As you know, the BSA no longer does “business as usual.” Change seems to be a bit more of a constant than it was a few years ago. Over 15 years ago the BSA national office was dramatically reorganized, in a manner that redefined the organizational structure at every level from the national offices down to the local districts. Local units (for the most part) stayed the same, but it was a dramatic change from what we were used to doing in Scouting, and it shook up many of us. For those of us involved in Exploring the change was a bit more dramatic. On February 9, 1998, what most of us knew as Exploring became known as Venturing. And we had a new beginning.
For the most part, it was business as usual with a new name. But it was still a bit unnerving to have not only a new name, but new awards, recognitions, and handbooks. This change was difficult for many, but as time went on the net result has been pretty good. Fresh ideas and the discontinuation of outdated (and in many ways inefficient) practices emerged to the benefit of the customer—the youth. Change is not an easy thing to experience. Many of us can remember when we went through “growth spurts” during our teenaged years. Clothing was suddenly too small, we had aches and soreness that we thought should only afflict our grandparents, our voices changed timber at the most inopportune times, and we just didn’t feel that we fit in at all. Let’s not even think about how our emotions were constantly in a state of flux. But, we were able to survive and move forward. Scouting moves forward, too.
Just recently Venturing went through another “adjustment” in its program and general direction. Venturing had another “review” and reorganization of its entire program, with the ultimate goal to better meet the changing needs and desires of the youth. To put it in simple terms (these are the ones that I can relate to best), it was a re-emphasis on “people before programs.” New awards were introduced, old ones “retired,” and the printing presses went crazy with new handbooks, manuals, and support materials, not to mention a revision of almost all training courses! Change really is constant in the BSA. But, one thing remains the same—the desire to truly assist these young men as they develop into adults with a strong moral fiber. We need to give them ample opportunities to develop leadership skills and help them become better prepared to take their place as contributing adults in the Church, as well as in their communities and the world.
Within these changes, the desires from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have remained a constant. We know this constant as “doing one’s duty to God.” Doing one’s duty to God in the Church is not a “program” with check-offs and specific tasks; it is a constant in the lives of all members of the Church. The methods, tools, and techniques that are used are as numerous as the sands of the sea. Each of us has a variety of skills that are unique to our situations; likewise, the inspiration that we receive related to our assignments is unique. I like to state it simply: The young men are taught the correct principles during Sunday meetings and lessons, and then they put these principles into practice in their daily lives through the Venturing program. LDS Venturing strives to do just that—to work on creating activities that will assist the Church to better achieve the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. Again, it’s all about meeting customer needs and putting the youth first—before the program. This integration of Venturing and Church principles is accomplished through three simple words: Learn, Act, and Share.
Change happens. It’s up to us to work with change and move forward. We’ll talk a bit more about Venturing and applying these three words (Learn, Act, and Share) in our next blog.
~David Wilson has been actively involved in Venturing since it’s inception back in the ’90’s. He is dedicated to working on strengthening the bridges and removing the walls that occur between the Church and the BSA for the older young men in the Church. David continues to work to bless and serve through his involvement in multiple levels of Venturing (from national to the local council). He currently calls Orem, Utah home. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.