The Order of the Arrow has more than 160,000 active members located in lodges affiliated with over 270 BSA local councils. As of August 2018, there is now an OA lodge in every council across the United States.

Membership Requirements

As of February 1, 2019, unit elections are permitted in Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Sea Scout units. The Order of the Arrow membership requirements are as follows:

  • Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Have experienced 15 nights of Scout camping while registered with a troop, crew, or ship within the two years immediately prior to the election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. Only five nights of the long-term camp may be credited toward the 15-night camping requirement; the balance of the camping (10 nights) must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps of, at most, three nights each. Ship nights may be counted as camping for Sea Scouts.
  • At the time of their election, youth must be under the age of 21, and hold one of the following ranks corresponding to the type unit in which they are being considered for election: Scouts BSA First Class rank, the Venturing Discovery Award, or the Sea Scout Ordinary rank or higher, and following approval by the Scoutmaster, Crew Adviser or Sea Scout Skipper, be elected by the youth members of their unit.
  • Adults (age 21 or older) who meet the camping requirements may be selected following nomination to and approval by the lodge adult selection committee.

A Little more Explanation

Registered member of BSA

  • This means that youth must be a member of a chartered unit - a Scouts BSA Troop (boy or girl troop), a Venturing Crew, or a Sea Scouts Ship.
  • Adults must be registered as a member of a chartered unit or be registered as a member of the District or Council

Camping Nights

  • All camping nights counting towards eligibility must have taken place within the 24 months prior to the election. Camping nights that took place more than 24 months prior to the election cannot be counted.
  • Camping nights must be with BSA - camping with family, church groups or other organizations do not count toward the total of 15 nights.
  • Camping nights outside of a unit such as Jamboree or Philmont contingents do count toward the 15 nights. (This included any contingent that is camping such as Northern Tier, Sea Base, Summit, National or World Jamboree, VentureFest, NYLT, etc.)
  • There MUST be one long-term camp (5 nights) but only one long-term camp can be counted - for example: if a youth or adult went to two Summer Camps within the last two years and also went to Philmont with a contingent, they may only count 1 of those for long-term camping (5 nights). However the other two trips may count toward 3 nights of camping each. With the example above the first Summer camp could be counted as the long term camp (5 nights) and the second Summer camp could count as 3 camp nights and Philmont as 3 camp nights. 
  • A long term camp such as Summer Camp, Jamboree, Philmont, etc.may not be broken down into multiple long-term campouts. Even though Philmont is 14 days long, it MAY NOT be broken down into 7 short term camp outs. It may count as either a long-term (5 nights) or a short term (3 nights) camping experience. 
  • A single campout consisting of 
    • One night of camping counts as one (1) camping night
    • Two night of camping counts as two (2) camping nights 
    • Three to Four nights of counts as three (3) camping nights
    • Five or more nights of camping can count for no more than five (5) camping nights - or no more than 3 nights if counting as a short term campout.
  • Nights camping in an eligible unit count -
    • For example let's say a Scout is part of both a Troop and a Crew and has the following camp nights:
      • A long-term campout (5 nights) with the Council contingent for Northern Tier
      • A long-term campout (5 nights) with the Council contingent for VentureFest
      • Three (3) short term campouts with a Troop (3 x 2 nights = 6 nights)
      • One (1) short term campout with the Crew (1 x 2 nights = 2 nights).
      • Since both Troops and Crews are eligible to be inducted into the OA, then the Scout can count those nights as well as the Northern Tier contingent. However, since the Scout is counting Northern Tier as a long-term campout, the five night VentureFest may only count as 3 nights.
      •  This Scout has a total of 16 nights of camping (5 for Northern Tier, 3 for VentureFest, 6 with the Troop and 2 with the Crew)


  • All participant under the age of 21 meet the age requirement to be elected and to vote. 
  • All adults age 21 or older must be nominated by their unit committee chair or by their district or council if they are not associated with a unit. They must also meet the camping requirements to be nominated.
  • For example: A Troop has an Assistant Scoutmaster who is 20 years old, that Assistant Scoutmaster can be placed on the ballot and can vote in the election. However, in order to be placed on the ballot  they must meet all other requirements including rank, camping nights and Scoutmaster approval. The requirement are the same as youth, they must have attained the rank of First Class Scout while a Scout, have met the camping nights requirements within the last 24 months and have approval of the Scoutmaster. 
  • Age requirements are calculated at the time of the election. Aging out after election but prior to induction does not effect the eligibility or induction. 

Unit Leader Approval

  • Unit leader approval is at the sole discretion of the Unit Leader. Once the election has taken place, no one who was elected can be removed as a candidate. 

Adult Nominations

  • Adults 21 and above must be nominated by their Unit Committee.
  • Nominations do not need to be completed the same night as the Unit election but should be submitted shortly after. 
  • Nomination Ratio: A Unit may nominate two (2) adult for every 3 youth elected. For example, if a unit holds an election in which 10 youth are elected, they would be entitled to nominate 6.67 adults. Rounding up means they can nominate up to 7 adults.
  • Scoutmasters who have been in the position for at least 18 months do not count against the Nomination Ratio. 
  • Example 1: A Unit elects six(6) youth. Their Scoutmaster has been the Scoutmaster for 2 years. The Committee may nominate up to four (4) adults PLUS the Scoutmaster.
  • Example 2: A Unit elects eight (eight) youth. The Scoutmaster has been Scoutmaster for 15 months. The Committee may nominate six (6) adults ( (8 *.66 = 5.33 - round up to 6) . The unit can nominate 6 adults INCLUDING the Scoutmaster (the Scoutmaster does count against the nomination ratio in this case because he has less than 18 months in that position.
  • Being nominated does not guarantee an individual will be confirmed as a Candidate to go through Induction. All adult nominations must be approved by the Lodge in order to attend induction.
No. of Youth elected Maximum No. of Adults That Can Be Nominated
0 0
1 1 + Unit Leader*
2 2+ Unit Leader*
3 2 + Unit Leader*
4 3 + Unit Leader*
5 4 + Unit Leader*
6 4 + Unit Leader*
7 5 + Unit Leader*
8 6 + Unit Leader*
9 6 + Unit Leader*
10 7 + Unit Leader*
11 8 + Unit Leader*
12 8 + Unit Leader*
And So Forth

* A Unit Leader MUST have 18 month's in the Unit Leader position at time of nomination in order to not count against the total allowed adult nominations. If the Unit Leader has less than 18 months, they may be nominated but count against the maximum allowed adult nominations. 

All elected youth and approved nominations are considered Candidates for the Order of the Arrow. 

All Candidate have one (1) year from the time of election or nomination to attend their Induction (also know as Ordeal).