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Youth first or preliminary organization first

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The Venturing model, if you follow BSA's literature, emphasizes finding your youth first, then organizing a Crew around them.


In the original thread, both Buffalo Skipper and emb021 advocate it's ok to organize first, then find the youth.


I'm a parent of a university freshman. EagleSon has been a busy young man. Studies, band, lessons, barbershop music (he does that too), church, THAT youth group, THAT choir, and his Crew all compete for his attention. I noticed, last year as a HS senior, he picked an opportunity because he'd be there to help get it off the ground. He had FUN, and so did the rest of the original group, getting things started.


He does fall in on things... witness church.


I guess my question is: If it'a bunch of us old farts going out and hunting down the potential youth members, how do we get above the noise level that represents a HS junior/senior/college freshman?

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I think to be fair, I should point out that I'm not the greatest fan of what the BSA is calling Venturing.

As I see it, which I'll admit might be way off base, the BSA sees that a group of young people who share a common interest will come together to do things that have to do with this interest.

So bringing a group of youth who enjoy knitting together is step one and then finding an organization or group of adults who are knowledgeable about knitting is the next step.

I have seen this happen, only it was skateboarding and not knitting.

A group of skateboarders with the help of some willing adults got together and formed a Crew.

The problem is (Again as I see it!) that youth of this age have lots of different interests and todays skateboarder might very well be tomorrow's knitter.

Most (In fact all) of the Venturing Crews in the area where I live are led by people who were involved in Boy Scouting.

A lot claim to be "High Adventure". I'm not sure I'd agree with this tag. Most seem to offer something along the lines of a youth club type program that does camp every now and then.

Most of the members when the Crew starts are Boy Scouts or former Boy Scouts.

Some of these Crews were started with some pushing from the guys who lead the District, in order to help the District end up the year + 1 and receive Quality District.

I do know and am very aware that there are some outstanding and wonderful Crews who follow great programs. They just don't seem to have reached the area where I live. Yet??


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Most of the crews in my area do some outdoor acivities, and participate in the councils venturing program, where the youth spend part of the day competing in scout-like activities, and then have a co-ed dance in the evening.

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There's always an exception to every rule.


1) We formed the crew around the existing interest


2) Very few of our boys have had Cub/Boy Scout experience


3) Their focus area does not allow them to be interested in any joint/council types of Venturing programs. The only time in 10 years is they did a flag presentation for the council dinner.


It all depends on the youth, the interest area and the adults as to whether or not the crew survives.



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My crew is 100% scouts from our troop. I took it over to keep it from not being rechartered, in hopes we could do more high adventures than the troop does. The troop is real busy working with the younger scouts, as it should be. The crew is designed to take care of the high adventure stuff. If you want to do high adventures, you need to dual register with the crew. We of course, won't turn away anyone who eligble for membership though. We have a couple of scouts who aged out as boy scouts last summer who are heading up to NTiers with us this summer with the 14 year olds. Allows them to go as youth and the 14 year olds to hang with the "old" guys. Next year we will do a Philmont trek.

I want to recruit girls, but so far no joy. I think the boys are too shy to ask them to join us. Got a couple of leads from the church youth group though.


So I guess we found the youth first, then reformed the crew around them.

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Not trying to hijack the thread (Sorry John)


Looking at the Ship, the Crews we do have and back when I was a Venture Scout in the UK. Starting the unit/Crew/Ship doesn't seem to be the problem.

The problem seems to be that once a hard core group has been formed, they don't seem very keen about allowing new people into "Their" Group.

A good many of the Sea Scout Skippers I have talked with have said that the Ship's they serve go from being strong for a few years and then have times when everyone leaves and they have to start over again.


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First of all Eamonn what you describe as Venturing in your council simply isn't.

Our crews and ships do joint activities throughout the year, I think the problem with your ship is that the membership has been small, from your past posts, and now they think of themselves as some sort of elite club, which venturing is not.


The problem with many crews is that the adults do not let the teens have any control and try to run it like a troop, that is not venturing. The first year is the crucial one for the crew, you first ask the officers to set three easy to obtain goals for the year, activities, membership, one long trip, and three long term goals. After the first year the teens get how to sucessfully plan an execute an activity, by the second year the crew I advised was raring to go now in its sixth year we have over 60 teens and a very prosperous coed crew. Venturing works if you toss away all those boy scout habits and let the program work as it was meant to be.

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Thats exactly the approach I have made with my crew for their first year. Much more hands off and let the guys set the agenda. Mixed results so far. They still want to do lots of stuff, but have a real hard time getting it planned and executed. I'm giving it two years, if they get the spark, I'll stick around. If they don't, well, lots of other things can keep me busy.

One thing I don't want the crew to become is some elite scout patrol extension of the troop. If they want to do boy scout stuff, do that with the troop. I keep telling them the crew is for doing stuff you can't do in the troop.

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"First of all Eamonn what you describe as Venturing in your council simply isn't."



Man oh man!!

Thank you for pointing out my confusion!!


I have not been able to find the 2008 Membership Report.

But in 2007 we have/had 254,259, in 19,920 Crews.

So if my math is right? It could be said that the average Crew has about 13 youth members. (A little less)

This to me sounds very much like "some sort of elite club, which venturing is not." ?


Someone posted:

"I do know and am very aware that there are some outstanding and wonderful Crews who follow great programs. They just don't seem to have reached the area where I live"

Yes I remember!!!

It was I!!

I was the guy who posted that!!


Let me see where I got so very confused?

"Most (In fact all) of the Venturing Crews in the area where I live are led by people who were involved in Boy Scouting."

Is this true or false?

I know I'll ask someone who has, as far as I know never been to the area where I live!!

I'm sure he will know exactly what is going on!!


"The problem with many crews is that the adults do not let the teens have any control and try to run it like a troop"

Oh well there goes the Boy Led Troop out with the bath water!!









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Boy I guess someone didn't take his cranky pill today, lol.


Eamonn I have been involved with venturing on a local level and regional level for many years now, and boy scouts and cub scouts before that, and have seen many excellent crews, and some not so great, one of the keys is the councils involvement in the program and the quality of training provided to the leaders. Another key is to break this idea that because someone was a scoutmaster that he automatically will be a great crew leader, that is not necessarily the case. Additionally the idea that there is a natural progression from boy scouts to venturing, which is not necessarily the case,is also not true it depends on the type of crew. Now you are welcome to go on and on about what a lousy program venturing is in your opinion, especially in your own council but what you state simply is not true for the entire venturing program nationwide.

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Quality leadership and structure is totally two different issues when defining a Venturing Crew. Not all crews are the same and one size doesn't fit all.


I am a SM and CA and I run the two units totally different yet under the same BSA umbrella. My troop is 100% boy-led, patrol-method and yet with my crew, it's 100% adult led*. Both are very successful and I have to constantly remind myself I have to shift gears when going back and forth between the two.


* On the field it is 100% adult-led, but in meetings it's about 50/50 between the youth and adults. Our unit is run as any other reenactment group in the style of what we are portraying and as captain of the unit, my decisions are followed precisely or we wouldn't last in the hobby. If it wasn't this way, the crew would fall apart because we wouldn't be able to find any activities for the boys to participate in. Because we are now getting boys to the level of command leadership in the hobby, they have on occasion taken command of the unit and led at an event, where they hold sway over both youth and adults in the unit.



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Sorry if I came off sounding cranky.

But .... (Hey you knew it was coming!!)

The membership numbers contradict your argument.

Most Crews are small.

I wonder if we were to take out the "Let's pretend to be a Crew?" What the real numbers would be? The biggest "Crew" in our Council is the Summer Camp Staff Crew, which only exists to ensure that there is a place to place non-members who want to work at a BSA camp.

Unlike many of the older adults who go on about Venturing, I have the luxury of having been in a Venturing program.

Sure it was a lot different than what the BSA is offering, but never the less it was a coed program for older youth.

It was as a Venture Scout I earned my Queen's Scout Award and the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award.

Venture Scouts from the unit I was in traveled to Africa to work on development projects.

I became proficient in teaching rock climbing and repelling. I worked with young children who were very severally physically handicapped.

My point is that I kinda think that I know what the program can be. I kinda like to think that I have some idea where it could go.


Sadly in most areas, especially the NE-Region Venturing has been abused and misused so much that it's almost a joke.

Who is to blame for this?

I wish the program had a little more structure, with choices built inside. So I'll point the finger at the guys who rushed to develop a program at a moments notice, but have never had the guts to say "Hey we messed up! Lets start over and try to get it right".

Councils are to blame for allowing Quality Council to cloud their judgment and use Venturing as the way of cheating.

Volunteers are to blame for not trying to develop a real program and allowing Crews to become little more than the guys who help out at District Camporees.

I have seen wonderful Cub Scouter's go on to become wonderful Scoutmasters and I happen to think that good youth leaders are good youth leaders no matter which program area they choose to serve.


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Until the perception of Venturing as an extension of BSA or BSA older boys doing more fun stuff, Venturing as it is intended will never fly. Too often Venturing crews are nothing more than an excuse to have girls in a venture patrol. Well the program was not designed as such, but when treated as such they complain about it not working. Go figure.


Venturing is as different from Boy Scouts as Cub Scouts is and it has nothing to do with ages. Once people realize that, then maybe Venturing will have a chance to grow into what it is intended to be. SM's who are also CA's do not think any differently from one program to the other. Unless they are willing to do things appropriate to the program, Venturing will be nothing more than super scouts with girls.


I chose my Venturing program with the sole purpose of being VERY different from what I was doing in Boy Scouts as a SM. For this reason, I have been able to have a successful program. Had I chosen a high adventure (code word for BSA Venture Patrol) I don't know if I would have been as successful. I know most of these crews fall apart rather quickly because expectations are different than what the program was designed to be.



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Touche Eamonn!


However Stosh did an eloquent job explaining where the weakness in Venturing is as well as its strengths. You are right many crews are indeed small and many of those are LDS units, nuff said. The other small crews for the most part are what Stosh describes as "super scouts" and many of them do fail in the first year. The problem in Venturing is not the program as much as it is administered by the council, and the leaders who are former scoutmasters who can not think outside the box. Uniforms and advancement are not methods in Venturing and thats where many current scouters have a problem in making the transition to a crew leader.


We are fortunate in our council to have adults who can think outside the box and our venturing program is thriving. You know the saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks", well some scouters are never able to make the transition to what Venturing is suppossed to be instead they impose their own vision of what they want it to be and then wonder why their crew fails. So I say again it is not the program that is at fault it is the way it is being subverted by some of those in charge of administering it in the field. There are many councils where Venturing is not only growing but surpassing boy scout troops in number of units, my own council is one of them.

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In my 10+ years with Venturing, I've long had to deal with trying to explain what Venturing is to other scout leaders. I was always a little surprised/annoyed that they saw it as a 'brand new program', when it was really just a continuation of the Exploring program that had been around for 2-3 decades, with some tweaks and changes. But because they only saw Exploring as a 'career awareness program' (no outdoor Posts, no church youth group Posts, no art/hobbies Posts), Venturing was all new.


I've found that the worse Venturing leaders are those who were former Boy Scout leaders, and tried to run their Crew like a troop. Their idea of Venturing was that it was just 'advanced boy scouts with girls' as another person calls it. When I'm involved with Venturing training, trying to get across the difference of Venturing to other scouters always seems to take a lot of time. Topics like our different methods, uniforming policy, how we deal with advancement, crews specializing, all seem to throw many of these people for a loop.


This doesn't mean that former BS leaders can't be good Venturing leaders, but they need to learn and undertand what Venturing is to make it a success.


As to small crews. I found that its a combination of various things. Most troops rarely recruit. They seem to relay on a combination of feed packs, and other boys to may show up because they've heard of boy scouts. Crews don't have 'feeder troops'. Most do a poor job of promoting themselves, and it seems hard to even get them to understand this and do stuff like create flyers/brochures, run open houses and the like. Too often crews become a 'private club' for a set of youth, who then do little or nothing to get others to join, hence they are usually small and die. Those crews who do a better job of promoting themselves do grow and survive.


Outdoor crews have always been a large percentage of crews. Outdoor/high adventure is a natural extension of Boy Scouting, and it was these sorts of units that made up the early Explorer Scout program. Your church youth groups make up your second largest group. Then you have a smattering of various other crews: indian hobby, re-enactment/living history, sports crews, various arts/hobby crews, etc. Specilization is great, but crews need to use this to sell themselves and attact youth who want to do what the crew does.

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