An app that lets Order of the Arrow members earn points by attending events and completing puzzles was among the technological tools developed at the inaugural OA Hackathon last month.

At the Hackathon, held at the Intel offices in Folsom, Calif., participants from across the country joined one of three “leagues.” Each league’s mission: to shape how the OA will use technology in the future.

The Connections League looked at ways to better communicate with Arrowmen. The Delivery League explored ways to run events more effectively. The Games League focused on creating fun games for future OA programs.

Within each league, teams of four had just 24 hours to come up with something special. They started brainstorming on Saturday morning. Then they presented their “hack” ideas before a panel of judges to receive feedback. They continued working throughout the night and submitted the as-finished-as-it-could-be version online early Sunday morning.

The champions in each league received some cool, tech-themed prizes: tablets, drones and bluetooth speakers.

The three winners

The Games League winner came up with OALeague, an app that aims to increase participation in OA events and boost knowledge about the OA among members.

Arrowmen earn Arrowheads to increase their rank on the leaderboard. As their level increases, they’ll earn cool, OA-themed card packs to trade and collect.

The Connections League winner developed Project ALLAN (Awesome Lodge Local Accessible Network). They realized that Scout camps often have poor internet connectivity, making websites worthless. So they developed an offline website that uses a cached web page to provide OA resources at all times.

The system includes offline chat functionality, too.

The Delivery League winner invented NOACTS (National OA Ceremonialist Training Platform). Their goal was to create “the premier training platform for ceremonialists across the country.” NOACTS helps Arrowmen memorize lines and learn pronunciation by quizzing them in an immersive way.

In the future, they want to add the ability to record a performance for an adviser’s review.

Youth-led, adult-supported

As with all the best OA events — from chapter meetings to the National Order of the Arrow Conference — the Hackathon was planned and led by youth.

Adults, including representatives from Intel, were on hand to provide support whenever necessary.

Noteworthy among the adults in attendance: Vijay Challa, the BSA’s chief technology officer, who spoke at the Hackathon banquet about the BSA’s efforts to enhance the movement’s technological profile.

OA National Chairman Mike Hoffman and National Director Matt Dukeman were also there to share how the idea for the OA Hackathon came about. They said the OA, despite having been around for more than a century, wants to be on the forefront of technological innovation within Scouting.

What’s next?

Multiple locations are being considered for the next OA Hackathon, projected to be held in fall 2018. Expect more information early next year.

In the meantime, the OA’s youth leaders are moving forward with a variety of projects presented at the 2017 Hackathon.

“We’re looking into potentially bringing on some of the teams to help with OA Lodgemaster integration, a new section website initiative, technology/ceremony integration, and the creation of a full-time OA mobile app,” says Tyler J. Inberg, the OA’s national technology coordinator.

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