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Losing Older Scouts to Venturing

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emb021,

 

So, I guess we can put you down in the adult led column?

 

The vision Statement of the BSA is:

 

The Boy Scouts of America is the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

 

In the future Scouting will continue to

 

* Offer young people responsible fun and adventure;

* Instill in young people lifetime values and develop in them ethical character as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law;

* Train young people in citizenship, service, and leadership;

* Serve America's communities and families with its quality, values-based program.

 

In order to train young people in citizenship, service and leadership we have a continuim of older boys giving back to the troop just as the older boys before them gave back when they were new scouts. Leadership development takes time, experience and maturity that begins at 11 thru 13, but bears its best fruit at 14 and beyond. Does that mean you can't offer responsible fun and adventure to older scouts? No. But if you run them thru a program from 11 to 13 and expect them to lead themselves without examples to go by....well, you have an additional 3 year Webelos program that will end up being mostly adult led. It is not an either/or situation. Both can exist in the same program if run properly.

 

What does a crew offer that a troop can't. Lack of the patrol method. Gets you away from younger boys. Allows for coed. Less emphasis on advancement. Crew created uniform. Handguns. Are there activities that a crew can do that older boys in a boy led troop couldn't plan and do? No. In fact, if the crew provides service to packs and troops, how is that different than expecting older boys in the troop to serve younger boys?

 

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Eamonn my good friend, after watching each other these last few years, I can honestly say that you and I are cut from the same cloth (tartan?). If it seems that we dont back each other up sometimes, it usually because we are approaching the discussion from two difference angles. However, I can assure you that we agree on just about every aspect of older scouts.

 

I have nothing against older scout programs of any type. I was an Explorer Scout when I was young and I remember those days as some of my best scouting. As a SM, I looked at all older scout programs as more resources to building better men. You mention that I have a problem with Venturing Patrols, well YES I DO! But only because they are usually used to rescue failing older scouts instead of giving the Troop more program to help scouts grow. Not only do they hurt the older scout program when they are used incorrectly, they also retard the younger scout program (10 to 13) as well. For scouts to grow, they must have role models to watch and if the oldest scouts are only 13 years old, that is basically the max maturity age the troop is limited too.

 

If Troops used Venturing as another activity to develop growth, it would work well, but most of the time, Venturing Patrols are an after thought because the older scouts are getting bored and high adventure looks attractive to adults as well as older scouts. But in my opinion, if adults cant succeed with older scouts in their regular program, what makes them think they can do it better with another program?

 

One of the reasons I like Ships and Explorer type program is because they appeal to youth who have a passion for that particular activity. I belonged to a Scuba Explorer post and had a blast hanging around girls in bikinis, I mean hanging around water, yes that is what I meant. Usually specialty programs succeed because the adults are very good at guiding in those skills and activities. The leadership and management skills are secondary in motivation to be in program, but are usually hard learned because they are required skills to create, plan and execute the activity. The passion of the activity drives the program from meeting to meeting.

 

The most satisfied scouts (girls and boys) at all ages are ones who are constantly challenged both mentally and physically. We do that pretty well at first in the troop with the First Class advancement program. But once the scouts have met all the challenges of becoming a first class scout, the program becomes less directive in its intuitive nature. By design the troop is designed for older scouts to start moving into leadership, but in the last 20 years or so, we have started pushing the younger guys to be the leaders when they arent mentally ready for the challenge and dont have the skills to learn from leadership experiences. Boys 13 and younger learn very little from leadership responsibilities because they dont have the mind set to see leadership as a tool to achieve visions. If the young guys are the leaders, what can be left for a 15 year old who has been there and done that over and over, High Adventure? Well most scouts will tell you that you can only go rapelling so many times and how can a program wrapped around high adventure be challenging every week for an hour and a half at troop meetings. It cant and the programs fail.

 

Boys are men looking to shed their boy skin. Tehy want to be adults and a Boy Scout troop is better equipped to do that than any other youth program in the world, when it is guided right.

 

I have said many times before that the name itself (Venturing Patrol) is what hurts the program. While I admit that keeping older scouts around is a most difficult task, there are some basic rules that must still be applied no matter what you call your older scout program. The rules are; Role modeling is the primary means of growth at ALL ages, Older scouts learn most from guiding and leading younger scouts, Younger scouts learn most by watching older scouts, And satisfaction comes from being challenged both mentally and physically in Fun activities. When the older scouts are separated from the younger scouts, every scout from the NSP to the graduating 17 year olds suffer from boredom and lack of growth.

 

That is not to say we cant have Venturing Patrols. We found the best way for this to work is to keep the activity venturing Patrols temperary until the trek is over. And it may even be an outside patrol where the scouts still belong to their regular patrol. Ive seen it work several ways. What you dont want is a program that has the appearance in operation of scouts 14 and older being a separate program from the rest of the troop. That troop will always struggle or be adult led.

 

>>I really think that you are looking very long term. Sadly I'm not sure if a Troop with only a couple of older Scouts, will hold on to these older Scouts. Maybe the answer is making long term goals with the younger Scouts?

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I'm still trying to make sense of the Venturing program.

OGE did a good job in something he posted the other day.

I don't by any means think that an older Lad in a well balanced, well ran Troop has any need to join Venturing or even Sea Scouts!!

Next week we are joining a Troop from Georgia on our Sea Kayaking Adventure.

I have been in contact with the SM via E-mail.

He seems like a very nice fellow.

He listed all the great trips that the Scouts had done. It was a great list, Philmont, Northern Tier you name it. I was impressed.

But sadly reading between the lines I see that the Troop is slowly but surely dieing.

We got to talking about individual Scouts and it's the same Scouts who attend all these great trips, only there are less of them.

I have watched the Troop that OJ is in. (I offered to help with anything they needed, but they never asked.)

They do well with little Lad's crossing over. They do well with parents who sign on. But they do the same old stuff every year with the exception of the summer trip, which is a bus trip to a big city.

The little guys do well until they reach about 13 or 14 and then they are gone. Leaving only a handful of older Scouts.

Part of the problem as I see it is that we get too many new Scouts at one time.

I think I must be becoming more grumpy in my old age. These new "Leaders" who cross over with their son don't seem to add much to the leadership, they are there to keep an eye on their kid and help push him into reaching Eagle Scout.

They don't seem to get it! And get in the way of allowing the Scouts to do the leading.In fact they prevent their son from reaching his full potential.

I don't know how true it is? And I can't find any numbers to back it up, but a lot of Sea Scouter's are stating that "The average age of an Eagle Scout is now 14 years old."

While I know that there are some Scouts who are real go getters, who can earn the rank by 14. I'm not so sure about 14 being the average age.

If it is true? What keeps a Scout active until he is 18 or even 16?

Eagledad, you brought up "Ages and Stages" I know you didn't mean the video used in training. But I can't help thinking of the little Lad who wants the old Lad to go and play baseball. The older Lad is surrounded by his pals of the same age. He isn't sure what he really wants to do. Of course in the end he plays with the little fellow.

I really don't see "Losing Older Scouts to Venturing" as the big problem.

The big problem is retaining the younger 13 and 14 year olds so that they become older Scouts and can lead the Troop, while still having fun with Scouts of their own age.

Eamonn.

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"emb021,

 

So, I guess we can put you down in the adult led column? "

 

No.

 

You mis-read my posting.

 

I believe in boy/youth-led scouting.

 

 

"Leadership development takes time, experience and maturity that begins at 11 thru 13, but bears its best fruit at 14 and beyond. Does that mean you can't offer responsible fun and adventure to older scouts? No."

 

My comment was directed at the many scout leaders who seem to think that the ONLY purpose/job of their older youth is to be the leaders of the younger. There is almost NEVER a mention of offering "fun and adventure to older scouts". To do so would distrack said older youth from 'doing their job'.

 

This is one of the big problems for "Troop associated Crews". They almost NEVER get to do 'their own events' because that ALWAYS takes second place for their main (only) purpose of leading the younger boys.

 

"What does a crew offer that a troop can't. Lack of the patrol method. Gets you away from younger boys. Allows for coed. Less emphasis on advancement. Crew created uniform. Handguns. Are there activities that a crew can do that older boys in a boy led troop couldn't plan and do? No."

 

There is a lot more to Venturing then that. The Boy Scout program was designed for boys 11-13. Venturing was designed for older youth (14-21). It's about giving the youth a program appropriate for their age/interest.

 

"Lack of patrol method". Patrol method is just a team of people. This exists in Venturing thru the officer system and the use of committees within the crew to plan and carry out events and activities. The organizational model used by Crews is based on the model the youth will (and probably already do) encounter in other clubs they may be involved in at school and in their future.

 

"Gets you away from younger boys." More precisely, it means working with their peers, of both genders. This is important.

 

"Allows for coed." Also important. The 'relationship' that the boys and girls have in crews is different then what they encounter in school and most other groups.

 

"Less emphasis on advancement." At one time Explorers had advancement like Boy Scouts. And it was heavily promoted. Then thru research, the BSA found that kids at that age are NOT that interested in advancement. Thus they dropped Explorer advancement. Venturing advancement is different at many levels. Its more open-ended. It has a teaching element. We don't push it because that's counterproductive. Many boys that come over from boy scouting are tired of the push to get Eagle.

 

"Are there activities that a crew can do that older boys in a boy led troop couldn't plan and do? No." But do the older boys continue with these activities over a longer period? Or focus/specialize in them? NO. This is what happens in Venturing. You want to focus on Indian Lore? All the time? You can do that in Venturing, but not in a troop. Want to focus on religious life? All the time? Again, can do this in Venturing, not in a troop. Troops don't 'specialize'. That's not what the Boy Scout Program is about.

 

"In fact, if the crew provides service to packs and troops, how is that different than expecting older boys in the troop to serve younger boys? " Because its on the VENTURER'S TERMS, not the scoutmasters. The older youth decided how, when, etc, they will provide the service. PLUS, they STILL get to do THEIR own activities with THEIR peers, and not be told they CAN'T do that, cause they have to be the leaders for the younger boys.

 

You need to learn what Venturing is really all about. You seem to have just 'read the brochures' and not really found out what it is.

 

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" I don't by any means think that an older Lad in a well balanced, well ran Troop has any need to join Venturing or even Sea Scouts!! "

 

I would agree with this 100%. I would just not be so quick to be so judgemental of a young man, who at age 16 - 18 chose to hang a around a crew instead of a troop for the reasons I noted earlier. Crews and troops offer different programs for different interests.

 

As an adult leader, if a scout came to me and said, "I've thought about it, and have decided to participate in the Crew as my primary scouting activity." I'd wish him luck and tell him I hope he enjoys the crew. Then I'd look at the scouts in the troop I serve, and work with those as best I could and provide them with the best Boy Scout program I can. It may live up to Barry's ideal or it may not. But it will be the best I can do with the other adult volunteers associated with the unit. I wouldn't lose sleep or expend a lot of energy judging a choice a young man, who has chosen to stay in the scouting community, is free to make within the scouting system.

 

SA

 

 

 

 

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"There is a lot more to Venturing then that. The Boy Scout program was designed for boys 11-13. Venturing was designed for older youth (14-21). It's about giving the youth a program appropriate for their age/interest."

 

Not true. The Boy Scout program is designed for boys 11-18. The question is how well a unit implements the program for boys 14 and above? The fact that BSA offers a competing program doesn't help. I don't say that as a slam against Venturing. It is a fine program in its own right. It is just that I once worked for a company that decided to offer an alternative product that competed with our traditional product and we ended up robbing Peter to pay Paul due to contractual obligations. The alternative product generated about a tenth of the revenue the traditional product did. The company no longer exists.

 

You are correct about not knowing the Venturing program as we are just birthing ours. Most of what I know comes from reading materials from BSA and discussions here. It seems that a good number of people have difficulty wrapping their minds around the program.

 

All I'm saying is that there is no reason that units can't offer a well rounded Boy Scout program that meets the needs of the boys regardless of age. Boy Scouts is not designed to dead end at 13, even if some people run their units that way.

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"Not true. The Boy Scout program is designed for boys 11-18."

 

True. The BSA has stated in writing that the Boy Scout Program was designed for boys 11-13. The requirements were written and geared to that age level.

 

 

"Older boy" programs started to spring up early on in scouting when leaders discovered that boys got bored with scouting around the age of 14/15. Even B-P noticed this and started to create new programs for them such as Rovers, Sea Scouts, and Senior Scouts. In most countries, their Boy Scout program ends at around age 14/15, at which point boys moved to the next program (Venture, Senior, Explorer, whatever it may be called), just as Webelos move to Boy Scouts. This avoids the issue of 'competing' programs.

 

Keep in mind that Venturing was designed for a certain age group, not necessarily for 'older boy scouts'. It can appeal as much to youth who have never been in scouting, as those who are bored/tired/whatever with their present program.

 

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Our District is seeing boys who earn Eagle at 13-15 leave within a year and go to Venture. I think that once they have Eagle they don't see much challenge ahead of themselves and want to move on to something new.

 

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"Our District is seeing boys who earn Eagle at 13-15 leave within a year and go to Venture. I think that once they have Eagle they don't see much challenge ahead of themselves and want to move on to something new. "

 

Actually, they are leaving to go to Venturing. Venture is the in-troop program.

 

Nothing surprising here, scout leaders had seen this from the begining. Hence the creation of new in-troop programs within troops (troop bands, advanced camping, etc). Over the years BSA National has created several older boy programs to keep the kids in the troop (while also creating programs outside the troop to both attract older youth who had never been in scouts, as well as atleast keep kids in scouting). Who knows how many locally created programs existed as well? This has lead to programs such as:

 

* Sea Scout Crews within the troops (30s & 40s)

* Explorer Scout Patrols (30s & 40s)

* Explorer Crews in the troop (1950s)

* Senior Scouts (1960s)

* Leadership Corps (1970)

* Venture Crews/Varsity Teams in the troop (1980 & 90s)

* Venture Patrols in the troop (2000s)

 

 

To claim that the same program can appeal to boys 11-17 is a bit of a stretch. Keep in mind that you are speaking of boys in elementary school, middle school, and high school, all in the same group. I think ANY scoutleader who has been successful in keeping his old boys in the troop is doing something different for those older boys to appeal to them and keep them in (more then just demanding they have to stay and lead the younger kids). At a minimum, he is making use of a Venture Patrol or something along those lines.

 

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"To claim that the same program can appeal to boys 11-17 is a bit of a stretch. Keep in mind that you are speaking of boys in elementary school, middle school, and high school, all in the same group. I think ANY scoutleader who has been successful in keeping his old boys in the troop is doing something different for those older boys to appeal to them and keep them in (more then just demanding they have to stay and lead the younger kids). At a minimum, he is making use of a Venture Patrol or something along those lines."

 

No, we are just boy led and strive to develop a strong sense of community and service. We do a high adventure trip each year, but it is open to scouts who are First Class and 13 by the beginning of the year. My 13 year old son leaves for Northern Tier with two crews from the troop tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM. There are 15 and 16 year olds going as well. Last year he went to Jamboree at 12. We have invested in climbing equipment and do climbing campouts. Everyone from our 10.5 year old new scouts to our 17 year olds climb. Sure, at times we do different things for different ages. During skill presentation at troop meetings, we split the new scout patrol out for a seperate skill program because their skill needs are far different than the older (12-17) scouts.

 

Think of your church youth program. While each Sunday School (Patrol)class may do there own activities from time to time, the total youth group participates in the same program over all. I don't know of a Youth Minisiter who runs two totally seperate programs for the Jr high and Sr High crowds. week night Bible study, summer camp, choir trips, mission trips, etc. are for the whole youth group.

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"Think of your church youth program. While each Sunday School (Patrol)class may do there own activities from time to time, the total youth group participates in the same program over all. I don't know of a Youth Minisiter who runs two totally seperate programs for the Jr high and Sr High crowds. week night Bible study, summer camp, choir trips, mission trips, etc. are for the whole youth group."

 

Its been awhile since I was involved in church youth groups, but all of them were pretty much focused on high school age youth (14-17). One of the reasons that many also form themselves into Venturing Crews. Why break this into two groups? But its different then extended that group into middle and elementary school groups.

 

BTW, by limiting your high adventure trips to First Class and 13, you ARE basically limiting it to the older youth (basically the kids who would be in a Venture Patrol).

 

 

(aside, in case this isn't clear, grades 1-6 is elementary school, 7-8 middle, and 9-12 high school.)

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