In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) commenced the integration of sustainability at every level of its organization, promoted through the Sustainability Merit Badge and at the Summit Bechtel Reserve (Sustainability Treehouse). At the 2013 BSA Sustainability Summit, then-Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock presented sustainability as a timeless Scouting value practiced through a tradition of camping in the outdoors and shared a vision to move the BSA from green to deep green.

Indeed, the OA’s experience promoting camping and environmental stewardship makes sustainability a natural value to highlight in our own activities and programs.

“Focusing on sustainability in the OA is the natural progression in aligning the OA with the mission and values of the Boy Scouts of America. As part of the BSA, the OA must continue to look for ways to have a meaningful impact on balancing the priorities of effects on people, planet and prosperity. Our sustainability commitment demonstrates the OA’s resolve to place sustainability at the forefront of our programs and will allow us to show Arrowmen how this can be done in a very non-intrusive way,” says Chris Grove, Vice Chairman for Outdoor Adventures for the National Order of the Arrow Committee.

During the BSA’s 2017 National Annual Meeting, the National OA Committee adopted the following commitment:

OA Sustainability Commitment

Building upon the Order of the Arrow’s legacy in outdoor adventure and conservation service, sustainability can be viewed as the practice of environmental stewardship highlighted in the second tenet of the OA’s purpose.

A commitment to sustainability as a core Scouting value allows the OA to instill the spirit of servant leadership in its members by:

  • Creating a culture of environmental stewardship by considering the long-term impacts of today’s actions on the future.

  • Setting a positive, lasting example through the environmental, economic, and social aspects of its daily work, especially in the service to local Scouting councils and communities.

Upon the adoption of the OA sustainability commitment, 2017 National Chief Forrest Gertin remarked, “by saying that environmental sustainability means a lot to the OA, just as it does to a vast majority of the youth we serve, this commitment is an important step. Caring for the environment is part of our duty as Scouts and a focus on sustainability will energize youth members to be (and continue to be) a part of our program. Now, we can build upon our program with relevant activities that embrace sustainability as a timeless Scouting practice.”

Since May, the OA has continued to integrate sustainability as part of its programs. First, a provision was added in the national OA service grant application that encourages lodges to apply for and undertake projects that promotes environmental sustainability in the lodge and council program. The full list of 2018 recipients, including those focused on environmental sustainability, is available here.

In addition, NOAC 2018 will incorporate sustainability efforts throughout the conference, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of the national event and promote sustainability in its programs. 2018 Central Region Chief Will Coots will provide youth leadership to sustainability efforts at the conference. “As we move forward into our next century, we must not only protect our organization’s sustainability but also our environment’s sustainability. NOAC is a unique opportunity to get up to speed and propel us into the future,” Coots said. “The OA can serve as a leader among organizations that value environmental sustainability and there is no better kickoff event than NOAC 2018.” More information on how NOAC 2018 will advance the sustainability commitment will be available in the upcoming months.

Your feedback needed

In the meantime, to further inform how OA programs can best implement the sustainability commitment, the organization is seeking feedback from general membership on sustainability and environmental stewardship via a short online survey. This survey can be accessed until Sunday, January 21, 2018 by clicking here.

#OASustainability on social media

Use the hashtag #OASustainability on social media to share local stories, best practices, photos and video highlighting environmental sustainability in your council and lodge.