Front Line Stuff
Edited by Robert Peterson
The Value of a Troop Venture Patrol
E.A. says his troop's Scoutmaster was reluctant to start a Venture patrol because he feared it would reduce the number of available boy leaders. How, he asks, do you convince Scoutmasters that Venture patrols keep older Scouts in Scouting?
Our troop had a problem retaining older Scouts, so we started a Venture patrol for 13- to 17-year-old Scouts. The Venture patrol does a lot of backpacking. In the last four years the patrol had made 10 trips of 40 miles or more, including the Grand Canyon and Sierras. We let younger Scouts come on some Venture patrol training hikes so they can learn from older Scouts.
The Venture patrol members are assigned as troop guides to demonstrate skills for the younger Scout patrols. We require Venture patrol members to hold Star Scout rank or higher. Most younger Scouts can't wait to join.
We now retain about 50 percent more boys over 14 than we used to. Almost every Venture patrol member has earned the Eagle Scout Award.
Assistant Scoutmaster G.C.
One approach might be to require all members of the Venture patrol to be active leaders in the troop. Participating in patrol activities would be an incentive for a job well done in leading and teaching younger Scouts.
Also, Venture outings could be structured to learn skills that could then be taught to Scouts who are working on First Class requirements.
Scouters long ago learned the value of a "bridging" unit. Rather than relying on boys to find their way from a Cub Scout pack to the troop, the Webelos Scout program points the boy directly at it.
Scouting should have a similar means of pointing Boy Scouts toward Venturing, the BSA's program for young people ages 14 through 20. When utilized as a bridging unit, the Venture patrol reinforces the transition from Boy Scouting to the Venturing crew.
Venture patrols differ from other Scout patrols mainly by what they do. Venture patrols can participate in activities reserved by Scouting for older teenagers without inappropriately involving younger Scouts.
Concepts from earlier days can find their way into your Venture patrol. The Leadership Corps of yesteryear is a good example. The corps members enjoyed special privileges but were not snobbish in nature. They were a reservoir of boy leaders for the troop.
One of the best ways to allow the Venture patrol members to become elite without being elitist is to give them ample opportunity to serve the troop. They become examples and mentors for the younger Scouts.
The Venture patrol and the troop guide position were made for each other. Venture patrol members who serve as troop guides to younger Scouts, especially the new Scout patrol, not only provide a valuable service but also deepen their own understanding through teaching. In addition, they develop an even greater sense of self-worth as they begin to appreciate their contribution to the program and a better sense of their own abilities.
This appreciation of the rewards of service improves retention more than any other factor.
Venturing Crew Advisor D.L.
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