Re: "Policy changes" by LDS Units
Jim Ficklin (jficklin@NMSU.EDU)
Wed, 21 Sep 1994 17:50:41 -0600
On Tue, 20 Sep 1994, Bruce Madsen wrote:
(excerpt to save bandwidth)
> I also found that Rodger's description of LDS Varsity Teams as being
> "holding tanks for 14-15 year olds" tends to be accurate. The Varsity
> Team and Explorer Post in my Ward are barely functioning. I could use
> some suggestions, success stories, etc., from others in this forum on
> how to get these programs vitalized again.
I think the key is the leadership. In our Ward we have tried to follow
the philosophy that the Venture/Varsity leader is the most important YM
position in the ward. True, a strong Scout Master is very important to
help the boys get the scouting spirit and involved in a well organized
program. However, I believe without a special effort, LDS scouting tends
to lose most boys while in the 14-16 age range. 11-12-13 its new and
exciting. If they make it to 16 and are still active in the program they
are stable and more likely to continue. It's that 14-16 range where it
is SO easy to loose interest and drop out!
So, we've always tried to put our very strongest leaders in the
venture/varsity slot. We also use a combined Venture/Varsity program so
that we can provide continued advancement opportunities on the trail to
Eagle while at the same time opening up new areas and opportunities for
the boys that were not available in the troop when they were younger
We think another key is to structure the program so that there is
always something more exciting to look forward to in each phase. Thus our
12-13 year old Scouts work on advancement, have monthly outdoor activity,
a week at Council scout camp one year, Council Aquatics camp the next.
As 14-15 year olds in the Venture/Varsity Crew/Team they continue to work
on advancement. Monthly activities are still about half outdoor camp
activities but also expand to include special field trips, career
exploration, and special skills programs like rock climbing, advanced COPE
style programs, survival training, etc. The major events (not open to the
younger boys) are now a Philmont trek (or equivalent) one year, extended
river rafting trip (or equivalent) the other year.
The exploring program in our unit is intended to carry on the theme of more
sophiticated and higher adventure actvities reserved for the boys who have
made it to explorer level and not available to the younger boys. Our
exploring program continues to provide individual scouting advancement
opportunites for young men who still have the interest and/or those close
to but not quite Eagle yet... but this is no longer a major emphasis. The
post now works on more "exploring" kinds of things. For our unit we have
found that if is not practical to have our post "specialize" since our
boys come from too wide ranging backgrounds and interests. So we
"generalize" by design, working on exposing the post members to as wide
variety of interesting pursuits as possible. Monthy outings now range
from horse training to computing, police science to caving, etc. Major
annual activities include trips to Mexico (close to us) for interaction
with foreign troops, beach camping, water skiing and parasailing, or
designing and administering a "merit badge university" for the district,
or other "high adventure" kind of special event.
The idea is that at each stage of scouting progress the boys always have
something new and more exciting to look forward to... something they are
preparing for in their present programs and see the older boys actually
being a part of. Of course we aren't 100% successful, but I think we have
a good idea. Right now, our Venture/Varsity Crew/Team consists of some of
the most active and effective scouts in our Ward program. Our exploreres
are still active and a resource to other areas of the program. And the
scouts are busy, active, and hungerly looking forward to moving up.
For the 13-14 year olds, the key is having a program. If a good program
is there, the boys will come and activly participate and progress, not
just vegitate in a "holding tank." Believe me it's not easy. We have had
to struggle very hard to find the men to staff all three levels in
our Ward Young Men program. Then we have to continue to struggle to keep
them in the positions long enough to be effective. Sometimes if we find
a leader is really "clicking" with a group of boys, we will move him up
in the program in step with "his" boys, from SM or ASM to Venture/Varisty
leader, maybe even on to Exploring as the boys move up. We have to
constantly work on our "unit committee" (one committee to service all
three programs due to not enough people available to staff separate scout,
varsity and post committees) to keep good qualified people organized and
working. We have put lots of effort into involving parents and keeping
them involved. But it's all worth it.
By the way, for you ladies out there, we try and approach our Young
Women's program the same way. The same emphasis on quality of
leadership, the same "progressive" structure to the program so the girls
always have something to look forward to as they get older.
Please forgive the typos, my e-mail account machine is really overloaded
and slow this evening and I'm not willing to go back and correct
everything. I hope this is useful to others.
Jim Ficklin, Program Manager, KRWG-TV, New Mexico St. Univ., Las Cruces, NM
email@example.com "All opinions expressed are mine... not KRWG's."
Troop/Team/Post 177 "According to my 3 sons, my opinions don't count, anyway."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City