About OA High Adventure


Imagine hiking through some of the same territories as Waite Phillips, Dr. Goodman and other noteworthy Scouting figures. Imagine forming a team, coming into an experience as strangers, but leaving as friends for a lifetime. Few people get to experience the world’s natural beauty and understand what true fellowship is all about. This summer, the Order of the Arrow invites you to this rare occasion and to participate in the OA High Adventure program.


Available Programs

The Order of the Arrow Trail Crew program is one of the best ways to experience Scouting’s premier high adventure base, Philmont Scout Ranch. For two weeks, participants see and experience all that Philmont has to offer and much more. For the first week, participants will build backpacking trail in the backcountry. During the second week, Arrowmen will experience Philmont at its finest. Unlike regular treks, Trail Crews make their own itinerary, instead of selected from pre-planned routes. You can do and see just about anything; from the Tooth of Time to Baldy Mountain, from music shows to burro racing, your crew decides!


The Order of the Arrow Wilderness Voyage program is an extraordinary adventure. For two weeks, you will join together with Arrowmen from around the country and experience all that the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota has to offer. The first week is spent giving back to the Boundary Waters through portage trail restoration work. Participants have the opportunity to leave their mark on the Boundary Waters that will enable millions of visitors each year to better enjoy their experience. The second part is a trek planned by the crew. From Curtain Falls in the West to the Height of Land in the East, with pictographs along the way, crews have done and seen it all in the Boundary Waters.


The Order of the Arrow Canadian Odyssey program is an incredible experience. For two weeks, you will join together with Arrowmen from around the country and experience the wild beauty of the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. Like it’s U.S. counterpart the first week of the program is spent giving back to the Quetico through portage trail restoration work. The second part consists of a canoe trek through the rugged wilderness of Quetico Provincial Park.


The Order of the Arrow Ocean Adventure program is a 9 day program in the Florida Keys. Experience the the history, beauty, and secluded environment of the Dry Tortugas National Park. This program includes working on various service projects benefiting the thousands of park visitors and staff. Being 68 miles west of Key West, this unique environment allows Arrowmen to snorkel in pristine reefs, kayak on the open water, and fish unlike anywhere else in the nation.


The Order of the Arrow Summit Experience program is an experience like no other. For 8 days, you will join together with Arrowmen from around the country and experience all that the Summit in West Virginia has to offer. Four days of the program will be focused on building or maintaining trails around the Summit, and the New River Gorge National River Area. The remainder of the experience will revolve around white water rafting, along with mountain biking, climbing, and participation in other Summit activities.



Arrowmen planning to attend an OA High Adventure program are encouraged to apply for a scholarship from the Western Region. Scholarships are up to $325 and can be applied toward the fee for any OA High Adventure program. To learn more, visit the Western Region website

In addition, Section W-1S and/or your lodge may have scholarships available toward OA High Adventure programs. Reach out to the Section W-1S OA High Adventure Committee or your lodge leadership for more information. 


Out of everything I did in Scouting, I can’t think of anything more incredible than OA high adventure. In two weeks, I was able to see sights that I will never forget, face challenges that I never thought I could overcome, and made many lifelong friends. Building trail, climbing mountains, portaging canoes, and learning how to work with people from across America was dirty, difficult, sometimes awful, but always rewarding and inspirational. OA high adventure is where I learned what brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service, actually means.


Cameron Mulder, 2000 Western Region Chief

I attended OA Trail Crew at Philmont in the summer of 2009. To this day, it remains one of the best experiences of my life.

At the time, I was actually apprehensive about a two week-long backpacking trip - unusual for a Boy Scout, I know, but hopefully it's encouraging to others out there who may be similarly hesitant! My hesitation probably stemmed from a bad camping experience I had on one of my first trips after crossing over into Boy Scouts: a well-intentioned older scout, in an attempt to warm up my gloves after a cold winter night, accidentally set them on fire.

OATC, to say the least, went much better than that. It's entirely different from any other camping or backpacking experience you've had, because you're there with people from around the country, all seeking the same experience as you. You all want to work to make a lasting difference at Philmont by building and maintaining trails, so that generations after you can continue to enjoy the beautiful landscape. You all want to disappear into the wilderness and discover what new adventures await you each day, whether it's a camp where you can spend the day pole-climbing or blacksmithing, or whether it's a day spent conquering a 12,000' peak.

Simply put, there are no bad days at OATC. If the weather sours, you make it a group challenge to see how far you can get even with the force of nature trying to stop you. If you don't have gear you need, your brothers support you and selflessly give to ensure everyone is provided for. But most days? Most days, nothing feels like a challenge, because the entire outside world has melted away and you get to simply enjoy one of God's greatest creations in the serenity of your own thoughts and the bright cheer of new friends, while the sun warms your back and blue skies seem to stretch on endlessly before meeting tree-lined mountain vistas on the horizon.

There's a reason everyone who goes once, says, "I Want To Go Back To Philmont."

Dave Harrell, 2009 Western Region Chief

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Everybody always referred to Philmont as the Mecca of Scouting. I never understood that sentiment until I set foot onto base camp. I felt like I was on sacred ground. 

The OA Trail Crew program provides an unparalleled combination of adventure and service. The connection and camaraderie within our crew was instantaneous. We were brothers. When we were told that we were assigned to the Tooth of Time Trail, everybody cheered. We were so excited about getting to work on a piece of Philmont that everybody uses. To this day, whenever I see a Scouter wearing a bull on their jacket, I have to ask when they visited and which trail they used to get there. 18 years later I am still bursting with pride over the work we did. 

If I was told I could relive any of my Scouting experiences, Philmont High Adventure would be alone at the top of the list. Better than Jamboree. Better than NOAC. Better than summer camp.

Phillip Hunker | 2000 Section W-1S Chief (formerly Section W-1A)

This year I had the privilege of attending both Philmont Scout Ranch and Florida Sea Base in order to experience some of the greatest programs the Order of the Arrow has to offer! Being the ambitious scout that I was, last summer I decided to partake in TWO different high adventure programs back to back, which let me start off by saying it is not for the faint of heart… or even the strong of heart… The reason I say this is because each High Adventure program is chock full with new experiences, new friendships, endless fun, and serious service! Everyone leaves their High Adventure experience exhausted from the constant activities, growth, and everlasting memories! While it was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life, it was also one of the most memorable and one that I’ll never forget.

My adventure started with a flight down to Florida to start off the summer with OA Ocean Adventure! The week started out with the introductions of one another, swim tests, and a relaxing night at the Sea Base. But things were about to kick into high gear. The next morning we were woken up bright and early and it was off to Munson Island to start our adventure! After an early morning of canoeing, we landed on the island and set up camp. Brought with us was all the food and gear we would need for our stay on Munson Island. While the first day was spent touring the island, the next three days were all devoted to service. With our watches and phones left at Sea Base, there was little to no sense of time except for the position of the sun in the sky. We ate when we were hungry, we went to bed when we were tired, and we woke up when we’d had our fill of sleep. There was something incredibly peaceful about not worrying what time it was or when we had to have everything done by. After our three days of service on the island, it was time to head back to the mainland and start the next portion of our adventure! We canoed further up the ocean and landed at a scout camp where we spent the day providing service in a variety of tasks they had to help improve the program. After a long night under the stars, it was time to head to the final portion of our trip. A few of the Sea Base staff picked us up in a van and we all figured it was time to head back to base. Boy were we wrong. About half an hour down the road, we end up at a dock and begin loading all our stuff on a boat. Who would’ve guessed that our next three days would be spent on that boat!? During our time on the boat, we snorkeled with fish, learned how to navigate the seas, were taught how to sail in all kinds of conditions, and had the time of our lives! After our three days at sea, we headed back to shore and concluded our time with a feast fit for a king. While there’s only so much I can explain on paper, I can ensure you that my time at OAOA was one of the best experiences of my life and through it I grew in so many ways! If you ever get the chance to participate in OAOA, take that chance without a second thought!

Now like I said earlier, my adventure didn’t stop there. It was off to Philmont for two more weeks of High Adventure! I flew home just long enough to unpack, clean up, and pack a new bag and then it was off to OA Trail Crew. The first night was relaxing but just like OA Ocean Adventure, the next day kicked everything into high gear. Without a second of warning, we were rushing to pack all our things and hit the road. After a full day of hiking, we ended up at our campsite for the first week and set up camp. All the food, water, and tools we would need were packed in with us and after a full day of hiking and bringing in gear, we were all wiped. The next six days were spent building a trail into the side of a mountain. Now I want you to close your eyes for a second and imagine this. You follow a trail up a mountain for a mile and suddenly it ends. All you see is 30 degree sloped ground in front of you, covered in boulders and trees. That’s what was greeting us at the end of the trail. The amazing part was that by the end of our week there, we had pulled out trees, moved boulders, and created a very slightly sloping trail that could be walked by anybody! While it didn’t seem like much work was getting done each day, by the end of the week it was awe inspiring to see the amount of trail we had created, just us, in such a short period of time. The next week we split into two groups and had the option to create any kind of trek we desired. For my group, we spent the week summiting as many mountains as we could and exploring as much of the Philmont wilderness as humanly possible. The week was spent singing songs, sleeping under the stars, seeing absolutely breathtaking views, and producing an experience that I won’t soon forget. Like OAOA, this was another experience that helped me grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. But boy was I exhausted after my four weeks of adventure! 

The OA has provided me adventures that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. helped me meet close friends that I never would have met, and value so much about this world that I may never have gotten the chance to do. There’s no part of either trip that I will ever regret and like I said earlier, if you get the chance to participate in any of the High Adventure opportunities provided by the OA, take that chance without a second thought!


Tyler Inberg | 2016 National Vice Chief

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I won’t forget the day I left to go to Philmont. Little did I know that I’d be heading off on a two-week adventure that would turn into the most exciting summer of my life. After an entire day of travel, I finally made it to one of the most amazing places that I’d ever seen, Philmont Scout Ranch.

The first day kicked off Order of the Arrow Trail Crew with a small two-mile hike getting my new fellow brothers and myself out of base camp and hiking into the base of The Tooth of Time. Just seeing it made me excited for what I was about to experience for the next two weeks. Since I grew up in South Florida I never really saw any mountains or even big hills on a day to day basis, so waking up every day to a different one off in the distance was an experience like no other.

We were the first crew to set up camp 10,000 ft. above sea level at the work site. We had to make sure it came out perfect because that’s what every other crew would be using for the rest of the summer. During our first week out at Philmont we started to build trail and give back to the conservation of the Philmont property and staff. Building trail for the first week was probably one of the most astounding and best team building experiences I’ve ever had.

My Philmont experience didn’t end there though. During our second week out in the back country we visited all types of places from an abandoned mine, to a naturally made rock climbing wall, to eventually the top of The Tooth of Time. We spent many nights tired and ready to pass out from all the fun we had throughout every day. Order of the Arrow Trail Crew was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. Now I ask you, will you take the journey through not only Philmont but all the other beautiful High Adventure bases the OA has to offer you?

Adrian Aponte | O-Shot-Caw Lodge

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