Carroll A. Edson (1891-1986)   

Carroll A. Edson



History of the Order of the Arrow

The Order of the Arrow (OA) was founded by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson in 1915 at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council, Boy Scouts of America. When it was first founded, it was intended to improve the older scouts' summer camp experience. The program was a huge success, and in 1916 and 1917, the Order of the Arrow's first lodge was formed, the Unami Lodge. In 1921, Goodman held the first National Order of the Arrow Meeting, creating the National Lodge of the Order of the Arrow. This meeting also established the name, "Order of the Arrow." It was previously known as Wimachtendienk. Wimachtendienkas a term originally coined by Edson, meaning, "Brotherhood,"in the Indian Delaware's language. It became an official program experiment in 1922 and was approved as part of the Scouting program in 1934. In 1948, the OA was recognized as the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers and became an official part of the national camping program of the Boy Scouts of America. That year also marked the time when the OA was fully integrated as an official part of the Scouting program.

Dr. Goodman once said: 



"The Order of the Arrow is a 'thing of the spirit' rather than of mechanics. Organization, operational procedure, and paraphernalia are necessary in any large and growing movement, but they are not what count in the end. The things of the spirit count: Brotherhood, in a day when there is too much hatred at home and abroad; Cheerfulness, in a day when the pessimists have the floor; Service, in a day when millions are interested only in getting or grasping rather than giving." - Order of the Arrow Handbook. BSA. 1977.

Today, the OA is recognized as Scouting's National Honor Society. Throughout the long history of the Order of the Arrow, more than one million Scouts and Scouters have worn the OA sash around their uniform. Currently, there are approximately 180,000 members in the Order of the Arrow.