Alan Houser (troop24@EMF.NET)
Tue, 3 Sep 1996 23:27:25 -0700
Dave Rogers <DA6ver6@AOL.COM> wrote:
>I need to find out as much as I can about Venture crews ... and success
>stories ... and how to become one my ownself.
>Our Scoutmaster has put me in charge of starting a Venture program in our
>troop. Actually, it was my idea, but all I really knew to tell him was that
>it was a high adventure unit that we hope will keep our older 14, 15 and 16
>yearolds involved in the troop.
>My local Scout Service Center has been not so good at helping me. Is there
>one how-to book on organizing, etc., and high adventure ideas. The only
>thing I have found so far locally is one 1989 pamphlet in the Scout Shop that
>is on bicycling, touring bikes to be exact. I was thinking more mountain
There are about 20 or so books now in the Venture/Varsity collection. If
your council doesn't have them, you can order them from BSA Supply. There
are also a set of 3 Varsity Coach guides. Nevertheless, there isn't much
information in the whole lot to tell you how to start the program up. So
you have a lot of flexibility to try what works for you.
>We've come up with a list of ideas that include canoeing, whitewater,
>backpacking, climbing & rappeling, mountain bikes, scuba ... also found out
>that paintball and skydiving are BSA no-nos.
That's basically the first step, find out what they want to do. It's
really a program to let the older boys pick some things they would like
to do, then plan how they are going to do it. If they need some extra
training, have them decide how they will find the resources for getting
When our guys decided to try caving, they got in touch with the local
grotto (cavers' club) to come introduce it and explain the equipment they
would need. When they decided to take up snowshoe backpacking, they took
the snowcamping orientation course from the Sierra Club. The next year,
they did their own orientation for the new Venture Crew members (and did
a better job of it as well!).
The key thing, I think, is that they are old enough and experienced enough
to plan their own program.
Unlike the training videos (JLT, planning), we do not have a fixed Venture
Crew. Instead, all of the guys who are interested plan their activities
outside their regular patrol activities. It seemed to be a better idea
to leave the experienced Scouts in the patrols for leadership than to
drain them all away from that role. Also, Scouts can drop in or out
depending on the activity. We have one member who is only interested
in the water activities, others that are only interested in backpacking.
Some are involved in sports, so they can only participate part of the
year anyway. So, the activity they pick will decide who's in the crew.
There is a Venture Crew Chief who participates in the PLC to keep them
informed of the calendar/schedule.
>We want to kick this program off in mid-month. Talk is we'll limit it to Life
>and Eagle Scouts ... an age limit has been brought up since we could have
>some 12 YO Lifes who aren't physically up to high adventure. ...
We thought about that, but decided against a rank requirement. Our thinking
was, if we can entice an older boy to join the troop because of the Venture
program, we won't keep him if we require him to make up rank first. Better
to get him into the program and want to do the ranks to keep up. We do
require they be at least 13 years old (the original BSA recommendation),
and we haven't had anyone try to do more than he was capable of.
We do require that the Venture Crew members be active in the regular troop
program: attending meetings, going on campouts, showing leadership. We
make it clear that this is a reward for the stuff they do to make the
troop program successful.
As for recognition: once a Scout has participated in one Venture activity,
he is entitled to wear the strip above the BSA pocket strip. To earn a pin,
they have to plan something major and work together for a period of time (at
least 3 months) to make it happen. When they earn their first pin, we also
award them the Venture/Varsity letter which they can put on their merit badge
sash. Thus far, we have only awarded pins for our Philmont trek in 93 and
Boundary Waters canoe trek in 95.
Mike Walton has indicated that the letter is now supposed to be reserved
for Varsity Teams only, but until the council stops selling them to me,
we will continue to award them for Venture Crew.
>Please tell me what you're doing, so I can pass it on. ... You can reply
>privately, or you can share your knowledge with others.
Since we started Venture Crew in 1993, only one Scout has left Scouting
after participating in it, and that was because he didn't want to do the
other stuff -- come to meetings, teach skills, etc. A couple of others
have transferred to another troop, but for unrelated reasons. The key
thing is they are still active in Scouts and have taken the Venture Crew
program with them to their new troop. Except for the one, no one has
left Scouting before 18 and without earning Eagle.
Last summer 4 of the 40 plus staffers at our council's summer camp were
members of our Venture Crew, plus a 20-year-old who had also done our
Venture program. When you consider the hundreds of troops in the council
that could provide staff, I think we made a good show. There are some
very large troops in the area, but their Scouts never do anything outside
their own program. I like to think that our approach prepares these guys
to face anything.
The only limiting factor that I see coming up is having the adults who
can keep up with these guys in what they want to do.
Hope this helps. If you have any questions, go ahead and run them by me.
I'm always looking for new angles anyway.
Alan R. Houser ** Scoutmaster, Berkeley Troop 24 ** email@example.com
** WWW page ** http://www.emf.net/~troop24/t24.html **
Scoutmaster, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council Contingent Jamboree Troop #3
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City