Starting a Venturing Crew

Before I get into too many details lets discuss why Venturing is an ideal program to start a shooting team.

Here's what BSA can offer you:
  • Its co-ed! Most agree that we not only need to get more youth involved in the shooting sports but females are under-represented in most disciplines
  • Flexible program! Venturing is fun. You don't have to have all the methods of a traditional scout troop. Crews can be focused on specific job or hobby intrests. While Venture has a program complete with advancement, positions, and uniforms, you don't have to use any of it.
  • Shooting Sports Manual. You didn't want to write your own did you? The manual is a great start that allows older youth to go way beyond the traditional BSA rifle shooting at camp. Youth are freed up to participate in sanctioned shooting competitions. Power point presentations are also posted to help you teach.
  • Committee. Love them or not you will need help. A committee is required and will set you up for success. When you looking for an organization to charter your crew, they will be relieved to hear that you will supply your own staff to make group decisions and run the finances.
  • Youth Protection. The BSA program is proven to recognize, resist and report inappropriate activities. Again this is important to your charter organization but parents will be relieved to hear that the is training and policy already in place. The Venturing youth protection is a little different so be sure to have all your adults take it before you turn in your paper work to charter or recharter. Visit myscouting.org to log in or set up an account. Make sure you use Internet Explorer for that site.
  • Recruiting Channels. There are many people at the District or Council level with experience in recruiting and will be glad to help you our an provide material. We recruited our first squad straight out of the local boy scout troop. Many troops fear you will take kids away but that was not the case. Our members have stayed active in their troops and continue to go on outings and work on advancements with their troops. Many are not aware that a scout can be a member of both a troop and a crew. BSA calls this Multiple Enrollment and will not charge them a second membership fee.
  • Fundraisers available. We'll talk later about some phenominal offers to shooting teams but your Council has several fund raisers your crew can participate in and again will be a valuable resource in helping you.
  • Insurance. Here's a little advice, Don't get involved in teaching others how to shoot without insurance coverage. This comes from Council so make sure when you register that you are fully covered as it may be a slightly higher fee. At the same time make sure you are following the guide to safe scouting, age appropriate guidelines and you use the Tour and Activity Plan. Our gun club wanted a certificate of insurance an I had no problem getting that from Council.

You will be selling a complete program to a potential charter. When I approached our local gun club and asked them to charter us, many board members were familiar with how a troop ran and did a lot of the talking for me. After a brief discussion their vote was unanimous and we pick up two volunteers who were NRA certified to get us started right away. Do read the charter agreement so it is clear what the charter commitment is. I wanted to make sure we would be granted range time and could schedule the use of the club house. One year later our relationship is still fantastic. Club members have helped us out in many ways and they are already gun friendly. They have provided us financial support, donated ammo, supported our fundraisers, and loaned us equipment.

I recommend that you charter through a gun club with a range. You will be speaking the same language and you won't have to deal with someone who might be anti-gun or a group that might become anti-gun. If you charter elsewhere, make sure you partner up with a gun range. This could be public, private or even a scout camp that is willing to open up their facilities.

So here is the minimum of what you need to officially start a Crew:

Unit Leader
Kids! At least 5 (14+ years old or 13 and finished 8th grade) 
Committee - at least 3 
Charter Organization

Here's the links to the required forms. Read them online but do yourself a favor and pick up the printed forms from your Scouting office. If they are not close, give them a call and they will make sure you get them.
Charter Agreement:
New Unit Application
Adult membership application
Youth Membership application

-Mike Michaels