It has recently come to my attention that the Order of the Arrow (OA) now puts every eligible scouter over the age of 18 to 21 on the troop youth ballot. This demotion from adult leadership back to youth leadership unfairly and artificially increases youth election numbers. The eligible adult scout leaders in the past just needed to fill out the form and be endorsed by the troop committee. This process is now just for scouters over 21? Apparently, back in 2022, there was a fragmented sentence inserted into the election procedure. I believe that the spirit of this change was to be inclusive to crews, and ships that define adults as over 21. In Scouts BSA (troops) an adult is anyone over the age of 18.
I believe that the Order of the Arrow is trying to deal with this 18-21 issue. In the past many turning 18 would choose to move their membership to Venturing or Sea Scouts to keep their youth status within the OA. It was not clear in this statement of procedure whether this carries through as a voting youth member in the order. Will a 20-year-old Assistant Scoutmaster (registered adult) in a troop, be excluded from voting in a youth OA lodge or chapter election?
It’s not clear within this election procedure what the repercussions are. Scouts BSA troops are well defined in that youth are under 18 years of age. Everyone active with the troop over the age of 18 is required to register as an adult. After filling out the adult application and passing a background check, a certificate of Youth Protection Training (YPT) is also required. Consider the humiliation of an adult leader being forced to be put on a youth election ballot. How do you think that adult leader would feel if they weren’t elected into the Order of the Arrow?
There are a lot of questions that this obscure and partial sentence affects in an election procedure from 2022. I’m sure that it was not an attempt to rewrite the age requirements for everything in Scouting. Scouts BSA is quite clear in its definition of what youth and adults (under or over 18) can and cannot do. We need to define a new “Young Adult” leadership within Scouts BSA as over 18 and under 21 years of age. This “Young Adult Leader” definition must come from National and not its subsidiary Honor Society. Most scouts and scouters would be good with the responsibility as an adult with many of the benefits of being a youth extended.