The Order of the Arrow has three distinct organizational levels; lodges, sections, and regions. Lodges carry out the Order of the Arrow program at the local level and are closely tied with BSA councils. Sections consist of several lodges within a geographic region and regions in turn consist of sections within a geographic region of the United States. Lodges, sections, and regions each have a distinct set of responsibilities which ensure that the OA program runs smoothly.
Chapters provide the ability to have meetings closer to home and meetings and events can be scheduled to coincide with the district events. They are central to providing quality unit visits for camping promotion and unit OA elections. If a lodge has chapters, there will generally be one chapter for each district of the council. Each chapter has its own officers and advisers, the officers being elected by the youth OA members within the chapter, and the advisers being appointed by the Scout executive often with the consultation of the lodge adviser and district executive(s).
At the local level, lodges exist to serve BSA councils and individual units. The key leaders in the lodge are the youth lodge chief, volunteer adult lodge adviser, and staff adviser. The lodge chief presides over the Lodge Executive Committee, which is responsible for executing the annual program of the lodge. While each lodge is different, many lodges have one or more vice chiefs, a secretary, and a treasurer, as well as committee chairmen responsible for various aspects of the lodge’s program. Many lodges, especially large ones where additional structure is necessary, have chapters. These often align with BSA districts and execute the program of the lodge on a community level.
An Order of the Arrow section consists of lodges within a geographic area of the region. Each section is led by a chief, vice chief, and secretary, who play a crucial part in making the annual Conclave a success. The section may lead training seminars, promote national programs of emphasis, and provide resources to local lodges. The section chief presides over the Council of Chiefs, attended by delegates of each member lodge.
Each year the approximately fifty elected section chiefs are invited to a national planning meeting in Dallas, TX. The section chiefs form the conference committee for a national Order of the Arrow event, such as the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC), which is held under the guidance of the national Order of the Arrow committee.
The Order of the Arrow, like the Boy Scouts of America, is organized into four geographical regions: Central, Northeast, Southern, and Western. Each region is led by a youth region chief, a volunteer region chairman, and a region staff adviser. The region leadership helps execute the national program on a more local level, implements the National Leadership Seminar and Developing Youth Leadership Conference, provides its member sections with resources, and facilities communication between local organizations and the national OA committee.
At the national level, the Order of the Arrow is governed by the national Order of the Arrow committee. The national committee sets policy, directs the national program of the Order, and broadly manages the organization above the local lodge level. The committee is composed of the national chief and national vice chief (and their immediate predecessors), who are elected annually at the national planning meeting; the chairman, who is appointed annually by the chairman of the national Outdoor Adventures committee; other volunteer members, appointed by the chairman; and two staff members, the director of the Order of the Arrow and the OA specialist.