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What Venturing Is and isnt

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I spun this off a comment that was made that there is no confusion about what Venturing is at the national level and I feel compelled to give a few observations...


Every once in awhile as things as wont to do, especially in a boy lead troop, things dont work out. Food isnt bought and a hastily put together team must hustle off and get it, or the correct supplies are not brough in sufficient quantity, that kind of stuff, nothing major, just the stuff that happens. This will be brought to the attention of the SPL and the response at times is "its not my fault, I told XXX to do it". My unfailling response is to ask, When Wellington beat Napolean at Waterloo, did either load a cannon or fire a musket? When Eisenhower lead the European Invasion, was he in the first boat that hit the beach? When its said that Bill Cowher of the Steelers cant win the "big" game, does that mean he drops passes or fumbles at the goal line?


Like it or not, the head of an organization is reponsible for the overall perception of that organization and if a national program is struggling with its identity, I do not think it correct to absolve the national leadership and lay the blame locally.


The Venturing Program was introduced shortly after the concept of a Venture Patrol was initiated, who couldnt see that there would be confusion about differences between a Venture Patrol and Venturing Crew?


If there is a national vision of what Venturing is, and its not supposed to be Boy Scouts with girls, why can boys in the Venturing program earn Eagle (if they join as at least a first class scout). Its real hard to tell someone that Venturing is not Boy Scouts and by the way 2 of our guys just made Eagle (an icon distinctly associated with Boy scouts)


When any group gets together there are predictable behaviors, Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. The Venturing Program is in the Storming phase, its going to take national leadership to move it to the perfroming phase and I await its prescence.

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I agree with you 100% I find National still having trouble communicating to their professionals what Venturing is and what direction to take it on a council and district level. At a recent training I attended of advisors I attended I was amazed at the confusion of the professionals and scouters conducting the training as to what the Venturing program is, everyone seemed to have a different interpretation of what a Venturing crew is supposed to do and be. Most of us advisors present try to follow the leaders manual as to program, but a good percentage were very specialized and those advisors sort of did their own thing. An argument developed as to whether specialized crews should be Explorer career posts and not crews. The course directors were stuck for an answer. The LDS leaders present described their program which had a more boy scout than venturer bent to it. Most of the crews were small in size about 5-10 youth. We talked about a district or council Venture rendevous but the very specialized crews felt it would not be of interest to their youth.


Okay that said, my beef with National is that they have on paper an outline only manual with survey forms and planning sheets for leaders and a uninformative and very poorly written handbook for youth, unlike the manuals for boy scouts and scoutmasters. So we leaders have to fill in the blanks, most of us do not want another boy scout program, but their is a lack of real structure in Venturing. Advancement is offered but is not considered an important or necessary part of the program, according to the training. I think National needs to develop a book on the methods of Venturing so all of our crews have the same basic structure, even with our specializations.


One course leader even stated that the crews main purpose is to just do fun activities the members want. Activities without purpose or structure, in my opinion just leads to small crews and chaos as was evidenced in this training seminar.

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I tried to ask much the same question a little while back.

I have read most of the books on Venturing a couple of times and have presented some of the training's..

I see what is stated in the fact sheets.


But for some reason we just don't seem to be getting where we want to go or need to be.

We are doing our rechartering at this time and it looks as if we are going to lose three Crews. These were /are Crews that sprung out of troops and never seemed to have any real idea what direction they wanted to go in.

I don't know if they used the materials that are available, but with six or seven members I doubt if they did? It seems to me as if we (The District/Council ) Have left these young people in some sort of Scouting purgatory, many of these Venturers are still in the troop and the promise of great things has been made, but nothing seems to happen.

At our Key3 meeting last night our new DE started to say that starting Crews was easy (I don't know how he knows that? Being as he has yet to start anything?)

I yet again asked what are we selling? What do we offer these young people? He said that we have the advancement plan, and liability insurance - I can't help thinking that there are not to many teenagers who will get excited about these!!

If we are going to sell advancement we have to put Venturing Awards on a par with Boy Scout Awards.

At the risk of sounding sexist it seems to me that Crews with females or Female Crews seem to be doing better than all male Crews.

As an organization we do a darn good job working with youth and offering programs that are fun, challenging and adventurous. Why can't we seem to put these experiences to work with Venturing?

If us trying to be all things to all interests isn't working maybe we need to narrow the field a bit.Maybe we need to look at what we do well and offer that and allow the youth that have interests that are in programs that we know nothing about alone.

I have requested that our District Membership Committee and the DE do not try and start any more "Troop Crews". If a troop comes to us and wants to start a Crew that is fine, but us going in and doing the hard sell in order to get closer to a goal is something I hope we can avoid. I know of course that come Fall if we still need units my request will go out with the bath water.

I will have to give the idea that we are still "Forming", some thought. Five years is a long time, tweaks have been made, could it be that with so many paths that we are just unable to form? I can't help thinking that if we don't make some real adjustments that in five more years we will be saying "It's only ten years".


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Most, but not all, crews in our area seem to be auxiliaries of the troops - i.e. Troop xxx and Crew 2xxx with the same CO and many of the same youth.


Yes, to some a crew is jsut a co-ed troop with no NSPs. Some have been formed with a specific high-adventure goal in mind - i.e. sailing.


Anyway it does get confusing. Now, about a crew member earning Eagle. I thought that only if the Venturer is involved (dual registered) in the Boy Scout program could he (not she) continue with rank advancement (Star, Life and Eagle).

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A Crew memeber who joins the crew as a first class scout may earn Eagle by only being a member of the Crew. All requirements are the same except positions of respnsibility, he has to be a president, vice President, Secretary or Treasurer for those.

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A lot of good comments...


The council professionals that are confused about the Venturing Program don't report to the Venturing Division, so I don't see how Venturing can be responsible for them. National Venturing provides material and courses. Could there be more and better promotional and training materials? Certainly, but people have to take some initiative to learn, too.


National Venturing isn't struggling with Venturing's identity. They know exactly what the Venturing Program is. It is a program for older youth to pursue their interests, grow, develop skills, and become good citizens. It is an extremely flexible program... and therein lies much of the problem. People who expect Venturing to provide a well defined, highly structured program with detailed materials are going to be woefully disappointed and frustrated.


Confusion is also created by those who try to define Venturing by what crews do. Venturing does not come with an integrated activity program like Boy Scouting comes with its outdoor program or Sea Scouting comes with its nautical program. You cannot define Venturing as a whole by the activity program crews do, because each crew develops its own program. So, naturally when many crews try to explain Venturing by what they do, you'll get all kinds of answers like the chaos mentioned.


National Venturing cannot possibly provide materials for every conceivable crew activity program. They provide the basic structure and generic materials and processes, some outlines and forms, etc. It is the job of each crew to tailor these to their needs and obtain whatever else they need, such as detailed activity materials, from other sources. This is also where consultants come in.


The variety of crew specializations also brings challenges on district and council levels. If you are going to do district or council Venturing activities they usually need to be pretty generic.


As far as starting crews from troops, a book could be written on that subject.


Those interested in learning about Venturing might find the National Venturing website useful: http://www.scouting.org/venturing There is basic information about the program and its history. You can also take Venturing Fast Start online. The descriptions of courses offered during Venturing Week (Aug 14-20, 2005) at Philmont Training Center are also listed. For those serving at council and district levels, the "Venturing District & Council Admin" course would be useful.



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Just wondering something, are you getting a kickback for being a spokesperson for National or what? National from what I see and read in their pub's and in their training is definitely all over the place on Venturing. They develop advancement patterned after boy scouts, they just change the names but are for all intent similiar, and then they say that it is not an important part of the program. I have read and devoured every Venturing pub from National and find them grossly incomplete or just fluff.


Now don't get me wrong I love Venturing and so do my teens as our crew keeps getting larger every year. I just feel National should do a much better support job than they currently do. The pros, including National still support the concept of Venturing teens all running around in the green shirts and gray shorts looking like a coed scout troop.So I and many other advisors disagree with your stance that National has a clear direction for the Venturing program. I am afraid it may go the way of the old explorer posts and eventually fade away which would be a huge loss to the scouting program.

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I too find myself siding with the majority on this thread, the Venturing program has been delivered in a very haphazard and inconsistent manner from National and down through the council exec's. Oge, Backpacker and others are correct when they state that the focus of the program is a bit confusing, especially with Venture patrols and crews. Many crews are not much bigger than a patrol so why is there even such a thing as Venture patrols? We use to call them senior scouts.


My take is that National has tried to fill the old Explorer gap with Venturing to the point of even using the same uniform shirt, wait a minute there is not supposed to even be a Venturing uniform, the manual states. So lets get rid of the green shirts entirely and give Venturing a chance to develop as it should, a group of coed teens brought together for fun, service and leadership, not to be a boy scout troop or an old Explorer post.

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I did Powder Horn Sept of 2003. It was great, two three day weekends of non-stop fun, we did mountain biking, went rock-climbing, had a great presentation of Caving, had great food, canoed, I got a chance to sit on the bottom of a swimming pool using SCUBA equipment, had a great presentation on Orienteering and did a great course and met a lot of very nice, gung ho adult Venture leaders. I must say I had fun. As far as furthering my knowledge of the Venturing Program, I would say it lacked a whole lot.


I was told I "HAD" to take Powderhorn as it was the height of Venturing training, and as I will repeat all through this post, I had fun. Now, the leaders of the model train crew and the WWII re-enactment Crew were not as wild as I was. They didnt see much of a connection between having adults get a taste of the Ranger electives and running their crews. Will there be a secondary level of training for Venturing adults ? Will it be applicable to all? The Arts and Hobbies Bronze has little to do with Hobbies, (that was from the model train crew). Why is Sea Scouts lumped in Venturing when they have their own totally different program and I may add quite a distinct history and tradition all there own ?


Our District is on the smallish side and it appears we run the AAA minor league team for the rest of the Council. We seeam to be always breaking in new DE's, then they either quite in two years OR get promoted. We have had quite a flood of them. They come in, get introduced and a few months later are trundled off to Dallas for training. WHen they return they know less about Venturing than they did before. WHy is that ?


I think the core of Venturing is for youth to plan and scdedule and just plain "Make it so" activities that they want to do. That I understand (I hope) What I don't understand is how BSA can have a slick brochure packet aimed at churches on how to start a Venturing Crew whose focus is religious life. How do you tell those Crew members that Venturing Crew members design their own program while their Chartering Organization tells them they will be a religious life crew? Is that a mixed message? How do you sell a program that is supposed to be youth directed towards its interests and then say it WILL have a religious nature? So many questions and no answers that I can find


PS I loved Powderhorn,


There are so many questions and very few answers(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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I like to think that I'm a loyal supporter of Scouting and the BSA.

I at this time am not involved with a unit. I do at times get involved with trying to start new units. Packs and Troops are fine. But I have a hard time with Crews.

Most church groups in our area start with 12 year old members. The people in charge are not keen on having a separate program for the 14 + teens that they serve.

We have gone to existing groups such as junior firemen, Civil Air Patrol, Tie & Fly clubs. The list is a long one. They are already serving the youth that are interested in what they are offering. What do we offer them? They are not sold on our Advancement program. They don't understand it or want to take the time to try. The youth hear Boy Scouts and this is not a selling point.

About 18 months ago, a Crew sprung out of the troop that OJ is in. Many long hours were spent dealing with elections, by-laws, selecting a uniform. After all this and during all this there was no activity. I did end up taking them skiing. This was followed by a weekend away at a council owned campsite. The Crew President was wanting to do a week end of wilderness survival. He had all sorts of books and equipment for this. I dropped OJ off and stopped for a chat. They had a building for the weekend, and inside I found half the Crew inside playing with a Play-station with a huge pile of DVD's ready for later.

The end result of the weekend was that half the Crew quit.


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I can understand complety about the frustrations with Venturing. Being new to Venturing, but not Boy Scouting (Eagle scout I am), I went through the new leader training for a Venture Crew, purchased the Venture Leadership manual, and began the crew last month. I can say that Varsity and Boy Scouting have it easy with the planning guides and troop resources. There is nothing for Venturing. I found the book confusing and not really much help. They should have more specific things in there to help people like me get off the ground. I also have the Crew startup guide and found that not helpful at all. It seems like they really through this Venturing thing together. Venture Patrols and Venture Crews, how confusing is that? National really needs to print Crew resource guides for activities and have the forms copy friendly. With that green tint background, copying in black and white doesn't do it justice. I am not impressed with this Venturing program method. I like the concept, but what good is a concept without the right tools necessary to build it up further?


Not to start a new thread, but has anyone noticed that prices for BSA items or merchandise keeps going up each year? Uniforms, supplies, etc?

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Yah, there was this program full of great ideas and great people. It decided to go out on a wilderness trek. Unfortunately due to lack of focus, direction, proper support, and lack of materials, they didn't really know how to find the way. Now that program and the good people in it are lost in the wilderness.


That about sums up what I think has happened with Venturing. We constantly hear that Venturing is NOT SCOUTING, and yet that it is part of the traditional program. So what does that mean?


Well, Venturing does have ideals. Those ideals are loosely based on the Scout Oath and Law. (I have to believe some media consulting firm wrote the Venturing Oath and Code, though I like the Code better than the Oath.) However, just as Venturings ideals are a bit vague and non-specific, so to is the implementation of the ideals as a method of Venturing. Certainly some Crews do a wonderful job. However, others are just a club for teenagers with no real purpose other than what the Venturers decide to do. That runs directly contrary to the idea of it being part of the traditional program, and even conflicts with the Venturing Methods. Really the problem with Venturing isn't its methods, it is the Goals.


Venturing is perhaps the big tent program that is just a little bit too big. I don't have a problem with a crew focusing on model trains, but the question is does it still achieve the goals using the methods?


Venturing is supposed to be a defined program with set goals and set methods. The exact activities are supposed to be left to the Crew. However, I think it is being treated as a build-your-own-program program. People are picking and choosing the goals and methods they want, ignoring others, and inventing yet still others.


And can someone please tell me what sort of "High Adventure" a Crew focused on arts and crafts or some such thing does? "All right, everyone pack up your stamp collections, we are going to Philmont!?!?!?" So, maybe there is a problem with the methods.


Now, when it comes to Venturing, I only spent a couple months in a Crew, and it wasn't a very good Crew. However, the truth of the matter is there are plenty of real Crews that are just as lost as the one I was in. From the outside observers standpoint, Venturing is just a mess. That isn't to say it isn't doing lots of good for lots of people, it probably is. However, it is still a mess.


If Venturing were a person, it would certainly be an open minded one. I am afraid it might be so open minded that it is in danger of its brains falling out.


I certainly hope for nothing other than the best for the Venturing program. There many good youth and adults in the program and I am certain many of them are having a great time and running great Crews. However, there are plenty of others blundering along without a map or compass.




Oh - one last thing. Does anyone know for certain weather or not a Venturing Crew may mix and match the official BSA Venturing uniform? The insignia guide seems to say no, but many Crews seem to say yes. What is the real deal on this?

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As with any unit, it's the chartering organization and unit leaders responsibility to see the methods are carried out, the aims met, and the youth are getting benefit from the program. There are the same issues you stated with Packs, Troops and Teams.


Certainly there are struggling crews. Venturing is relatively new and doesn't have the wealth of experienced leaders, commissioners, and professionals that 95 years of Boy Scouting has built up. The fact that each crew many need to put significant effort into developing their program makes crew operations more difficult than Boy Scouting. Still there are many well run crews and many youth benefiting from the program.


Venturing is not for everyone. If you're not comfortable with Venturing's flexibility or don't like it for whatever reasons, that's your prerogative. However, throwing insults at the Venturing Program because of what you have seen from certain crews or leaders isn't productive or scout like.


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WOW, I find this unbelievable!

We have many troops that tweak the Boy Scout program, to fit their ideas of Boy Scouts. But the leaders of a Venture Crew cannot come up with a good program without someone telling them what to do?

I find it amusing when I see a scout troop that starts a Venture Crew. And than wonder why the scouts do not have time to do things with the crew and troop. They are suppose to be in the Troop and the Crew plus have a personnel life outside of scouts. They are trying to take the busiest youth and splitting them in to many directions.


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We have taken the raw data from the few resources available to Venturing and created our own program that seems to be working well, we have grown from 15 to 35 members in our crew in less than two years. What do we specialize in? Nothing, we go camping, mountain climbing, to the ocean etc., and do community service projects, fund raisers and take trips to where ever the crew decides to go. Those with real ambition work on advancement awards, about half, and all of them just enjoy hanging out with each other. This is not a boy scout troop but a coed group of teens looking for constructive ways to have fun and finding ways to help those in need.


There are leadership positions and opportunities for those so inclined to be challenged. These teens may not be marching around in uniforms or trying to live off the land but their ideals are just as solid as those of the boy scouts. Where did we come up with this formula for our crew? Not from the training we received, very little from the Venturing pubs, we spent three months with the officers, adult advisors, and crew and created a program from our own experiences, creating goals and a three year and ten year plan. The plan has worked and our success is the proof.


This is what National needs to do if they ever expect Venturing to succeed, no matter what the crews specialization is there are certain basic structual things that must be in place and a long term set of goals to achieve if the crew is going to survive and grow. Maybe I will offer my services to National and offer to write a book for Venturing crews that will help them be successful, because it doesn't seem those folks in Texas ever will.

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