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Jameson76

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I think a lot of folks see Venturing as "competition".  In reality, it can be that, but it can be a program for your older youth and implemented to run alongside your troop.  Older scouts often just do not want to do the same activities they did at 11, 12, 13, etc.  Nor do they often want to feel "strapped" to the younger scouts, and restricted to activities that have to involve the younger scouts.  There are those things that older scouts get pulled by- jobs, dating, sports- so the time they have to give to scouting is more limited.  Venturing can give them that opportunity to have their own activities.  It can also be the only vehicle for keeping some of them in scouting, which I often see units go mental over.  But, to me, I'd rather the kid is involved in some form of scouting than to watch them walk away completely, so give a little.  Venturing can do all the advancement beyond First Class to help a scout reach Eagle, so that could be a draw for some. 

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55 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I'm thinking this essentially comes back to program.  Is the problem that people are not implementing the Venturing program correctly?

Well yes and no. Venturing isn't the same as the Patrol Method of a troop. So, adults can take on more responsibility to make the program work if the scouts aren't doing their share of the work, at least until they leave.

So, you are right in a way because most Venturing crews are created to save the older troop scouts from leaving the BSA. BUT, if the adults can't make the program work in the troop, odds are against them that they aren't going to make it work in a crew. The adults will drive it to work long enough that they have their fun, then when they move on, the crew dies a quick death.

I always tried to get the SMs to look at their Patrol Method part of the program because that is where they are failing. But once the adults get Venturing in their head, it's hard to change them. The other part of the problem is the adults burnout with the troop program, so they have no motivation to stay with the troop. They are ready to move on. For some reason high adventure in the troop is out of the question.  We had more scouts 14 and older in our troop than any other unit in our council, which covered over half the state of Oklahoma. And we did more high adventure than most crews, yet we even had adults that wanted to start a crew. 

Venturing works with a sponsor because they don't have their ego invested in the program. They want to pass along their sponsor skills (Law Inforcement, Medical Emergency, Aviation, Scuba and so forth) to the scouts and let them run with it. They provide a lot of support, but basically push them to lead a structured authority. I was in Scuba Explorers and they just were more professional. That was how our sponsor wanted it run. There was a lot of bonding with the group. 

Barry  

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Our district has 0 Venturing crews left.  I talked with the last leader of a crew and he said that they formed when a group of older boys and girls wanted to do more high adventure trips.   When they started to age out there was no natural progression from Troops to feed their numbers.  I brought up a discussion of ramping up a Venturing crew or two and there is some interest, but we don’t have enough volunteers for our current Troops or District already ... and that is a higher priority.

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2 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

Our district has 0 Venturing crews left.  I talked with the last leader of a crew and he said that they formed when a group of older boys and girls wanted to do more high adventure trips.   When they started to age out there was no natural progression from Troops to feed their numbers.  I brought up a discussion of ramping up a Venturing crew or two and there is some interest, but we don’t have enough volunteers for our current Troops or District already ... and that is a higher priority.

Maybe it's my own bias here, but my observations from this conversation with the Crew leader is:

1) Successful crews need to have a team of adults to make them successful.  In BSA terminology a Crew Committee.  That team of adults needs to have a plan for getting to a sustainable membership level.  It also needs to have a solid program plan.  

2) Crews tend  to form around a small number of older boys & girls.  The Crew is active for a few years while those scouts are around.  However, with a small number of Scouts the Crew doesn't get to the point of having a sustainable support structure.  So, it eventually fades away.

I see in this an inherent paradox.  For a Crew to survive, you need a process to get new members and grow.  But, since the people who start Crews tend to do them with 8-12 Scouts there is never enough critical mass so that they continue to exist.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

Our district has 0 Venturing crews left.  I talked with the last leader of a crew and he said that they formed when a group of older boys and girls wanted to do more high adventure trips.   When they started to age out there was no natural progression from Troops to feed their numbers.  I brought up a discussion of ramping up a Venturing crew or two and there is some interest, but we don’t have enough volunteers for our current Troops or District already ... and that is a higher priority.

It's like my district has an evil twin. :(

@HashTagScouts allow me to deconstruct the party line that you've recited about venturing along side troops:

Quote

 

I think a lot of folks see Venturing as "competition".  The reality is a lot of folks don't see Venturing at all. The most decorated venturers aren''t even recognized by NESA. In reality, it can be that, but it can be a program for your older youth and implemented to run alongside your troop.  Why would my CO want to pay an extra chartering fee and do the extra paperwork, for an extra program for the same youth in the troop? Older scouts often just do not want to do the same activities they did at 11, 12, 13, etc.  If we look at the G2SS, most everything permitted for venturers is allowed for older scouts. Nor do they often want to feel "strapped" to the younger scouts, and restricted to activities that have to involve the younger scouts.  Form a patrol for older scouts, or give them O/A, or camp staff. Or fire some of those committee people and give their jobs to older scouts so they are more responsible. Problem solved. There are those things that older scouts get pulled by- jobs, dating, sports- so the time they have to give to scouting is more limited.  So, they have less time, and we think they'll support their troop and run a crew? No! To have a successful crew you need older youth who will to clock a lot of hours in leadership, planning, and preparation. Venturing can give them that opportunity to have their own activities. So can a patrol of older scouts, or O/A, or some high school club, or church youth group. It can also be the only vehicle for keeping some of them in scouting, which I often see units go mental over.  I've seen more units go mental over adults micromanaging youth. If you create a crew from the same cadre of adults, all you have is Advisors micromanaging older youth. But, to me, I'd rather the kid is involved in some form of scouting than to watch them walk away completely, so give a little.  I'm happy if they aren't robbing liquor stores to buy drugs. We've got bigger problems than worrying about if an older youth is or is not in some form of scouting. Venturing can do all the advancement beyond First Class to help a scout reach Eagle, so that could be a draw for some. About 0.01% of venturers engage in advancement.

 

Don't get me wrong, Venturing is a great way to get youth (especially youth who have never been in a troop before) together to master special skills and do real leadership in their community. But ...

We scouters do precious little to recognize those venturers when they do. Case in point: go to your council HQ, ask them for their registry of the names of silver awardees.

What's worse, Venturers are not pushed to reach out to younger youth (like, say, scouts are pressured to welcome Webelos). No recruiting structure = recipe for shrinking.

What's worser, Venturers now have to have two 21+ year old registered adults at a meeting. If there's one female venturer present, the many good men with spare time won't do. It's a very narrow group of older teens who will put up with that sort of shenanigans.

For any of the standard rhetoric about venturing to not ring hollow:

  1. Summit awardees will need to be recognized by NESA
  2. Outreach to younger youth must be a required part of the program.
  3. Eighteen year-olds must be recognized as adequate chaperons for many activities.
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As can be seen, it's very complicated. 

I don't know if this is true, but I was told that National had a long range plan to change the scouting unit structure to limit troop ages to 14, and push Venturing as the next step. That kind of makes since with the Venture Patrols National was pushing. But, if that were true, it seems that vision got lost somewhere.

In the time I was out of scouting from 1998 to 1992, Venturing (Exploring) went from being an experience with a future occupations to a supplemental troop program. I remember talking a girl about her backpacking Crew in the late 80s, which was new to me. I think backpacking turned into the easy way of justifying an outlet for older scouts tired of troop programs. But, I will go even farther and say I think Venturing turned into an easy outlet for troop adults who weren't ready to get out of scouting with their sons wanted to quit. I saw a lot of that. 

Barry

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One thing I have noticed is the some Troops believe the Venturing and Sea Scouting is there to steal scouts from them.  Rather than have leaders be open to how units can be cooperative, they actively fight against them which hurts both units.

Our healthy Crews and Ships here all have kids that are dual registered and are active in both units.

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

2) Crews Girl Scout Troops tend  to form around a small number of older boys & girls.  The Crew Girl Scout Troop is active for a few years while those scouts are around.  However, with a small number of Scouts the Crew Girl Scout Troop doesn't get to the point of having a sustainable support structure.  So, it eventually fades away.

I see in this an inherent paradox.  For a Crew Girl Scout Troop to survive, you need a process to get new members and grow.  But, since the people who start Crew Girl Scout Troops tend to do them with 8-12 Scouts there is never enough critical mass so that they continue to exist.

 

1 hour ago, qwazse said:

precious little to recognize those venturers Girl Scouts when they do. Case in point: go to your council HQ GSUSA, ask them for their registry of the names of silver awardees. all gold awardees (and the prior golden eaglet, and curved bar, and first class)

Your descriptions describe some of the GSUSA problems also.  Not just currently, but running a generation back also. Actually, an old friend from my high school girl scout troop, whose daughter did venturing, told me that, in contrast to the Boy Scout program,  "Venturing . . . culture-wise, feels much more like scouting as we knew it in [Town Name]"

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55 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

But, I will go even farther and say I think Venturing turned into an easy outlet for troop adults who weren't ready to get out of scouting with their sons wanted to quit. I saw a lot of that.

Hmm, now that you mention it, that explains a couple of crews in my town. And when the scouts of those parents left, the crews withered. This is the same problem GSUSA has, no sustainability. That means every unit starts over, loss of knowledge. How many 25 year crews are there?

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, MattR said:

Hmm, now that you mention it, that explains a couple of crews in my town. And when the scouts of those parents left, the crews withered. This is the same problem GSUSA has, no sustainability. That means every unit starts over, loss of knowledge. How many 25 year crews are there?

That is an interesting question. I don't know know, but when I was active with district and council, the Explorer units that were active in the 70s (medical emergency, law enforcement, Aviation, sailing, and a couple of others) were still active after year 2000. But, we saw our district troop breakoff Venturing crews come and go. 

It's an adult thing.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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It is complicated, and by no means a one size fits all.  Crews can come and go- all depends on the focus of the group that are in it and finding more that have that same interest set to keep it going.  Our crew is mostly 18-19 year olds.  They still wanted to be involved in scouting, but didn't have a great deal of interest in being part of the SM group.  They still wanted to do rather than watch is how I would phrase it.    

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Interesting observation on the GSUSA similarity @Treflienne!

In my experience, one of the key benefits of the BSA system is that the Chartered Organization concept gives packs & troops the ability to develop some permanence.  Yet, in the case of Crews it doesn't seem to be working out that the same way. 

So, perhaps one of the tricks for Crews is to grow them larger.  Create some permanence in them.  Make the strength of the Crew tied less to a specific adult or two and more to the strength of the "Crew" as a organization.  Kinda like we see in the bigger packs & troops.

 

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8 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Interesting observation on the GSUSA similarity @Treflienne!

In my experience, one of the key benefits of the BSA system is that the Chartered Organization concept gives packs & troops the ability to develop some permanence.  Yet, in the case of Crews it doesn't seem to be working out that the same way. 

So, perhaps one of the tricks for Crews is to grow them larger.  Create some permanence in them.  Make the strength of the Crew tied less to a specific adult or two and more to the strength of the "Crew" as a organization.  Kinda like we see in the bigger packs & troops.

 

I think you are trying to hard to fix a problem, that isn't necessarily a problem. Or at least a problem that would fix Venturing in general. I know of several troops (Nationally) that have very large active Venture crews connected to them, and that maintained a high level of performance for several years. What these Troop/Crews have in common is that they expect the scouts to join the crews around age 14. They expect the crew to support the troop program. And, most, but not all, of these programs are identified as Eagle Mills. In other words, they created the crew to keep the scouts around after age 14. It works well for them because they prepare the adults to move on to the crew as their sons reach that age. The Troop/Crew adults work closely together and basically they are attached in their unit activities. The Crew by it definition and nature have independence to do their own activities, but scouts from the troop can participate.

That may sound ideal for you and maybe that is a good model to follow, but there are two thoughts about those troops that cause some concern.

1. They still require a very organized and visionary group of adults. Those are adults are rare.

2. Excepting for one, all of those units are very adult run. PLC is basically in name alone.

Of the one unit that isn't advancement driven, the success of that unit is very much dependent on a very visionary adult who has been there for over 30 years. He has a unique vision and set of skills that makes that boy/girl run program a success. And likely that success will decline when he leaves (dies).

One last thing that hashtagscouts brought to mind; most of those units that I mentioned that used to be Explorers in the 70s weren't connected to any troops. In fact, I would guess that the majority of their scouts were never in a troop program. The theme of scuba, law enforcement, medical emergency and so on, are the main attractions and recruiting poster. 

Barry

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10 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

I think you are trying to hard to fix a problem, that isn't necessarily a problem. Or at least a problem that would fix Venturing in general. I know of several troops (Nationally) that have very large active Venture crews connected to them, and that maintained a high level of performance for several years. What these Troop/Crews have in common is that they expect the scouts to join the crews around age 14. They expect the crew to support the troop program. And, most, but not all, of these programs are identified as Eagle Mills. In other words, they created the crew to keep the scouts around after age 14. It works well for them because they prepare the adults to move on to the crew as their sons reach that age. The Troop/Crew adults work closely together and basically they are attached in their unit activities. The Crew by it definition and nature have independence to do their own activities, but scouts from the troop can participate.

That may sound ideal for you and maybe that is a good model to follow, but there are two thoughts about those troops that cause some concern.

1. They still require a very organized and visionary group of adults. Those are adults are rare.

2. Excepting for one, all of those units are very adult run. PLC is basically in name alone.

Of the one unit that isn't advancement driven, the success of that unit is very much dependent on a very visionary adult who has been there for over 30 years. He has a unique vision and set of skills that makes that boy/girl run program a success. And likely that success will decline when he leaves (dies).

One last thing that hashtagscouts brought to mind; most of those units that I mentioned that used to be Explorers in the 70s weren't connected to any troops. In fact, I would guess that the majority of their scouts were never in a troop program. The theme of scuba, law enforcement, medical emergency and so on, are the main attractions and recruiting poster. 

Barry

Well made point - and I can definitly see why you'd draw that conclusion from my earlier post.  I'm not thinking that the Troop to Crew transition should be mandate.  Likewise, I'm not expecting that a Crew CO should be aligned with a Troop CO.  

As I coalesce around an idea, it's something like:

  • When a new Crew forms, it should establish a 5 year goal of reaching 30 scouts.
  • Since joining a Crew is a complementary activity to being in a troop, a Crew should expect to get members from more than one troop.   Four troops to one Crew could be a good number.  The District's Commissioner staff (and maybe DE too) should anticipate helping the Crew to develop relationships with troops in the district.
  • A Crew is youth driven, but some expectation should exist on a minimum amount of activity.  i.e., something similar in concept to the expectation that troops camp monthly.  It may not really be monthly - but it also cannot be a quarterly trip.  If all a Scout does is belong to a Crew, it should provide enough activity to keep the youth engaged in Scouting.
  • As part of developing itself, a Crew should have a sustaining youth & adult membership plan.  Council/District resources should expect to advise a Crew on developing that. 

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19 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Well made point - and I can definitly see why you'd draw that conclusion from my earlier post.  I'm not thinking that the Troop to Crew transition should be mandate.  Likewise, I'm not expecting that a Crew CO should be aligned with a Troop CO.  

As I coalesce around an idea, it's something like:

  • When a new Crew forms, it should establish a 5 year goal of reaching 30 scouts.
  • Since joining a Crew is a complementary activity to being in a troop, a Crew should expect to get members from more than one troop.   Four troops to one Crew could be a good number.  The District's Commissioner staff (and maybe DE too) should anticipate helping the Crew to develop relationships with troops in the district.
  • A Crew is youth driven, but some expectation should exist on a minimum amount of activity.  i.e., something similar in concept to the expectation that troops camp monthly.  It may not really be monthly - but it also cannot be a quarterly trip.  If all a Scout does is belong to a Crew, it should provide enough activity to keep the youth engaged in Scouting.
  • As part of developing itself, a Crew should have a sustaining youth & adult membership plan.  Council/District resources should expect to advise a Crew on developing that. 

@ParkMan, I'm gonna pick apart what you are saying because pros and district volunteers alike make some wrong assumptions. My observations might not apply to your district, and if not, the math might work in your favor.

Five years is too long. The harsh reality of a postmodern nomadic culture is that any given venturer will be around for no more than 4 years before college, war, or trade draws him/her elsewhere. Reach 30 in two years or remain a clique. It's that simple.

Crews should never expect to get members from troops. From my experience about 1 in 4 older scouts is interested in venturing. It is a myth that all of those late teens hate being around youngsters. For some of them, a troop provides the younger brothers who they never had. They don't want venturing or exploring distracting them from that -- especially if their SM is a nice guy who keeps that leadership patrol elevated. (I know because I was one of those scouts.) So if you look at a troop of 32, they might have 16 of venturing age. At best 4 might want to be venturers. From four troops (lucky advisor if that many troops are steady "feeders"), that gives you 16 venturers. Nice, but not nearly enough to ever have a crew of 30. Districts must commit to visiting every high school, providing a captivating assembly/activity, rewarding existing venturers publicly, and encouraging the best adults in their community to consider becoming committee and advisors.

A crew should meet bi-weekly (or briefly weekly), have a monthly activity/superactivity, and send representatives to the council venturing officers association monthly (I can't emphasize the importance of that for older teens). They need to work especially hard at communicating and promoting activities. This is all spelled out in the venturing leadership manual. One of the flaws when folks present venturing to youth is the illusion that it's a nice supplement. How about telling our older scouts that they only need to show up at the troop occasionally? See how many SM's will let you give their boys leadership training. To get anything out of venturing a youth has to lean in and do a lot! Districts must be honest with their scouts about how taxing, yet rewarding, being a venturer is.

Plans fail when dues triple and paperwork quadruples. The national mandates to run herd over your 18 year olds filling out adult applications and get youth-protection put an unforeseen burden on advisors. Council/district should take the responsibility of registering and chasing training off the crew's back. If they don't they will need to be brutally honest about how much behind-the-scenes work is required just to keep venturers registered.

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