To become eligible for election to participate in the Ordeal, a Boy Scout, Venturing Scout, or Sea Scout must meet the following requirements:
- Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America.
- Have experienced 15 nights of camping while registered with a troop, crew, or ship within the two years immediately prior to the election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. Only five nights of the long-term camp may be credited toward the 15-night camping requirement; the balance of the camping (10 nights) must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps of, at most, three nights each. Ship nights may be counted as camping for Sea Scouts.
- At the time of their election, youth must be under the age of 21, hold the Scouts BSA First Class rank, the Venturing Discovery Award, or the Sea Scout Ordinary rank or higher, and following approval by the Scoutmaster, Crew Advisor or Sea Scout Skipper, be elected by the youth members of their unit.
Candidates for youth membership shall be elected by other youth members in accordance with policies set forth by the national Order of the Arrow committee. Completion of the Ordeal is the youth’s final task in entering the Order of the Arrow.
Each year, upon holding a troop or team election for youth candidates that results in at least one youth candidate being elected, the unit committee may nominate adults to the lodge adult selection committee, composed of the lodge adviser, the chairman of the council committee on which the lodge adviser serves, and the lodge staff adviser. Adult nomination forms are provided by the lodge and must be completed to consider the adult unit leader for induction to the Order of the Arrow. The number of adults nominated can be no more than one-third of the number of youth candidates elected, rounded up where the number of youth candidates is not a multiple of three. In addition to the one-third limit, the unit committee may nominate the currently serving unit leader (but not assistant leaders), as long as he or she has served as unit leader for at least the previous 12 months. Recommendations of the adult selection committee, with the approval of the Scout executive, serving as Supreme Chief of the Fire, will be candidates for induction, provided the following conditions are fulfilled:
- Selection of the adult is based on the ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose, and not for recognition of service, including current or prior achievement and positions.
- The individual will be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities that fulfill the purpose of the Order.
- The camping requirements set forth for youth members are fulfilled.
- The adult leader’s membership will provide a positive example for the growth and development of the youth members of the lodge.
Nomination into the Order of the Arrow of an adult Scouter should take place only when the adult's job in Boy Scouting will make Order of the Arrow membership more meaningful in the lives of the youth membership. Conditions listed on the Unit Adult Candidate Recommendation form MUST be fulfilled.