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Pitfalls of Starting a Venture Crew

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  • #31
    Well, since I resigned as CC the Troop has lost four boys (although I am in no way suggesting that this was caused by my resignation); our online Troop calendar has yet to be populated; our meeting attendance is way down; and my SPL son is adrift. An upcoming campout had to be cancelled because the current regime couldn't decide on a campground, and this indecision was very apparent to the boys. As CC, I think I had a moderating effect within the Troop program (I was very hands-on and pro-active), however my views on our Venture Crew were very strong and clearly against the grain. That was the main reason I resigned.

    However, the new SM, whose only son aged out several years ago, has succeeded in adding two more teenage girls to the Venture Crew in his capacity as Crew Advisor. The Venture Crew's online calendar IS populated, but with Troop events. I guess if you're a Scout, you have to go look at the Crew calendar to find out what's going on. His Daughter is the VCP, so I have to question his motives.

    The Troop was on a great roll for a while, but the incorrect application of the Venture Crew concept to this Troop is just wrong on so many levels. Our information exchange, which was thriving, has ceased to operate. The last time I checked, Scout Troops in the United States were not Co-ed (yet), so a group of older teenage girls essentially forming anouther Patrol within the Troop just might cause some problems, especially when their "advisors" play them off against the boys. This has happened several times in the past.

    When our sage Unit Commissioner, who is both an ex-SM and Crew Advisor (elsewhere) asked why I had resigned, I laid it all out for him. He met individually with the other leaders, and reinforced that Venturing is supposed to be a stand-alone program. They politley listened, but of course are under no obligation to comply with his advice. The UC also took the trouble to inform the DE, so I assume he thought it was important enough to discuss up the line. It is what it is, my belief is that this Troop is failing fast. I want my sons to get all they can out of Scouting, but it won't happen with this Troop. It's time for us to go elsewhere.

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    • #32
      Kindof hard with your son as SPL.. Does he want to leave or finish his POR? It may take him in the new troop to prove his knowledge and get that opportunity again.

      Yet, if he is ready to move-on, POR or not, then by all means do it now, before the bad troop causes him to loose all interest in scouting, be it a different troop or not. Otherwise you can use the time until his POR is complete to visit other troops in the area and make a "informed" decision on which other troop will be the best fit.

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      • #33
        moosetracker, thank you for your supportive reply.

        Yes, he will finish out his POR. Elections will be in a week or two. One of the unwritten "policies" in this Troop is that an incumbent cannot be reelected. I never agreed with that, but I never thought it was worth the argument.

        Another part of the problem with the current Troop leadership is a total lack of vision for the more senior Scouts, and my son has made it clear he has no interest in our attached Venture Crew. In fact, he actually joined a different Crew.

        A good thing to add to our shopping list for a new Troop would be available POR's. My younger son is also a "lame duck" PL, and although eligible isn't at all sure if he wants to run for anothe POR in this Troop.

        As part of my resignation, I am trying very hard not to let my own views taint those of my sons.

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        • #34
          Even if your younger son is unsure about leaving this current troop or not, I would invite him along while you and your oldest are visiting other troops. If he sees what is available in a "working" troop, it may make his decision to move easier. If one stays & one goes, that may make getting them to their troops & events hard, expecially if they take place on the same night. District camporees will definately be events that both will need to be at different meeting spots on the same night/day.

          That way you are not forcing him, but opening his mind to other possibilities.

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          • #35
            Make sure the troop that you move to honors your son's POR. This is especially important if he hasn't made rank in a while. From other threads here, I know that SM's can be suspicious about that kind of stuff.

            You might not want to be too quick to judge the calendar thing. I sometimes put unconfirmed troop events on our crew's calendar so that if whoever plans to do something, we don't intentionally pick a date where half the boys are committed to doing something with the troop. The VP Program might simply be trying to help keep Dad and the dual-registered boys organized.

            Of course, if two units are operating that closely, my knee-jerk is that they share one calendar! Or more specifically, they share the same web page, but each group has a person responsible for posting their respective events.

            Regardless, your sons aren't seeing any significant activies in the troop's future. Either there are no events, or they aren't being communicated. (Tough to tell when your aren't CC anymore, eh?) That's as good a reason as any to leave. Your youngest son may be swayed if he sees another troop with solid plans in the works. On the other hand, being in a different troop from big brother has a lot of appeal! Brace yourself.

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            • #36
              Thanks quasze, more food for thought.

              My older son will be completing his tenure as SPL (a task which he performed quite adequately), but there has been no discussion about "where do I go from here?" I fifteen year old being lumped into a Patrol of twelve year olds is probably conuter productive. On the other hand, he has expressed interest to the SM in serving as a Den Chief to an area Pack. He has the Fast Start training, but the SM has remained mute.

              Sorry, but sharing a calendar and a program simply brings the whole conversation back to square one. One for the Troop, and one for the Crew.

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              • #37
                Well, we made the switch. My sons and I went around and looked at a few area Troops, this was a bit awkward for me since all of the other leaders know me and my affiliation pretty well.

                The first thing that struck me was how alike the other Troops were to each other, and how unlike our old Troop they were. That is to say, they were truly boy-run, well organized with no loud, long-winded adult lectures, and the kids seemed like they WANTED to be there and were having FUN. My older son chose a fairly large Troop (70+) with a good number of active ASM's and boys his age. They have a Venture Patrol (which he was put into) AND a co-ed Venture crew, which hardly interacts with the Troop at all. All of the boys in the VC are also active Scouts in the Troop, and the two groups have seperate activities. This is the way it's supposed to be!

                My son explained his POR dilemna to the new Scoutmaster, and he is going to be made a Troop Instructor for the first year Scouts. My younger son, who has been cooling off to Scouting, resisted making the switch but has changed his mind after two of his buddies also decided to make the move. As for me, I'll stay available to help but I'll watch from the sidelines for a little while, and see how it all unfolds. I was made to feel very welcome by the adult leaders, and they were happy to accept my transfer. Things are looking up!

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                • #38
                  Excellent! I wish you luck. I am surprised you son chose anything with a co-ed Ventureing Crew associated.. But, I am glad his mind (and yours) was open enough to recognize the difference of a well run one from a poorly run one.

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                  • #39
                    From the posts, I don't think Fox jr. was anti-Venturing. He was just opposed to it being hoisted upon him. Sounds like the new troop gives him options (6 patrols, a venture patrol, and a crew). And, hopefully how those options work out for any given activity (separate or together) are left up to the Troop PL's and Crew officers (e.g. one group invites the other with enough advance time to minimize conflicts).

                    A boy may be happy with the many "slices" of scouting (patrols, crews, OA chapters, etc...) under one roof, but one thing he won't like is to be "pushed around". Once, an ASM suggested that I automatically sign up every 9th grader in the troop to our crew. I nixed that idea. I figured the worst disrespect I could give a boy was to deny him the privelage of pushing his own paperwork!

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                    • #40
                      qwazse, you are correct. My sons are not opposed to Venturing per se, and I'm not either. But the application of Venturing in our case was unacceptable. My older son hasn't been this excited about Scouting since he was a Wolf Cub, and he is at that delicate 14-15 cusp where Scouting loses so many boys. Did I mention that he belongs to a different Venture Crew? One that specializes in competitive shooting sports? It's co-ed, and that's fine with him. But Scouting still comes first.

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                      • #41
                        I would say getting the adults involved to do the "Venturer Leaders Specific Training". I did it because I am interested in starting a Crew. Lot so great information in that course. I would also suggest to get the book and have it on had to follow and use. I know my Troop leadership is keen on starting aCrew, but I can only hope that our SM isn't involved. He's bad at what he's doing within the Troop, and I can only guess he will be worst with the Crew. I've asked to be involved. I may just start it before they do, to get ahead on teh game, But time is a problem to start one at this moment.

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                        • #42
                          Hi Fox 76,

                          I am the Crew Advisor for a new Venture Crew in Estes Park, CO (http://crew10.venturing.us) and I found it very instructive to read through your experiences. I am so thankful that we do not have any of those issues with our crew. Your old troop's situation sounds like the absolute worst way to begin and run a crew, but reading about it has opened my eyes to many things to be careful of in the future.

                          While our crew does have boys from the two troops in town, it has become a bridge between the troops that did not exist before. Ours is a co-ed crew with many girls who had fizzled out as girl scouts. Our crew is growing quickly, mostly by drawing on youth who had either left scouting or were never scouts before. The end result has been a greater enthusiasm for scouting in our community and even within the Boy Scout troops. We have had an AMAZING first year, have a full calendar for next year, and are close to doubling in size from our initial 12 scouts.

                          I wanted to write because I think the co-ed Venturing program is a fantastic and exciting part of scouting with incredible potential to develop leadership skills. After reading your horror story, I wanted to share a success story!

                          I think the keys to our success have been:

                          1. Starting with the VLST training to get an idea of what is possible and how it can work

                          2. Having a *clearly defined* focus for the existence of the Crew. Venture Crew 10 began around our town's sister city relationship with Monteverde, Costa Rica. The scouts there approached us about starting a scouting exchange within that relationship. Since their scouting program is co-ed at all levels, a Venture Crew made sense. But the end result is that the Crew always has a base purpose and so is less likely to drift to just "hanging out." Our youth have planned and done many other things besides the exchange, but we always know why we exist and that is the core of the program. It seems to me that starting a crew out of a dive shop, or a theater stage, or some other well-defined purpose would be the best way to achieve strong focus. Starting a crew so that the sisters of the scouts can do scouting activities seems like a very weak foundation. Along the same lines, to start a crew just to provide something for older scouts who are losing interest, also seems like a weak foundation. In our case, we have something completely different from the other scouting units in town, and so we appeal to the broader community of youth, both scouts and non-scouts. If our program is compelling enough to youth, even to those losing interest in scouting, they join! And many have.

                          3. Being a separate unit. Our crew is composed of scouts from both our town's troops and from former girl scouts, so it is not an appendage of any one scouting unit. Although our CO is the same as one of the troops', we have a *separate* meeting night, and a completely separate calendar. We have from time to time, been invited to join troop activities, such as a COH. But we typically do not camp with the Boy Scouts (except for the recent Council-wide Camp-O-Ree). When we had Costa Rican scouts here for a 10-day exchange, our Crew hosted a BBQ for all scouts in the area.

                          4. Having good chemistry amongst the adult leaders. For this I can only be thankful. We have very strong support from our scout parents resulting in seven Associate Advisors and a strong committee. Although we have had some minor conflicts, we generally cooperate really well. To the one who posted about starting a Crew in the midst of conflicting personalities, I can't imagine how it could work out. Amen to the scouter who described the need for adults to be Trustworthy, Friendly, Courteous, and Kind.

                          5. Having strong youth leaders and getting out of the way so they can run the show, and learn from their sucesses and failures. The person who wrote about "Pitfalls of Starting a Boy Led Troop" is spot on.

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