Recently, changes have been made to the Order of the Arrow’s guidebooks. The Field Operations Guide was renamed the Field Operations Handbook, and the Guide for Officers and Advisers was renamed the Handbook for Officers and Advisers. These documents have been updated from “guides” to “handbooks” because they contain specific rules and requirements the national committee set out for lodges and sections to abide by. Moreover, these changes reflect the restructuring from four regions to two, the reorganization of the national OA committee, and the elimination of the region staff adviser role. Read on to learn about the specific changes to the Handbook for Officers and Advisers and the Field Operations Handbook!
As mentioned, the updated handbooks contain specific requirements that, when fulfilled, allow lodges and sections to operate efficiently. Further clarification has thus been offered to aid leaders in their duties to their lodges.
The revisions for the Handbook for Officers and Advisers are as follows:
- Expanded “Health and Safety Section,” including new rules for Short Term Camps. A short-term camp is any council-organized overnight camping program, ranging from one to three nights, with staffing, program, and food services provided. All National Camp Accreditation Program (NCAP) procedures must be followed for any short-term camp.
- Replaced most of the “Communication” section with a link to the OA Communications Toolkit
- Added clarification on Youth Protection Training for special needs members.
- Updated ceremonial attire paragraph to cover alternatives to American Indian ceremonial attire. Approved alternatives include the full field uniform or black shirt and pants with ceremonial medallions. Current OA sashes should also be worn with ceremonial attire alternatives.
- Removed discontinued national programs.
Similarly, the Field Operations Handbook has been revised to clarify section-specific rules. These rules allow for improved planning and completion of OA events.
The revisions for the Field Operations Handbook are as follows:
- Added new section rules related to health and safety (within Rules III and V). All section activities, including conclaves and conferences, must adhere to BSA health and safety requirements in the Youth Protection Training and NCAP programs, including providing meals, adequate sleeping and meeting facilities, first aid medical arrangements, religious services, and so forth.
- Appointment of advisers (within Rule III).
- BSA membership and Youth Protection Training verification for conclaves (new Rule VIII. D). Section leadership must ensure a process is in place to verify the BSA registration status and, for those at least 18 years old, current completion of the Youth Protection Training program for all conclave delegates, conclave staff, and guests who are BSA members or leaders. Unless given explicit approval by their council Scout executive or designated representative, any member with an expired BSA registration may not attend a conclave. Those whose Youth Protection Training is not current must successfully complete the training upon arrival at the conclave.
- Clarified requirements for insurance and the national activity surcharge for conclaves.
These revisions are vital to the future leadership of our organization. Leaders can find the updated handbooks online at oa-bsa.org/resources/publications. By updating our documents to reflect recent changes, lodge leaders are equipped with the information they need to communicate effectively and adapt to new circumstances. These additional resources help clarify existing regulations and are more readily available to youth and adult members. Moreover, by changing these items from “guides” to “handbooks,” leaders can better understand the rules and requirements to create a safe and productive Scouting environment.