The Order of the Arrow is the "honor society" of Boy Scouts. A boy is elected by his troop to become a candidate for the Order and then must undergo an "ordeal" to be accepted into full membership. Thereafter, the boy participates in various service projects and fun activities.
So one day I was reading one of my favorite blogs, when suddenly a guy named Justin comes out with this:
Speaking of the Order of the Arrow, when are state CPS agencies and police going to do something about the little camps of horror euphemistically known as Order of the Arrow “Ordeals”?
When, as a young scout, I was being silenced, essentially starved, hazed by other scouts, ordered by leaders to march for unknown distances in the darkness through the woods, subjected to bizarre campfire ceremonies put on by strangers wearing faux–and creepily indecent–Native American getup, commanded to spend the night in an open field (without any protection from bears, badgers, wolverines, chupracabras, or the natural elements), and forced to perform hours of manual labor (in violation of all child labor laws) at one such Ordeal, did anyone respond to my calls for help? No.
I immediately began a Mama Bear freak out and posted the following request for information:
To OA Survivors:
So…my son has just been invited to become a member of the Order of the Arrow. Ordeal? Secrecy? He was recommended by nice guys in our ward. Will he come back in one piece? Will he be broken in spirit and body? What’s the deal?
I was pointed to this thread, which relates the various privations and labors the boys were forced to endure and most specifically this comment, which relates a herd of horses trampling a set of OA candidates as they slept under the stars in an open field.
I was decided. No way was this mama bear letting her cub go to such an INSANE experience. I informed my J-boy of my decision. And it was his turn to say:
The boy was having no part in being babied. I ran it past my husband who helpfully said, "Whatever. It's up to him." I forced J to read the entire thread on OA horror stories. His reaction?
"Wimps? Dislocated shoulders, concussions, starvation? Son, are you INSANE?"
"OK, the horse thing was bad, but for the rest of it, I just kept thinking, 'What wimps.' So I'm going right?"
And reluctantly I agreed to let him go. Yesterday night I drove him, his buddy D, and a car full of grumpy munchkins two hours to their ordeal. When I suggested they bone up on their sign language in preparation for their day of silence, D came up with the sign for "Horses coming. Beware."
We arrived at dusk. After a minute of going over paperwork with the friendly OA grownup in charge, I turned to perform my good-bye ritual: a hug, a kiss, the warning to wear sunblock and bug repellent, and the assurance that I was sure he'd do great.
Too late. He was gone. Off to become a man.