BP, I get the need to train council pro's, really I do. But lecturing them on the Venturing oath and code ... what does that get me?
Better to use that time they spend in training looking at slides of different oaths and codes to teach them how to get of my kid's backs and give the little gompers some real authority around council from the moment they darken the door of HQ!
But that's my adult opinion, so don't count it for much.
I'm encouraging our VOA Advisor to put it to the officers and have them formulate their own opinion and pen a brief to the task force.
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The Venturing Oath, not well written I agree, still it distinguishes Venturing as a seperate entity from Boy Scouts and not merely an extension of it. I never have to argue with my SE about Venturing he asks us for advice. Those armchair scouters at National have no reason to make these changes. All of the ones they made in the past didn't work or IMO crippled all the programsin various ways. All of them at NAtional are ;living in fear that they will be recognized as the expendable deadwood they are, so they create these ridiculous surveys and programs in an attempt to save their jobs. Mr Brock would forever gain my respect if he had the guts to clean house at National, and the sooner the better.
"In my experience with Venturing for almost 12 years now the problems in getting it off the ground has been a total lack of understanding of what the program is SUPPOSED to be based on their own literature by both National and Council employees. In addition the disjointed and watered down training given on all levels to Venturing advisors and youth officers. IMO how can any revision coming out of National, who doesn't understand the program in the first place, be of any real value to those of us in the field who have been delivering the program."
I'd have to agree with this. I know I've spent a lot of time keeping the VLST presentation up to date for use by myself and others, and spent time writing up information for use in a revision of this. I sent this to National with nothing happening. Kind of frustrating and disconcerting. I am also not too pleased with how youth training has been dealt with in Venturing. I spoken often on this matter, and this was one of the reasons I started the "Leadership Notes" series over on the Venturinglist on Yahoo Groups.
"At least in my council we have already solved the problem and ALL our crews are growing, we have a very active and well organized training programs, an extremely efficent VOA, a solid calendar of intercrew activities that always fill up quickly. Our SE is ecstatic with the results and gives us all the support we need. We continually have adult crew leaders and youth leaders from outside our council contacting us to come to our trainings and some of the activities.
The bottom line qwasze is that we have already discovered the secret for having a VERY sucessful Venturing program in our council with crew specialities from all areas. I will be interested to see the recommendations from National, but they have had almost 14 years to correct things and have failed miserably. So excuse me if I am not overly excited or optimistic about their findings."
And this is something I've been struggling for years to try to achieve in the councils I am involved in. Its difficult when you get little or no support from others. I have to work to convince youth and adults to buy in to what I am doing (which can take time), and worse are those who work against me or stab me in the back for their own benefit.
Anything written up on what your council has done such that others can duplicate it?
I understand where you are coming from because I have been there. My first bit of advice is not trying to do the changes all by yourself, you need to have a good percentage of the Crew Advisors on your side, it has to be a group effort. In our council our SE was in a panic as he saw more crews and our last sea scout ship closing down. What we did was to get almost all our adult crew advisors,and VOA together from all areas of interest and come up with some solid and achievable joint goals to 1) Improve our Venturing programs in quality and size. 2)Really put our programs out there to the public, especially the teens, to attract more membership with some great PR campaigns created by one of our advisors who does PR for a living. 3) Got the local high schools and community college to buy in and allow us to put on demonstrations on campus to show what we have to offer. 4)Fed up with the poor quality of training and the materials available for Venturing leaders, youth and adults, we took Venturing Leader Basic, Powderhorn, and Kodiak and rewrote as well as beefed up the content of each to actually making them relevant and usuable for all Venturing programs.
The result has been solid steady growth of all the crews in our council. We now have participation by 100% of all the council's crews, including LDS. Our SE and all of the DE's have gone through this revised training and they ALL loved it and give it their full support. As I said the two surrounding councils have asked if they could participate in our training and a few of the joint events we do.
Bottom line you need to get the all the right people together and come up with a common vision/goal. Come up with a plan and put the best people in charge of each step, put the plan into action, then with the proven results get your SE on your side. It may sound like a lot of work but if you get enough of the key players to buy in you will be amazed how fast it all comes together. Just remember you can not do it alone!(This message has been edited by BadenP)
- May 2005
In my experience with Venturing for almost 12 years now the problems in getting it off the ground has been a total lack of understanding of what the program is SUPPOSED to be based on their own literature by both National and Council employees. In addition the disjointed and watered down training given on all levels to Venturing advisors and youth officers. IMO how can any revision coming out of National, who doesn't understand the program in the first place, be of any real value to those of us in the field who have been delivering the program.
Y'know, to be blunt, you could replace "Venturing" with "Boy Scouts" and the same thing would be true. The only real difference is that there's a larger number of advisors, er, I mean Scoutmasters, with an understanding of what Boy Scouts is supposed to be. Troops that don't have one or more of those folks are likely to be lost as to what sort of program they're delivering.
BP, what do you see as the key differences between a Troop and a Crew? What would you want an experienced SMASM moving to Venturing to know?
Differences between a troop and a crew
1)There is no uniform or uniform method in Venturing, it is up solely for the youth and NOT the adults to decide what type of crew clothing if any they may want.
2) There is no advancement or ranks in Venturing required by the program. There are achievement awards, Bronze, Gold, Silver, Ranger, Trust, and Quest that the crew members can work for however NONE are required to be a Venturer.
3) The program is CO-ED, except LDS, you are allowed to opt out of this locally but the program was developed for a coed group of teens and if you decide not to have a coed crew you really do not understand the true nature of Venturing. You will also be SEVERELY limiting your crews potential for growth and success.
4)Crews can choose to have a specialty or be general interest. Our crew is a High Adventure and Water Sports crew with extensive camping, backpacking, mountain climbing and rappelling, wilderness survival, kayaking, sailing, whitewater rafting, cave exploration to name just a few.
Our crew started out twelve years ago with 10 teens and five advisors, today the crew has over 70 active members and 20 advisors and consultants. We got this big because we realized and gave the teens what they wanted, gave them the lead in organizing and implementing the program, with the adults offering advice but not taking over. This formula is what and how Venturing is supposed to be organized and run, unfortunately few crews and leaders seem to understand that and wind up closing down after a year or two. Venturing IS NOT A BOY SCOUT TROOP!! Every crew in my experience who tried to run their crew like a troop has FAILED!
It is not the program that has held Venturing back from reaching its full potential but rather the leadership on the local level, council level, and National level who have never made the effort to read the Venturing literature in detail to truly understand the program or how to organize and run it ,and have never tried to build their crews around the teens needs and desires instead of their own personal interests.
Have to agree with BadenP's posting.
For me, #4 is really important, and a point that many people can't grasp. I know when Venturing was "rolled out" in 1998, many people could not grasp the idea of crews specializing in something. The reaction I got from people online was "but packs and troops don't do that". My response was: yeah. But Venturing crews are not packs or troops. For those of us who had been involved in Exploring, we understood the idea of units specializing, as Exploring has been doing that for decades. We were used to the various career posts, plus high adventure, church youth group, indian lore, etc. The problem, as I saw it, was that people had little idea of Exploring beyond career awareness posts (if that), so to them Venturing was this new and mysterious program. Whereas with many of us, it was just a continuation of Exploring with a few new twists.
The point about Crews NOT BEING TROOPS is important. Several of us note that the big mistake is viewing Venturing as "older boy scouts with girls" (OBSWG). Something I many times point out when I do VLST is that the worse Boy Scout leader is the former Cub Scout Leader who tries to run a troop like a pack (there is even a term for that: Webelos III). Since many in the audience are or where Boy Scout leaders, they 'get' that point. Then I follow that up with telling them the worse Venturing leader is the former Boy Scout leader who tries to run the Crew like a Troop. Hopefully most get it at that point.
(Aside- its funny when I make mention of "Webelos III" [and I'm not the only one who uses that term], I get people getting annoyed and saying "there's no such thing!". Well, yeah, that's kind of the point. Officially, there is no such thing as "Webelos III". The term is applied to Boy Scout leaders who try to run the the troop like a pack. A continuation of Webelos: hence "Webelos III".)
Thanks BadenP, that helps. But I'm still a little confused about the Crew is not a Troop part. I guess it's just that of course a Troop isn't a Crew, but they are alike in that both are youth organizations with adults helping. Just like a Troop and a Pack aren't the same but both have youth and adult members. I completely understand the Webelos III description of adults who don't get the difference between Pack and Troop, and I'm pretty sure one reason I understand it is that I was a Boy Scout in an old school sort of Troop.
But I was never a Venturer, so when you say "Every crew in my experience who tried to run their crew like a troop has FAILED!" I really want to know what that means. We don't run our troop like a Webelos III den, but what else if different (beyond the details you listed, Co-ed, uniforms, ranks, specialties)? It sounds like it's not just a matter of degree (give the youth more responsibility), but that there's a fundamental difference of kind.
Maybe if you defined "running it like a Troop" a little, that would help me see the difference.
Not run like a troop means exactly that, a Venturing crew meeting is not as formal as a troop one, we don't start out with reciting the Venturing code, or go into patrols to work on advancement skills, no scoutmaster minute. The crew youth leaders organize the group into what needs to be done at that moment, planning a trip, giving a presentation and whatever else needs to be done, and there is always socialization time. The Venturing Leaders Handbook will give you more detail, but basically every meeting is different in organization and content. We have an abundance of adult leaders to work with the teens in small groups on their awards or training them for a whitewater trip or a rappelling trip, or whatever as needed. Sometimes the teens just want to hang together and socialize.
Since our crew plans 3-4 outings each month there is always a lot of prep work to be done at every meeting. There are no advisor conferences or COH's, or uniform inspections. It is hard to put into words but the meeting time is much more relaxed, the crew knows what needs to be done and gets it done under the crew officers leadership. That is how it has successfully worked for our crew for almost 12 years now. Not every crew works that way, but that is the way the Venturing program was envisioned to be, as a social coed group of teens each sharing their own personal gifts/strengths to the success of the crew.
JM - I would also emphasize what I think was the toughest point for my troop adults to get their heads around:
Patrol Method is not used in venturing. That is, "patrols" are more ad-hoc or activity specific (e.g., Ski Bums, Seabase Team, Philmont Crew, Blood Drive Staff) and we encourage some youth to take the lead on each and a youth can participate on more than one team. For my sanity, I've tried to encourage our officers to take on a uniform theme for a few months at a time. They've completely ignored me!
Crew committees are also generally less structured. They boil down to a bunch of people who brainstorm (or go through a checklist called a "program capability inventory") and provide a list of what they can offer to the youth "in house." Again, youth are free to work outside of those lists. It just means a few more phone calls.
I think for some boys, this is the biggest selling point; and for others, the biggest deciding factor in *not* joining. A lot of guys in our troop prefer the patrol structure.
qwazse- the thing about 'crew committees' (ie, the groups of Venturers within the crew) is that they are NOT like patrols in any way. This is something that people who do NOT understand how committees within an organization work have a hard time understanding.
Committees first off fall into one of 2 groups or type: STANDING committees (ie permanent committees) and SELECT committees (ie ad hoc or short-term committees).
Standing committees are defined in the bylaws, and are usually chaired by an officer. They deal with big, on-going issues/matters within the group: program, activities, fundraising, pr/recruitement, etc.
Select committees are formed as needed. They can be sub-committees of a standing committee. A select committee may be formed to run an open-house event, or organize the annual awards banquet or the like.
Committees can be as large or small as needed. You can have a one person committee or a 20 person committee. Committees are great, because they can met outside of the organization meeting to discuss and decide on things, then bring things back to the org meeting for a final decision. This can mean a lot of time saved in the org meeting.
Also, people can be involved in several committees as their interests are. AND this helps insure that everyone is engaged in the running of the organization NOT JUST THE OFFICERS.
Patrols, frankly, don't do much of this. On a campout, certain patrols may be assigned certain tasks, but its not the same thing.
Emb, my use of "team" is what you refer to as "crew committees."
What I was referring to was the adult committee of the unit (as the rest of scouting understands it). Obviously, if your youth are sucessfully pulling together committees and working the program, an MC from the troop transferring to the crew might find himself scratching his head wondering what to do. My poor CC, when she got this gig had to be disavowed of the notion that "approve the crew activities" meant that the committee had an up-or-down vote on every detail of each item they put on the calendar!
Thanks, I think I get it now. It's not just more youth involvement, it also makes the, ah, shall we say pagentry of a Boy Scout troop (CoH, uniforms, ranks, ceremonies, etc) totally optional. I think I might even understand the why - the ceremonies and rituals are great for 11-14 year olds, it captures their attention and stirs some part of their developing mind, but the older youth of Venturing are probably less interested in that. In a sense they've already "graduated" and the coming-of-age rituals should be behind them.
Also many (most?) kids in the average successful crew have had non-boy scout experiences. So they come with different notions of what proper ceremonies are.
I think that's also where National may be getting it wrong. The teach scouters that venturing is a tool to retain older boys. That's how my UC and DE explained it to me. Although that may be true for some boys who have done the troop thing to the max, I quickly learned that the program worked best for those boys who wanted to introduce their friends to awesome activities that they were missing out on because they never were in a troop. In other words, it gives boys the opportunity to share their scouting skills to youth who have never had a chance to learn them.
So when it comes fo talking about centuring to troop leaders, my preference is that the pros talk less about retention (which may or may not happen) and more about empowering (which is more likely to happen) of older boys as they hey bring some aspects of scouting to their friends.