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Hedgehog

Son and Friends Starting a New Venturing Crew

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I've always figured it was a matter of time.  Last year, on the way back from our 50 miler my son and his best friend were texting two of their girl friends and talking about how the four of them should do a backpacking trek.  A couple of weeks ago, my son and one of the girls were over our house and she started talking about how Girl Scouts really lacked adventure.  I mentioned Venturing and her eyes lit up.  She mentioned a couple of other names, one of which is the daughter of another ASM in our Troop.  The next week, I mentioned Venturing at the end of an e-mail to that ASM.  His response was that his daughter would be very interested and that he also was interested in helping out.  Add two more friends of the girls, the daughter of our IH, my son's best friend and my son's buddy he did NYLT with and we have five girls and three boys that are interested.  It would be easy to add a couple of boys from the troop to and a couple more friends of friends to round out the crew.

 

I told my son and his friends that if they want to do this, then they need to take the lead and make a presentation to the IH and COR to get approval (should be easy because CO already sponsors a Pack and a Troop).  We've got an Advisor (me) and three more adults (my wife, the ASM and his wife) interested in helping out.  I can easily recruit some other parents to be the CC and Committee Members.  Our only challenge is finding a female adult to do the high adventure -- my wife will camp and hike, but is hesitant to go anywhere there isn't at least a latrine. :D

 

I've spent the last couple of week reading everything I could find on Venturing (Advisor Training Manual, Crew Leadership Training Manual, Award Requirements, etc.) and have ordered the Advisor Guide and Venturer Guide.  I even found a really cool joining ceremony on the BSA website.  

 

Any advice to a soon to be Venturing Advisor (other than training myself to say "youth-led" rather than "boy-led")?

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Remember the position is Advisor - not adult leader because soon those Venturing "youth" will be adults, too.  At that point they will be peers.  Might want to start that process early.  I ran a successful Venturing crew for 12-13 years and always treated all the members the same... as adults.  If I was going to go kayaking with another couple of couples, I would act and interact with them as I did with my Venturing "peers".  It didn't take very long to establish trust and respect and when they figured out what Servant Leadership was, it was often times nicer than if I were with two other couples.  :)

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Talk to your Venturing Officer's Association (VOA) they might be able to help with that search for good women with strong backs! Older sisters and young GS/USA leaders may also be open to the idea of back-country backpacking. Talk to college fellowships ... some of them have 21-and-over outdoor clubs and are looking for service opportunities. (I've loaned gear to several such young women over the years.) It's ideal if you have your committee chair do that legwork for you.

 

It's really hard to balance SM and Advisor. If your crew committee is different people then your troop committee, encourage them to meet together once or twice a year.  I actually insisted that the crew committee never meet in the absence of the Crew President.

 

I tell my venturers that Advisor = Good for nothing and best used that way. To that end:

  • Sign yourself and all your people up for VLST asap. Invite your youth along as well.
  • That ceremony that you found? Pretend you never saw it. Ask the youth to research joining ceremonies.
  • Accept no youth application that has not been completed by the youth except for the parent's signature.
  • Strongly encourage any 17 year olds to take youth protection training, because you will all too soon be giving them and adult application.

It's a wild ride, enjoy it!

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BTW, you're off to a good start calling it a "venturing" crew. Way to polish that brand!

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Thanks for the tips. I explained what I think the difference between an advisor and a Scoutmaster is to my son last night. A Scoutmaster may initiate a discussion with a youth leader but an advisor waits for the youth to ask them.

 

My son and I watched the Venturing Youth Orientation video. It was awful because it spent most of the time discussing paperwork and procedures. It seems some well meaning person at National developed 20 pages of forms to help a crew figure out its activities. The meetings as described sound absolutely tedious. It also seemed to have the officers doing the planning where it would seem that the whole crew should be involved. Son asked me, "do we have to do it that way?". My response was, "No. The crew decides what works for them." We won't be using that video for recruiting or training.

 

At this point the crew is all 14 year olds. I tend to have a good relationship with the boys in the Troop - even staying up till 1:30 in the morning playing chess on the last night of camp. I've learned that relationship is based on respect going both ways. I've also seen how my relationship with the scouts changes as they get older. I suspect the relationships in Venturing is the same.

 

Once things get started, I'll work with the committee on finding that female advisor who will do the serious backpacking treks. For now, I think my wife will be able to do the basic treks where we camp at established sites with latrines.

 

I had already shown my son the ceremony and he had ideas of how to change it. He liked parts of it because it reminded him of OA. I suspect the crew will do more research and make their own ceremony.

 

I like the idea of having them fill out their own applications. I'm also planning in having them make the presentation to the CO and fill out the paperwork for the charter.

 

Next step is for my son and I to read the Advisor and Venturer guidebooks. I told my son that the goal is to figure out the possibilities of what they can do in Venturing. In the meantime, most of the future crew is going to see a play tonight that one of them is performing in. I think they have the Group Identity thing going already.

Edited by Hedgehog

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Good luck.  While I haven't been involved in Venturing yet, I know some day I will be because my daughter wants to join very badly (she's only 8 right now).  An interesting book by a Scoutmaster who ran a co-ed program involving his Troop (and later a pre-venturing outdoor Exploring post) is Rocks in my Backpack.  It would seem that Scoutstuff has it on clearance now:  http://www.scoutstuff.org/rocks-in-my-backpack.html

 

It really opened my eyes to what a co-ed Scouting program could be (plus it's a darn good read for anyone who loves Scouting).

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So, some advice from a guy who's seen some boom and bust cycles ...

... The meetings as described sound absolutely tedious. It also seemed to have the officers doing the planning where it would seem that the whole crew should be involved. Son asked me, "do we have to do it that way?". My response was, "No. The crew decides what works for them." We won't be using that video for recruiting or training.

At this point the crew is all 14 year olds....

Meetings are tedious. Keep them to a minimum. They are basically to determine what your crew will be about. It sounds like you all are halfway there, so you won't have to go through all of those steps.

 

Have training sessions. Involve baked goods ... preferably with chocolate ... or pizza.

 

BUT DON'T LIFT A FINGER FOR THESE YOUTH.  E.g., if one of them hasn't called about a campsite or guide/consultant by a reasonable time before the a desired weekend, the activity is in jeopardy of no-go and there should be no bailout. All you are there for is to sign where adult signatures are needed. To be honest there are some things in particular that interest me, so all they have to do is whisper some magic words (like "Dolly Sods") and I'm making sure that we have a plan suitable for the youth attending.

 

IMHO, any paperwork that you have typically assigned to an adult troop committee (e.g., treasury reports, health information, tour plans, training) must be offloaded to the youth. You simply can't afford to have them ignorant of any accountability/safety issues that would be of concern to any adult committee. You and your crew committee are there to look over the youth's work, help them do a good job, provide a little continuity as youth come and go, and offer the occasional bright idea if one of your committee is into something cool.

 

As far as the amount of time youth should dedicate to organizational stuff.

  • If you have a crew of six, then everyone's an officer, and thus the officers do all of the planning. Most days, they can show up at the departure site, and pretty much wing it. But that's not a recipe for growth.
  • If you have a crew of twelve then the folks who aren't officers are activity chairs (an officer can choose to chair an activity of interest to him/her). Officers coordinate activity chairs, who are basically youth who want the crew to do a particular activity.
  • If you have a crew of twenty-four then you are really leaning on the officers to identify the best activity chairs from among your most active participants. Your VP-finance (a.k.a. treasurer) is tracking thousands of $s. Your VP-communications (a.k.a. secretary) really has to know what was discussed at the last meeting. Your VP-program should have contacted every activity chair in the last month and know who needs help with what. Your President  or VP-administration should be working a substantial agenda. One of them should be attending district/council VOA.
  • With those numbers or greater, the officers may need training in parliamentary procedure so that during meetings everyone has a fair chance to put forward their ideas.

So, be clear to your 14 year-olds, that meetings may be few or brief, but adults are not to mask venturers' lack of time put into the program by constantly bailing them out. Certain reductions in busy-work may create efficiency, but too much results in reduced accountability, which results in people not doing their jobs, which results in fewer activities.

 

At the end of the year, if the youth are bothered about unmet goals, they may decide they needed to meet more after all.

Edited by qwazse
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I've hesitated to reply because I have biases born out by experience.  But, I'll offer the following thoughts:

 

- Decide whether the crew will be an appropriate place for the boys who are dual registered to do boy scout advancement stuff.  I know they can, but be sure it's understood between crew/troop.

- Be frank with the troop leadership that some of the boys who join the crew will leave the troop.  It's ok but not all dual registered youth will have time or inclination for both.

- Don't use troop outings or meetings as cover for a "quick" venturing officers meeting

- Don't go on a troop outing or meeting and say "if this were a crew event we could do X, Y or Z!"

- Don't recruit during troop events.

- If troop and crew are chartered to the same CO coordinate calendars, don't schedule events on top of each other; avoid joint events, save maybe service projects.

- Remember part of venturing's goals are to be an expert training and program resource for troops, build some good will.

- Avoid the 4 and out clique.  Force your youth to recruit every year from the local high schools, etc.  Especially from kids not already in scouting.

 

Your crew will impact your troop.  I'm not saying it's good or bad, it's just reality.  Everybody needs to be prepared for that eventuality.  

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For this reason the two units should not be connected in anyway.  Both need to be independent of each other.  I ran a Crew for 12-13 years and never signed off on a Boy Scout advancement issue.  Every boy that came into the Crew was told if he wanted to get Eagle he will need to maintain dual membership with a troop and Eagle through them.  Did they follow that process?  All but one Boy Scout that joined our Crew Eagled.  He quit both Scouting and the Crew at the same time.

 

That was as close as we ever got to "mixing" the two units.  They NEVER had a joint activity.

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...

- Be frank with the troop leadership that some of the boys who join the crew will leave the troop.  It's ok but not all dual registered youth will have time or inclination for both.

...

Not a universal experience.

None of the boys from our troop who joined a crew (mine or another one devoted to LARPing) left the troop.

On the other hand, a minority of boys who were not in a crew stayed in our troop.

 

We've discussed troop/crew operations before ... so I won't belabor the point.

 

Bottom line: Keep the boys on task. Use troop meetings to discuss troop stuff. Crew meetings to discuss crew stuff. Once trained, the SPL and Crew President can get together and decide if an activity should be shared. Then one welcomes the other to a meeting to extend a formal invite.

 

Avoid schedule overlap about as much as the troop tries to avoid conflicting O/A and district events.

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Good luck.  While I haven't been involved in Venturing yet, I know some day I will be because my daughter wants to join very badly (she's only 8 right now).  An interesting book by a Scoutmaster who ran a co-ed program involving his Troop (and later a pre-venturing outdoor Exploring post) is Rocks in my Backpack.  It would seem that Scoutstuff has it on clearance now:  http://www.scoutstuff.org/rocks-in-my-backpack.html

 

It really opened my eyes to what a co-ed Scouting program could be (plus it's a darn good read for anyone who loves Scouting).

 

 

I've ordered the book (along with the Venturing Guides and some other stuff a ScoutStuff.  Thanks for the recommendation.

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See responses in red.

So, some advice from a guy who's seen some boom and bust cycles ...

Meetings are tedious. Keep them to a minimum. They are basically to determine what your crew will be about. It sounds like you all are halfway there, so you won't have to go through all of those steps.

 

Agreed.  

 

Have training sessions. Involve baked goods ... preferably with chocolate ... or pizza.

 

Just for me or do I let the youth have some too?  Actually, if they want some they can get their own. :D 

 

BUT DON'T LIFT A FINGER FOR THESE YOUTH.  E.g., if one of them hasn't called about a campsite or guide/consultant by a reasonable time before the a desired weekend, the activity is in jeopardy of no-go and there should be no bailout. All you are there for is to sign where adult signatures are needed. To be honest there are some things in particular that interest me, so all they have to do is whisper some magic words (like "Dolly Sods") and I'm making sure that we have a plan suitable for the youth attending.

 

I can do that.  I've made it clear to son that this is up to him and his friends to run.  

 

IMHO, any paperwork that you have typically assigned to an adult troop committee (e.g., treasury reports, health information, tour plans, training) must be offloaded to the youth. You simply can't afford to have them ignorant of any accountability/safety issues that would be of concern to any adult committee. You and your crew committee are there to look over the youth's work, help them do a good job, provide a little continuity as youth come and go, and offer the occasional bright idea if one of your committee is into something cool.

 

Understood.  I'm actually trying to push that down on the scouts in the Troop and have them do everything in connection with an adult.  The crew will operate the same way.  However, I'm not sure if they can file the Tour Plan, I thought you needed to be a registered adult to do that electronically.

 

As far as the amount of time youth should dedicate to organizational stuff.

  • If you have a crew of six, then everyone's an officer, and thus the officers do all of the planning. Most days, they can show up at the departure site, and pretty much wing it. But that's not a recipe for growth.
  • If you have a crew of twelve then the folks who aren't officers are activity chairs (an officer can choose to chair an activity of interest to him/her). Officers coordinate activity chairs, who are basically youth who want the crew to do a particular activity.

I suspect that will be the maxmum size of the crew (unless I'm really tapping an unmet need in the community).  My sense is that it functions like B-P's group of friends and everyone is involved.

  • If you have a crew of twenty-four then you are really leaning on the officers to identify the best activity chairs from among your most active participants. Your VP-finance (a.k.a. treasurer) is tracking thousands of $s. Your VP-communications (a.k.a. secretary) really has to know what was discussed at the last meeting. Your VP-program should have contacted every activity chair in the last month and know who needs help with what. Your President  or VP-administration should be working a substantial agenda. One of them should be attending district/council VOA.
  • With those numbers or greater, the officers may need training in parliamentary procedure so that during meetings everyone has a fair chance to put forward their ideas.

So, be clear to your 14 year-olds, that meetings may be few or brief, but adults are not to mask venturers' lack of time put into the program by constantly bailing them out. Certain reductions in busy-work may create efficiency, but too much results in reduced accountability, which results in people not doing their jobs, which results in fewer activities.

 

I think my reaction to the video and meetings was the inane detail required for the planning and then looking at some of the BSA forms.  I think the paperwork could be streamined.  On the flip side, I think that the research, preparation and planning is what is key for any scouting activity.

 

At the end of the year, if the youth are bothered about unmet goals, they may decide they needed to meet more after all.

 

The general sense is one meeting a month and one activity, service project or outing per month.  The meeting may be a couple of hours or whatever is necessary for them to do what they have to and have fun (and snacks if they want).

Edited by Hedgehog

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Being a Venturing Crew adviser is really a great thing.  Lots of fun, the maturity level of the youth is very impressive.  Just be careful not to mix apples and oranges to much and you should just fine.

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See responses in red.

Our crew operated well with two meetings and one activity a month. Meetings ran 1/2 to 1 hour.

It really depends on their objectives.

 

Tour plans were best when my VP-Program filled out pdf for me to sign.

Now they have to feed me details, and I file it.

If my CO offered Internet, I would log in and have then complete it during the meeting.

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Thank all of your for your suggestions.  My comments in red below:

 

I've hesitated to reply because I have biases born out by experience.  But, I'll offer the following thoughts:

 

- Decide whether the crew will be an appropriate place for the boys who are dual registered to do boy scout advancement stuff.  I know they can, but be sure it's understood between crew/troop.

 

Boy Scout advancement takes place in the Troop, Venturing advancement takes place in the crew.  The only crossover is activities that can count for both pursuant to GTA and the couting of nights camped, hiking or riding miles and convervation hours for National Outdoor Award (which requires it to be done under auspices of BSA).

 

- Be frank with the troop leadership that some of the boys who join the crew will leave the troop.  It's ok but not all dual registered youth will have time or inclination for both.

 

As the successor-in-waiting  to the current SM (takng over in a year), my requirement is that they continue to be active and in leadershp in the Troop.  I think the concern with the Troop will be more with my focus, but I'm sure I can do both.

 

- Don't use troop outings or meetings as cover for a "quick" venturing officers meeting

 

Not going to happen - too many young woman in the crew that would be excluded.

 

- Don't go on a troop outing or meeting and say "if this were a crew event we could do X, Y or Z!"

 

I work with the boys planning the outdoor program -- we do X, Y and Z in the Troop.  The challenge for the crew is to keep up with the Troop.

 

- Don't recruit during troop events.

 

I think the recruiting for boys will be by invitation.  My son and the other scouts (as well as I do) know who loves the adventure and who is just checking off requirements and merit badges.

 

- If troop and crew are chartered to the same CO coordinate calendars, don't schedule events on top of each other; avoid joint events, save maybe service projects.

 

Agreed.  I'll be involved in both calendars and this is similar to what we do with OA anyway.  Actually, for the crew, most of that will be pushed down to my son because he is part of the Troop PLC, the Troop OA Rep. and will be a crew officer.

 

- Remember part of venturing's goals are to be an expert training and program resource for troops, build some good will.

 

That fits with a lot of what my son has been doing (helping with backpacking seminars for Webelos and working with me on a Wilderness Survival MB lecture / campout).

 

- Avoid the 4 and out clique.  Force your youth to recruit every year from the local high schools, etc.  Especially from kids not already in scouting.

 

There are already some rising 8th graders as well as the rising 9th graders.  Talked to son about making the crew permanent like the pack and the Troop.  The issue will be recruiting young woman and ultimately a replacement for me as a leader (unless I become one of those guys who remains involved after my son ages out).

 

Your crew will impact your troop.  I'm not saying it's good or bad, it's just reality.  Everybody needs to be prepared for that eventuality.  

 

It will.  Hopefully my dual involvement will makeit for good.

 

 

For this reason the two units should not be connected in anyway.  Both need to be independent of each other.  I ran a Crew for 12-13 years and never signed off on a Boy Scout advancement issue.  Every boy that came into the Crew was told if he wanted to get Eagle he will need to maintain dual membership with a troop and Eagle through them.  Did they follow that process?  All but one Boy Scout that joined our Crew Eagled.  He quit both Scouting and the Crew at the same time.

 

Agreed.  Although some of the Venturers might serve as a color guard at my son's Eagle CoH.

 

That was as close as we ever got to "mixing" the two units.  They NEVER had a joint activity.

 

Again, agreed.  I don't see a need for this unless it is in the context of the Venturing Crew running a training or activty for the troop.

 

 

 

Not a universal experience.

None of the boys from our troop who joined a crew (mine or another one devoted to LARPing) left the troop.

On the other hand, a minority of boys who were not in a crew stayed in our troop.

 

We've discussed troop/crew operations before ... so I won't belabor the point.

 

Bottom line: Keep the boys on task. Use troop meetings to discuss troop stuff. Crew meetings to discuss crew stuff. Once trained, the SPL and Crew President can get together and decide if an activity should be shared. Then one welcomes the other to a meeting to extend a formal invite.

 

Avoid schedule overlap about as much as the troop tries to avoid conflicting O/A and district events.

 

Exactly

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