For years and years, young females have had to sit and watch as their brothers enjoyed all the fun that Boy Scouts has to offer, specifically through the Order of the Arrow (OA). But over this past summer, the OA announced that its policy would be changed to allow Scouts BSA units, Venturing Scouts, and Sea Scouts to be elected into the Order of the Arrow. “I remember my brother joining and I am so happy to be a part of this family,” said a young venturer who was inducted into Tamegonit Lodge the very weekend that this new policy went into effect (February 1st). But becoming one of the first lodges to induct youth females was no easy task. This event took months of planning by the Tamegonit Lodge officer corps, and it all started when, then Tamegonit Lodge Chief, Blake Steinmetz heard the news.
Lodge Chief Blake Steinmetz immediately sprang into action after hearing the news of the OA’s policy change, contacting the rest of his lodge leadership to ensure that they were on board. His next step was to contact the Venturing Officers Association in his Council, Heart of America, to get their support.
After many months of planning and preparation, and a new lodge officer corps–of which Brian Blood was elected the new Lodge Chief–the event finally came together. “It was a crazy experience,” Blood said. “It was finally happening. We don’t normally do elections on induction weekends, so this was something new we didn’t quite know how to handle.”
Immediately following elections, Tamegonit Lodge held a Call Out ceremony to induct each candidate who had been elected by their unit. Candidates for membership then participated in The Ordeal, a series of tasks designed to test their sincere dedication to the high ideals of Scouting and the Order of the Arrow.
On Saturday as the candidates worked hard to provide cheerful service to Theodore Naish Scout Reservation heads turned everywhere, impressed by the hard work they were putting in – everyone could tell these candidates really wanted to be there, and were excited to join the Order of the Arrow.
The Ordeal wasn’t the only thing going on at camp that weekend, however. The Lodge Executive Committee had planned a winter klondike–though with the weather reaching upwards of 60 degrees on Saturday in Kansas–it turned more into a Scout skills workshop. Those attending: new Scouts BSA troops, mostly females. They participated in activities from fire building to first aid, knot tying, and more. “You should have seen the smiles on their faces.” said Blood, “They loved getting down and dirty and doing the activities. And they were really learning some valuable skills along the way.”
The day finally came to a close after dinner with the induction ceremonies. After a brotherhood ceremony was the big one everyone had been waiting for – The Ordeal Ceremony. The Tamegonit Lodge ceremony team went through all aspects of the ceremony, but when it got to the obligation, and it was recited in mostly soprano and alto voices, the audience was almost brought to tears as this milestone became a reality. Finally, by eight o’clock, the 28 new ordeal candidates, 18 of which were youth female Venturers, were sashed and welcomed as Ordeal Members in the Order of the Arrow.
Pictures were taken and the customary coups of Tamegonit Lodge were presented – specially made by a long time adult member of Tamegonit – and everyone headed to cracker barrel for celebration and fellowship.
In talking with some of the newly inducted ordeal members of Tamegonit Lodge, many expressed how special and memorable of an experience this was to them. “I am really excited to be in the Order as so many of my family members and best friends have joined, so it’s great that I now have the opportunity to join and give my service,” said one inductee.
Tamegonit is just one of the many lodges that have already welcomed females into their ranks, with more and more lodges inducting new female members every day. This is an exciting time for the Order, and only time will tell just how bright of a future is ahead for the Order of the Arrow.