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OA Chapters Chartered as a Crew or Troop

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I am a Lodge Adviser and my Lodge is in the process of creating Chapters. Since I know the idea will be brought to me (most likely by our Professionals) I thought I would pose it here first. What are the benefits and drawbacks to chartering an OA Chapter as either a Venture Crew or Troop? If we do charter these Chapters what are the possible pitfalls I, as Lodge Adviser should be aware of and watch out for. Any and all advice is welcome.

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I may be mistaken but I believe that would defeat the purpose of chapters. Chapters are designed to make the OA accessible to units and members in their districts. The OA is not meant to be a replacement for unit activities.


The "Guide to Officers and Advisers" has this to say:


"Arrowmen are expected first to give service to and be

active in their own units. Then as time permits, they can

assist the lodge in such activities as unit elections, camping

promotion, service to council camping facilities, etc."


As I read it, there is a distinct division between lodge/chapter activities and unit service. Your professionals, as staff advisers, should know this also but they may need reminders.


Also, as far as creating chapters goes, I would recommend having one chapter per district so that the lodge aligns with the council/district organization. Good luck to you!

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Our past Lodge Adviser had a crew years ago when he was a Chapter Adviser. I know of at least one of our Chapters that has discussed doing this. I'm a CA and made the mistake of mentioning this to my DE a year or so ago and he acted like a kid at Christmas. Of course that was because he would get credit for "adding" a new unit for his performance numbers even though we wouldn't really be gaining anything in the way of new scouts. The Chapter Crews I've heard of had an empahasis on Native American culture. The one Chapter who has seriously discussed it was because they felt it gave them more freedom. Our Chapters are not allowed to raise money or keep money. All money goes thru the Lodge and Chapters are reimbursed for expenditures. By being a Crew, they could manage their own money and they saw advantages to that. I have mixed emotions about making a Chapter a Crew. If you are providing a good Chapter program, do you need a Crew? And what about girls joining the Crew? They can't participate in OA and if you use part of your Crew meeting for ceremony practice, they shouldn't be there. I can see professionals being in favor because they will bend over backwards to make Venturing a viable program and also increase their scorecard. In the end, I have decided not to pursue it with my Chapter. Besides, some of my guys are already members of other Crews.

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I've seen one or two crews formed that had members MOSTLY, form the OA. And like SR said, it was AIA folks, mostly dancers and singers, who wanted to do more than the lodge. The crews were coed with those ladies also interested in NA culture.


As SR said, forming the crew with the AIA folks had the benefits b/c they could fundraise and kleep the money, go to powwows and other events as a crew instead of OA, and allow those ladies interested to participate. Some negatives I can think of are the following:


1) Crew regalia vs. Chapter/Lodge regalia

2) Conflicts with Crew and Chapter/Lodge schedules

3) the Ladies and OA activities

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It would be strange to have a OA Chapter chartered as a Crew and then be unable to vote new members into the OA.

Most times when things like this happen it's a way of cheating to bring up the membership totals.

If someone came to me with this I'd run away as fast as I could.

While Venturers can be OA members the OA is a Boy Scout program, not a replacement for a Troop.

Troops have patrols and little things like that which is what makes them Troops.


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Lets start by stating that Chapters are optional operational divisions of a Lodge. They exist for one purpose, and one purpose only, to support the Lodge. Chapters are used to spread out as much of the workload as possible.


Troops and Crews are autononomous units. They aren't subservient to a Lodge. They can raise funds, and hold equipement on behalf of their sponsors. Is the plan to have the Lodge sponsor all of these units?


There is a major difference between Troop/Crew operations and Lodge operations. Troops & Crews have adult committees. Lodges/Chapters do not. In the OA, the youth truly do run the operations - they make the decisions and make things happen. They have advisers to mentor them and to steer them in the right direction, and to keep them apprised of the expectations of the Executive Board and SE - but it's up the the youth to run the Lodge. Troops & Crews may be youth-led, but they aren't truly youth-run. That could be a conflict.


There is a minimum age for Crews. 14 or 13 and have completed 8th grade. Sounds like a perfect fit for the OA except that there is no minimum age for OA membership. If a lad has earned 1st class and meets the camping requirements, he's eligible - and with some folks still using 1st class 1st year, you could have 12 year old OA members that can't join the crew. If the chapter is going to be a crew, how welcoming will it be to 12 and 13 year olds?


There is a maximum youth age for Troops. 17 and 364 days. What happens to all the Troop members who turn 18 - do they become ASM's? Say you have a chapter of 100 Scouts, half 18 to 21 - are you really going to have a Troop with 50 Assistant Scoutmasters? If your Chapter Chief is 16, he's in charge - even of these "Assistant Scoutmasters". Can you tell me that the Troop's POR structure is compatible with the OA? I don't believe it is.


Oh - and are you ready to start holding BOR's for Scouts looking to advance, or are you going to make it a neutered Troop where there is no advancement, in which case what's the point?


Are you going to make it mandatory/automatic for Scouts in a chapter to join a Chapter Troop or Crew? Scouts have a primary duty to their primary units. It's hard enough sometimes to convince Scoutmasters that the OA isn't a threat to their unit's wellbeing. How long do you think the Lodge can survive if the Scoutmasters start believing that the Chapters are running elections just to recruit for their Troop/Crew?


If you don't make it mandatory/automatic, what happens when Johnny Ordeal decides he doesn't want to join the Chapter Troop/Crew? Will he have the same opportunities for participation as other OA members or will he not be welcome because he's "not part of the group"? Do you really think you can control people in the future who will decide that Johnny Ordeal won't become Johnny Brotherhood (or even Johnny Vigil) if he's not in the Chapter unit.


I was in a Native American dance Explorer Post. The 5 of us that were eligible for it were all in the OA. All 5 of us were active in the Chapter. 3 of us were Chapter Chiefs. 1 of us became a Lodge Vice Chief. All 5 of us also ended up chosen for Vigil Honor, as was our Post Advisor. But, and this is important, we were not the Chapter's Explorer Post. In fact, the 5 of us also came from the same Scout Troop - and we had non-Scouts in the Post because of a shared interest in learning culturally authentic dances. Our teachers (and assistant advisors) were full-blooded Potowatamie's that lived in town. One of their son's was one of my best friends. We didn't exist to be in the OA - we supported the Chapter, we danced for the Chapter, but we were a separate unit, with our own "regalia" separate from the Chapters. We never overwhelmed the Chapter - our Chapter was strong and active enough that if we didn't exist as a Post, it wouldn't have made a difference. The 5 of us were active in the OA because we wanted to be, not because it was expected of us as part of being in the Post. Our home Troop had heavy participation in the OA too - and not because it was expected, but because the OA was embraced by the adults and that was reflected in our participation.


And I think that's the way a Crew should operate. If there are a bunch of people who want to be part of a Native American Dance crew, then great - but keep them as a separate entity from the Chapters - they can certainly support - but they shouldn't be - the Chapter. The strongest chapters I've seen are those that attract active members from many Troops. The weakest are those that attract most of their active members from just one or two units.


My suggestion - when the Professional's bring the idea to you, smile, nod, then ignore them. Build your chapters up by making sure they aren't perceived as a threat to Scoutmasters, and are perceived as somewhere where Scouts from different Troops can get together to share brotherhood and ideas.


Did you notice when I said that my home Troop had heavy participation in the OA because the adult leadership embraced the OA? That is the number one way of building up a Chapter. You need to make sure that the adults in the Troops support the OA, are not ambivalent about it, don't see it as a threat but rather as another opportunity for developing leadership.

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I have the same objections to summer camp staffs being "Crews". It is a way for the Council to artificially bump the numbers up and the Crew only "functions" for a month to 6 weeks out of the year. My other issue is that they adopt the Venturing shirt as the staff uniform. I realize they do this to stand out, but it is BOY Scout summer camp after all. Let's set the example. The other solution is to do what our Cub Resident camp staff does. The Program Director owns an embrodiery shop and she supplies the staff with red ball caps, polos and t-shirts with the camp logo and "staff" on the shirt. You can pick them out a mile away.




I've never heard anyone make an argument of using a Troop to support a Chapter, only Crews. While not really a fit, a Crew model would fit a Chapter long before a Troop model would. Of the one Chapter in our Lodge who has seriously entertained the idea, they wanted to make a Crew with males and females interested in Native American culture, dress and dance. The active Chpater kids would conveniently all be members of such a Crew. The benefit would be the fundraising possibilities to fund their regalia and travel. Like I said, I gave it a little thought and just didn't like the idea.

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I'd not be comfortable with this, either. Sounds strange, for all the reasons others have outlined.


On the issue of camp staff Venturing crews -- my old camp did this with an Explorer Post, and does it now with a Venturing Crew. Since BSA membership is a requirement of employment, it's primarily a way to register staffers who aren't already Scouts or Scouters - such as the teacher who's working as shooting sports director, or the med student who's a first-aider.


My camp crew/post was indeed active primarily during the summer, but it also held events throughout the year - we did service projects at the spring staff interview weekend, and had occasional get-togethers at other times. Now, the crew is serving as a pool for drawing campmasters from.


As for those who say well, it's not a real crew, I'd like to introduce you sometime to a friend of mine who got really involved in Scouts only after being hired on as an aquatics staff member. He joined the post, energized it, became its president and earned Eagle. After college, he became the camp director and is now a council field director. Did he not have a real Scouting experience because his post was a camp staff post?

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Sure there are exceptions to almost anything.

Still most times these type of units are just paper units.

I've had Lads in the Ship who were very active, they were also on Troop charters and worked at Camp as staff members. Then some bright spark had the idea of making the Camp Staff a Crew.

Other than working at camp and a get together sometimes at Christmas this Crew never did anything. Had no elected officers. It was just a group of people with their names on a paper.

The Council was the CO??

The Council paid their membership fees if any, as most were listed a being "Multiple".

But when the paper count was sent to National you bet they were listed.

As you might know I'm not a great fan of Venturing as it now stands.

Part of the problem is that Councils have played games with the numbers to such an extent that no one knows what's real and what isn't.

A few years back in the NE Region Venturing numbers took a big hit. The looses were off the board.

Thanks to a first class twit of a Field Director that we had at the time we were part of the problem. This twit had signed up an entire class at a local HS as being a Crew. The DE was supposed to go to the school once a month and cover something about Venturing. He went twice.

No application forms were ever filled out and no one knows where the money to pay all these memberships came from. (I tried to find out but even the office staff and the Registrar didn't know.) That year the Council made Quality and the twit was seen by many of the Board Members and some people who ought to have know better, as being the White Knight that saved the day.

After he was promoted we found out that our little 4 District Council was now a five District Council!

The twit wanted to start one of these Crews in the District when I was District Chair. I was close with all the staff in the HS so sending him packing wasn't hard (I enjoyed it!)

When we can no longer make it on our own without having to cheat, tell lies and not live up to our oath and law?

Maybe the time has come to rethink what we are about.



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I believe BSA had a site where you could find units in your area. I don't know if it is still available or not. I took a look at it once and discovered the same thing. Many, many paper Venturing units "chartered" by high schools and various charitible organizations that I knew for a fact had no active units. When you are all about making the numbers instead of ensuring quality, this is what you get.

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This may be going way off topic (sorry), but I'm left wondering what the difference is between a "paper" unit and a "real" unit.


(A) We've heard on here horror stories of troops that go camping maybe three or four times a year. Are they "real" troops?


(B) Then there's a camp staff Venturing crew that spends time together six days a week, eight to 10 weeks at a stretch, every year, plus a weekend or two in the off-season. Its members do at least three times as much Scouting together as does the Boy Scout troop in item A. Is that not a "real" crew?


Believe me, I understand the concerns about pros cheating, numbers being jacked up and paperwork being fudged. But I think it's insulting and a disservice to accuse every camp staff crew of being party to paper fraud.

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SR540Beaver nails it.


My council as well has a summer camp crew made up of a staff that exists for 5 weeks.


It is also listed on the find a unit site on the national site.


Just another paper unit to give credit for someone's critical.


And to top it off, it is a venture crew where all the members are on the payroll. Not really a volunteer unit right down to its youth members.


Oh, the reason for the venture uniform is because there are girls on the summer camp staff. Can't be a troop with girls.(This message has been edited by abel magwitch)

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As someone mentioned, summer camp staffs are registered as crews so that those who are not registered normally, i.e. college students working, "contractors" like SCUBA shops, military assigned TDY at camp, etc are registered.


As to keeping the crew active year round depends upon your staff. I know crews that do meet year round, not only staffing weekend council events, but do a few things on their own. But I know most staffs do not meet year round.

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I've not heard anyone express why chartering the camp staff as a crew is an advantage.


Okay, meeting 24/7 for six or eight weeks is probably more than most crews. But as a camp staff aren't they meeting anyway?


It gives the non-BSA types a unit to register with. They can also register as council employees. Or heaven forbid, the youth staff members could go out and find an existing unit they really want to join and register there. Is the requirement for staff to be members of BSA just a paperwork/insurance thing or do we want our camp staff members to have some sort of demonstrated commitment to the program?


They get to have Christmas parties. And only chartered crews can do this.


Clearly, the only reason this comes up is to pump someone's numbers. Seems like every couple years someone comes back from the national meeting or some national training with a new idea for how "create" crews. At one point there was a push to charter the JROTC from every high school as a crew. Then OA chapter scam ran it's course. The SE finally put a stop to it when the DEs all but started a fist fight to see who got to claim the lodge crew for their district.


"Paper crews" in this context, Shortridge, have to do with motivation, I think. Forming a Venturing crew should be motivated by the desire of a chartered organization to organize a program for their older youth based on the methods and aims of Venturing. And it goes to the intent of the kids joining. Do they intend to be Venturers, to be crew officers and work toward Venturing advancement? Or do they intend to be camp staffers, OA members or JROTC students? And what do you do with the kid who joins one of these crew with the intent of really persuing the program only to be told, "sorry kid, we're really just camp staff."


If there is no intent to run a Venturing program, it's a paper crew.



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