aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

On the practicalities of Venturing advancement

So, here I am, going over the new Venturing advancement system to plan out program for our happy Crew. Why am I doing that? Because if you want youth to advance, you have to plan your program around doing the things they need to do to earn the awards. It's a simple concept that Scouters at all levels of Scouting can't seem to wrap their heads around. You don't design a cool program, and then stop the fun to earn advancement; you design a program that allows for advancement by participating in the program.

So, what is it going to take to plan a year of Venturing so that the youth can advance consistently? Well, let's assume that we want to enable any active Venturer to achieve the Summit Award in about three years. That means that over the course of those three years, you're going to have to plan for the following.

Venturing Award requires any crew activity (probably a Tier I adventure, by definition).
Discovery Award requires 2 Tier I or II adventures.
Pathfinder Award requires 1 Tier I or II adventure, plus leading a Tier I or II adventure, and leading a Tier III adventure under a youth mentor's guidance. (3 adventures in all)
The Summit Award requires 2 Tier II or Tier III adventures, plus a Tier III adventure, plus serving as a leader for a Tier II or III adventure. (4 adventures in all)
Total, that comes to 12 adventures, at least 2 of which are Tier III. I'd call it 4 per year -- 1 Tier III, 1 Tier II, and 2 Tier I. (Tier III are what we call superactivities.)

Interviews, Conferences, Boards of Review
A Venturer will pass through ten of these to get to the end of the system. They don't need to take up a lot of planning, but you'll be doing a lot of them.

Workbooks, Personal Growth stuff, Reflections, Mentoring
There's a lot of personal growth stuff that not everyone will find it easy to do. This isn't program, per se, since the Crew as a whole won't be doing it. But you'll be spending a lot of your time helping kids do it.

Training Courses
The people who designed this system love training courses. No less than 5 are required for the Discovery Award, and one each for the two higher awards. To keep kids advancing, figure you'll be doing 3 training courses a year.

Service Hours and Svc Projects
The Discovery Award requires 24 hours of personal service, of which at least half must be done with the Crew. The Pathfinder Award requires 36 hours of service, half done within the Crew. That's 20 hours of service you will need to make sure is provided over a two-year cycle. Both the Pathfinder and Summit Awards require personal service projects designed and led by the youth, and the other youth can use these to rack up their required hours, so figure your busily advancing youth will be knocking out three personal service projects a year, plus a couple of Crew service projects of 2-3 hours' duration each. In all, that's five projects a year.

Venturers serve as officers, staff for training courses, and each must also lead an ethical controversy program. The only one you'll have to schedule is the last. I'd do two a year, so everyone has a chance to lead.

What does all this come to?

Well, this means that our happy Crew, in order to keep kids advancing, will have to schedule the following, each year.

1 Firstnighter
1 Induction Ceremony
2 Ethical Controversy programs
4 Adventures (2 Tier I, 1 Tier II, and 1 Tier III)
3 Training Courses of various sorts
5 Service Projects (2 Crew Service Projects and 3 Personal Service Projects)

That's a total of 16 things to schedule in order to provide our Crew with the means of advancement. HALF of those are Training Courses and Service Projects, which I think is way out of proportion, and I've been one of the best Advisors in our Council in seeing that these are included in our program. In fact, the whole advancement system looks more and more like it was designed by someone who thinks NYLT is the apex of Scouting fun.

So, what if you don't do all that? What if you emphasize fun more, camping more, and don't push all the training and project stuff? Well, you won't have much advancement, that's what. And the whole reason for dumping the old system and coming up with this new one is that not enough youth were earning awards, right? I'm looking at this mountain to climb, and it wears me out to think of it, and I've always done what it takes to help kids advance.

I don't think this new advancement system is going to be any more successful than the old one. Many, many Crews will simply not be able to provide all the elements necessary. Which means the Council will have to start ramping up its offering of training courses and such on the side to help those youth who want to advance to do so, leaving fewer Council resources for other things we could be doing. It also means that Venturing as a program will remain over-dependent on the Council doing things; there will be few strong Crews out delivering on the promise on their own.

Don't get me wrong. I'll do what it takes. But, Geeze Loweez, we could do better than this.

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