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Using a Venture Patrol

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It seems that many adult Troop Leaders wont use a Venture Patrol and Im constantly hearing how a Troop wants to start a Venturing Crew as an extension of a Scout Troop.


Many of these adult Troop Leaders are worried that a Venture Patrol will become an "elite group" or do not want to have older scouts split into a separate patrol as it takes leadership away from the Troop. So they want to form a separate group (a Venturing Crew) to give the older scouts a place to go.


I also see there is very little in the way of training from the BSA on how to successfully use a Venture Patrol within a Troop setting.


Is a venture patrol used on a full-time, part-time or a one-time basis?

Or is a Venturing Crew the way to go?

Any words of wisdom on using a Venture Patrol in a Scout Troop?

How do you keep it from becoming an elitist group and still keep the older scouts involved with the Troop program?


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I have not seen a Venture Patrol in action myself, I can only tell you the story I've heard within our Troop. When our SM took office about 5 years ago, the Troop had a Venture Patrol. Many of the problems within the Troop at that time stemmed from this group. They pretty much had the idea that they were elite and that they had arrived. They had no desire to work with the "little kids" or to fulfill any roles of responsibility. They were as the SM refers to them, "slugs". One of the first things he did to turn the Troop around and get them back to being boy led was to reintroduce mixed age patrols and the new boy patrol. No more Venture Patrol. This seperated the wheat from the chaff. Those willing to step up and take part in Troop life stayed and those who didn't like their little gang being challenged eventually left.


Just this week, we decided to start up a real Venturing Crew as opposed to the Crew we had on paper for the last two years. Many of the things you mentioned are what we are struggling with. The Crew will have the same unit number and CO and COR. The SM will be the Advisor. The Troop Committee Chair will be the Crew Committee Chair. Other adults from the Troop will serve as Assistant Advisors and such in the Crew. The Crew will borrow equipment from the Troop until they can organize, grow in membership, raise funds and buy their own equipment. They will develop their own calendar, but occasionally will camp with the Troop and function as a seperate patrol.


Part of what I am struggling with is what I refer to as "robbing Peter to pay Paul". Obviously, a good number of our older boys will want to join. Obviously, we don't want to lose our older boys from the Troop. We have close to 60 active boys from 11 to 17 and operate as a boy led troop. We don't want the Troop to turn into an 11 to 13 year old Troop. The suggestion is that any boy coming from the Troop MUST remain in the Troop and be part of the Crew as an extra activity. Of course, any girls joining will not have to do this. Likewise, if a guy from another Troop or a guy who has never been a scout joins, they do not have to be part of the troop. The Crew will provide service to the Troop thru teaching and instruction. I can certainly see where guys inside the Troop will see this as unfair. Another suggestion is that if they want to leave the Troop and join the Crew, they would have to wait 12 months.


I think that what we are working thru is one of the reasons why Crews should be developed independently of Troops. You are selling against yourself if you try to operate both. The only way to ensure the integrity of your Troop is to build these artificial restrictions for joining the Crew.


We are researching, discussing and feeliing our way slowly in making this happen. If a Venture Patrol was a problem before, I'm not sure how creating a Venturing Crew is going to be better.

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We are in the process of restarting a Venturing Crew. Currently, all of the members of this group working to restart the Crew are members of the troop. Our recently-stepped down SM is taking on the job of the Advisor. The CC is the same for both the troop and the crew. Also, there are leaders who will be on both rosters.


The plan right now is to do 5 activities a year. 4 weekend-type activities and a week-long activity in the summer. This way we don't burn ourselves out and so we don't have too many scheduling conflicts with the troop as well as the rest of our lives;).


The first activity we are looking at doing is hosting a Wilderness First Aid training session for the members of the crew and the crew leaders. This summer we are not going on a crew-specific trip, but a few of them are going to Seabase as members of the troop.

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I'm struggling with the same issues.


As I see it a troop can lose its older boys two ways. The first is to not let them participate in age appropriate activities. My sons troop lost most of it's older boys a few years ago because the boys felt they couldn't have fun with the troop. The other way is to have all the older boys join a separate venturing crew.


I am trying a middle ground. When my son's crew formed a few months ago and I agreed to be advisor I made it clear that if they wanted to use the building and the troop gear, they needed to help plan and participate in troop activities. The crew is small and comes mostly from the troop. All of the boys are registered with both the troop and crew. So far they have arranged a shooting day at a local rife range, helped with the art merit badge, planned a five mile hike for the new scouts and are talking about a canoe day.


So whats the problem? The adults of course. At a recent campout three boys from the crew went as their own patrol. The rest of the troop went as a troop. None of the boys was designated as PL even though there were boys that are not in the crew who could have been good leaders if they had the chance. The crew went to a venturing cracker barrel. Some of the adults felt they should have stayed with the troop. In the morning the crew cooked their breakfast, cleaned up and packed their own gear. They loaded most of the troop gear in the trucks and helped the younger boys take down tents. The younger boys did a very poor job of cleaning dishes. According to some of the adults this was some how the Venturing crew's fault.


At the last meeting the SM blew up when one of the boys called the crew a crew. He insists that it's a venturing patrol. I'm not sure what he thinks our one girl is doing. Some of the boys are now talking about looking for a new crew to join.


At our last meeting with a little pushing from me all of the new boys were assigned to patrols. Hopefully our next campout will be by patrols. I have told the crew to help younger boys if they are asked, but to be careful not to undercut the PL's authority. They are to backup and advise the patrol leader not replace him.


I am hoping that venturing done right will keep the older boys interested by allowing them to participate in some separate activities that they will enjoy. In return for this I expect them to help the troop. One of the boys told me "We come to scouts for fun and babysit for money."


/ Thanks for letting me vent. :)

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We have used a venture patrol and it worked quite well. We are also peripherally involved in a Venture Crew that is just starting.


When the boys had a venture patrol, YES, they were somewhat elitist. These were the boys who routinely participated in high adventure. This allowed that group to have Patrol outings that did not involve trying to make everything work for the less experienced scouts. However, on regular troop outings, they accomodated the younger boys' needs and were generous about helping them grow in Scouting. At troop meetings, they worked with the younger Scouts. At patrol time, they had their patrol meeting, lending as many needed "Vulture" members as needed for instruction...


They had the (2nd) best food -- the adults had the best, and they lurked around hoping to find leftovers, hence the name vultures! The younger Scouts wanted to know how they made it work, so they would invite them into their site to observe. (It mostly had to do with spending more time cooking than bickering over who got to measure the water for the food.) They'd help in their sites when needed. They became a goal for the younger boys to try to attain. We no longer have a venture patrol, and I feel a real loss.


We are trying to get involved in a newly formed crew. The advisor & I (the new CC) have differing visions. We are working on meshing these 2. However, the crew just doesn't seem to be coagulating. Can't decide on what to do & how to do it. Probably has to do with the adults differing visions... Advisor wants adult-led. I say let THEM decide how often to have meetings & outings, and THEY organize the outings with whatever guidance they need...but we don't line up drivers, buy food, or anything...


Ahh...it'll all come out in the end. I just gave up 2 of my "hour-a-week" volunteer positions, so have freed up close to 20 hours per week...maybe I can put more ooomph into getting the crew on track.

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A few years ago, our Troop tried a venture patrol. At that time, the Troop had a bunch of older Scouts and a handful of younger Scouts, nothing in between.


The older guys were bored with Boy Scouts, most of them had been in the Troop for 3 or more years. So, the Venture Patrol was formed. Unfortunately, only one Scout in the Patrol was actually eager to plan and carry out events and he burned out early. The others were very used to adults doing everything for them and had no initiative to plan anything for themselves. And, add the fact that the guys now felt even more superior to the younger Scouts and had less enthusiasm for helping or mentoring them. The older guys pretty much hung out in the corner, talking about girls, school, etc. This also started having an effect on the few younger Scouts we had.


What a disaster! After about a year, we had almost zero participation from the older Scouts, sporadic participation from younger Scouts, and no recruitment of new Scouts.


That's about the time I was asked to step up as SM! You can read through some of my other threads about the past year and a half of pulling this troop out of the abyss.


I actually like the idea of a Venture Patrol. I think, for our Troop, by focusing on our younger and new Scouts and seeing them "getting it" about Patrol Method and doing for themselves, that maybe in a couple of years this group could make an excellent Venture Patrol.




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We currently have a venture patrol. All the boys are 13+ and 1st class or higher rank. These boys are also members of regular patrols, which have recently been re-jiggered to be mixed-age/rank (this is quite a change for us - up to now all the patrols have basically been permanent remainders of the NSPs).


So far the venture patrol idea seems to be working just fine. They plan one activity each month on their own. Most months they manage to get it together; occasionally they've had problems and had to scrap their outing due to lack of planning (maybe 2 of the last 8 months).


I don't know if this is how things are "supposed" to work or not - but I like the fact that these boys are in "regular" patrols too and not only the venture patrol. It gives them a way to stay integrated in the troop and many of them serve in positions of responsibility, while also keeping them excited about doing new things through scouting.



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Lisa'bob's version is, I think, the official BSA version.


Patrols should be permanent and not age-based, with older boys leading younger boys.


The Venture Patrol (aka Senior Patrol, aka PLC, aka OA members, aka Venturing Crew dual-registered boys) provides higher adventure age-appropriate challenges for the older boy leaders. This keeps them involved in having fun. Plus, it builds their skills and leadership abilities so that they can better serve the younger members in their patrols and troop. Together, it gives the younger boys something to look up to and work for.


The Venture Patrol (aka...) will always be an elite group, as in a group that is more highly skilled and is looked up to. Whether it becomes an elitist group depends on the example being set by the Venture ASM/SM/Crew Advisor/Lodge Advisor/parents. If the elite adults consistently provide an example of selfless and cheerful service, then so will da boys, eh? But if the elite adults camp off by themselves, with their own "special" food, mostly hangin' out with each other, then that's naturally the example the boys will follow.



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  • 8 months later...

We are just getting started with a Venture patrol for our older Scouts and I've seen reference in several threads to having Scouts in a Venture patrol simultaneously belong to a regular patrol. For those of you successfully using this "dual citizenship" approach I'm curious how you work the patrol duties and patrol breakout time in a troop meeting. Do the Venture patrol scouts only meet and/or server together as such outside of the normal troop meeting time? Or, do these Scouts abandon (sorry, that sounds a bit harsh and isn't meant that way) their regular patrol duties and gathering opportunities during the troop meeting -- and wait for their PL to fill them in on what's going on in their regular patrol?


On those campouts where the entire troop stays together in one location do the Venture patrol scouts set up and perform camp duties with their regular patrol, but take some time for separate Venture patrol activities? Or do they set up and interact as a separate patrol throughout the campout?


Thanks for your wisdom and experience on this!

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Looking back at what I wrote last spring I chuckled a little because these days, our Venture Patrol has had a tough time getting organized. They are now hoping to get an outing together for late February - the first one of the scouting year for them, if they pull it off. So there are ups and downs.


At any rate, at troop meetings and campouts the VP members generally stick with their original patrols. They meet outside of regular troop meetings to plan and execute any other events that they want to pursue. (They are required to gain approval from the SM & CC of their additional events in advance- generally 2-4 weeks lead time) Again I don't know if that's how things are supposed to work or not, but as far as I can see, our VP is sort of like an extracurricular activity beyond the traditional troop program. To the extent that any given group of 14-17 year olds can get their act together, it works reasonably well for us.

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We have a venture patrol. It is not, nor ever will be anything like a venturing crew. It is not a separate entity. It is also referred to as the Honors Patrol. Their official name is the Raven Patrol named after Pee Wee Harris' patrol.


The patrol is by invite only.


Minimum requirements - Star Rank, noticable dedication to scouting.


On-going requirements - Hold a perpetual POR. And continue on the Trail to Eagle. It is the goal of this patrol to eventually have 8 eagles as its membership at the same time.


There are only 8 openings. If you are asked to leave the patrol or leave on your own, you will never again be reinvited.


Age is not a factor.


The patrol leader of the venture patrol is the SPL, and the assistant patrol leader is the ASPL.


Each member of the patrol is a youth advisor for another patrol in the unit, besides holding the POR rank. If there is not enough patrols to advise, they have to be a den chief in the feeder pack.


The venture patrol is very elitist. It has it's own hat, neckerchief, t-shirt, compass, whistle and 6' staff they carry to stand out as that patrol member. They are the leaders of the leaders and know it. They camp, cook, and function as a separate patrol at all outings. There is no such thing as a "class B" uniform for these boys. They do have a patrol t-shirt they wear under their uniform in case they wish to take the uniform off to keep clean during a work session, swimming, etc. Otherwise, they are back in full uniform with neckerchief.


They are constantly training with knots, lashing, first aid, etc. to be able to best anyone at a camporee competition. They are also being trained in Morse Code and American Sign Language. We are presently looking into the American Red Crosse First Aid/CPR training for the patrol.


If a regular troop patrol will not, cannot, or is not prepared to lead a troop meeting, this patrol will step in assist that patrol responsible to carry out their program.


Does this elitism create friction amonst the boys? Yep, that's why two of the three other patrols are planning out their neckerchiefs, and what they want for a patrol t-shirt as well. Having an elite group of scouts is nothing more than the same principle of morale building we stress every camporee when the patrols compete against each other in scoutcraft skills anyway. Does this cause friction amontst the troops? Yep. So what. Does that competition promote a challenge to the others. Yep. What would your troop be like if there were TWO honors patrols competing tooth and nail for the top spot? The other patrol is the older boys who are basically slugs and have no interest other than garnering support to help the troop with their eagle project so they can get that rank and quit.


Any individual that has approached the Raven patrol to inquire into membership are instructed to go back to their own patrols and prove their worth there.


Are there any hard feelings? Nope, the other patrol officers are very pleased to be incorporated into the patrol's responsibilities and enjoy the attention/help they get from the honor's patrol.


And by the way.... at the present time the youngest Raven is 12 years old and the oldest is 14 years old. We have Star ranked boys that compete is scoutcraft with boys 4-5 years their elder and do not qualify for Philmont or other high adventure programs of the BSA.


How do they work out in the long run.....? At the winter (cabin) campout this past month, one of the boys was admiring one of the Raven's turk's head knot woggle for his neckerchief. The Raven sat down and spent at least an hour teaching that boy how to tie it while the other boys were off doing what they wanted to do. Afterwards the Raven told his patrol members of this boys interest in the knot and to keep an eye on him as a potential member of the patrol once he reaches rank.


As a ASM and a Venturing Crew Advisor, I can assure you that splitting the boys up with a Troop and Crew association is not a good idea. The venture patrol is the boy's version of lead by example. If all you are doing is training the boys up to go off to a different organization (Venturing Crew) you will constantly bleed off your greatest talent in the troop.

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I'm impressed! I've seen two different troops attempt Venture Patrols with disasterous results described by others above. When both of those troops disbanded the Venture Patrol(s) and mixed the guys back in to mixed-age patrols, their level of participation in troop events and leadership sky-rocketed.

You, however, may have hit on the right group of guys and formula to really make it work for your troop's benefit. Congratulations!!


Another thought for others looking to keep older boys interested: Consider having one or two events per year just for the older scouts. Go check out a new trail before dragging the whole troop down it. Try white-water rafting, etc. We're planning a backpacking trip during Spring Break. Since all of the older boys are in positions of responsibility, we just call them the Leadership Corps. (An old term that works for us.) This includes SPL and ASPLs (who aren't in patrols), PLs, and other staff positions (who are also in regular patrols). SPL is the leader. I'm looking forward to it as a leadership retreat - time for some dedicated, low-key training and bonding time. The guys are looking forward to a hard-core outing without the younger scouts, so they can cover more ground and enjoy being out without the burden of leading the less experienced.

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Hats off to you Jblake for your troop using the Venture patrol as it was intended.


The Troop/Crew can work if:


1. The adults and kids know that the troop and crew are different units with different programs, diffent age requirements...yadayadayada.

2. Meetings are held on different nights.


So far I have only seen two sucessful Crews that have spun off troops. These folks keep it in focus as the a Troop/Pack Relationship.


Other troops that have spun off crews have died within a year.






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I'm impressed! I've seen two different troops attempt Venture Patrols with disasterous results described by others above. When both of those troops disbanded the Venture Patrol(s) and mixed the guys back in to mixed-age patrols, their level of participation in troop events and leadership sky-rocketed.

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Once again, you nailed it!

Since getting back to the basics - I call it "Fun, Friends, and Adventure" - and away from a desperate push to First Class in the first year, our participation and retention have increased dramatically. All but one of our high school aged scouts is an active, engaged leader. (The one less active scout earned his Eagle and completed his second term as SPL during his Junior year, then decided to concentrate more on school and sports his Senior year.) Our last 2 SPLs were serving in that position up to their 18th birthday and our current one will do the same. Why? Because they are being challenged and know they are learning leadership and management skills which are important to their futures. (We stress that heavily in the introduction phase of our troop junior leader training.)


Your posts are never too long!



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