequently visited post on my blog is an ancient post from 2007, and it’s not even gay-themed! It’s this post right here – the Order of the Arrow. It’s a fine post where I discuss the hideous Order of the Arrow ordeal, an event that perfectly embodies the more al Qaedaesque extremes of the Boy Scouts of America. Still, as near and dear as this subject is to my own heart, I couldn’t account for why the page has remained so darn popular after four years. People still visit it on a weekly and almost daily basis. Is it because I’m such a great writer? A genius, even? Or could it be that the silent majority shares my loathing for hazing from awkward teens in neckerchiefs and loincloths?

I got my answer when I entered the phrase “order of the arrow ordeal” in the little Google box up in the right hand corner of my Safari browser. The second choice in the suggestions Google pulls up is “order of the arrow ordeal secrets.” If you Google that phrase, guess what link is at the top of the page?

Yep. Turns out zillions of terrified young Scouts use the Internet to get a sneak peek at just how wretched their ordeal is going to be, and the Internet thinks that out of 6,820 possible sources, I’m the most trusted voice on the planet on this particular subject.

I can’t emphasize just how sick, twisted, wrong, and delightful that is.

I wish I had revealed more secrets than I did. Those looking for specifics are bound to be disappointed by these revelatory gems:

“The Order of the Arrow is a secret society within Scouting, one with secrets so secret that I can never reveal them, mainly because I can’t remember any of them.”


“I was allowed to open my eyes to see some weird, creepy Indian ceremony in front of a campfire, which would last a couple of minutes or so, and then you were led to the next station, where you did the same thing. It’s here that I think the Order’s deepest secrets were revealed. I’m sure they were very important. I had to go the bathroom.”

I did manage to remember the menu – breakfast was some matches and a dixie cup filled with water and a raw egg. Then there was a half a slice of baloney and a half a slice of bread for lunch, and a carrot and a gumdrop for dinner. I also remembered the activity for the day – slave labor digging and hauling and chopping, all done under a vow of silence.

Only a scant few of the thousands who have visited had the courage/gumption/chutzpah/pinheadedness to leave me a comment. But, oh my stars and garters, what zippy comments they were. I share them with you below, with their original spelling and punctuation preserved.

Anonymous said…

I’m sure this will be a story for which your spirit family will comfort you in the next life. Geez, don’t get your holy underwear in a bunch.
October 21, 2007 9:08 PM

My “spirit family?” Is that an Order of the Arrowism I missed when they were starving me to death? (As for my underwear, people in glass loincloths shouldn’t throw stones.)

SGT Baker- Eagle Scout and Brotherhood member said…

… or you could just pretend to be a man and quit your bitching, you little girl! How about you come out and try the U.S. Army Special Forces selection, sally!
November 26, 2008 9:13 PM

Sgt. Baker, Eagle Scout and Brotherhood Member, just what do you think you’re doing? You dare Google sacred secrets of the Order? No gumdrop for you.

Proud Arrowman said…

wow I really think that you got your underware in a twist and you need to pick it out. If you don’t like it than don’t talk about it. Everything in the ordeal has a pourpose and it really soulds like your just a wuss cause if you wine about ants in your sleeping try going to philmont but you wouldn’t do that because once again you are a wuss
January 1, 2009 9:57 PM

So standardized spelling, apparently, is not a prerequisite for order membership, but porpoises are.

Anonymous said…

Hey thanks a lot you jerk. I’m about to go on my ordeal, and you got me all freaked out.

Also, i’ll bet you never made it to Eagle. (am i right?)
April 29, 2009 3:33 PM

Yes. You are right. Perceptive little freaked-out punk, aincha?

bakark omaba said…

u r a pussy. r u a fag 2?
June 6, 2009 6:02 PM

Alas, I am neither cat nor cigarette. On the plus side, I’m less illiterate than your average bakark.

Anonymous said…

you’re an idiot! The ordeal is a bad part of the OA introduction but it’s to prove you’re ready to be part of the organization. Although i see you obviously failed. It’s an honor to get in and you should treat it as such.
August 18, 2009 12:20 PM

Here’s how I treated it, Señor Anonymous. Right from the outset, I moaned and whined about what a piece of rat crap the whole experience was, so I got harangued by the guy who was supposed to be my sponsor/mentor/parole officer, who demanded I give him my phone number so he could drag me to a single one of your brain-dead meetings, which meant that I was honored to give him the phone number of the girl I sat next to in English class, who apparently received dozens of phone calls demanding that she keep current with her/my Order of the Arrow dues, which paid for the Boy Scout uniforms of grown men who have nothing better to do than boil eggs in dixie cups and send prepubescents into the woods to freeze.

Thus, with the wisdom that comes with years of hindsight, I now treat the experience with all the honor it deserves, which is precisely the amount of honor I just treated the hot, steaming pile my puppy left on the bottom bunk of my six-year-old’s bed.

I wonder where this post will end up in the Google rankings.

10 Things I Don't Believe
Dear Mr. President:

32 thoughts on “Order of the Arrow Ordeal Secrets – And More!”

  1. You defame the Scouts just like your obvious God Barry Soreto (Obama is His Muslim Name) does. Sure you aren’t writing this Blog from a Jail Cell?

  2. My son went through the ideal at 13 and is 6′ tall. At least I knew to take him to Carls Jr and buy him a few when he got back. I appreciated this. Basically I just learned that they starve and work kiddos. Hes really into scouts, but at least on that level your blog was very helpful to me.

    1. As per the OA handbook, parents are more than welcome to attend all events including the ones which youth who are not members are barred from attending. This is to ensure that parents may be fully aware of what goes on and can revoke consent for their scout at any point in time.

      As to starving, hardly. While the meals are smaller, they aren’t dangerously so, especially given that it only occurs over a one day period. Further, in most Lodge’s, directly after the completion of the Ordeal ceremony, Ordeal members are treated to a fairly large meal to make up for any missing calories over the course of the day.

      Here’s a breakdown of my Ordeal, including food:

      6 am, wake up, pack sleeping bag, get breakfast – a handful of crackers, a small cup of juice, a hard-boiled egg, and an orange. Traded egg with another Ordeal candidate for half his orange, because I don’t like eggs and the alongomats (who supervise each group) were fine with it. Reminded to fill up water bottles, and grab an extra as well. Ate one orange.

      6:30 am to 11:00 am – started working on service projects. Service projects vary for each group, however they are done under the supervision of the alongomats as well as the area’s staff (in my case, the camp rangers, in other cases it’s usually a park ranger or the like). Moving felled trees from a site into a truck bed so that a storm shelter could be built on the site. We were encouraged to take breaks as needed, drink water, and fill up our water bottles as needed. Ate the orange half during this time.

      11:00 am – 12:00 pm – my group of five was asked to go trim some unruly branches along a walking path. Headed out to do that, got halfway through (ate crackers as I went). Received lunch at designated meeting spot along the trail. Lunch: an apple, two slices of ham (standard serving size is three), and ordeal bread (specific to my lodge, but pretty straightforward – it is a rye and whole wheat mix of homemade bread, with a variety of dried fruits and nuts in it, covered in a honey glaze). Also more water. We ate this (saved my apple for later) and then kept on clipping.

      5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – met up with other groups, ate apple, went to finish the ordeal ceremony, received admonition, took pledge (you can read the pledge online if you like), and sang the song (also available online). Was welcomed into the Order, received the sash, went to supper.

      7:00 pm – Supper! All you can eat pulled pork sandwiches, juice, milk, a variety of cheeses, more ordeal bread because everybody hoards it, hamburgers, taco in a bag, cake, apples, oranges, pineapple, etc. Literally too much food to remember. People who had just gone through the Ordeal were seated before everyone else and served by more senior members of the Order throughout the meal. As in, if you had just gone through Ordeal, you were specifically assigned another member who would get you any of the food you wanted, including seconds and thirds.

      9:00 pm – chilling out with other members, joking around about funny stuff that happened during the Ordeal in different groups, mild griping about the hornet’s nest found in one of the log piles because it would slow down the clearing out of the remaining log piles. Can head to bed whenever.

      9:30 – shower, hit the hay.

      Next day:
      Pack up, talk with the other new members who went through ordeal in my group, promise to hang out at the next OA event. Go home.

      Now, mind you, I happened to have a fairly cold night (Ordeal members sleep out under the stars the night before, unless there’s bad weather moving in or something of the like), but that’s because the Lodge Chief at the time surprised me with the fact that I had been nominated (I’m an adult member, and had been intending to just volunteer as a range officer for those who weren’t helping out with Ordeal stuff) so I didn’t have particularly warm gear, since I was planning to stay in a cabin. I could’ve opted to do it at a later date, or even just turn down the offer entirely, but I was pretty stoked so I didn’t care much at all.

      The fasting bit can be worrisome, however if there’s any medical issue, it can be addressed in advance with the medical personnel who are staffing the event. Otherwise if the scout finds it too difficult or doesn’t want to continue at any point in time, he can simply inform the alongomat and end his Ordeal. He can choose to attempt the Ordeal again at any point in time, or simply not do it and not join the OA. There’s no shame in that.

      The “secret society” vibe can also throw some people off, however that’s there solely for the enjoyment of the scouts participating. It isn’t actually secret to the adults. Any adult may attend and witness any part which they wish to. In fact, it’s encouraged for parents to do so, so that they can see that there’s no bullying or anything of the like going on. Nor is it supposed to be having – the medical staff review dietary needs with individuals, and if there are medical concerns which prevent fasting or would make it dangerous, then it’s waived. The service projects are in no way designed – or in practice – humiliating. They’re simply a way of ensuring that people who are inducted into the OA actually understand and are willing to take on the commitment to cheerful service, regardless of the difficulty in doing so. The service projects themselves vary, some can be rigorous, some are just kind of… Monotonous. Another group going through the Ordeal at the same time as my group painted sheds for a majority of the day. They finished off with fixing up some old snow shoes for the camp we held the Ordeal at.

      If there is ever any issue with an Ordeal that you attend, you can direct your concerns to: the lodge chief, the lodge chief adviser, the ceremonies chair, the ceremonies adviser, and to the council executive who is the supreme chief of the fire.

  3. It’s confronting to read the gamut of puerile, secret ceremonial piffle that surrounds what should be a healthy, learning experience for America’s youth. Can I suggest the only people who derive benefit from turning boys into ‘men’ via such grueling ordeals are primitive individuals reluctant to privately contain their bent. Transitioning from childhood via cloak and dagger physical and mental anguish surely belies the desired messages of honest, loyal morality that Scouting America touts. I’m intrigued as to why lessons on the art of elementary outdoor survival need to be delivered in such an offbeat package.

  4. I am an Eagle Scout and none of what you say is true about the OA. In my Ordeal we had a small, but hearty breakfast and then worked in silence for 10 hours. We then ate 1/2 a boiled hot dog, and 1/2 a piece of string cheese; you described this negatively, but it was the most fun day of my life. This “Ordeal” is what is sounds like, it is meant to be a painful ordeal; but if you are determined, then it can be a great experience for all youth.

    Plus if you are old enough, meet the requirements, and you get one of the cool lodges, you get abducted in the night of Ordeal and may be invited to the Order of the Black Arrow

  5. Dear Sir,

    I am an Eagle scout, and a Brotherhood member in the Order of the Arrow. I loved your article, it was hilarious! I personally love the OA, and I understand and appreciate that you do not feel the same way about the organization. I applaud your efforts in trying to ensure that no boy gets hazed, yet in my experience in the OA, I have never seen hazing occur. Every challenge of the Ordeal has a specific purpose, and no such challenge was designed to embarrass or demean a Scout. I saw your point that what you called hazing happened to you, even though it was expressly prohibited at the time. In my mind, this is unacceptable and conduct like this brings a bad light on the OA as a whole. I see from previous comments that your ordeal was at camp Whitsett. That would make you an ex-member of the Malibu Lodge. If you are interested, I would like to contact the lodge and see if they can officially apologize to you for the unscoutlike Ordeal you were made to go through.


    An Arrowman

  6. While I love boy scouts, I do find some things silly, or the significance of some things bastardized or wasted. For example, some troops and churches pick and choose which scout rules to enforce. Boys are ran through merit badge mills, not truly learning anything. Oh, a scout earning their Eagle at 14? Pfft, there’s no way he got that will real merit and value, sorry. I know this because I’ve personally seen the results of it time and time again, not in our troop, but others. There’s an enormous difference between the capabilities and maturity to organize projects and at 14 I could easily argue, they didn’t do it alone like they are suppose to. Doing a food drive for Eagle scout project? OMG! We do food drives every year, that’s a no brainer. They don’t learn a damn thing if they do a project that they do every year otherwise.

    There’s nothing like you’re troop going somewhere looking sharp and acting like a respectful scout, when other troops wear shirts not tucked in, board shorts and flip flops, and acting like little heathens without leadership. I’d be embarrassed if my scouts looked or acted like that, but then I was military and I have expectations from any organization of tradition. I thought OA would be a neat thing if my son was voted in but the voting process alone bothered me because it truly wasn’t about voting for those with leadership skills, but more of a popularity contest.

    Personally, I find nothing wrong with hazing. I was hazed in the Navy and Army. I have a meh attitude about it and I would argue my son does too. I think all organizations have issues, but I really did expect more out of scouting than what I’ve seen. I’m fortunate enough to be in a community led troop where the parents believe in following rules and traditions, with exception to the voting in OA of course. That’s a bit whacked and it irks me a little.

    1. Hi Gina, first off thank you for your service! Second, I appreciate that your view on hazing I like to say “it’s not hazing it’s just your turn” as a little joke as most “Hazing” in the scouts is not physical or dangerous. I as a youth in the OA have helped with voting in OA members, the way it should be done is 50% of the troop has your name on the ballot. Many people take this vote seriously. I have seen instances where the “cool popular guy” is not elected in even though he is very likeable (in this instance said youth had not had much leadeship experiance) another surprising one is when a scoutmasters son is not elected (I would say daughter but I have not been present for a female troop election) This one happened in my troop and the scoutmaster tried to get a revote however the Youth Represenitve from the lodge declined his request (the scoutmaster retired soon after). If done right the OA is not a pop. contest becuase if wanted scouts could elect everyone on the ballot. Maybe there was a reason your sons peers did not vote him in or maybe the process was not conducted correctly. I do love the OA as it provides a great service and upholds excellent values that I believe every young person should be instilled with!

  7. I would like to start with apologizing for the unforgivable behavior of my fellow scouts who replied to you in anger. I would also like to say that your tone during this article is very sarcastic, cynical, and offensive. I hate to see a case where someone missed the message of the Order of the Arrow. We are NOT a secret society. We are what I call a “mystic” society. This means that information on us and our program is not secret, but it is better to be a part and find out for yourself than to just Google it. The OA is specifically for the betterment of the Scouting program. It is meant as a way to recognize those who understand what Scouting is about and to help better themselves. We strive in cheerful service for others. We don’t select who is to come to ordeal. We only take the scouts troops feel seek a higher understanding of scouting principles and we test them in four ways, to teach four principles. Night alone- leadership. Scant food- self denial. Strict silence- brotherhood. Arduous labor- service. The three principles of the OA are derived from the Delaware tribe of Lenni Lenape and they are Wimachtendienk- brotherhood, Wingolauchsik- cheerfulness, and Witahemui- service. If you have any more questions please email me as your site requires. I once heard a quote saying that “Only in the service of others do you become a person of value.” The Order of the Arrow seeks to prove that point and I can honestly say that the people I know are people of value and I can count on, are members of this fine organization. I hope that I have enlightened you to our cause and maybe I have changed some of your prejudices against our organization.

    Yours in Brotherhood


  8. Hi , it suck’s that your experience was so negative. My son’s and i went through the ordeal over the weekend( Friday and Saturday) and i must say the menu must be different for different places. our’s consisted of: a slice of bread, a hard boiled egg and an apple for breakfast, a piece of bread, t slices of meat and a slice of cheese with an apple for lunch and the same sandwich for supper but this time with carrots.. the ordeal( insert forced labor here) in silence was hard but not crippling. i found the whole thing interesting as a whole. yes i am tired today and yes i am sore but i enjoyed the whole thing( and no i am not a glutton for punishment). The ceremony is the same in each lodge but i rather suspect its application varies. Boy Scout’s can be a lot of fun but only if the adult’s help the youth achieve that goal. I am sorry you didn’t seem to have much fun while in scouts. have a awesome day. and yes i did use google to find your site as i cannot remember what they said last night either.
    Sal Arello

    1. Yeah, Ordeal food varies by lodge and sometimes even by chapter, but what you described is fairly close to my Lodge’s Ordeal meals as well.

  9. Dude all of these guys have their panties in a bunch. What you did is awesome, no questions asked. When i went for the ordeal I wanted to know what was coming, and I did. Thanks to you I was able to practice cursing silently and successfully pass my satanic ritual that we call a ordeal.

  10. You obviously had a very different experience than did I. My father and I went through our ordeals together, and sharing that experience was incredibly important to us. We were also lucky in that a hurricane had delayed our ordeal, so it occurred on the same day as fall fellowship. Finishing your ordeal and then gorging on shrimp cocktail, steak, and ice cream was uniquely satisfying. And we weren’t physically harassed, lead with our eyes closed, or forced to endure a psychologically troubling symbolic bead-breaking confessional, either – that’s all foreign to me. I’m very glad the OA had improved and corrected their rituals by the time I came around. After becoming accepted, I actually went back and wore the red sash for so many consecutive ordeals that my Vigil name included “elangomat.” I never needed to remind anyone to be silent or to continue their work. Maybe I was lucky in that, too.

    I suppose all that is why my understanding of the ordeal is so different. The ordeal was ugly rough – we ended our day breaking four shovel handles in an attempted ditch, and then I took the coldest shower of my life, and then I ate the best single apple I’ve ever tasted. But I eventually found that I truly had been initiated into service, meaning, the call to sacrifice for the good of others. I think the ordeal is so tough because they make you do something that you could never anticipate that you could do. You are told that you are something special. Then you are forced to sacrifice, and asked to contemplate that sacrifice. And you learn that you are equal to a task you never could have imagined.

    The ultimate lesson, for me is : you are special because you have the ability to sacrifice for the good of others. That lesson has served me well, and with the others I learned in scouting – self-reliance, expertise, character, forethought – it made me who I am today.

    Again, your experience is very different. That said, your boys are scouts, too, and you think it’s worthwhile enough that you sacrifice for them. You put up with the irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities, holding your silence while you do it, contemplating those actions, all for the good of others. Not so different.

    For what it’s worth, I haven’t decided if I will even encourage my son to be a scout. Though I can’t put a price on the lessons it taught me, the hyper-conservatism and the paramilitary aspects really make me hesitate. If I was a scouter today, I would feel rather alien to the culture. And if, for instance, my son turns out to be an atheist or gay, and I’ve subjected him to some sort of repressive programming, how could I possible reconcile that? Some of the best people I know were taught the same lessons by their fathers, their grandfathers, and long afternoons in the woods.

    By the way : you absolutely should keep describing how bad the ordeal sucks. Boys and men who find no value in sacrifice should not accept membership in the OA. It’s better that they’re scared off before their ordeal commences.

  11. No one forced you to join. If you wanted to, which you act like you did, you could have just left and not gotten in. While Scouting is a part of the LDS Church in the US, Order of the Arrow membership is not required.
    If you actually had a good point, maybe you would respond to contradictory comments with more than jokes and grammar corrections.

  12. First of all, you could quit at any point. You signed up for that job and honestly, it’s fun. You get to camp out under the stars and sure you don’t get much food but it reminds you about how lucky you are to get food. Also, the gumdrop for dinner and slice of baloney is bullcrap, you get a sandwich and an apple for lunch and the ordeal ends before dinner and you get a feast.

  13. During my ordeal that I just got back from in the beginning they took our phones, watches, and flashlights from us, then we had to take a 2 1/2 mile hike to the ceremony that happened for half an hour, then we walked 1/2 a mile and every 5 feet some person would just grab your pack and point to an area on the ground and say that is where you are sleeping. At the start of the hike is when we could not talk anymore. when we woke up we had to pack up and walk 3 miles back to the main camp. On our way to the main came we got lost twice. When we got back we got a piece of bread, orange juice, a hard boiled egg, and a banana. Then we went and cleared a road for 4 hours while still under our vow of silence. For lunch we got a cheese sandwich, apple juice, and an apple. After lunch we went from campsite to campsite fixing tables and clearing the bushes. Then when we were done we still couldn’t talk after doing about 8-9 hours of service for them. We finally did a ceremony at the end of the day where we had to walk with a rope tied to our right wrist that felt like we were being transported from prison to prison. with no space between each other. After we finally got our sashes we went to the dining hall where we were served by the people already in the order.

  14. Now listen, I am not in the order of the arrow, but I am a Brave in the Great Tribe of Micosay, and I went through all of those same trials excluding the egg, and you don’t see me complaining about how difficult it was. Actually, I had thought it would be more difficult than it was. I was put on silence for 24 hours, spent that day improving the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation for the people who come after me, spend two nights under the stars meditating over my four heart’s resolutions and choosing my tribal name, fasted for 24 hours, had to drink a mixture called Oceola Cola, a combination of cinnamon, salt, and water. And that’s not even all of the tests I had to pass to enter the tribe. And next year, to advance in the tribe? Look up the Dance of Joy..

  15. Having just gone through the ordeal, I couldn’t agree with you more. To me it was a nonsensical weekend of hazing, The Boy Scouts preach about the Oath and Law, but they clearly don’t apply them to the boys going through the ordeal. If I had known what it was going to be, I would not have allowed my son to go through this nonsense. However, since we did go through it, I was able to make it a teachable moment and use it to demonstrate the dangers of group psychology. I explained to him that when you follow the crowd, they can lead you to crazy, unethical, and dangerous places.

    Bottom line for me is that abusing and hazing a bunch of boys is not an honor, and it certainly is not representative of the Oath and Law that the Boy Scouts supposedly cares most about.

    1. And if you read the OA handbook, you’d know you could have revoked consent at any time, and that parents are more than welcome to get answers regarding the Ordeal, Brotherhood, and Vigil process before hand. Heck, you could’ve googled it.

  16. I think the Boy Scouts is why I am a Fag. During our two week summer camp each year I might work on 4 merit badges and only get 2 the rest of the time was spent smoking pot and fagging off in our tents (I know this is why I have a fetish for mummy sleeping bags). I saw more dick in Boy Scouts in two weeks than at any time after. I am now 54 so you know what years I was in Scouts. Never did the Order Ordeal. Just interested to see what it was. I can tell you a number of the senior scouts or fathers were pedophiles. Some of the trolls would pick a youngie to sleep in his tent. Seemed to be such a great honer. No the kid go raped. Fuck the Boy Scouts of America.

  17. I am an eagle scout, and I was just elected into the order of the arrow. My ordeal is in a week or so, but that is not why I a writing. This post Is to highlight how terribly wrong this article is. These things about “Hazing” and the barbarity of BSA might have been true decades ago, but today, boy scouts is a great opportunity to build leadership ability in teens and build character. And at the same time, you are building up your future potential by adding to your portfolio for any college or job application for the rest of your life. I stress that if you read this post as a young adult think of joining either boy scouts or order of the Arrow, please make sure to consider that everything mentioned in this article is completely outdated and irrelevant to a new scout. Furthermore, shame on you, stallioncornell for closing doors for teens who you scared off with some ancient story of boy scouting before any of the kids reading this were even alive. I will not stoop down to your level by making some snide remark about you as a person, like you so immaturely did, just to feel bigger than some who is probably still a teen, because there is absolutely nothing that comes from it. Besides, I already know I am better than you because you lack the basic logic to post about current events. But, please, lay into me for some idiosyncrasy that you picked up in this post. You will just make my point that you can’t even resist belittling a 13 year old.

  18. The Order of the Arrow is the best organization the Boy Scout Program has to offer. I value my vigil honor far, far more than my Eagle Scout badge. I worked to complete my Eagle, but my vigil honor was given to me by my brothers, not so much for what I have done, but what I was expected to do in the future.

    Your article is worthless opinion with little to no evidence to support your claims.

    Good day to you sir.

  19. The Ordeal isn’t as bad as you people describe it to be. Just because we don’t get much to eat or do a lot of work or sleep outside, doesn’t mean it’s a bad things. I for one enjoyed it, and if you are going or have already gone, I recomend that you remember the good times that were spent, not the bad times.

  20. My husband and I are heading to my 14-year-old son’s induction ceremony RIGHT NOW (the ceremony is being held during their annual week-long summer camp). I just read this aloud and we hooted all the way through it! Thanks for the entertainment!

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