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Is BSA trying to kill Venturing?

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  • #46
    One of the biggest problems with Venturing is that it competes with the high end Boy Scout program. 1) it draws the top leadership out of the troops because now they can have co-ed and 2) do many of the things Boy Scouts can't do. However, its basically a free-for-all program. The Venturing Crew I started has contact with the Council once a year when they recharter. That's it. They even throw away any and all information that is sent out by the council. Basically all they are doing is slipping in under the insurance radar. The council doesn't care as long as the money comes in. I would doubt whether anyone from the council has ever attended an activity of the crew in the past 15 years. I know for a fact that they didn't for the first 12.


    • qwazse
      qwazse commented
      Editing a comment
      All the best with the new charter!

      "Even the non-scout members of the crew, i.e. the gals!, will eventually ask the question, why do we always have to check with the troop before we plan an activity?"

      Yep. After a year of trying to work around each others' schedules, the SM and I looked at each other and concluded "This is ridiculous!" There would always be postponements that would cause our schedules to overlap anyway. When that happened the kids sorted it out. THEY made sure the necessary leadership was divided appropriately. (More often than not, the SPL and PL's would stick with the troop.) The youth seem to have a really good sense about when to share an activity, and when each unit should go their own way. So the SPL and Crew President are to encouraged to compare notes. When they don't, they stay separate; when they do, they coordinate. I think that little bit of independence made us run smoother.

      There seem to be enough adults willing to support both programs. The current SM wants to stay in his position for a while, CA suits me, and the boys seem to be taking the lead as well as always. We're two units (three if you include the pack) who happen to help each other from time to time.

      Would venture patrols serve the same purpose? If BSA were co-ed, probably.

    • jblake47
      jblake47 commented
      Editing a comment
      Unfortunately, not all units handle it as well as your crew/troop has. The only ones getting hurt with that process is both units and the kids. Yeah, co-ed venture patrols would be nice, but probably not any time soon. However, I don't see that being any different than the setup you have going for you at the present time. Nice to see it is working out for you.

    • Eagledad
      Eagledad commented
      Editing a comment
      I've spent a lot of time working with troops with crews and your success is rare indeed. We have one troop in our district that could be viewed as a success because the crew has been around a long time, but the troop is an Eagle mill and very few scouts stay in the troop past age 14. Sounds like you have a good group of adults.

  • #47
    "The council doesn't care as long as the money comes in."
    And that's why there are crews focused on everything from role-playing games or anime, to what it's supposed to be: HA, Leadership, and "a chance to learn and grow in a supportive, caring, and fun environment."-"What Is Venturing"


    • qwazse
      qwazse commented
      Editing a comment
      E92, you do know that I did not intend to pick on you personally? Of course every DE is different, and some can sift through the smoke because they've experience scouting on most of its many levels.

      E441, to your points:
      1. Varisty: no women. Typically in our area, the sports crews are ski clubs or specialty sports.
      2. Sea scouts: they would be who I would send my crew to call if they wanted a barge. They would come to my venturers if they want to backpack. My point exactly.
      3. Not sure what happens in your neck of the woods, but I know of no church youth group that is truly youth led. I have Jewish friends whose kids go through personal growth programs that challenge them like the Religious Bronze award or Trust Award. Christian kids who go through same thing are strikingly few. Simply put, youth groups may be ministering to youth, but they are often not "youth getting ministry done." Venturing offers youth leaders the opportunity to guide kids in doing just that.
      4. Hobbies: oh let's see we have some bag-pipers, two of whom earned BSA medals of honor. I told you about the LARPers. There are reinacters. Shooting sports crews. (Yes, when all they do is discharge firearms, that's a hobby, or an art, or a sport. Thanks for the range saftey officers, but your sharp aim doesn't make one High Adventure).

      Venturing gives them a "big tent" where they can share their talents to make a better community and grow up to be thoughtful and caring adults. Once you are in it, you will begin to appreciate it more.

      Besides, if we extended your argument downward, maybe we should get rid of about 100 merit badges. Especially those STEM ones. What's a boy scout need to bother with programming languages anyway?

    • EagleScout441
      EagleScout441 commented
      Editing a comment
      "Typically in our area, the sports crews are ski clubs or specialty sports."
      I see many of the specialty sports, such as skiing, to be HA. When someone says sports I would think of something more along lines of team sports: baseball, soccer, or football(though football is banned by the BSA).
      "but I know of no church youth group that is truly youth led."
      I didn't consider that.
      "Venturing gives them a "big tent" where they can share their talents to make a better community and grow up to be thoughtful and caring adults."
      It also spreads out units of the same interests where one area tends to have mainly outdoor crews(like mine), and some areas may only have art and hobby crews. And if an area with mainly hobby crews sends a crew representative to Jambo and they don't really know how to camp because they're focused on hobbies, it causes Boy Scouts to look down upon them because they only ever here about the HA crews. And that discourages many Boy Scouts from joining.
      "Besides, if we extended your argument downward, maybe we should get rid of about 100 merit badges. Especially those STEM ones. What's a boy scout need to bother with programming languages anyway?"
      I'm not saying to cut out the variety, I'm saying that Venture Crews should, like the Boy Scouts, establish a main focus and insert that variety into it.

    • Eagle92
      Eagle92 commented
      Editing a comment

      Yep I know, and if my post offended, I'm sorry as that was not the intent. rather it was to agree with you. That was what I was trying to point out. There are those pros who understand Venturing,usually those who were involved in Exploring or Venturing as a youth/volunteer. That was me.

      But the vast majority just do not understand the concepts behind Venturing and how it works. And as I pointed out, even those pros who should know better, the ones who got the info on Venturing before it came out in order to train the Pros at the All Hands conference, don't understand all the concepts. And if they don't understand, what about the pros who didn't get the advance info or were involved as youth.


      Venturing's greatest strength, as well as its greatest weakness, is variety and lack of focus.

      I know it's hard to understand. Heck I had challenges getting the concept down pact when I was a Sea Scout, ok Sea Explorer but I still wore the "bugs," and the ship I joined didn't have the "focus." I was expecting something similar to my Scout troop and the stories the SM who was a Quartermaster told about his adventures in Sea Scouting. But he was a Sea Scout before it became Sea Exploring.

      It wasn't until I became a associate adviser with a post and went through training that it clicked. Helped that the guy who trained me was an " Exploring Executive" who focused only on Exploring, and had lost of expereince with working on a variety of posts, most career oriented but some not.

  • #48
    In late 2008, the economy collapsed. Venturing is a teenager program for high school and post high school age youth. The age group able to get a job if money is needed. The collapsing economy doesn't impact cubs much, it's a cheap after school activity. Parental second jobs can drain cub scouters but won't impact cubs as much... A month of cable costs about as much as a year of cub scouting. Boy scouting's core age is middle school and beginning of high school, when youth are still unlikely to be working. Bad economy might curtail troop activities a bit, but it's less costly. I think that a collapse starting in 2008 is far more likely a function of the economy, since venturing was growing until then, whole the collapse in cub/troop levels was longer and less likely to be cyclical.

    From a marketing point of view it is generally more cost effective to upswell your existing customers than get new ones. Refocusing the troop on the middle school level where it is strongest and orienting venturing as a less all encompassing thing that a high schooler can do as a part time activity will help amongst suburban youth where BSA is strongest. I think that at the cub level, coed would help dramatically since parental involvement is much higher and families with multiple children likely have both genders. I know that my daughter aging into GSUSA has sucked time and resources into growing a second program. However that leaves a troop doughnut hole where coed would basically destroy the program as we know it. At every training session by wife attends she laughs about how often the leaders remind everyone that this is NOT BSA bit a different program, but GSUSA has almost no structure beyond cookie sales and the "journey books," which leaves parents to adopt BSA Structure because they have nothing else.

    In a time where every family had a stay at home mom, this division worked fine, moms could work the cub program (with it's heavy parental involvement) for two years and finding a dad for Webelos (who evolves into an ASM) and the troop. With the rise of single parent homes, many of our units are dying for parental involvement and families with children of both genders find coed activities like karate and soccer easier to manage. We are having our GSUSA unit housed in the same building and sharing infrastructure as much as possible, and my wife is using BSA Youth Protection Training and This is Scouting for her parents because GSUSA has no equivalent programming. I believe is GSUSA adopting the name Girl Guiding in the US instead of Girl Scouting we'd have gone coed 10 years ago. I'm not advocating integrating the youth programming, btw, I'd want girl dens, patrols, and possibly a separate girl troop. I'd like a shared committee to oversee Pack, Troop, and Crew so families could actually volunteer in one place. I think that we'd see a growth at all levels because we could spread the parental roles more broadly.

    But I think venturing is always going to be the most cyclical. When the economy is good, a Crew is a great past-time for youth with cool outdoor activities. When the economy is bad, those same "go-getters" that would be in the crew are likely to be working to save for college and/or help the family through rough patches.

    I think BSA is trying to figure out a 21st Century program that works for modern families. My unit is almost all boys from intact homes. Most of the units in my area are NOT like this. The leaders are, but most of the boys that join cubs are there because their mom wants them to have a positive male role model in their life, and chafe at the need to volunteer. If you are a single mom with 2-3 children at home, it's much easier to try to get the ex-husband to pay for soccer than it is to volunteer every week, even if you think scouting would be better for them. My single moms with a boy or two (and no girls) love the program because they struggle with "boy stuff." The single moms with boys and girls like the program in concept, but are impossible to get to step up and volunteer. Parents that volunteer "GET" the program, reinforce it at home, and will have children that can Scout through Venturer. Parents that don't "GET" the program will migrate them to other programming before they are old enough to make their own decisions and choose. Perhaps Venturer can survive as "different enough" to grab lapsed Cub Scouts that want to get back involved in scouting as high schoolers (since no 14 year old is going to join Boy Scouts), but I think that the current market segment makes it a niche program instead of a core program, and BSA would like to make it part of the core.
    Last edited by Pack18Alex; 08-11-2013, 03:43 AM. Reason: Mobile site ate my formatting.


    • #49
      The problem with venturing is that it's used as troop older scout program. The failing of troops to provide a good older scout program motivates the adults to start venturing crews as a way to keep the older scouts in the program. I think we found something like 1 out of 5 venturing crews survived more than three years. And that is a result of the adults who started the crew leaving. The crews that existed when I was in Explorers back in the 70s are still around because they aren't older scout troop programs. They have a program more focused to a theme like scuba, aviation, police, fire safety, and so on. Crews that are started from troops fail because their vision is short sighted ( if they even have a vision) and unorganized (just like their troop). I will agree that National is part of the problem because they switched from using Explorers as a career teaching purpose to using Venturing for reaching out to more youth. It really doesn't matter the theme, the success of a Crew depends on the long range vision (10 to 20 years down the road) and building consistent process plan that continually uses the activities of the theme toward the vision. Sailing isn't just about sailing, it's a constant theme of teaching skills to navigate a complicated vessel to specific destinations. As the crew members get better at their sailing skills, they are encouraged to plan future activities and lead teams to accomplish the goals. Our troop had the largest number of scouts 14 and older of any unit in the council. As a result we were constantly being hit on by the DE to start a venturing crew. I took every opportunity to school council to why our troop program was a success and their Venturing program was not. but I could see they were only acting on higher direction, and ignorance. Successful Crews generally have a sponsor that is well experienced in the theme. Then the passion for activities and growth remain consistent over time even as leadership passes on. I don't think Crews pull away youth leaders from troops unless the troops don't have a satisfying older scout program. We had several scouts in our troop that were also active in different Crews. We looked at it as more outside activities like OA for the boys to enjoy their journey in scouts.


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        "The failing of troops to provide a good older scout program motivates the adults to start venturing crews as a way to keep the older scouts in the program. "

        Our crew started for the opposite reason. The troop was providing a good older scout program. Then Son #1 and his thirteen y.o. buddies go blabbing at school about what a great time they were going to have at Seabase in a couple of years. The girl scouts at the table wanted in on the gig. The only way it was possible was if they went with a crew. The youth discovered they liked working together, and it kept going.

        It was the youth who kept me in the game. If a DE said my CO "needed" a crew, we would have brushed him off just like you did. If the young women in your community aren't asking for this sort of thing your troop is doing, it is definitely not worth the effort to pull one of your scouters off a troop or a pack to start a crew. I've met a couple of SMs who gave up doubling as Advisor, because the only person who told him there was a need was some pro. (Note to DEs: if all you are is about this year's numbers keep nudging SMs to burnout. If you really care about the long-term venturing program, cut the crap.)

    • #50
      Talking with my SE this afternoon it really seems that National is hell-bent to cripple Venturing and the other scout programs as well. First there will now be one scout oath and law that will apply to all scouting programs, second the new venturing awards will be more like the boy scout belt loop awards of old, fast and easy to get with no real learned skills involved, and the list goes on. I told my SE that my crew will not be changing ANYTHING in our program that has significantly grown and prospered for over a decade now, in spite of what National puts out for Venturing unless the new awards program fits into the current Venturing model we will not use it at all and instead will have our own award system. My SE is in full agreement with us, mainly because he doesn't want to lose a crew of 85 youth and 30 adults (who make up over 50% of the council trainers). The SE has also agreed to send a letter along with our crew associate advisors and myself five page letter outlining how and why our crew is prospering while so many others are not, explaining why he feels Nationals Venturing plan is heading in the wrong direction. Our adult le