If Boy Scouts, past and present are avid patch collectors, then the most avid Scouts are the most fanatical patch collecting enthusiasts. Members of the Order of the Arrow (OA) http://www.oa-bsa.org/, the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have their own unique patches that are specific to their membership, creating a vibrant collecting market.
Founded in 1915 (BSA was founded in 1910), the Order of the Arrow uses American Indian traditions and ceremonies to bestow recognition on Scouts selected by their peers as best exemplifying the Scout Oath and Scout Law in their daily lives. Inducted members, known as Arrowmen or brothers, are organized into local youth-led lodges for fellowship and the rendering of service to Boy Scout councils and their communities. Former Scouts and current adult leaders are also part of the OA.
Lodge affiliation is indicated by the wearing of an OA pocket flap, a distinctive embroidered patch sewn on the right flap of the uniform shirt pocket. http://www.oaimages.com/ Each Order of the Arrow lodge flap has a unique design, generally reflecting the name, geography or history of the lodge. Many OA lodges had previously made different flaps for members of each level of membership (Arrowmen, Brotherhood and Vigil) to wear, but this practice was abolished in 2007, making these now rare patches even more attractive to OA collectors. Special issues of flap-shaped patches are often created to commemorate lodge anniversaries and other events, and any thing of a limited production run becomes more valuable to collectors.
A subset of OA flaps are first flaps, the very first pocket flap patch issued by a lodge. Scouting membership peaked with the Baby Boom youth population surge in the 1960s and 1970s, and as the number of Boy Scouts declines, so does the number of local councils and OA lodges. Small units are absorbed into large units, reducing the overall number of OA pocket flap patches available to collectors. So there was great excitement in the OA patch collecting world as the first truly new OA lodge, Puvunga, was formed in May 2012 by the Long Beach Area Council in California. Puvunga is the first lodge to be formed in a council without a merger since 1970.