To the Editor:
We all know that one youth that stands out among their peers seems to stand for something bigger.
We hear about them at town meetings as they are recognized for achieving their Eagle , Summit or Gold awards (Silver award back in the day as my mom never failed to remind me), the highest ranks in their individual programs.
We see them marching in honor of our fallen heroes in parades, collecting and stacking supplies in our food pantries, cleaning up and serving their communities in so many more ways than I can mention here.
They are Scouts, and even though they wear different uniforms and follow different requirements, we are all part of a scouting family that shares in over 100 years of honor, tradition and service to others.
These young men and women are always looking for adventure, knowledge and opportunities to be better than they were yesterday.
These future leaders of our world invest in the principles of leaving things better than they found it, doing their best, and helping others through four specific objectives: character development, citizen training, personal fitness, and leadership development.
So what is the difference between the green and tan shirts?
The tan shirts are the traditional uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America (Scouts BSA) movement that started in the US in 1910.
BSA Scouts start their journey in dens as part of a cub scout pack usually around the time they are in first grade, and work their way up through Webelos, where they first don the tan shirts and “bridge” into the older scout troops (completion of 5th grade through their 18th birthday).
In the troop setting, they participate in, and run their own patrols of varying ages.
Here they start to build independence and self-sufficiency.
Through leadership roles they learn what it means to be “youth led," which is one of the founding principles of scouting.
They also learn the value of their own voice as they contribute ideas for monthly trips and activities.
At the same time they are building character, self-esteem, and confidence in themselves.
As Scouts work through the ranks leading up to Eagle, no one rank is more important than another because each rank has different lessons to be learned.
You don’t stop being a Life Scout because you made Eagle, you are now both life and Eagle together.
They learn that the expression “once a Scout, always a Scout” holds real power for them, and that real integrity is all about whom you are when you think nobody is watching.
The green shirts are the uniforms of Venture Crews, coed units within Scouts BSA that consist of youth ages 14-20 (or 13 with the completion of eight grade).
Venturers, as they are called, also naturally crave the adventure and skills that the outdoor experience has to offer while being in a program that provides a safe place to take greater risks.
They are different from the traditional Scout unit, which is usually a more military based model, by the fact that their meetings follow a professional board room approach.
Venturers learn to be strong and capable leaders by fully planning and managing their own program.
Through this they learn budgeting, finance ,and how to manage the logistics of their trips and activities.
Venturing still follows the tried and true “youth led" principles of Scouting, while adding a stronger mentoring program.
A troop’s objective is to nurture abilities and teach the skills for Scouts to be independent.
Venturing goes one step further in helping today’s youth as they move away from being dependent on friends, parents, teachers, and other adults, and start moving towards becoming interdependent with them.
Venturing is not designed for boys and girls, but rather for young adults who can do more and go further while participating in more age appropriate group activities.
Learning to have respectful interactions with their coed counterparts and how to build working relationships with both youth and adult mentors is built into the requirement structure.
Venturers eventually aim to become mentors themselves on their way to the Summit Award, which is the equivalent to a troop’s Eagle Scout Award.
Recently there has been a lot of misconception and dismay over girls entering the “Boy” Scout program.
Consider this - girls have been in the BSA since 1969 in the Explorer Post program, and since 1998 in the Venture program that spun off of Explorers.
Both have been successfully coed since their founding.
The argument that girls should just join the Girl Scouts is flawed.
We would never tell a child “you don’t need to take science, you already have math.”
My mother was a Girl Scout during WWII and proudly told her children of her participation in scrap metal drives for the war effort, and of earning her “Silver award.”
This award meant so much to her that she proudly asked to have it buried with her when she passed.
I value, respect, and support the Girl Scout program, as she did, and understand that even though it shares the same noble values found in Scouts BSA and Venturing, it is a different program that in its own way has a lot to offer today’s young ladies .
It makes me happy and proud that today’s youth and adult leaders have the ability to pursue the program(s) that most interest them and that align with their values and beliefs.
It really doesn’t matter what color the uniform, “once a scout, always a scout.”
Troop 159 Assistant Scoutmaster/ Venture Crew 289 Committee chair