- Part 2: Crew Leadership
- Part 3: Understanding Venturers
- Part 4: Advisor Responsibilities
- Part 5: Program Emphasis and Awards
- Part 6: Annual Program Planning
- Part 7: Summary and Wrap-up
Last week I had the opportunity to teach the new Venturing Advisor Position-Specific Training in the Fillmore, UT Stake. There are nine crews there, but we had 16 in attendance, which was pretty amazing—and the group was pretty amazing too! Let me tell you what we covered, but it’s so much that I will have to do it in several parts.
The new Venturing Advisor Position-Specific Training is streamlined and offers advisors a natural course that flows from one subject to another easily. This first part explains what BSA can do for youth in your organization and how to get it done.
Mission of BSA
It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law; the vision is to prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law. To accomplish this, every age group in Scouting uses a set of methods, but first let’s consider the three general aims of Scouting.
Aims of Scouting and Venturing
The BSA promises to its chartered partners and their members that Scouting provides life-changing experiences you can’t get anywhere else. We achieve that through our aims and methods. Formally, the BSA has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the aims of Scouting, which are:
- Character development
- Citizenship training, and
- Personal fitness
Venturing joins the other families of Scouting, Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Varsity Scouting to work toward three aims.
The first is growth in moral strength and character. Character can be defined as the collection of core values by an individual that leads to moral commitment and action, and encompasses a person’s personal qualities, values, and outlook.
The second aim is participating citizenship. Used broadly, citizenship means the youth’s relationship to others. Scouts comes to learn of their obligations to other people, to the society they live in, and to the government that presides over that society.
The third aim of Venturing is development of physical, mental, and emotional fitness. Fitness includes the body (well-tuned and healthy), the mind (able to think and solve problems), and the emotions (self-control, courage, and self-respect).
These three aims can be achieved in a balanced crew program that uses the methods of Venturing.
Methods of Scouting and Venturing
Leadership and Mentoring
Among the several methods we use with Venturing, perhaps our greatest effect on these youth is through leadership and mentoring. A crew advisor would be wise to give all Venturers in the crew opportunities to learn and apply proven leadership.
A Venturing crew is led by elected crew officers. Venturing’s program model provides explicit training experiences to help youth lead and mentor as well as opportunities to test and refine their skills during youth-led and youth-mentored adventures.
Group Activities and Adventure
This is what the program is about and Venturing’s emphasis on adventure helps provide youth with team-building opportunities, new meaningful experiences, practical leadership application, and lifelong memories. Venturing activities are interdependent group experiences in which success is dependent on the cooperation of all. Learning by doing in a group setting provides opportunities for developing new skills. Don’t forget to include the Young Women; if your sponsor is an LDS ward, there is great growth among both Laurels and Priests in exciting outdoor adventures.
This newly revised program was developed by groups of youth who worked to revise Venturing to make it more exciting and relevant. They felt personal growth comes through the Venturing recognition program, but more than the award they wanted that recognition to help them build a leadership resume to show their competence and ability to peers, colleges and employers. The recognition program is more than just earning awards—as a Venturer progresses through the four levels of the Venturing recognition program, he or she will learn valuable skills and competencies that have been identified as vital to achieving success in education, in a work environment, and in life.
The youth officers lead the crew. The officers and activity chairs work closely with adult advisors and other adults in a spirit of partnership. The adults serve in a shadow-leader capacity. The advisor is there to support and challenge the Venturer to make the best decisions as he or she learns to lead their colleagues on adventures of ever-increasing challenge and sophistication.
Peer groups are essential for the growth and development of youth. Group identity is the shared sense of belonging to a group with common values and serves as a means to build positive group interactions and self-confidence. Some crews use outward signs of group identity, such as a uniform or jacket, but a crew may decide to form an identity that is more focused on shared commitments.
Service encourages youth to identify a community need and to take action to address that need. Service helps youth make a difference in the world beyond themselves, and in the process, develop the disposition to put the needs of others first.
Venturers are expected to know and live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law and commit to serving God and country, other people, and themselves. A Venturer measures himself or herself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and as you reach for them, you continuously meet the challenge and answer the question of how these statements of personal value guide your life path.
Following all of these methods in a blended program ensures youth interest and will get you the most growth toward an adult with stronger character, citizenship and fitness.
The Venturing Program
The Venturing program is carried out through a Venturing crew. Its purpose is to provide experiences that will affect the positive development of youth at a critical stage in their lives and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults.
Venturing has four areas of program emphasis that help to include all the methods. Many crew advisors don’t know where to start when it comes to planning activities, especially since advancement in Scouting is not interesting to most of their Venture-aged youth. The key a good program is to plan using ALPS:
Crews can build a solid program around these four areas, will have program that interests teens and gets to BSA’s aims.
New experiences that push Venturers to new personal heights; adventures and activities provide the social benefits youth crave at this point of their development; the level of difficulty is variable, may be tailored to crew’s skills and experience, and is individual and crew‐defined; it is the historic appeal of Venturing.
Developing broad interpersonal leadership skills applicable to life situations; meeting societal expectations of leadership qualities as desirable, which are growing—especially among youth’s life influencers; the level of difficulty is escalating: participate/follow, lead, mentor; it leverages formal training and practical leadership experience (elected or appointed).
Growth in the skills and ethical/moral foundations that support economic independence, lifelong learning, and timeless values; social/educational influences provide little positive guidance on key life, social, and moral/ethical skills, and youth know it; focus is on goal development and personal planning; small formal “trainings” facilitate practical application. Youth will set personal goals related to Development of Self, Development of Others, and Development of Faith.
Develop behavior leading to an ongoing sense of responsibility; youth have limited control of their lives. They enjoy the opportunity to assert their values through the choice to serve; crew or individual, Scouting, and/or community focus.
The acronym “ALPS” might help you remember the areas of program emphasis.
Youth join to gain insight through fun-filled programs and hands-on activities provided by your ward or chartered organization, adult committee member volunteers, youth member parents, and other consultants from the community.
The crew is led by elected youth officers but adult mentor-ship is critical!
The recommended uniform is the spruce green Venturing shirt with green epaulet tabs and gray pants. However, your crew’s uniform is the choice of it’s members (more about that in another article). While the uniform is their choice, Venturing youth should not be made to wear the Boy Scout tan shirt with green shoulder loops.
Our responsibility as crew Advisors is to ensure we stay true to the aims of Scouting as we assist the crew in achieving the program-specific goals along age-appropriate guidelines.
Take a moment to reflect on this first session of training and comment in the section below.