Thursday, December 19, 2013

Venturing is the new Varsity Scouting - the tail of another step child

If you get the chance whip out your January February 2014 Scouting magazine and turn to page 5.  Read the yellow section labeled "Need to know Venturing Changes are Coming".  Then come back to this blog.

All I have to say is Varsity Scouting is the step child of Scouting and Venturing Scouting is the new step children to Scouting.  I quote:
We've assessed our programs and changed them to make them more dynamic and useful to today's families.  At the BSA, we use advancement and recognition as an indicator of the program quality in Journey to Excellence, so if the participants aren't engaging in the recognition program, we have to ask whether the program quality is as good as it could be.
Wait................WHAT?  Because recognition (advancement isn't a part of the Venturing program) isn't being used as much as the BSA wants, the program is a failure and must be rediscovered???  OK, I may have missed something here.  Recognition is third on the list of Aims of Venturing.  And advancement isn't even on the list!  Advancement is #4 for Scouts and Varsity Scouting on their list of Aims.  Of course it isn't the primary focus of the program!!

So why all of a sudden is the program a failure because these are not utilized as well as they could per the way the program is written?  Their article is even critical of something that isn't even a part of the aims of the program - advancement. 

Scouting is going through some growing pains right now and changes.  I am not a huge fan of most of them but some I am a HUGE fan of.  I am not an old school Scouter but I don't get some of the thinking.  Maybe this is because I am just some lame Varsity Coach who knows nothing except what my opinion is - as wrong as it might be.  Varsity Scouting has been left to die on the vine (i.e. we haven't had a program adaption in years, no one uses Varsity Scouting besides the Mormons, the training is so out of date it isn't even funny and because the training is so out of date most don't get trained) and now Venturing is being changes because advancement isn't being used (and it shouldn't be per the aims).  I just don't get it.

I know a lot of a really good and active Venturing leaders in my District and the neighboring District.  I hear all they are doing and I see their kids.  I see these Venturers at Wood Badge.  I see their dedication.  How can these programs be a failure in it's current form?  No way.  No how.  No chance.  Plain and simple.  I fail to believe this.

So my assessment is that they are going to rewrite the recognition and "advancement" portion of the program and they are going to be utilized in the same way.  I often ask potential Eagle Scouts if they don't earn Eagle will their time in the program be wasted.  Their answer is no.  And they are right.

As always, this is the way I see it.  Feel free to tell me I am wrong below.  You won't hurt my feelings.


Evenspor said...

I haven't read the article yet, but I am very interested in learning about the changes being made. I am trying to learn as much as I can about Varsity and Venturing right now, because I need to for my new position, but also because I know some scouters (our council exec is one) who believe Venturing is the future of the BSA. There was a Venturing gal at our Wood Badge who was actually part of this task force (but that doesn't mean that the changes are necessarily good; just know that the venturers themselves have had a lot of input on this).

Anyway, my take on the underlined statement is this. One thing I have learned as a commissioner is that even though the methods of scouting aren't our actual goals, just means we use to reach those goals, they are a good indicator of program quality. If I go to a unit, and half the boys aren't in uniform, that's a symptom that there are probably other problems in the program. If I look at their stats and see hardly any boys have advanced, that is definitely an indicator that there is a deeper problem. I am not sure how, on the district level, you could tell which units need help in a program where advancement isn't a focus. Like I said, that's something I still need to learn, and I don't know whether that's what they are talking about here. That's just what came to my mind when I read it.

I am very interested to see what the changes include.

(BTW, I also might need to pick your brain sometime about varsity. Don't be surprised if you get an e-mail next week full of questions.)

Allen said...

The problem with using "Venturing awards" as a proxy for "Recognition" is that they aren't the same. From the Venturing Leader Manual: "Recognition comes through the Venturing advancement program and through the acknowledgement of a youth’s competence and ability by peers and adults." So Crew members could earn all sorts of adult-recognized certifications (First Aid, CPR, Open Water Diver, just to name a few), not earn a single Venturing award, yet still fully utilize the Recognition method.

Fishgutts said...

Great point Allen!!