Include Venturers in the Order of the Arrow
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On Wednesday October 11, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) made the fateful decision to finally allow girls to participate in its program. In the fall of 2018, girls starting at age 5 may join Cub Scout packs. Along with this, a program for older girls is expected to be ready by the fall of 2019. This is great news for a lot of people, but for some it has come just a little too late.
My name is Kyrie Garlic. I am eighteen years old and a member of Venture Crew 1849 from the Arrowhead District of the Rio Grande Council in Texas. Venturing is a co-ed branch of Boy Scouts for individuals aged 14-20 with an interest in the outdoors and high adventure. I grew up in Scouting, getting involved with Venturing as soon as I was old enough. I have visited all four national BSA high adventure bases--Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier, Florida Sea Base, and the Summit Bechtel Reserve--; I have staffed three NYLT courses, two as Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders and one as the Senior Patrol Leader; I have staffed at my council's summer camp for three consecutive summers, serving as the Pool Director and Staff Senior Patrol Leader this past summer; I was Secretary, Vice President of Program, and President of my crew and led them in countless service efforts at my council's events, teaching a myriad of things (such as Native American Sign Language at the Order of the Arrow's 2017 pow-wow). The people in my council know my name and I am starting to get involved with Scouting on an area level as well. But I cannot be in the Order of the Arrow because I am not a Boy Scout. And I will never be one. Because the Boy Scouts of America is for youths aged 12 to 18. I turned eighteen on February 4, 2017 and the decision to let girls into Boy Scouts came eight months too late.
Because Boy Scouts was gender-exclusive up to this fall, most girls interested in getting involved with the program were drawn to Venturing. A lot of the girls in Venturing are in it because of their interest in Boy Scouts, and this new change to allow girls into Boy Scouts is great, but it doesn't do anything for those Venturing youths between 18 and 20. They are already past the age cap so therefore the new ruling does not afford them any new opportunities. They are still Venturers however, and Venturing offers most of the same experiences as Boy Scouts: Venturers can attend national high adventure bases, they can staff Boy Scout camps, they can attend trainings such as the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE). There is, however, one door that has remained shut to Venturers, and that is entrance into the Order of the Arrow: the honor society of the Boy Scouts of America. Since girls are already being admitted into Boy Scouts, it makes sense that girls will slowly be integrated into the Order as time passes. However, that does not account for the girls in Venturing for whom this decision has come too late.
That is why I am proposing Venturers should be allowed into the Order of the Arrow as well, along with those involved with the more mainstream Scouting program. The age range for the Order of the Arrow is 12 to 20, which coincidentally lines up with that of Venturing. A youth in Venturing is still a youth in the Order of the Arrow, meaning those girls who are not young enough to fully participate in Boy Scouts should still be able to join the Order of the Arrow through Venturing. The most recent statement on Venturers in the Order of the Arrow is that Venturing is a separate program from Boy Scouts and Venturers should therefore make a separate honor society. However, this is not a fair justification because Venturers are Boy Scouts. Their uniform says "Venturing, BSA" above the right chest pocket. They say the Boy Scout Oath and Law at every meeting. They are held to the same standards as Boy Scouts. They serve in leadership roles within their councils like Boy Scouts.
oa-bsa.org states, "As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose is to:
- Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.
- Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.
- Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.
- Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others."
Even if Venturers are not technically classified as Boy Scouts, they are classified as Scouts. So if the Order of the Arrow is going to truly call itself "Scouting's National Honor Society", it should not discriminate against a certain branch of Scouts, especially one that is popular mainly because up until recently it was the only way girls could get involved with Boy Scouts. All four bullet points in the purpose statement can easily apply to Venturers who can "exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives" like any Boy Scout. Venturers are just as much "leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation" as their Boy Scout counterparts.
By signing this petition, you are demonstrating to the Boy Scouts of America and the Order of the Arrow that Venturers are just as much Scouts as Boy Scouts and that they deserve the equal opportunity to participate in its honor society.
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