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BobWhiteVA

Starting a Crew out of a Troop - Need advice

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Hi All,

We have a six year-old Troop of approximately 60 boys, given that our first patrols were 11 when we started, they are beginning to age out.  Couple with that, we've really struggled to put together a program that keeps our older Scouts involved (various attempts to start a "high adventure patrol" have fizzled as they just went with the normal Troop program, and while older Scouts do mostly attend meetings, they don't really do much).   So, we're looking at starting a Crew on the idea that it will keep Scouts active beyond their 18th birthday, give the Crew their own identity, and potentially set the stage to bring in girls.  We have identified a COR, Crew Advisor, and Committee Chair.

Our concern is that starting the crew would create conflict with the Troop - that is, that the older boys in the Crew would stop participating and being resources for the Troop (e.g. to help out with leading meeting activities).  To avoid this, we're considering having crew meetings at the same time as Troop meetings, so everyone would come together for open/close, and then the crew would go off on their own to plan their activities, but be available on an as-needed resource to help with Troop activities.   We've had some internal debate as to whether the Crew should be optional for older Scouts as they become eligible, or whether it should be mandatory that all Scouts who are eligible are automatically enrolled.

I'm hoping to understand best practices for starting a Crew out of an existing Troop.  .What works?  What doesn't?  What should we avoid?  Is the idea of essentially having the Crew meet with the Troop a good or bad idea?   How do we avoid the potential scenario in which all the older boys go to the Crew and leave the Troop?

Thanks in advance!

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Basis first hand experience... Crew meeting at same time/place as Troop with joint open/close and as-needed resource is no different than a "high adventure patrol", only with more bureaucracy of a separate Committee.  This is especially true since you mention possibly requiring older Scouts to join the Crew combined with concern about boys leaving the Troop for the Crew.  Consider also future issues if a co-ed Crew meets together with all boy Troop. 

Regarding older boys leaving the Troop for the Crew... This may not be a major concern or Troop active membership loss since you're trying to keep older boys whose Troop involvement is waning involved in Scouting. Generally... if the Venturing program is better for them... they should leave.  One possible option:  Perhaps Crews do not have to meet weekly and thus with a lesser time commitment, perhaps some boys could maintain Crew and Troop involvement.

I assume CO would be same for both Crew and Troop. If so... strongly suggest COR be the same for Crew and Troop.  

Do it right ie separate meetings and do not require older Scouts to enroll.  Venturing Crews are more independent of their adult advisors than Boy Scouts... start now involving the older Scouts in what they want.

PS:  If the Crew and Troop does meet together, a major benefit I've seen is a way to keep 18-20 year olds registered as youth members.

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1 hour ago, BobWhiteVA said:

(various attempts to start a "high adventure patrol" have fizzled as they just went with the normal Troop program, and while older Scouts do mostly attend meetings, they don't really do much)

I think this is the real issue, only because I've been there before. They just went with the normal program and older scouts don't really do much strongly suggests to me that starting a crew won't solve the problem. The scouts of a crew should be able to lead the crew by themselves but it appears that these scouts can't. Otherwise they wouldn't have gone with the normal program and they would be helping out at meetings. So, one solution is to develop leadership in this age group. This might require the adults to learn some new things as well.

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10 hours ago, MattR said:

I think this is the real issue, only because I've been there before. They just went with the normal program and older scouts don't really do much strongly suggests to me that starting a crew won't solve the problem. The scouts of a crew should be able to lead the crew by themselves but it appears that these scouts can't. Otherwise they wouldn't have gone with the normal program and they would be helping out at meetings. So, one solution is to develop leadership in this age group. This might require the adults to learn some new things as well.

I fully agree. We found that 3 out of 5 new crews failed in three years, and the 4th in 5 years. We had a saying in our district, if the adults can't make it work in the troop, what makes them think they can do it with a Crew?

MattR hit the nail on the head; "This might require the adults to learn some new things as well".

Barry

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When I was getting long in the tooth as a Boy Scout our Troop Committee suggested forming a Venture Patrol for the older Scouts. We still came to Troop meetings (occasionally) but we were more focused on doing more "grown-up" things. At this time Venturing wasn't around yet as a stand-alone program. The benefit of having a Venture Patrol in a Troop is the older Scouts still have skin in the game and can be steered toward giving back--to the younger Scouts---what they received at that age.

One of the major issues I see nationally, is that very few people actually understand what Venturing is. As others have said, starting a Crew requires all new leadership, including a Committee. Sure, these volunteers could technically be dually enrolled in a Troop, but to truly do justice to the Venturing program the volunteer leadership (adults) should be focused on the Crew.

When I formed a Crew three years ago I made sure to pitch it to the sisters of the Scouts in my Troop. That way there were others involved outside of Boy Scouting and there was less of a risk of slipping back into Troop mode. Another issue, even with my Crew, is that the Scouts and their sisters never took the time to recruit and just aged as a group of friends. Now the roster is very thin as the original older Venturers are away at college. 

So, @BobWhiteVA, I suggest giving the Venture Patrol idea another go. It doesn't have to be solely High Adventure. Why not build in service and leadership development? At the risk of irritating some on this forum who despise anything from the 1970s ("Improved Scouting Program"), maybe take a look at the Leadership Corps manual if you can get your hands on one? 

But before you do anything else, simply ask the older Scouts what THEY want to do. I hope this helps!

Venture .jpg

Edited by LeCastor
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Experienced the idea of forming a crew out of a troop fail on 3 attempts in 5 years.  Predominantly, the failure was lack of commitment on the part of the adults involved to facilitate it as a crew (ie- get others involved who were not already Scouts), and the makeup was Scouts who were really not interested in doing anything aside from fishing/loafing.  That is to say, it really was nothing more than what these Scouts did in the troop, when they chose to participate. 

At the end of the day, whether it be a Venturing Crew, a Venture Patrol, a Senior Scouts patrol, or whatever name you put to it, unless the youth actually want to do it, it isn't going to work.  You can't prop it up without them taking the leadership reigns to keep it going.  It sounds like you are having the adults trying to figure it out, but you don't have the youth involved.  Start there- ask them what they want.  If they want to just come to troop meetings when they feel like it, then that is all you are going to get out of them.  If they want to just do troop program, and do 1 or 2 campouts apart from the troop a  year, whether they be high adventure or just campouts without the younger kids, then consider if that is what you want to do.  In all respects to the youth, I would say you do need to set the tone that the adults will support them with their program, but there needs to be minimum participation requirements in order to be a part of these older scout activities, or you are not going to get the results you want of having them be resources for the troop.     

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9 minutes ago, LeCastor said:

 

So, @BobWhiteVA, I suggest giving the Venture Patrol idea another go. It doesn't have to be solely High Adventure. Why not build in service and leadership development? At the risk of irritating some on this forum who despise anything from the 1970s ("Improved Scouting Program"), maybe take a look at the Leadership Corps manual if you can get your hands on one? 

But before you do anything else, simply ask the older Scouts what THEY want to do. I hope this helps!

Venture .jpg

The main problem with most Troops is they don't hand the keys over to the scouts. Why would older scouts be bored if they are busy running the program. Now I know that is an idealistic response. Some scouts don't want to have responsibilities, and some scouts just want adventure. But, the solutions to those scouts dilemmas can actually improve the troop program. 

I've said it many times here, the quality of a troop should be measured by the performance of the older scouts, not the younger ones. Self satisfaction comes from personal involvement and responsibilities. If the older scouts are bored, then likely the adults are compensating too much.

We wanted our troop to provide more adventure than just the monthly campouts. So, we created and started pushing scouts to create and plan Crew outings. These are outings  where the scout creates a crew outside the troop program specific to the theme. Once the outing is over, the crew dissolves. The scout is responsible for planning and finding the required number of scouts and adults for the outing. Philmont and Boundary Waters are included in the crew outings, but scouts also organized other backpacking, rafting, scuba and snow skiing. One scout organized a crew to go to six flags to ride all the roller coasters. It's up to the scout on the activity. It can be anything.

There were no age limits to most of the crew outings, so any scout could join the crew provided he physically and mentally met the minimum requirements. So, the whole troop was involved in the adventure part of the program. And, the crews pushed the troop to have more adventure in the monthly camp outs. 

I admit, developing a mature older scout program takes some effort from the adults, but not near as much effort as starting a whole new Adventure Crew. 

Barry

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57 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

We wanted our troop to provide more adventure than just the monthly campouts. So, we created and started pushing scouts to create and plan Crew outings. These are outings  where the scout creates a crew outside the troop program specific to the theme. Once the outing is over, the crew dissolves.

 

57 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

There were no age limits to most of the crew outings, so any scout could join the crew provided he physically and mentally met the minimum requirements.

How does this formation of temporary crews affect the cohesiveness of the troop's patrols?  

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59 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

 

How does this formation of temporary crews affect the cohesiveness of the troop's patrols?  

None at all because the crews meet outside of patrol time. They are members of two patrols. It's the same as most troops Philmont crews, they only meet to prepare for the activity. 

Barry

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I really appreciate everyone's feedback.  I'm very new to Venturing as well so it's a learning experience.  I started on the committee training program last night. :-)

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1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

None at all because the crews meet outside of patrol time. They are members of two patrols. It's the same as most troops Philmont crews, they only meet to prepare for the activity. 

Barry

It may be idealistic, but I'd love to think that those participating in the "temporary crews" are learning some additional leadership skills that they can take back and use to help at the patrol level.  sort of the same you hope for a kid who works camp staff, NYLT, etc.

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22 minutes ago, HashTagScouts said:

It may be idealistic, but I'd love to think that those participating in the "temporary crews" are learning some additional leadership skills that they can take back and use to help at the patrol level.  sort of the same you hope for a kid who works camp staff, NYLT, etc.

There are several reasons we were driven to this style of crew patrols, but yes, the scouts learn a lot. A lot depends on the activity and the adults advisers invited. Snow Skiing for example requires the adult who owns the condo the scouts use. 

Another reason we like these crews is any scout of any age can create and lead or organize the crew. We had a new scout who was a bicycle racer. He struggled to get invited on bicycling crews because of his age, so we worked with him to create the crew himself. One scout with a learning handicap was rollercoaste fanatic, so we helped him create a crew to ride roller coasters all weekend long. It was a popular activity. Everybody likes theme parks.

During the hey day, our troop was averaging 6 adventure crews a years. And actually there we more patrols crews than the number of activities because back packing and canoeing activities limit the size of crews. Sometimes we take two or three crew patrols for the one activity.

Each crew patrol will have a leader or organizer, but we also request one activity leader and Quartermaster to keep track of each crew patrol (mostly during travel). The Quartermaster is responsible for trailer loading and are the members with the keys. So, if a trailer is required, so is a crew Quartermaster. 

Barry

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17 hours ago, BobWhiteVA said:

I'm hoping to understand best practices for starting a Crew out of an existing Troop.  .What works?  What doesn't?  What should we avoid?  Is the idea of essentially having the Crew meet with the Troop a good or bad idea?   How do we avoid the potential scenario in which all the older boys go to the Crew and leave the Troop?

I'll be the curmudgeon.  You mentioned you want to give the Crew its own identity but have it meet with the Troop.  You can't do both.  If the Crew is meeting with the Troop it'll just be older scouts in dark green uniforms.  If you're going to start a Crew then start one, give it an identity and let it thrive.  Don't pretend it's going to be troop+.  If you want troop+ then work with one of the Leadership Corp style concepts or Venture patrol concepts suggested above. 

Next, you can't avoid the scenario of older boys going over to the Crew at the expense of the Troop.  It is going to happen.  I repeat, it is going to happen.  Both sides of the equation need to prepare for that reality.  If there is any adult resistance to the idea it will create drama when it happens.  The simple truth is if your Crew is active (say once a month activity) and the Troop is active (once a month activity), most/some/many boys aren't going to want or be able to do both.

You have to decide up front how you're handling the logistics of calendaring and equipment.  If you defer to the Troop calendar when setting the Crew agenda, the Crew will be slighted (e.g. we can't go to this cool regional Venturing event because it's camporee weekend).  The opposite also applies.  Independent units have independent calendars and sometimes they will conflict.  Any scouts who were trying to work in both units will have to make a decision of which to support.  You don't want to put scouts in that position.  

 

Edited by walk in the woods

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