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KoreaScouter

I need Motrin from the arm-twist!

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Venturing discussions are really starting to get my attention. I got "hired" as SM because my predecessor took three of our most senior Scouts and started a Crew. The idea was pushed by our CC, with understandable pressure from District. Well, it's been almost a year, and most of the promises and assumptions haven't panned out. Although our CO provided associate advisors (female), no young ladies have joined. They did a recruiting night at the high school, and the contact sheets were "lost". Although Venturing advancement requires the Crew members to do joint activities with the Troop, none have taken place. Crew Advisor tells me (we talk often and see each other too) that crew members want to finish Eagle first. Rationale: no college admissions person knows what a Venturing Ranger is, but they all know what an Eagle Scout is.

 

Now, the Crew President has quit, and so has the Advisor as a result (he gave other reasons too, but that was the biggie). District's concerned, and rightly so. When I was talking with my DE yesterday, he's starting to turn the screws to have the Venture Patrol members within my Troop dual register with the Crew. I didn't leap on that, for a couple reasons.

 

One, they all know there's a crew, and could have dual-registered when it was started. Most opted not to. Reasons given were "earn your Eagle first", "you don't have time for another extracurricular", or "let's wait and see because we don't really understand what Venturing is". I don't want to push them out if they don't want to go.

 

Two, I don't want to contribute to what may dilute or ultimately derail their Scouting advancement. There's only so many hours in a week, and if they're trying to divide it between two programs, I see both suffering. To me, it's one or the other.

 

I'm torn over this. My DE's a great guy, and I'd crawl over broken glass for him. They've got a volunteer to be Crew Advisor, so that's not an issue. I just believe that if Venture Crews are all they're cracked up to be, they should naturally pull youth in rather than depend on us to push them in.

 

I need some sage advice here.

 

KS

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Don't know about sage advise??

The troop that my son is in, is not perfect. Scoutmaster is a nice fellow, years on the job but it is only lately that he started using the Patrol method. I think he always knew about it but just didn't get there.It could be that the SPL attending JLTC as a staffer might have brought about the change.

The troop is of a fair size, about 40 Scouts and has a lot of adult support. In fact maybe too much? Many of the adults feel that it is about time for the Scoutmaster to step down, but would never push this as he is a nice fellow.

About a year or so back one of the dissatisfied leaders got together with some of the older Scouts, one of which is his son and they formed a Crew.

Sad to say this Leader is not really the outdoor type and the Crew is listed as being High Adventure. Things started off really well. There was elections and a Crew T-shirt and then nothing. The Crew wanted to go skiing but at the last minute the leader couldn't go. I ended up taking them. So far they have managed one weekend at our local camp site. They have no plans in the making for a super activity this year or any year. The Crew President has quit, the only female has quit and all that seems to be left is a charter and some t-shirts!!

Trying to serve two masters is hard for adults, when we make our Scouts try and have a foot in an established troop and a fledgling crew.The initial excitement from the Scouts is high but unless the crew has real adult leadership to get the crew up and running I think that the failure rate is high.

Some of us really like our pro. Scouting partners but we are here for the youth not the adults be they professional or volunteer.

Eamonn

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Please hang in there! I've been in this Venturing business for almost five years now and I've seen Crews come and go and if our crew hasnt dealt with every problem in the book (we've had almost all of them...) I've seen it happen within my council.

 

Our crew has dealt with all of the following, boys wanting their Eagle first, other extracurriculars (a particular 'favorite' is the high school band...which used to wipe out the entire fall), crew members going off to college, and we're still battling with recruitment and desperately scrap around for female chaperones for each trip.

 

The Venturing program still has a long way to go, the Ranger and other awards need to become recognized, the Venturing program needs to become a more household name equal to its scouting counterparts of Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.

 

Our crew has managed to survive, largely because our advisors have not given up on us or the program. We set dates for events with the policy of as long as we have the leadership we go; our crew offers our services to help crew members on their Eagle projects; the boys that come in from our troop my be at least star in their advancement.

 

In addition, we try to work with troop that we are attached to. Our advisors are still committee members with the troop and some of our older Crew members as ASMs with the troop. We try not to plan events the same time that the troop will be going on an outing, so that boys can be active in both groups. In addition, all of our boys that were in the troop before becoming crew members have gotten their Eagle while members of the Crew.

 

On a final note when it comes to recruitment. That's right, sometimes the Venturing program does not recruit just by exsisting. The program, still in its infancy, doesnt always have the clout that other organizations have. Crews have to actively seek members or the program will disappear. The best way to get more youth in the program seems to be by word of mouth. We just had what seemed to be successful (knock on wood) recruitment presentation with the troop this past week (as all of the eighth graders are going to be going into ninth grade, ergo old enough to join the program). We went a new direction and showed a film that we had made for a Crew film festival. It wasnt your every day recruitment video, but it went over well and showed that our crew has a sense of humor and isnt always climbing Mt. Everest, as some of the younger boys shy away from the crew, because they think it is completely hard core high adventure.

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Using Venturing to increase "new unit" stats is a formula for failure. The unstructured program format is going to take, IMHO, a couple key items: 1. The youth MUST take ownership of their program. 2. They have to create an innovative, creative program and DO make it happen. (Too much talking and not enough backpacking, makes for a doomed unit). 3. An advisor that's going to stick through all the up and down, until he successfully trains the youth to actually take ownership. 4. The feeder troops have to see the crew as a positive, natural, challenging step for the older young men. Having hacked-off Scoutmasters just doesn't make for a good environment, teenagers hear more than you think and they remember everything, (except Shakespeare). 5. If they are going to be a "High Adventure" crew than start getting active. Pick a theme or mission for the crew, EMT, Religious, High Adventure, Sports Team, Sailing, Living History, Shooting Sports, etc and have the youth leaders take ownership of the program.

 

Starting a crew is easy. Keeping it going and growing is not easy at all.

 

 

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