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Is BSA trying to kill Venturing?

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  • #31
    PS I concur with BadenP's comments, 100 percent.


    • #32
      >>Brew, all is not lost.

      That's not what I'm saying...quite the opposite.

      I realize it's human nature to complain about things you don't like rather than cheer the things you do, but nobody ever has anything good to say about how professional scouters, and particularly national, handle any aspect of the program.

      Because local, volunteer scouters are generally assumed to be reasonably competent with the best interest of boys and the program at heart, there must be some sort of process professional scouters go through where they become completely incompetent, if not downright destructive, to the program they have committed to lead, and there must be self-destructive tendencies among the people and boards that keep giving these people jobs.

      (This message has been edited by brewmeister)


      • #33

        When being a DE changes from a passion to a job. When a pro focuses more on getting a raise than having a quality, thriving program. When a pro will do whatever it takes to meet the money and membership goals. When a pro is only focused on being #1 in the area,or region.

        Most of the passionate pros I worked with quit. Some became disgusted with the council leadership. Some were under so much stress that they had nervous breakdowns. Some were given choice like I was: Me or the job. I chose the wife. but other did choose the job.

        As I mentioned elsewhere. Sometimes very good people get moved to national. And sometimes it seems like they move to national to prevent them form doing more damage. I suspect that was the case with my old SE. BUT the SE who got promoted to SCOUTNET director initially, really screwed up since he had 0 IT background.


        • #34
          Brew, I don't think there is a process that a vol or a pro goes thru so that they work against the heritage of the BSA.

          I think it's a matter of temperment.

          Why so many people would want to be part of a historically outdoor-oriented organization, and yet look down or seek to minimize the best selling points of the BSA, is beyond me. But they do it anyway. And it impacts the organization as a whole.

          What is scouting without adventure?


          • #35
            The problem, as I see it, is that Venturing is this "other program". When venturers aren't part of the picture on National's web page, it shows a lack of vision. One prominent scouter told me "but venturers make up a small percentage of our base.". That's not the point. National should put up a picture of what percentage it *should* make. If they believe that every CO should have a venturing unit, then the stock photo of scouting should have a Venturer and a Sea Scout behind a cub, web, and first class scout. Donors should have a clear vision of whom they are supporting.

            If National believes that venturing is a side show that should be swept under the rug because it freaks out the anti-coed, uniform police, then carryon as usual.(This message has been edited by Qwazse)


            • #36
              When a pro focuses more on getting a raise than having a quality, thriving program.

              In an ideal world the only way a pro would get a raise would be by having a quality, thriving program. A part of the problem may be that BSA isn't "selling" a service that people directly pay for in the way that, say, AAA sells roadside assistance. Instead, BSA sells mostly an image that they use for fundraising.

              One of the big problems in any large organization is when the external feedback loop get's longer than any of the important internal ones. External feedback is when people external to the organization give you money (or stop giving you money, if it's negative). Internal feedback is how people get raises, promotions, and increased authority (or get fired if it's negative). I get the impression BSA's external feedback loop is measured in decades, that they get a lot of money from people with fond memories of the troop of their youth four or five decades ago.

              When a pro will do whatever it takes to meet the money and membership goals. When a pro is only focused on being #1 in the area,or region.

              This is a reminder that it's really a management and leadership problem. Any system you put in place for rewarding people can be subverted, intentionally or accidentally, and any incentive, review, or evaluation process will have unintended consequences that need to be managed. You have to have a system that tries to reward the right things, and then you need managers who make sure the spirit of the thing wins out.


              • #37
                They are taking away the uniqueness of all branches of scouting by giving them all the same sign, salute, Oath, and Law, but what they are thinking is that they want to unify all branches of scouting. Nevermind the fact that Ventures don't want to be unified with Boy Scouts or any other branch of scouts for that matter. I don't know about any of you, but when I join Ventures in the near future(about 6 months probably) I will encourage my crew to stand by the Venture Sign, Salute, and Oath, despite what National says. BTW, have you heard that they are doing away with the Bronze, Gold, and Silver Awards in favor of a new rank system?


                • BadenP
                  BadenP commented
                  Editing a comment
                  First of all you need to get the terminology straight, it is Venturing and Venturers. There will be no ranks since Venturing is not a rank based program and never has been because it is coed and based on individual interests and achievements. Ranks are for younger scouts Venturing if done right is for older teens who want to learn some unique skills in a variety of fields. If National tries to introduce a ranking system to Venturing it will just further destroy an already good program for the older teens.

                • dcsimmons
                  dcsimmons commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yeah, I have a different read on the tea leaves there young grasshopper . I suspect by incorporating the oath, law, etc. the BSA is actually setting the program up to turn the Boy Scouts into the middle-school program of scouting (focusing on the T21 requirements, citizenship, service, etc.) and Venturing (including Sea Scouts) into the HS program (focused on experiential learning/High Adventure, etc.). I wouldn't be surprised when the new recognition system comes out to see it include a pillar that basically incorporates Star/Life/Eagle along side the other awards for those former Boy Scouts that want to finish that line. In doing so they'll end the need for the Varsity program and make it easier to also support Sea Scouts by including them as an option for 14 year olds to join.

                • qwazse
                  qwazse commented
                  Editing a comment
                  It's a big country and "what venturers want" is very diverse. But, there are some trends ...

                  The most striking one is they don't want to stick around. For the past 7 years, venturing membership has been the fastest declining division of the BSA.

                  Very few of crews buy awards, which is a good sign that thy are not earning them.
                  Many of them aren't heavily invested in the venturing oath and code. It's just not pounded in their heads.
                  Clearly, if they aren't earning their gold awards, there is no real need for them to bother with the oath and code.
                  There are troop members who think venturers don't belong anywhere near them. Most of these are adults. It stinks. Those of us who are in the game for all youth involved are sick of it.

                  So, say you have a nation-wide shrinking business, in one of your divisions customers are walking out the door faster than the other, and the ones that stick around aren't buying what you have to offer. Customers in another division complain that the few costumers in the fastest shrinking division are making your product less enjoyable to them. Of the 10 things that you could change about the company, turns out that you only have the ability to change 2. What would you do?

              • #38
                There is the link regarding the new rank/recognition system:
                Sorry for the disappointment, BadenP.
                Ventures, Venturing, Venturers, really, who cares? They're all the same.


                • BadenP
                  BadenP commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Eagle, They really don't give any real details about the so called rank system, but coming from National it will be a totally thrown together program without any real substance. The REAL reason that Venturing has lost membership is a total lack of commitment and support by National to the crews in the field. Venturing has always been treated like the bastard child of scouting and the loss of members just verifies that fact. In my council we have all our crews at top performance because we took the bull by the horns and developed our own system and training that has made ALL the crews in our council successful and growing without the help of council or National.

                  Qwasze- I think you have been drinking too much of the Kool Aid that National shoves out to the volunteers. You may have noticed that National takes NO responsibility for screwing up Venturing like they have since 1998. Venturing is not what needs to change, it is those pencil pushing desk jockeys at National who know squat about scouting that need to go starting with Brock and his cronies,.

                • qwazse
                  qwazse commented
                  Editing a comment
                  E441: You and my previous crew president! She said "Venture just doesn't sound right and why couldn't they have chosen something that slips of the tongue easier?"
                  It's all about branding. Which matters to a lot of people. Not so much to others. (For example, the person who labeled pics from Jambo on BSA's Flickr stream used "Venture Scout".)

                  In terms of who I will be climbing and rappelling with on Saturday? It won't matter an ounce. As long as they're on when I need belayed, I'll be happy.

                  BP, no koolaid. I'm just trying to give us a view from behind Wayne's desk and why he would form a task force to act! I'm not suggesting that any of the actions will result in a change in membership trajectory.
                  Last edited by qwazse; 08-08-2013, 01:26 PM.

                • EagleScout441
                  EagleScout441 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  "E441: You and my previous crew president! She said "Venture just doesn't sound right and why couldn't they have chosen something that slips of the tongue easier?" "
                  Excuse me? I like title of Venturing a lot more than Boy Scouts, which with "boy" in the title makes it sound kind of childish. While Venturing on the other hand is basically "adventuring," referring to the high adventure aspect.
                  "Ventures, Venturing, Venturers, who really cares?"
                  When I said that that I was referring to the fact that "Ventures" and "Venturers" is basically the exact same word., and I was annoyed at the fact that BadenP had to nit-pick my terminology.

              • #39
                Like BP has been saying, the reason membership has been falling is because of "a total lack of commitment and support by National ." But also because Venturing is not well known even among Boy Scouts. Over half of the guys in my troop have no idea what Venturers do or what Venturing is in general. The lack of "advertisement" of the Venturing program is causing even Boy Scouts to not know who they are, much less non-scouts.


                • #40
                  Commitment? Support? I'm not sure what that means?

                  Advertising? It is pushed plenty. Far more than the percent of scouts in it. But BSA is not cash rich for advertising. They can't do commercials everywhere on every program under the BSA label.

                  It's not that BSA is trying to kill Venturing.

                  BSA is trying to fix multiple programs that are broken in multiple ways.

                  Venturing brand is just not there

                  Everyone knows about Eagle scout. Eagle scout is almost legondary. It has a myth about it. Venturing awards are meaningless to most everyone else.

                  CANDIDATE POPULATION is very limited.

                  - Boys - A 14 year old boy has probably tried scouts if they ever would. Cub scouts. Boy scouts. If they have not or quit a previous scouting program, they are not going to try another scouting program. But if they are still in, you want them to switch to yet another program because it's different? Another transition? Right when they discover girls and work and entering high school? And Venturing is not a dating program ... right?

                  - Girls - Same thing. Been thru Girl Scouts. Or still in. If they did not want to be in Girl scouts or had a bad experience, they won't try another scouting program. Then add high school and puberty and jobs and .... ..... ...

                  There are relatively few at that age that will try yet another scouting program.

                  Challenging times
                  BSA has political fights going on. Plus competition. Marketing. Etc.

                  IMHO, BSA just needs to get back to the basics and do a bunch of redesign. One of the biggest is getting back to focusing on program materials and camping and letting charter orgs run their program. Maybe co-ed or not. Maybe multiple orientations. Maybe 100 kids or 10 kids. Maybe ONE unit for kids 5 years old thru 20 years old.

                  Get back to the basics.


                  • Pack18Alex
                    Pack18Alex commented
                    Editing a comment
                    IMHO, BSA just needs to get back to the basics and do a bunch of redesign. One of the biggest is getting back to focusing on program materials and camping and letting charter orgs run their program. Maybe co-ed or not. Maybe multiple orientations. Maybe 100 kids or 10 kids. Maybe ONE unit for kids 5 years old thru 20 years old."

                    Yeah, this is our biggest problem in the unit. We're a niche group. Our core group is Sabbath observant Jews in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. We also get traditional Jews that aren't observant, but like their children's involvement in it. They live in mixed neighborhoods with schools with small Jewish populations, and they like their sons having other Jewish friends.

                    So for us, if we want youth programming for everyone, we should have a Pack, Troop, GSTroop, plus maybe a Crew? At the end of last year, we dwindled down to 12 Active Cubs and 6 Active Boys in our program. We're looking to rebuild numbers, but I don't see a scenario where our Pack grows beyond 30-35 and our Troop beyond 20-25, and that's BEST case scenario. With 18 Active male Youth (and some are from families with 2 boys in the program), to run BSA's program we need:
                    Scout Master
                    Assistant Scout Master
                    Troop Committee Chair
                    Pack Committee Chair
                    Webelos Leader
                    Bear Leader
                    Wolf Leader
                    Tiger Leader

                    That's 9 required adult positions, 7 if you assume that the Pack Committee Chair and Cub Master are also Den Leaders (which they are in our unit). That's before filling a single committee role.

                    If you're one of our Mega Churches with 60+ Cubs and 100+ Boy Scouts, terrific, you can run separate committees for all levels. If you're a small unit like ours, you're killing us with paperwork.. and guess what, that paperwork takes away from time we could be spending actually running the program which would help us grow. The difference between us have 18 youth and 80 youth is quality of programming and recruiting, and letting us have more flexibility in administration would be dramatic.

                    BSA puts out GREAT program materials. It has a solid organization structure (compared to GSUSA's "do whatever you want") approach, but flexibility to administer the program. I'm sick of talking about gay scouts and gay leaders. 70% of the units are in religious institutions, please let us worry about "moral leaders" according to our religious guidance and get BSA back to creating more and better programming and raising corporate money for developing camp sites and district/council programming that make it easier on us to run great units.

                    That's what BSA does best.

                • #41
                  When I say advertisement I don't mean playing commercials. I mean promotion, Boy Scouts go to Cub Scout packs for recruitment of soon-to-be-aging-out Cub Scouts. Why don't Venturers do the same thing at Boy Scout Troops? There are no where near as many Venture Crews(or Sea Scout Ships for that matter) as there are Boy Scout Troops.


                  • qwazse
                    qwazse commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Why not? Simply put, SMs want their boys all to themselves!
                    They don't see it as a new program to bring youth who missed out on scouting one last chance, they see it as a big time drain on their oldest boys' time.

                  • EagleScout441
                    EagleScout441 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thankfully, my troop leaders aren't like that, I have mentioned my future departure to Venturing to a couple of them, they thought it was good that I was moving on to bigger and better things.

                  • fred johnson
                    fred johnson commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Why don't Venturers do the same thing at Boy Scout Troops? Easy. Boy Scouts and Venturing ages overlap. Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts ages don't. All groups have membership declines, but Venturing pulls members from Boy Scouts during a key age. Boy Scouts has already had an older-boy problem. Now ya want to pull them into a separate program? Ya know ... it's a bad design. BSA shoots itself in the foot. A program redesign needs to be done. I'm not sure what, but things are broken now and need to be fixed.

                • #42
                  Venturing changes in 2014:


                  • RememberSchiff
                    RememberSchiff commented
                    Editing a comment
                    This is like hoping to restart a fire by throwing a bucket of ice water on fading embers.
                    Even more puzzling, the success/failure to reverse declining Venturing membership will be unmeasurable since Part 4 Change in Membership Reporting now counts Venturing, Varsity, and Sea Scouts together!

                • #43
                  FWIW, I thought the BSA leadership spent a fair amount of time promoting Venturing at every gathering at Jambo. The Venturing President was on stage with the OA National Chief. They made sure to welcome Scouts, Scouters and Venturers with every announcement. I don't recall if it was Perry, Brock or Stephensen that said something to the effect of Welcome Venturers, we built this place for you.


                  • #44
                    With the so called Venturing changes coming from National in 2014 and their total past incompetence in even understanding what Venturing is supposed to be about I have NO doubt this will severely impact all those crews struggling, as well as turn off any new teens looking at Venturing. IMO Brock is as big a tool as Mazzuca in turning a blind eye for 15 years at Venturing and now thinking those incompetent desk jockeys at National can turn it around, what a joke, but that is par for anything National does.


                    • King Ding Dong
                      King Ding Dong commented
                      Editing a comment
                      BP, what is Venturing supposed to be about and where have they gone wrong? I asked a crew chief who was taking IOLS the question "so what do does your crew do ?" And all I ever got from he was "HA". I know they aren't going to Philmont every weekend so what do they DO ? Or is it just a program for rich kids that can take off for HA once a month ?

                    • EagleScout441
                      EagleScout441 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      What is Venturing supposed to be about?
                      Where have they gone wrong? Venture Crews are left to do their own thing, their crew activities can be whatever they want, they don't have to be related to the outdoors, or anything related to scouts. While many do actually do the things listed on in my council, thankfully), but many more do whatever they want. As emb021 said in the "Starting a New Venturing Program" thread:
                      "Venturing crews will fall into one of 5 categories: outdoors, arts/hobbies, sports, youth ministries (basically church youth groups), or Sea Scouts. When one speaks of "high adventure", its usually some of the outdoor crews, maybe also Sea Scouts.
                      Even then, the types of crews can be mindboggling to those not open to the possibilities. I know of role play game crews, anime crews, SAR crews, outdoor crews, scuba crews, sailing crews, music crews, soccer crews, church youth group crews, WWII re-enactment crews, Civil war re-enactment crews, mountainman/frontiersman crews and more."
                      You want to know what kind of high adventure? Look at Crew 2147 in Ooltewah, TN for example:
             (it says Boy Scout Crew but they are a regular co-ed Venture Crew) It only specifies 4 things on there but I know for a fact that they go rappelling, whitewater rafting(Class IV Rapids), and, occasionally, sailing. I know that because one of their members was in my patrol(they called it a "clan" there) at Kodiak Leadership Training(Kodiak Challenge).

                  • #45
                    As someone who was informed of Venturing before it came out in August 1998, Here are my comments. 1) The folks at national were told by my group in PDL-1 that they will be confusion with the name as A) venture crews already existed and naming the units of the new program would be confusing and B)Venturing was too close a name to the venture and the target audience was very similar. 2) The Bronze, Gold, Silver Awards were not meant to be ranks, but recognition. Ranger, and later Trust and Quest were meant to be "expert" awards with an emphasis in the particular specialty area. Units could, or could not work on them form the get go, and it was meant to be RECOGNITION. Why that got put on the "dashboard" and for JTE is beyond me. 3) Venturing has not been around long enough to get established in the public's eye. Further since units do not have to work on the recognitions, that further puts a bind on getting "Brand Recognition" 3A) Bringing back both the old Exploring RANGER rank as a specialty award, and old Exploring SIlver Award for Venturing Silver DID get some "brand recognition." My uncle, who earned both the Eagle and Exploring Silver was very happy to have the Silver Award back. 4) Even pros who SHOULD know all about Ventuing don't because of the wide variety of options for the crews. Best example I can give is the pro who should have known all about the program because she received all the info on it in order to present a class on a segment of it. BUT after receiving all the info, after just presenting her class ( which was read form the paper and looked like she did no prep work), when the time came to talk to someone about the program I had to do all the work as she sat there like a lump of coal 5) Sea Scouts has been part of Venturing from the get go. More later