I respectfully disagree that Venturing should be considered another stage in Scouting and made mandatory for a couple of reasons:
1) Pulling older boys away from the Boy Scouting program can hurt local troops:
a) I feel that the whole point of Scouting totally changes once you get into the higher ranks and you have mandated leadership time. Once you hit Star, you go from primarily focusing on technical skills to figuring out who you are as a leader. By this point in most Troops, I imagine that the boys are the more senior group of people and thus are given more responsibility over the troop. In contrast, Venturing Crew age bylaws mean that most Boy Scouts who opt for Venturing will all of a sudden find themselves closer to the bottom of the totem pole and not able to take up the reins of primary leadership in the unit.
b) Younger boys need to be able to look up to older boys and see them come to meetings and interact with them on a regular basis. They need role models and the older boys need to learn how to be good role models.
2) Kids go to college away from where they live. Again, since Venturing extends the period of "youth" designation, all the top leaders will probably be college age and thus this serves as a penalty for those kids who opt to go to college away from where they live. Those people who are college age and still have the "youth" designation that are close to home can continue on and serve as senior leadership while those kids who leave will not get the chance.
3) The way Scouts fits into most people's lives is that it is just one of several activities. It can be the main activity, sure, but in my experience Scouts have their hands in everything and once they hit high school Scouts tend to be the ones that like to do a lot of activities. Forcing an intensification of Scouting will have the adverse effect of making it a bigger time commitment, which will turn boys away from Scouting as they get older and it will rob the community of those boys who already have good leadership experience from leading other organizations and influencing those outside of scouts.
4) Making Venturing the "next step" means that girls will probably have to be allowed to join Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, which I have to oppose because in my experience and sort of how I see society:
a) Too many boys these days are going through life without solid male role models, and this matters. This matters a lot. I understand, appreciate and thank those women leaders who make such a great difference in Boys' lifes through Scouting, I really do. If they are the only ones that have the sense of commitment to be the Scoutmaster, or if they are the best qualified, then so be it. The boy leadership will (hopefully) be enough to show the younger boys who lack male role models what it means to be a man. What disturbs me is the prospect of boys not having solid male role models with Crew Presidents and Advisors both being female. The opposite is absolutely true as well, but I feel that this is a lesser problem (see next subpoint).
b) Boys need a place to go to just be boys and not make excuses for it. The schools these days are miserable at allowing boys to be boys, from elementry school to high school the behavior of average guys is not acceptable to a lot of teachers. In addition, the pre-teen years are hard on all genders, and relations with the other gender are pretty hard to get down right and for some this is a phase that lasts years. Guys just need a place to be guys without regard for whatever society says they have to be, which is getting increasingly hard.
That's just my opinion. I have never been in a Venture Crew, but I was a Boy Scout for seven years and became fairly insturmental in the growth of my troop back home. I count my time as a two-term SPL and the effect I noticed I had in achieving my Eagle as key developments in who I have become. Both were essential to my success in my senior year of high school in leadership positions I had, and for my appointment to and continued success here at the Military Academy.
Eagle Scout | OA Member
Former SPL and Troop Guide (among others)
USMA Class of 2010