Current OA publications require the following camping requirement for eligibility to be elected into the OA:
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.
The following temporary modifications to the above have been in effect “until further notice”:
Virtual [short-term] camping (i.e., backyard or solo camping) may be counted toward the required nights of camping for OA election eligibility if all the following stipulations are met:
- All virtual camping nights should be a direct result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and be part of a BSA unit-organized unit camping event (i.e., multiple members of the unit are involved and camping simultaneously at remote locations).
- Some form of unit-organized communications should occur either during or immediately following the event.
- All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines should be followed.
- No more than three (3) nights of virtual camping are to be credited in any month in which government- or council-imposed COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
Virtual long-term camping of five (5) consecutive nights is authorized to be counted toward the long-term camping requirements for OA eligibility consistent with the above guidance and the following additional guidelines:
- A long-term camp plan must be developed and approved by the unit leader prior to the commencement of the long-term camp. This plan is to be individualized to each Scout’s capabilities and situation and should strive to include:
- Progress toward advancement for each Scout
- Outdoor relevant experience consistent with local conditions and restrictions
- Unit-organized communications should occur on a daily basis during the camping experience and include discussion of progress made on summer camp goals.
- An end-of-camp assessment must be conducted with the unit leader to report on progress made during the experience itself and discuss how future virtual long-term camping experiences can be enhanced. During this assessment the unit leader will make the determination if the Scout’s participation warrants granting credit for a completed virtual long-term camping experience in terms of OA eligibility.
Feedback from our lodge leaders indicates that existing requirements will substantially limit the number of Scouts that will be eligible for election during the 2021 election cycle as a result of reduced camping opportunities during the pandemic period. As a result, the following modifications to the above policies have been approved by the National Order of the Arrow Committee. It is emphasized that only these provisions have been changed. All other requirements of the temporary camping policy remain in effect.
Changes in OA election eligibility requirements for the calendar year 2021 election cycle ONLY:
- The limitation on counting no more than three (3) nights of short-term camping in a single month is increased to five (5) nights per month. All other requirements for virtual short-term camping eligibility remain in effect.
- The requirement for a long-term camp of five (5) consecutive nights is relaxed. While council long-term camps should be utilized if available, any combination of short-term and/or long-term nights, in camp or virtual, that are part of a BSA unit-organized unit camping event held within the two years prior to election may be counted toward the 15 night requirement.
- In cases where lodges have already begun their 2021 election cycle:
- Units which have already held a 2021 election are authorized to hold one additional election.
- Only individuals who were ineligible at the time of the first election due to the camping requirement then in effect can be eligible for this second election.
- To be eligible, the Scout must have met the revised requirements at the time of their first unit’s election.
- This second election must be completed no later than May 1, 2021.