May 27th, 2006

compass rose

Da Bears

My trip to D.C. (on top of my in-State trip to Yonder UMC the day before) was satisfying but exhausting. I got up at 5:00 a.m. five days in a row (somebody shoot me, please). And in those five days I drove over 1500 miles. The good news is Miranda (my '97 Breeze) got better than 30 mpg -- going through mountains.

I toured the National Zoo with stryck and anher Thursday. Among the more photogenic critters there were the sloth bears and this panda. The male and female sloth bears are old partners and very affectionate, but they are kept apart right now so that their cub can be raised to adulthood in a natural way (Daddy Sloth Bears take no part in child-rearing in the wild, and thus resemble many Human Sloth Bears of my acquaintance).

In addition to a sloth bear cub, the zoo has a new giant panda cub. This is probably one of its parents. Anyway, it's the only one that was out and about. The others were apparently smarter and stayed in, away from the annoying humans gawking at them.

Hey, Good-lookin'! Hey, Good-lookin'!
Papa Sloth Bear looks out over his enclosure at mate and cub.
Look, Mom!  Daddy's home! Look, Mom! Daddy's home!
Mama Sloth Bear and bouncing baby boy-cub look back at Dad.
Oh, great.  They're back. Oh, great. They're back.
Giant panda at National Zoo hangs his head in despair over the lack of privacy.

Click a pic to enlarge

I enjoyed camping. The Tanzanian embassy was a royal pain to deal with, but my visas should arrive by this Tuesday afternoon. The NAUMS Annual Meeting went okay. Our trip to Africa got underwritten to the tune of a couple hundred extra bucks. We all made some valuable contacts for the future.

The rash that was bothering me all last week is still there, and driving me insane. I finally get to see a dermatologist on Wednesday. But first -- I get to do the whole cleanout process starting Sunday night for a Tuesday morning colonoscopy. Double whoopee.. Plus, a whole lotta packin's gotta get done this week, as well as some loud, fast talk with my new DS about the parsonage muddle over at Yonder UMC. And then we leave for Africa a week from Wednesday.

Venturing Training Handout

Planning a Year's Activities in Venturing

by Art Collins

So, you're a new Venturing Advisor.  You're going to have ALL that fun, all at once, right?  The youth are talking it up with their friends, and they're going to turn to you and say, What do we do first?  And while you could probably get through that, you're at a loss to know how to fill the time.  How do you put together a year in Venturing?  How do you make sure you get all the important stuff in there?

Well, you don't start with Week One and just starting filling in the calendar.  You've got to put together the year in stages.  Get the first stage roughed in, then go on to the next category of stuff, and so on.  Start with Superactivity planning.

I.  The Superactivity

Plan for this first; work a year or two ahead if you can.  Venture Crews rise or fall based on their annual Superactivity.  Youth will often join with participation in a particular adventure in mind; afterwards, some will continue and others drop out.  Planning a successful Superactivity each year is the acid test of Venturing.  For suggestions on what to do/where to go, see the list following this outline.  Executing a good Superactivity means planning for the following events.

A.  The Superactivity itself (7-19 days long, usually).

B.  The Shakedown (several weeks before the Superactivity; do NOT try to do a Superactivity without a trial run to bring the group together, practice camping routines, and use their gear).

C.  Conditioning events (one or more one-day activities designed to build strength and acquire facility in handling equipment).

D.  Team-Builder
(optional, but especially useful for crews with many new members -- and an option for those who cannot attend the Shakedown -- something like COPE).

E.  Parents' Meeting
(hand out forms, make sure everyone is clear on money, give out emergency numbers, etc.).

F.  Photo Party
afterwards (a one-day activity w/food & fun where everyone can show their photos to each other and their friends/families).

II.  Maintaining the Membership

Getting new members and working with everybody is the next challenge for your Crew.  Get these events on your calendar right after you pencil in the events associated with your Superactivity. 

A.  Firstnighter (your annual program kickoff -- advertise for new members and have your Venturers invite their friends; have info on opportunities and costs ready to hand out, as well as applications).

B.  Election and Officers' Training

C.  Leadership Skills Course (every other year is usually often enough for all your Venturers to take part).

D.  Annual Planning Conference
(have everybody bring their school & social calendars; also, this is the time to brainstorm for what people want to do, both in terms of Superactivities and one-day/weekend events).

E.  Courts of Honor (plan on at least 2-3 Courts of Honor a year).

F.  Fundraisers
(in order to avoid raising money all the time, figure out what you need to do your year's program, and then do just 1-2 Fundraisers that will get you what you need).

III.  Other Events

After getting on the Crew calendar the big stuff regarding your annual Superactivity and the necessary stuff that keeps the organization ticking, then you can fill in other events that match your Crew's desires and vision.

A.  Regional Venturing Events (examples: Council and District Venturing events; Big gatherings hosted by other Councils, such as Peterloon every other year).

B.  Advancement-Related Activities (examples: Ethical Controversies & Ethics Forums; Survival campouts; Orienteering courses; Safe Swim Defense).

C.  Duty to God and Country (examples: retreats; service projects; Scout Sunday participation, Ten Commandment hike).

D.  Fun activities (examples: day hikes; trips to the zoo; cabin campouts; social gatherings like dances; hayrides)

E.  Youth Protection training (both youth and adult).

IV.  Adult Responsibilities

Make sure that you leave room in your schedule for the Crew's adults to pursue activities that make them better leaders.

A.  Venturing Leader Basic Training (conducted on a District or Council basis).

B.  Continuing Training (examples: Powder Horn; Wood Badge; courses at Philmont Training Center; District Roundtables).

C.  Committee meetings

D.  Charter Partner Events
(make sure that you steer clear of major events of concern to your Charter Partner -- and that you keep up good communication with the leadership of said Charter Partner).

Examples of Possible Superactivities

Arts & Hobbies Emphasis
        Produce a Drama
    Tour Interpretive History Sites
    Attend Hobby Convention
    Destination Imagination

Outdoor/High Adventure Emphasis
    Backpacking Trek
    Canoe Trip
    Horseback Riding
    Winter Camping/Mushing
    Hunting/Fishing Trip
    Survival Trek

Religious Life Emphasis

    Mission Project
    Lead Vacation Bible School
    National Youth Ministry Event

Sea Scouting Emphasis

Sports Emphasis

    Compete in Tournament
    Winter Sports Trip

    Touring (national or international)
    Project COPE
    Long-term Summer Camp

This piece is Copyright (C) 2004, 2006, by Arthur W. Collins.  Permission is given to reproduce as a handout, with appropriate credit. 

About the author of this piece:  Art Collins is the Advisor of Crew 699, chartered to Tanner Valley UMC, Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  He was Older Youth/Venturing VP for Hoosier Trails Council 2004-6 and South Indiana Conference Coordinator for Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting Ministries 1994-2004.  He is currently Treasurer of the National Association of United Methodist Scouters.  He is also the author of My Lord Knows the Way Through the Wilderness, a worshipbook for scouts and others in camps and retreats.  He is an ordained minister.

Crew 699 and its predecessor, Explorer Post 697, have gone camped, hiked, and backpacked three times at Philmont Scout Ranch, twice on Isle Royale National Park, as well as in the Adirondacks, Cumberland Gap, Yellowstone, and Great Britain.  The crew is currently preparing for its second mission trip to Tanzania.