Monday, June 11, 2012

The "Families" of Scouting

The eleventh of twelve Ward Scouter Training Topics.


There are four “families” of Scouting in the BSA.  These are Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Venturing. Cubs is for boys ages 7-10; Boy Scouting is for boys ages 11-17; Varsity Scouting for boys ages 14-17; finally, Venturing is for young men and women ages 14-21. In LDS Scouting, it's a bit more tightly defined, corresponding with Church-defined age groups:  Cubs are 8-10, Boy Scouts 11-13, Varsity Scouts 14-15 and Venturers are 16-18 (since it's a function of the LDS Aaronic Priesthood organization, which is all-male, young women are not part of LDS-chartered crews - which is not to say LDS young women can't join a differently-chartered crew). Despite these being distinct and unique programs, there is a tendency to think of all but Cubs as being Eagle-pursuing Boy Scouts in a Norman Rockwell painting. That picture is not entirely accurate.  Each "family" is an age-appropriate activity/developmental program designed to accomplish the mission of Scouting, which 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.”
Each program is guided by an age-appropriate variation of the methods of Scouting, and builds each participant’s self-confidence by giving him or her challenges to overcome. Cub Scouts is very family oriented, which then transitions to the patrol/squad/crew in the older programs. As they get older, the programs increase a youth’s independence and prepares him or her to become a contributing member of society, thereby accomplishing the Aims of Scouting, which are to develop individuals of Personal Fitness, Citizenship and Moral Character. Properly implemented, Scouting is a 10-12-year developmental model that prepares youth for the realities of Life After Mom and Dad.

Boy Scouts, a portion of which is the Trail to Eagle, includes learning various skills through outdoor experiences and personal interest/imitative (merit badges), and gives boys a series of surmountable obstacles on their way to accomplishing those goals. Varsity Scouting introduces five fields of emphasis as boys mature and continue this trail. They are: cars, gadgets, girls, pizza, and movies Advancement (Eagle, Pins, Letter, Denali award), High-adventure/sports, Personal Development, Service, and Special programs and Events. Through these emphases, boys explore a variety of concepts and activities that are tailored to the interests of older youth, while still walking the Eagle trail. (Varsity Scouting kind of gets lost in the mix, even more than 11YO Scouts, but it exists because the LDS Church asked for it and helped develop it. We really ought to use the tools we asked for. See my post of June 5 for my thoughts on re-igniting the spark in older boys.)

Venturing drops advancement as a method, in favor of recognition. Here’s a great discussion on what that really means. Venturing also “provides positive experiences through exciting and meaningful youth-run activities that help them pursue their special interests, grow by teaching others, and develop leadership skills.” Here’s what I told my ward’s Venturing Adviser:
“..while young men (and women, as outside LDS, Venturing is co-ed) of Venturing age are bored and finished with merit badges and ranks (except those last-minute Eagles like me), they still want and need meaningful challenges. Venturing is designed to do that.

There are four areas in which a young man may earn a Bronze award (followed by Gold, then Silver, or an “expert” level award in three of them. They are Outdoor life, Arts and Hobbies, Religious Life and Sports (there’s also Sea Scouts, but it’s a bit different). As an example, to earn the Venturing Bronze award, a young man (or woman) must complete nine of 12 requirements, and complete other challenges as well. On the other hand, Scouting ranks aren’t really even part of the Venturing program.

BTW, the Trust Award (a religious award above the Bronze level) would really dovetail well with a Priest’s DTG work and personal missionary preparation.
Taken together, Scouting in all its forms is a process of becoming, rather than one of getting.


For more information, MeritBadge.org has a great breakdown of each program, and quick links to understanding each of them.
Cub Scouts
Boy/Varsity Scouts
Venturing
Ranks and Awards in the four families of Scouting

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