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Forever the fatalist. ?

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Seems I can't win.

When Venturing came along, our then District Chairman who was really into Organizational Charts was worried about where to place Exploring and LFL.

It turned out in the end that Exploring and LFL were moved out of the District and we never had to worry about them again.

Our then District Camping Chairman, thought the idea of having coed units was the end of the world and was ready to burn his beads.

I was at Philmont when the then Director of Venturing looked in and informed us that Venturing was where it was at and was the fastest growing program in the BSA.


Now it seems to be the program which is losing more members than any of the other programs.

I have sat on Area Committee Meetings where it has been mentioned that some Councils kinda, sorta messed up and had Venturing Units that really weren't Venturing Units and had moved these from Venturing to Exploring.

However when I look at the Exploring numbers I can't see anything like the almost 98,000 that Venturing doesn't have any more.

I know that trying to find out a number that might be used for TAY (Total available youth) is almost impossible for this age group.

But I can't help feeling that 249,948 would be less then 1%.

Fatalist? I hope not!!

I really want us to come up with a program that works.

Parts of what we have right now does work.

But with such a decline we have to admit that this is more than a bump or a clerical error.

I'm sorry, but I really can't help feeling if we keep doing what we are doing, we are going to end up with what we got and what we got just don't seem to work.

The real answer has to lie with honest and open discussion and a real effort to come up with something that will work.

I don't claim to have the answers.

I do see that we have a real problem.


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A modest proposal - drop "Venturing" and bring back "Exploring" - it was a prefectly good program that didn't need to be "fine-tuned" by the BSA. Venturing came about because someone noticed the growth in "outdoor" Exploring and thought it would be a great time to separate the career Exploring component from the outdoor adventure Exploring component. Obviously, these people were never Explorers.


Keep Learning for Life as a school-based program and let career-oriented (but not school-based) Explorers decide if they want to stay with Learning for Life or stay under the Exploring rubric, as real BSA Units.


I belonged to three different Explorer Posts, and had friends in many other Explorer Posts throughout the Council. Explorer Posts were still under the "District" but because of the age of the participants (many of us could drive), and the wide-ranging interests of the Posts, and the generally lower number of Posts in a district compared to Packs and Troops, there tended to be more Council-wide crossover and get togethers for Explorer Posts than for Packs and Troops. At our Scout-O-Rama's, Packs and Troops would set up by District, but Posts all set up together in an Exploring section, no matter what District we came from. We even had a few all-council Explorer post only "Camporees".


It was always interesting to see a couple of Medical Careers Explorer Posts (almost exclusively girls), a couple of Police Explorer Posts (almost exclusively boys), a Fire Department Post, an Emergency Services Post or three, a couple of High Adventure Posts, an Indian Ceremonies Post, a couple of Sea Scout Ships, etc. interacting with each other - we may have worn different uniforms, and have had different interests but there was one thing we all had in common - we were Explorers! And we were living examples of the next step in Scouts for older lads.


It wouldn't have helped your District Camping Chair though, I'm afraid - we were Co-ed back in the seventies, and most of the units (the Medical Careers Posts being the major exception) enjoyed camping no matter what our interest was.





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"thought it would be a great time to separate the career Exploring component from the outdoor adventure Exploring component."


A point of history here:


In 1998, the BSA was faced with lawsuits by the ACLU and others relating to government support of Exploring. Most career oriented posts were chartered and supported by a public institution such as rescue squad, fire department, hospital and the like. Due to the BSA's religious principle, this was viewed as a violation of the seperation of church and state.


The BSA's solution was to move career Exploring to Learning for Life, which has no religious principle and spin off the non-career posts into Venturing.



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I do see that we have a real problem.

I see a problem also.


I really want us to come up with a program that works.


If used the Venturing Program works.

The same can be said of the BSA Scout Program.

If used it works.

Alter it or dont use it is pretty much hit or miss.


I have to agree with Parts of what we have right now does work.


The council where I took Wood Badge has a very active Venturing Program.

Its about 50 miles to the West.

The crews in this council use the Venturing program.

It was announced during Wood Badge that one the youth had just finished his Gold award.

They have a few Venturers that have the Silver and Ranger award.

They have an active VOA and have 4 or 5 well attended Venturing events a year.

Almost all of there Crews are High Adventure.

The Advisors are all trained. Most were in attendance as WB Staffers.

I see the program can work if used.


During the Sea Scout training weekend I had to agree with what was being said during the Sunday Training session.

A lot of what was presented could easily put to use for a Crew.


With pushing Scouts to First Class within one year they are not ready to be leaders at 12.

They havent had time to learn to be followers yet we are asking them to be leaders.

It also hit home when it was said that many scouts have dropped out of the program before they are 14 and are gone before a Venturing Crew can even recruit them.

I can see where it was said that if you get them at 13, have them spend a couple of years learning the Sea Scout program and learning to be good followers, they are ready to be leaders.


I like to see Crews started jointly with 4 or 5 troops (or just a few Crews in a district).

Scouts can join the Crew but need to stay with there Troops also.

The higher level leadership/high adventure skills that should be being taught in a Crew can be brought back to the Troop program.


In most of the Crews around here this is just not being done.

Crews get together a couple of times a month to shoot or golf or do whatever their specialty is and not much else.

No advancement, No super activities or much activities outside their specialty.


Same can be said of Crews as offshoots of Troops.

I have yet to find one that uses the Venturing Program.

They are used more as a Venture Patrol as a way for older Scouts to do High Adventure trips away from the rest of the troop.

So far I am the only Venturing Leader that isnt doing double duty as a Troop Leader also.

I have talked with some of these leaders and they just dont have the time to devote to both units and it seems that the Crews are the ones getting shorted.


I think for the Venturing Program to be successful our professional need to stop us form just being an insurance provider for COs to run a youth group.


I really like to see more time and effort put into starting new crews, teaching the COs its responsibilities and about the Venturing program and know that they are going to use the program and having trained leaders before a charter has been issued.






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Does anyone have a copy of the Venturing Specialty Codes this can be obtained from usscouts.org/venturing/specialcode.html this has the specialty codes that the Venturing program uses and which was separated out of the total pre-98 Exploring program. Now ask any DE that has knowledge of the program Venture crews are as diversified as what the pre-98 Exploring program was. Please also note that these specialties are mostly, hobbies, avocational interests,religion or sports and outdoors specialties. Then at a crew meeting pass out a Venturing Interest Survey and have the youth fill it out and use these things in planning your crew program. Venturing is stand alone and although a crew may start with young men that are scouts that may want to do high adventure, there are many other things that both young men and women want to do in Venturing and if the program is done right, you know with the youth leading the program and the adults doing the shadow leadership thing and a crew utilizing the G2SS. If a crew specializes in say 0159 Indian Culture this may be a way to get many Boy Scouts in the crew because of their affiliation with the OA and also many girls because of past membership in a YMCA Indian Guide program and because it is Arts and Hobbies it can be quite theatrical and both the boys and girls can do Native American dances and presentations, but still the crew can do high adventure activities if the youth so desire. Just because a crew is specialized in something other than Outdoor or High Adventure does not mean that it doesn't have a worth while program and can hold youth's attention. Youth can be very interested in things other than hiking and camping and backpacking, now these are not wrong, and they can still be incorporated in the crew program, Venturing advancement can be incorporated as well. But some crews do not do advancement as a unit because of time considerations and the youth are busy with school, troop or other hobby interests and jobs. If the program is done how the manual says to do it we can still have a program. Venturing needs to be promoted more on the district and council levels. Venturing activities need to be planned and done at the council camps or other facilties. I would like to see a National Venturing Rendezvous similar to the NELC that was done in 1998. One thing we need to do is quit crying and start partnering with youth and coming up with some ideas and then carry them out.



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Change is inevitable in all things, even Scouting. If we are closed to change than like the dinosaurs we will fade into oblivion. Venturing was not created to be an extension of or run like a boy scout troop. Those crews run like a troop are the ones Eamonn shows that are closing down, just like many boy scout troops today. As an advisor for five years, a scoutmaster for five years, and a cub leader for three years I have a great love for all that is scouting and it saddens me to see our numbers continue to drop.


As for Venturing it was designed as a program with diverse areas of interest to a COED older teen group, not a place for older boy scouts to go because they are bored with their troop. Boy scouts are dropping out because many troops are run by old time scouters who want to recreate the troop of their youth, you know the type, if it was good enough for grandpa then its good enough for these boys, which is so wrong. National recognizes change is necessary in order to grow and prosper which many currently are not doing. Venturing is an attempt to bring older teens with no scouting experience and those who have dropped out of scouting back into a program that caters to their interests with a hint of the old traditional values in a way that is relevant to them.


Some old timere may hate the Venturing program, but done the right way it works well, as my own crew and others I have experience with can testify. It is not about badges and uniforms its about empowering teens with a program that is relative to today and is filled with the traditional values we all hold dear. So Eamonn and CNY all I can say is that you are so wrong about Venturing and its potential. If we don't continue to update our programs making them relevant to the current culture of youth then we run the risk of becoming irrelevant and stagnant, and Scouting may fade away into oblivion. I for one do not want to ever see that day come.(This message has been edited by RangerT)

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I think there is a great deal of potential in the Venturing Program, if the program is used.

But I just am not seeing being used.


I have met crews from other councils that are growing and active all seems to have youth members that are working on advancement.

They also seem to use the Venturing uniform along with their own Crew activity uniform.


We have a DE who seems to be using the BSA as an insurance broker.

Almost all of the new crews in the District that have been started, the COs just use a Venturing Crew as a way to get the added insurance the BSA offers to run a youth program.

I have yet to find another Crew in my district that really uses the Venturing program.


The only other Crews in the District with trained Adult Leaders are the 2 High Adventure Crews which are nothing more than offshoots of Troops.

Currently both are really just paper units as their members are all away at college.


I have had limited success with the Ship in drawing in youth with no Scouting experience.

Currently my son is the only one out of 10 registered Sea Scouts that has any previous Scout experience.

Around here just seems that the bored older scouts are long gone before they hit Venturing age and the Ship (or other crews) are not having much success in drawing them back into the Scouting program once they are gone.


The Ship members would like to hold a council/district Venturing event.

I have talked with some of the other crew advisors and they are not interested in doing anything outside their specialty.

Its getting expensive having to drive 4 and 5 hours to attend Venturing events as only one other council near here has any type of active Venturing program in place.

I don't think it will be much of an event if none of the other crews are willing to even discuss attending.


I am trying my best to use the Venturing/Sea Scout program and I am being to see that it does work if used.

A few of the Sea Scouts have been meeting a couple of Saturdays a month with a pistol shooting crew.

This Saturday is one of the shooting days for the crew.

The Ship members have decided to attend the Scout show with the Ship instead.


In being a new unit we are coming to end of the calendar that I initially put together and are ready to do a planning session for the upcoming year.

They have scheduled the planning session for the other shooting Saturday this month.

They see the Shooting Crew as just another activity and no big deal if they miss it.

They are looking forward to putting together a schedule and attending Venturing/Sea Scout events.


It seems our District people are all slapping themselves on the back as we made Quality District of the first time in many years.

It was all due to the 6 or 7 new Venturing Crews (and the Ship) that have been started this year.

Already the shooting crews are beginning to worry about membership as they had a big influx of kids at the beginning but now less than a year later most of them dont show up any more.

The leadership in these crews are not interested in learning about the Venturing program (during shooting Ive heard the CC trying to talk the Advisors into taking training with little success) and are not interested in do much more than getting together a couple of times a month to shoot.

I can see that shooting is pretty cool in the beginning but I dont think showing up a couple of times a month to shoot (or whatever the crews specialty is) will hold the youths interest in the long run and unless they are doing constant recruiting these Crews wont be around very long.


Until council start putting together Crews that use the Venturing Program and stop using them to boost numbers we will never see it grow and will have a constant steam of "one-year wonders".


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First of all I am an advisor for a Venturing Crew with a 8 year, quality unit every one, program. We have had NO officers, NO BSA program, NO rangers or rank advancement of any kind. We have $1,000+ in our treasury and our numbers remain low.


The secret is to do what the crew was designed to do and let the youth run it. It's not an older boy scout program with ranks and offices unless that's what the youth want.


Do what you do best and leave the rest alone.



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We have had NO officers, NO BSA program, NO rangers or rank advancement of any kind.

...quality unit every one...


How do you make Quality Unit with No officers when electing Crew officers is a requirement for this?



(it is also the same on 2004 & 2005 Quality Unit Award)


starred [*] items are required


*3. Officers. The crew/ship will elect officers and the Advisor or associate Advisor will conduct a crew officers seminar.

(This message has been edited by CNYScouter)

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I agree with you, there is no way the jblake crew would qualify for the quality unit award unless he lied on the form. Secondly as jblake himself states his numbers are small. jd if you tried using the program correctly maybe you would recruit more youth because the way you are doing it now will only fail in the long run, and give venturing a bad name. Personally blake I think you have nothing to brag about.

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Like most paper units out there, we cover the bases. Having officers to make quality unit only involves a vote. That takes up about 5 minutes once a year. Having trained officers only means one shows up for the training. Those that get the training are those who were voted into positions because they could get the time off for the training. Functioning on the other hand is a totally different animal.


As far as membership is concerned, our numbers remain small because normally our people age out and new boys come in on a pretty equal basis. I have 3 leaders that are charter member boys. Whereas most people have trouble retaining boys when they turn 16, we have them hanging around after they turn 21.


As far as lying is concerned, feel free to have me removed from the scouting roster. It's a rather serious charge to wield against a fellow scouter. I would suggest a better approach next time. You don't have to quote the Quality Unit application form to me, the quality unit awards were suggested and encouraged by the council. Every year our DE does the paperwork and turns it in for us. I'll be sure to pass along your concern for his integrity. It is not something the crew seeks on it's own. I don't believe anyone even knows where the quality unit ribbons even are anymore.


As far as longevity is concerned. As long as our approach is working, we'll keep with it, especially when we are the longest running Crew in the council and I'm the only Venturer Advisor who ever shows up for any council or district events. And I do believe that I'm one one of a few crews that span not only district boundaries, but also council and state boundaries. How many of your boys/girls can say they are willing to drive up to 100 miles to come to one of your meetings?


As far as bragging is concerned, take my comments as only suggestions. I offered them as something for crews to consider, especially if their current program wasn't working. If my comments are not welcomed, then so be it and figure it out on your own. There are crews folding up all around, why should your crew be any different and when all is said and done, we'll be going strong.

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Much as I hate to name names!

I'm going too.

Very often I find that I don't agree with Kudu in this forum.This doesn't make him wrong and me right and I'm sure both of us could sit down over a mug of something and have a good time exchanging ideas.

From his postings I do feel his frustrations with the BSA and the things he feels that are wrong. (I do admire his knowledge of the history of Scouting in the BSA)

In many ways I feel just as frustrated as he does.

Only in my case it's with Venturing!

I will gladly accept that some Councils, Districts and Crews are doing something that works.

I can't understand how we try and find excuses for seeing the membership fall by approx 33% over four years.

I'll accept that after the membership fiasco's in some parts of the country, some numbers that were wrong were corrected. But almost 98,000 members would be one heck of a correction.

Here in the NE-Region the Venturing membership was down by 15% last year and the numbers continue to go down.

I'm annoyed when I read that Camp Staffs are being signed up as Council Crews.

Yes we played that game!!

The Staff comes from all over the Council, they don't do anything during camp -They are busy working. They don't meet after camp because they are geographical challenged, they don't elect officers. They are the best example I have ever seen as to how not to run a crew!!

While I would have to look it up, I feel sure that a Council can not be a Chartering Organization.

Our Council is supposed to holding a Venturing weekend near the end of April. I was asked if I would help by organizing the VLSC.

I wanted to try and involve as many youth members from different Crews as I could.

I had the registrar send me a copy of each Crew's Charter.

We don't have a single Crew where the Advisor is someone who wasn't at one time a Boy Scouter.

I phoned some the Advisor's to ask if they had any Venturers who I might ask. So far I have heard:

"We only use the Venturers to help at Camporees"

"We really aren't doing anything at the moment"

"We have never met!"

"We tried it and it didn't work, but the DE asked if we would put the charter in"

Why do I feel that maybe the 249,948 youth members that we are supposed to have might not be a true number?

Here in our neck of the woods there seems to be a push to bring Sea Scouts and Venturers together for some reason?

NE-Region 4 has a Quest weekend coming up in April. I asked what is the reason for the weekend? There is a list of activities that I suppose is not bad, but nothing to write home about. I was informed it was a social weekend more than anything!!

Most teenagers I know are very social, they don't need to drive half way across the state and spent $45.00 to be social.

At times I think they are all in my house eating my food and emptying my refrigerator!!

Most Sea Scout events that our flotilla has, do have dances and time for the Scout to be social.

I have to admit I kinda look at these dances as being what has replaced the Camp Fire.

I don't think very many people would organize a weekend Campout with the Camp Fire being the main attraction?

So far in our Council other than the Ship, no Crew has ever had a Super Activity, in fact only the Ship and one Crew has ever filed a tour permit. Of course maybe they keep forgetting? Or maybe they just aren't doing anything?

The Metro Council next door, did at one time have a professional who was in charge of looking after Venturing and he organized a couple of Council-wide, Council ran Venturing Super Activities, one was to Alaska and I forget where the other trip went. I'm not sure why? But they had a real hard time filling the spots.

I'm happy that jblake47 has hit upon something that works for the youth in his area.


" So Eamonn and CNY all I can say is that you are so wrong about Venturing and its potential. If we don't continue to update our programs making them relevant to the current culture of youth then we run the risk of becoming irrelevant and stagnant, and Scouting may fade away into oblivion. I for one do not want to ever see that day come.

I believe the potential is in the hands of the youth. 98,000 youth members not being in the program and the fact that it continues to shrink, has to say something about the potential.


Venturing has had some many updates and new things added that it's hard to keep up with the updates. We need more than another update or another award we need a complete overhaul!!

I'm 101% behind keeping the program relevant to the end users (the youth members).

I don't have the numbers, but I would think the number of youth aged from 14 -21 is far greater than any of the other age groups we serve?

I can't find a total of Boys and Girls of that age group.

Yet it seems to me that we as an organization are unwilling to put our resources into making a program that meets the needs of this age group work.

I'm fed up hearing that we don't have critical mass! I wonder why?

The market is out there.

We just need to come up with the right product!

Of course we need to offer activities that are age appropriate and these will need to be looked at and updated.

Offering a program that is based on a program from the 1950's and what is needed by the LDS church, just isn't working.

One day when the numbers get just to small. ( It took 4 years to lose 98,000. At that rate we have just over 30 months!!) We will be forced to admit that what we offer right now just doesn't work!!

These numbers are real, they have nothing to do with me liking or disliking the program.

They are a reflection of what is happening all over the USA.

Fatalist? No!

Try Realist!!

98,000 is a lot and sadly that number is growing.





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As I said before the key to this program, just like any other, is finding the right combinations for the people at hand. If everyone is just going to lock-step into an established program and make all the members conform to it's principles and expectations, you are going to lose members when they figure out it's going nowhere. On the other hand, when the program becomes a catalyst for opportunities, is flexible enough to accomodate new ideas and challenges, then maybe you've hit upon something worthwhile and the kids will stick around.


If, like a scout troop, you wish your venturing crew to be youth led, and they don't want to bother with officers, and you insist they have them and they function at every meeting as such, who in their right mind is going to want to do a good job? You can't force a "program" down someone's throat.


So, you go through the motions, smile nicely when asked, and then do what the youth decide as long as it's getting the job done properly. We have a different person "running the show" at each meeting. This way all learn the skills of the hobby and develop leadership along the way. What if our boys are not interested in being rangers? Do I insist they go through the motions of trying? What if they are not interested in doing council activities with other crews. Do I insist they go?


Since 1998 when he formed, I have never had a disciplinary problem of any sort and I have had youth involved that were on the verge of flunking school, ADD/ADHD and getting in trouble with the courts.


The challenge is not to do what I do, but to figure out what to do with the youth you have in your area. If that means turning a deaf ear to BSA program expectations to insure youth ownership in a quality unit that the youth are excited about. Then go for it. If it is not going to harm anyone, if it upholds the integrity of the scouting principles, if it develops leadership amongst the youth, then who on the council level is ever going to stop you?


When the parents stop thanking me for what I do, when the kids no longer come to the events, or when the council get's tired of riding my butt about keeping going, then I'll hang it up.




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I don't have the numbers, but I would think the number of youth aged from 14 -21 is far greater than any of the other age groups we serve?

I can't find a total of Boys and Girls of that age group.


One number I can easily find is the number of High School Students we have in our Council which is basically the ages of 14 to 18 (which seems to make up the ages of most Venturers).


The county I live in has 23 High Schools with about 25,000 students.

The county just to the north has 9 High Schools with 8,000 students.

These 2 counties make up about 75% of the total population of the council.

Doing some simple math this comes out to almost 45,000 High School age youth in our council.

I was told that the council has about 375 registered Venturers.


This is only 0.8% of the available High School students in Venturing.

I have to think that the BSA can come up with some type of program that can appeal to a larger portion of this age group.


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How about an iPod Crew?


How about an XBox Crew?


How about a cell phone Crew?


How about a gamer Crew?


Know your audience and remember not everyone is ever going to be a candidate for a legitimate scout group, whether it be cubbing, boy or venturing.


Help the few that you could possibly help and don't worry about the rest.



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