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As yet I haven't even tried to work out all the details.

Still I really do believe that the time has come for us to take a long hard look at the Age Grouping of the youth we have in our programs.

I'm not a big fan of Venturing as it is now. I think it can work, but from what I see the Crews that seem to be the most successful are Crews that have Adults who have served in Boy Scout Troops and who offer what might be called a more adventurous but looser fitting program (My term.)

I do know and am very aware that some "Specialist" Crews that are involved with a common interest such as Radio or Re-enactment do OK.

However in the area where I live Venturing has never really taken off. Most Crews are paper units, made up of Boy Scouts who are supposed to be active in Troops.

I say supposed to be active as they are working on completing their Eagle Scout rank, but tend not to be involved in the everyday events of the Troop such as meetings and the monthly outdoor event.

For the most part the Cub Scout age group seems OK.

I do wonder what might happen if we moved things forward a year? Allowing the Tiger Cub Scout /Parent program to begin in Kindergarten? Keeping everything the same but having Cub Scouts cross over that much earlier.

My main peeve is with the Boy Scout age group.

I just don't don't think it works.

Trying to keep and hold the interest of 11 through 17 + year-olds?? Just fails.

I'm thinking if we had a program that ran from 10 through 14 year-olds (Maybe 16??) And then had a separate Senior Scout program for the older Lads we might do a better job.


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I think the break between Webelos and the troop needs to be rethunk. The stat which is frequently quoted is through the last year of Webelos and the first year of Boy Scout the dropout rate nationally is 50%.


The break between Webelos and Boy Scouts provides too great an opportunity to bail at absolutely the wrong time. I read a study several years ago (in Sports Illustrated, of all places) that around 10- or 11-years-old kids develop the ability to judge their own abilities somewhat objectively. At eight, a kid can wiff every pitch thrown to him all season long and still be convinced he's going to play in the majors one day. By 11 or 12 the kid can evaluate his own ability and admit to himself he stinks at baseball.


The result of this is that kids begin to specialize. They begin selecting their own activities instead of just what mom and dad want them to do. While this is a good thing, in my opinion one of the problems with the Scout program is right at this time we make it as easy as possible for a kid to drop out. For five years we've been pumping them that Arrow of Light is the culmination of their Cub Scout careers. We make a huge deal out of crossover (read "graduation"). We give them the perfect go/no go opportunity and make it as painless as possible to quit Scouting.


I can't say exactly how, but if there were less of a break between Webelos and Boy Scouts more boys (and their parents) would stick it out. It's not that we need to trap them in a program that no longer interests them, but we shouldn't be holding the door either. The transition needs to me more seamless.


I've suggested for years that our Webelos II dens move their meeting nights to the same time as the troop meeting. I'd like to see them join the troop for the gathering activities and opening, but have a totally separate Webelos program. None of the WDLs ever want to change their meeting night -- too much trouble, although they are going to change meeting nights after crossover, so I don't really understand the objection.


Perhaps Webelos need to be part of Boy Scouting instead of Cubs? They could still operate as Webelos, just be chartered to the troop not the pack. I'm not sure what that would do to us functionally -- really haven't thought it through. But it would move that go/no go point from age 11 to age 9 when they still belive they can play major league baseball.

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"The stat which is frequently quoted is through the last year of Webelos and the first year of Boy Scout the dropout rate nationally is 50%."

Possible reasons:

1) After reaching the top in Cubs, AoL, they have to re-start back at the bottom in Scouts. For some reason, a lot of people do not like to start over in many things

2)ten years old are still small, and may perceive Scouts as large, scary, hairy Neanderthals

3)Cubs may have become boring, and they get the idea Scouts will be more of the same

In any case, it seems a better bridge is neded. After earning AoL, no reason they can't complete T'foot requirements while still in Cubs. My idea is that if they already have a Scout rank, they won't want to "waste" it, and so will join a troop.

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Eamonn wrote: "I'm thinking if we had a program that ran from 10 through 14 year-olds (Maybe 16??) And then had a separate Senior Scout program for the older Lads we might do a better job."


Summary: Maybe it's time the USA gets off their high horse and operates their scouting program like many other nations do.


Yup, I agree.


I'd also push for total coed. We don't have a lot of venturing units up my way. The few there are happen to be coed and very successful. Our council just gave out it's first Ranger Award (and the second in the state) to a young lady in the unit my brother is an assistant adviser on. She has worked closely with the boys in the boy scout unit filling in for the (lack of) senior leadership in said unit.


The first award went to a good friend of hers in the other council. The two of them had worked at the cope course at that council's camp (Katahdin Scout Reservation).


This is very much how I've read things are intended to run elsewhere like in Scouts Canada--Cubs are expected to help-out the Beavers. Scouts to help-out the Cubs, Venturers help out the Scouts and Rovers help-out the Venture units.


Hey, but what do I know? I'm just observing how things seem to work on the other side of the fence. (chuckle)

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Nah, I wouldn't like to see us create a 10-14 program LDS-style on a national basis. I generally think da whole age-stratified thing is wrongheaded, but that would be the worst.


Havin' watched for a lot of years, I think it's safe to say that most adults just aren't very good at workin' with large groups of middle school boys. Good middle school teachers are a rare breed, and scouters who are good at that age range without da additional influence of older, high-school fellows are as rare. When they exist it's great, but that can't be relied on.


I reckon there is a big switch that turns on in boys' brains around adolescence, which for most boys happens durin' 6th grade. Younger than that their aspirations are big, but they aren't always ready for disappointment. Yeh get homesickness and tears and such. They still need babysitting.


Goin' younger with crossover may seem like an easy, cheap way of retaining those boys, but at best what it will do is cost yeh older boys as you have to change programs to accommodate the needs of the younger fellows.


I've seen plenty of troops that succeed at keepin' da interest of the 12-17+ year olds, but by and large they do it the way Eagledad sometimes describes - by makin' the leadership roles and advancement challenges truly worthy of high school fellows, and placin' a high value on service. The age-stratified patrols and the advancement-mill programs don't pull that off as well.




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Talking with older Scouts, one of their main peeves seems to be having to put up with the "Little Kids".

Of course there are some Troops that do somehow manage to meet the needs and hold the interest of older Scouts.

Sadly in the area where I live this just isn't the case.

It seems that once a Lad is old enough to be able to drive he stops being an active member of the Troop and becomes someone who visits the Troop as and when the mood suits him.

I don't lay all the blame on the Scouts.

All to often the program that is offered is made with the younger Scouts in mind.

As we don't seem able to do such a good job of keeping older Scouts in Scouting, the younger Scouts outnumber the older guys, so it would seem unfair to blame the leaders.

I have visited Troops that have "Eagle Patrols". A Patrol that is made up of Eagle Scouts. This doesn't seem to work.

These guys when they do turn up spend their time hanging out talking and joking with each other and act as a distraction to everyone.

Yes I have heard about Venture Patrols! But I have yet to see any Troop that is able to make this work.



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I like the idea of 10-13, 14-17 and 18-21 groupings.


Fourteen is the cutoff in many places for CIT positions on summer camp staff, for COPE courses and for various high-adventure programs. Boys can be at wildly different developmental stages from 10-13, but by 14 most are pretty much evened out.


Youth could join at any age level, but have to complete some basic, introductory skills requirements at every stage - kind of like the Bobcat badge in Cubs. Make sure everyone at least has the nuts and bolts down solid before venturing off into the wilderness or floating away down the river.


And just like teaching requirements are built into the Venturing awards system, working with the younger groups to pass on skills and knowledge would be an integral part of the program.

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Yeah, I'm a fan of this. In practice most churches seem to be able to make junior high and senior high youth programs work, and they don't have a problem with senior highs all dropping out. I think it's a natural cut over.


LDS does this already. And pretty much any group that wants to do it can do it this way with either a Varsity troop or a Venturing crew as the senior high program, with the troop being the junior high program.


I'm sure Beavah is right that there are troops that make the age range work well. But it's obviously not the easiest thing to do, or there wouldn't be so many issues with it.

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It is my opinion that one of the biggest problems with the cross-over transition for boys of this age is the hype everyone places on the AOL as some kind of FINAL step in scouting. It's like the decision one faces when they reach graduation in high school. It's over and done with and now there are other options out there to consider. When boys at age 11 "graduate" it's like Boy Scouts is just one of a dozen options out there that may or may not apply to them. Boys don't graduate from Tigers, Wolves, or Bears, so why do they graduate from Webelos? It's the same dynamics that apply to Eagle. Once you get your Eagle you graduate from Boy Scouts because there is nothing more after that of any value.


I don't think it's as much a problem with the perception of the boys in as much as it's the perception of the adults that convince the boys that AOL and Eagle are end points in a progression.


Right now I have a boy that is going to turn in 18 in January of next year. He should be finishing up his Eagle and now I'm working with him to get his adult training lined up. His Basics, G2SS, SA and SSD are all on his agenda in the next few months and he's considering taking Wood Badge next summer if we can work out his schedule.


We as adults should be reinforcing each step as a continum of future endeavors. If the boys are convinced that after the first step of the journey that the trip is over, surely they won't continue.


Maybe this is why I have charter members of my Venturing Crew that are now adult advisors. I constantly reinforce the idea that once you start something, it ain't over until the fat lady sings. Yes, I started out in Cub Scouts and and still a member of BSA as an adult. No adult ever convinced me I needed to keep it going, but I figured it out on my own. Maybe we ought to be doing more to show the boys starting in Tiger Cubs that this is just the start of journey that will continue on for the rest of their lives.


Just by asking the question "Is it time yet?" it causes me to wonder if that is the problem. Why are we even having to ask that question. It should be the furthest from our minds when we are helping these kids with their journey of life. It ain't over 'til it's over. What kind of life would I have if I woke up every morning asking myself this question?



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"Just by asking the question "Is it time yet?" it causes me to wonder if that is the problem. Why are we even having to ask that question. It should be the furthest from our minds when we are helping these kids with their journey of life."


OK maybe the title isn't that great!

Still my point is that if the kids aren't attending the events and meetings how can we ever hope to help these kids?

I do think trying to have a program that holds the interests of boy's aged 11 through 17+ is almost impossible.


As for us asking ourselves "Is it time yet?"

Maybe I'm just odd!

I seem to ask that question all the time.

From the time when the alarm goes off in the morning and I look at the clock to leave for work.

To trying to be where I'm meant to be when I'm meant there.

Till the clock says it's time to go home.

When I think about maybe retiring.

When I think that it's time to get out of the way and make room for new blood.

With the passing of time, I know that there are things that I once was able to do and either can't do or just don't want to do anymore.

My question here maybe should have been "Is it time yet for a change?"

If and when we stop asking and looking for things that will improve what we are doing or not doing (Changes!) We really will be guilty of burying our heads in the sand.


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Fom my perspective, the adult leaders have cultivated this problem - in several ways.


For one, Troops don't push any obligation on the older boys, I guess for fear of losing them (which they end up doing anyway). Troops tell the boys they will cater to them and their schedules, meaning the boys shows up when they want to. At that point, their only real reason to stay in Scouting is to stick around and earn Eagle. I have to ask - have they really earned it? How have they participated in any Patrol Method? As B-P said, the Patrol Method isn't A way to run a Troop, it is the ONLY way. Without Patrol Method, you really don't have Scouting.


Instead of making it easier for the older Scouts to stay as a member of a Troop, they should have to make an obligation to be active and participate. The real price of membership in this Troop will be unfailing regular attendance at its meetings and outings, and steady progress in all the things that make a Scout "Prepared." Will such an attitude mean fewer Eagles? Probably so. Will it mean better Eagles? Probably so. In the end, what do you want? An active, functioning Troop of all ages, or a bunch of older boys earning Eagle that half the Troop doesn't even recognize?

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I agree with Beavah, it is not the age grouping thats the problem its the radical change in the environment these kids grow up in today. Like it or not these kids are used to a fast paced techno driven lifestyle which runs contrary to the BSA program. Eamonn is right when he states that when boys get older and start driving, aka dating, scouting goes out the window, that is why a strong COED program is so vital if you want to keep these teens actively involved. Eamonn is very wrong however when he states that venturing crews run by former scoutmasters fair better, well maybe in his area but not in the rest of the country.

Crews should never be run like a boy scout troop that is a surefire receipe for failure, and if venturing is failing in your area many times it is because former scoutmasters are running it.


Older teens need to have more control and say over their own program than many adults will allow and that program needs to be coed if you want it to survive more than a year or two. The crew should have a primary focus but not limited to just that speciality, variety is the spice of life. Sidenote: As far as cubs is concerned webelos should be a one year program, period.

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Have to state again!!

That I'm not a great fan of Venturing, as it is.


I'm very comfortable with a coed program.

I'm really OK with a youth led program.

My problem is that I (Maybe not so much the youth, but little old me!!) Need a program that has structure and goals built in.

Back when I was a Scout Leader in the UK.

The Troop met three times a week. (I wasn't married then!)

Friday Night was Troop Night when everyone was expected to be there and do Scout type stuff

Thursday was Swimming in the local pool. Some of the Scouts worked on badges and the like, while some just came to hang out and splash around for a while.

Wednesday was games night. We pulled out the table tennis tables, the indoor soccer ball and we were very much like a youth club, some Scouts brought their 45 records and played them while I moaned and groaned about the noise!

Venturing to me seems like it would having a Wednesday meeting every meeting.

This was one reason I opted for Sea Scouting.

I like the structure, I like the idea that the kids who join work toward something that is build into the program.

Sadly the Crews in the area where I live who have tried this "Youth Club" approach only seem to last as long as the first group of kids who join are around.

Of course I know that as soon as I hit the submit message someone is going to say that the Crew they are involved with proves this 100% wrong.

Still if we look at the percentage of the TAY in this age group that we are reaching, I think we have to admit that we are not doing that great a job.

I'm not suggesting that Venturing be done away with.

I'm saying that for the youth who want to stay doing Boy Scout type activities we need what I might call a big boy program. (Even if it were to b coed!)



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Kids may be attracted to fast paced techo lifestyle, but I am not sure what attracts them is THAT contrary to the basics of the Boy Scout Program.


The popularity of the X games shows that youth will put down the game contraol remote, if you give them reason


Whether or not I or my colleagues are savy enough to integrate factors of the X-games generation and those activities to the BSA program is the question

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I agree with you on the need for big boy programs. Something on the order of spending the entire summer on the AT, sailing the crew ship to Europe and back, canoeing from the border to Hudson's Bay. These are the adventures that are in the mind's eyes of the new scouts when they join. Yet, the best they get--even if that--is the amusement park we call Philmont

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