The Process of Obtaining Ordeal Knowledge
After election from his Troop or unit, a Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or Scouter is considered an Ordeal Candidate until he completes the Ordeal of the Order. If the candidate does not complete his (or her, in the case of adults) Ordeal within 12 months of being elected, they are no longer a candidate and cannot go through his Ordeal unless they are elected again by his unit.
Purpose of the Ordeal
It is the purpose of the ordeal to have the candidate reflect on his own Scout life and character and come to a deeper understanding of the Scout Oath or Promise and the principles of the Order.
The steps required to complete the Ordeal membership are defined clearly. Once a person has been elected to the Order of the Arrow by his unit members, he is formally recognized as a candidate. This is done at a calling out ceremony, usually conducted by the ceremonies team in an outdoor setting. The candidate takes part in a brief pre-Ordeal ceremony, then an actual Ordeal (series of tests) to prove his sincere dedication to the principles of the Order of the Arrow. Finally, if he qualifies, he is accepted as a member in a colorful and memorable ceremony. This ceremony marks the completion of all of the rights and priviledges in the Order of the Arrow. The member can run for any office, be on any committee, etc..
Path of Brotherhood Knowledge
Brotherhood is an opportunity for members to evaluate their past service to Scouting (camping and unit involvement) and to their lodge, and to reaffirm their belief in the high purposes of the Order. Once an Arrowman has been an active Ordeal member for at least 10 months, he (or she, in the case of adults) may choose to seal his membership by becoming Brotherhood. It is important to note that Brotherhood is the only OA level that a Scout may choose for himself. (Ordeals are elected by their units; Vigil honorees are selected by their Lodge.) The Brotherhood process can easily be completed in an afternoon. The test and ceremony are intended to be sources of inspiration that motivate brothers to give even greater service to Scouting. The meaning and purpose of the tests of the Ordeal will become much more clear at the Brotherhood ceremony.
From the inception of the Order of the Arrow in 1915, all members are equal. There are no ranks. Brotherhood membership does not provide a special degree of rank, status, or special honor similar to that of Vigil Honor. Outside of making arrangements for Brotherhood ceremonies, Brotherhood members do not meet as a separate group. In fact, social and service activities cannot be held for Brotherhood members apart from regular lodge members.
The Vigil Honor
The Vigil Honor is the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can present its members for service to the lodge and council. It dates back to the year 1915, when OA's founder, E. Urner Goodman, became the first Vigil Honor member. Since then, thousands of members have been given this honor. Once an Arrowman has been Brotherhood for at least 2 years, he (or she, in the case of adults) may be considered for Vigil honor by the Lodge members. Generally, only 2% of the Arrowmen in a Lodge will achieve Vigil in any year.
It is a high mark of distinction and recognition reserved for those Arrowmen who have given exceptional service, helping others beyond the call of duty involving personal effort and unselfish interest to one or more of the following: their lodge, the Order of the Arrow, their Council, Scouting, or their Scout camp. Under no circumstances should tenure in Scouting or the Order of the Arrow be considered as ample reason for a Vigil Honor recommendation.
Alertness to the needs of others is the mark of the Vigil Honor. This calls for an unusual awareness of the possibilities within each situation. Vigil Honor members have a time-honored tradition to uphold. As leaders, they must conduct themselves in accordance with the ideals of Scouting and the Order of the Arrow.