Thursday, February 6, 2014

Those Places Thursday (February 6, 2014) -- NOACs

The Participant Patch for the 2000 NOAC


To medical professionals and the pharmaceutical industry, NOACs are "New Oral Anticoagulants" used in treating certain kinds of heart disease or anomalies. For members of the Boy Scouts of America, however, NOACs are the National Order of the Arrow Conferences that occur about every two years.

The Order of the Arrow or "OA" has been described as the "national honor society" of the Boy Scouts of America. It was founded in 1915 by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council.  The camp was located on two islands in the Delaware River between Point Pleasant, PA and Frenchtown, NJ.

The Order is built around themes and traditions of the American Indian and members of the Order are known as Brothers or Arrowmen. Somewhat unusually, membership in the Order is based on selection by other Scouts who are most often not themselves members of the Order of the Arrow.  Selection is based on an election where members of a Troop annually select those Scouts in their troop that they believe best exemplify the ideals and goals of Scouting. Eligible youth must have attained the rank of at least First Class and have a certain level of camping experience.

Once Scouts are nominated for membership via an election, they then attend an Ordeal weekend following their call-out at a ceremony during summer camp or at a district-wide camporee. The Ordeal is set up to safely test a candidate's commitment to service and self-sacrifice.  Candidates participate in a welcoming campfire ceremony conducted by youth members in Indian garb.  The ceremony emphasizes the meaning and goals of the Order and "service to others." Candidates who wish to become members then take a vow of silence and agree to spend a day of "arduous labor" doing camp improvements and other service projects. They also agree to receive little food during the day of the Ordeal.  Once they agree, they are led into the woods to spend the night alone with no shelter before rising early the next day to begin silent service to others through their labors.

There are more than 180,000 youth and adult members of the Order of the Arrow today and they represent about one-seventh of the total membership of the Boy Scouts. Since 1953 there have been no honorary memberships bestowed in the Order. [Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower were two honorary members before such memberships were ceased.] There are no "ranks" within the Order, but there are three levels of "honor": Ordeal; Brotherhood; and Vigil. Our sons and I are members of the Order of the Arrow. Both sons were youth members of the ceremonies teams and our younger son was a member of a ceremony competition team that competed at the National Order of the Arrow Conferences in 2000 and 2002.

A National Order of the Arrow Conference or NOAC is a multi-day event that almost always takes place on the campus of a large university during the school's summer recess.  Thousands of Arrowmen from OA lodges around the country participate in these events to attend leadership courses, engage in sports competitions, ceremonial competitions, Indian dances, Indian culture courses, patch trading, and fellowship.  The first actual NOAC was held in 1948 at Indiana University.  Since then there have been thirty-one NOACs at universities such as Michigan State, Iowa State, Colorado State, Rutgers, Purdue, U. of Texas (Austin), U. of California (Santa Barbara), the Universities of Wyoming, Kansas, Illinois, and Nebraska among others.  The next NOAC will be held in 2015 at Michigan State University. Indiana University has hosted ten NOACs thus far, the most of any university.

Each NOAC has a theme that is based on concepts and quotes from the Order of the Arrow ceremonies.  Participant patches, neckerchiefs and other items display the theme for the NOAC as shown in the items depicted in this post.

Official neckerchief for the 2000 NOAC

In 2000, our younger son and I attended the NOAC held at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) as delegate members of a contingent from Amangamek Wipit Lodge 470, of the National Capital Area Council.  It was the third time a NOAC had been held at UT Knoxville. The others were in 1977 and 1992.

The special combined pocket patch and 'hanger" for
Amangamek Wipit Lodge 470 delegates to the 2000 NOAC

In 2002 our younger son also attended the NOAC held at Indiana University.

The Participant Patch for the 2002 NOAC 
  
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Photographs by the author of items in the author's personal collection. 


For more information about NOACs, see, http://history.oa-bsa.org/node/3202

For a list of all the NOACs and other Order of the Arrow national events, see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Order_of_the_Arrow_national_events
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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