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.
St. Louis, Mo.
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.
Our Scoutmaster feels and he has said this openly, that Venturing will steel the Scouts from the Troop. He will not have a Venture patrol. Isn’t it the whole idea of keeping the youth in Scouting not pushing them away. Though while he was in Wood Badge our Troop did have a Venturing Patrol. After he received his Beads, it didn’t exist any more.
I don’t think the Scoutmaster understands that they are leaving anyways. They either need a method to continue Scouting, or they disappear.
Venturing offers that. At the age of 14, he can say that there is the option, but understand – they have to be first class.
If you have a 14 year old Life Scout and as we have seen – been a life for two years – then he has hit his limit. Time to move him on rather than keep him and lose him altogether.
Is it unrealistic to set a requirement that to be eligible to be in the venture crew that they had to maintain a certain percentage of troop activities?
Yes. This forces the youth into making a decision to stay with the troop or go to the crew.
The intention that you have here is to kick them out by making it a rule that they attend both, or attend a level of troop activities, when your intention should be to keep them in Scouting.
Just as Webelos bridge up from the Pack at age 10.5 to 11, you should also consider a bridging ceremony for your 16-17 year olds who have hit their Boy Scout program envelope into Venturing, where the envelope moves up to a higher level, plus adds in age appropriate interactions with others their age.
A “Venture Patrol” is not the same thing as a “Venturing Crew”.
A “Venture Patrol” is “usually” for older Scouts who are the most experienced Scouts in the troop. They go on High Adventure outings. They are usually shaving, have a car and have found girls… but not always. Utilizing a “Venture Patrol or “High Adventure Patrol” is a method for keeping older boys engaged in the Troop. This is simply a type of Patrol like any other Patrol in a Boy Scout Troop. You can stay until you are 18 years of age.
A “Venturing Crew” is a completely different unit. It has a different uniform, chartering org, committee and leaders all to itself. Awards are different. You can still earn Eagle if you earned first class before joining or maintain dual membership in a Boy Scout Troop. You have Gold, Silver, Bronze and Ranger awards to name a few. This can be a specialized unit that only does one type of activity. Examples are: Skiing only crew, sewing crew, robotics crew, climbing crew, service only crew, etc. A Venturing Crew can have males and females. You must be 13 and completed 8th grade or be 14 years of age. You can stay until 21 years of age.
If a Troop is running properly with a High Adventure Patrol and plenty of opportunities for your older Scouts, a Venturing Crew will not swipe your boy leaders from your Troop. It enhances them and makes them better leaders.
I am starting a Venture Patrol within my troop. What uniform can a Venture Patrol wear?
They wear the same uniform as the rest of the boys in the Troop with the exception that they can wear a strip with the word “Venture”above the BSA strip over the right pocket. The Venture strip should be available at your Scout Shop. The shoulder loops stay the same, no other changes to the uniform. Good luck with yours, we are going to implement ours in a couple of weeks with the new Troop/Patrol elections.