Venture Scouts (Scouting Ireland)
|Country||Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland|
Venture Scouts in Scouting Ireland are aged between 15 and a half to 21 years of age. The awards scheme is called Rogha, an Irish word meaning Choice. Although many groups use Gaisce, The President's Award as part of their programme also. Each group has a Venture Scout Executive which under the guidance of an adult Scouter designs and implements activities.
A National Venture Forum Committee represents Venture Scouts on all national administrative bodies in line with the associations Youth Participation Policy. The NVFC meet regularly to discuss matters of importance to Venture Scouts nationwide. The nine member committee is elected annually at the National Youth Forum and meets at Larch Hill.
Many groups build their activities around specific projects, see below for details.
The association however is undergoing a complete review of programme and section age ranges (to be completed in 2007) so much of the current system may change.
As Venturing is the oldest section in the association the onus is on the youth members to plan, organise and participate in events. Scouters only act in an advisory capacity. The Scout method drives the programme at all times. Most Groups meet on a weekly basis, though some meet less frequently, in order to organise activities. Given Ireland's topography the most common activities include hiking, rockclimbing, mountaineering and the traditional and recognisable Scout skills like camping and pioneering. Another common part of the programme is leadership, with Venture Scouts assuming a leadership role in the younger sections of Scouting Ireland. In Venture Scouting the only limit to the range of activities is the limit on the group's own imagination so programmes vary widely from group to group.
In recent times the number of Venture Scouts has decreased sharply, causing many groups to evaluate their programme in order to make it attractive to young people. It has become common for Scout Counties to form County Venture Groups when it wasn't viable for a Venture Group to exist within an individual Scout Group.
Along the Eastern seaboard and in Dublin Bay in particular there are Venture Sea Scouts which operate programmes almost exclusively on the sea.
Rogha (the Irish word for choice) was the Venturer Programme of CSI. It was rewritten in 2003. Rogha is an individual award scheme for Venture Scouts made up of two challenges, Silver and Gold. Upon successful completion of the Silver challenge you will be awarded a Silver pin. A Gold pin is awarded for successful completion of the Gold challenge.
There are 5 categories (Physical, Mental, Cultural, Social and Spiritual) and around 50 modules. Each module is in one or more categories (ie Art is in Cultural, Social and Mental).
To complete the Silver Challenge participants must complete 1 module from each category. They must then complete the focus module with their scouter. Focus is an evaluation of what you have done, what you have learned etc. The gold challenge is similar. After completing the five modules, you need to complete focus as well as Horizons, an evaluation of your time in ventures and a look ahead at your future. Each challenge should take a year.
Although not as popular now, Rogha is still used by some groups.
Along with the Chief Scout's Award, the Explorer Belt is the most coveted award in Irish Scouting. Over the last 25 years, 1,900 Venture Scouts have gone on Explorer Belt Expeditions. Ireland's Explorer Belt is recognised as being one of the most challenging yet ultimately rewarding activities in Venture Scouting.
Over the last 26 years locations have been widely varied. The Locations for belts run by CBSI/CSI/SI-CSI are:
- 1980 - Normandy, France
- 1981 - No event
- 1982 - Vermont & New Hampshire, United States
- 1983 - Wales
- 1984 - Sweden (1st female team & 1st team to get a second Belt)
- 1985 - No event
- 1986 - Scotland
- 1987 - Bavaria (Cancelled)
- 1988 - Italy & Wales (The Welsh event was a joint CBSI/SAI event)
- 1989 - Le Conquet, France
- 1990 - Denmark
- 1991 - Scotland
- 1992 - England
- 1993 - Wales
- 1994 - Scotland
- 1995 - Hungary
- 1996 - Wales
- 1997 - Slovenia
- 1998 - Belgium
- 1999 - Northern France
- 2000 - Brno, Czech Republic
- 2001 - Italy
- 2002 - Lithuania
- 2003 - Spain (intended to be Canada, changed due to SARS outbreak, nicknamed the "Spanada" Belt)
The Belts run (every second year) by SAI/SI-SAI are:
- 1988 - Wales (The Welsh event was a joint CBSI/SAI event)
- 1990 - Northumberland
- 1992 - Scotland
- 1994 - no event run
- 1996 - Wales
- 1998 - Spain
- 2000 - France
- 2002 - Spain
Events run by Scouting Ireland are:
- 2004 - Germany
- 2005 - United States
- 2006 - Portugal
- 2007 - Poland
- 2008 - Croatia & Slovenia
Venture Scouts, in teams of two, walk a distance of at least 200 km in 10 days completing tasks along the way. These tasks include maintaining a log of the journey, consisting of a daily route, menu, budget and account of the day's activities. Each team must also complete a number of projects which encourage the participants to engage with the local populace and to learn about the local culture. Each team must find its own way back to a base camp where the expedition leaders are waiting for them. Teams are dropped off in an unknown location with just a map, the location of base camp and a small amount of money on which to survive.
The aim of the event is to test skills of communication, physical endurance and teamwork. Complete immersion in a foreign culture necessitates an ability to adapt to the norms of a different society with different customs and values, usually also a different language.
Not all participants are successfully awarded the Belt. When they reach base-camp participants spend a few days relaxing and recovering while the expedition leaders examine the log books the teams maintained while they were travelling. If a team has, to the satisfaction of the leaders, succeeded in achieving their aims and fulfilling their own potential they are awarded the belt at a very emotional presentation ceremony.
The Venture Scout Challenge
Challenge is an event often referred to as the "Mini-Explorer Belt." Challenge (now in its 20th year) was founded by Brian O'Connor from Cork- today the Spirit of Challenge Trophy is named after him. Like the Belt it involves teams of 2 Venture Scouts of the same sex but hiking takes place in Ireland with participants walking 100 km in 5 days while living on a budget of 4 euro per person per day. While Belt entrants have to struggle with warm climates, Challenge competitors are subject to the whim of the Irish weather system which even in Summer can be quite grim, though previous walkers have said that the rough weather is all part of the fun. Successful entrants receive the Challenge woggle. The Venue for 2007 was supposed South East Ireland and Wales but this has been postponed until 2008. Challenge was originally run (every second year) by SAI. The SI Challenge is run annually. The events were:
- 1993 - West Cork
- 1993 - County Galway
- 1991 - Thurles, County Tipperary
- 1993 - County Kilkenny
- 1995 - County Kerry
- 1997 - County Sligo
- 1999 - West Cork
- 2001 - Isle of Man
- 2003 - County Donegal
- 2004 - County Clare
- 2005 - County Kildare
- 2006 - County Mayo, County Roscommon, County Galway
- 2007 - Ireland, Wales (Postponed until 2009)
The National Venture Scout Triathlon
The National Triathlon or Tri-Zone is a new event, that was run for the first time in September 2005. In this physical challenge teams of two people from a Venture Group complete a set course combining rafting, cycling and mountaineering. The 2005 event saw teams rafting on Lough Dan (former national campsite of Scouting Ireland S.A.I.), cycling through Wicklow and hiking to Larch Hill.
VMoot is a brand new event for Irish Ventures. The first every Irish National Venture Scout Moot (aka VMOOT) took place in Larch Hill from June 28- July 1 2007. The event aims to cover all aspects of the Venture programme.
Communities (Teams of 6-8 ventures/senior scouts) must do a project on the theme of "Citizenship in Motion". The projects reflect active citizenship and learning by doing. Project topics included "Graffiti as art", "Discrimination in Ireland" and "Young People and Drugs".
VMoot starts with a midnight campfire on the Thursday night. On Friday morning communities must demonstrate their project. This was followed by "life zones" which included such a diverse mix of activities including pioneering, yoga and archery. On Friday night there was a dance contest (originally intended to be a music festival). On Saturday communities went off site for the "adventures". These include Caving, surfing and kite making. On Sunday there were several fun challenges devised by the participants. After the event communities must reflect on what they've learned.
The venue for 2008 is Larch Hill.
Sluaíocht na Sléibhte
The Sluaíocht na Sléibhte (SNS) is a weekend mountaineering event for teams of 3 venture scouts. They are considered as an extension to the scout mountaineering programme (MPC, Sionnach, PEAK) but with some key changes. The main change is the safety net of the adult leader is removed.
Two events are held every year- the winter expedition and the Summer Climb Ax. The first winter SNS was held in 2006 in Lugnaquilla in Wicklow. The 2007 winter SNS went to Mt Snowden in Wales while the Summer Climb Ax was held in Annascul, Kerry. The winter and summer events in 2008 will be going to the Mournes and Scotland respectively.
Ventact South Activity Weekend
Ventact South is one of the highlights of the venture year. It is organised by the Joint Committee on Scouting and Guiding in Cork and caters for Venture Scouts and Ranger Guides from all over Ireland. The event takes place in September each year at the Killcully Scout Centre.
Participants arrive on the Friday while a live band is playing. After this tickets for Saturday's activities are given out (followed by a mad dash to swap activities). On Saturday morning participants are bused offsite to do two activities (e.g. powerboating, kayaking, fishing, horseriding, firefighting). When they return, there is a barbecue at the campsite. On Saturday evening there is a religious service followed by the ever popular themed Ventact Disco. On Sunday morning bouncing castles and inflatable obstacle courses before everyone heads home.
2008 will be the 30th Ventact South.
Irish Venture Scout Projects
- The Phoenix Venture Group from the 9th/10th Dublin (Aughrim Street) Scout Group travelled to Vietnam in Summer 2006 to undertake a development project there. They painted and decorated rooms in the Vung Tau Orphanage, near the southern tip of the country. Details of their trip is available on their blog.
- The Donnybrook Venturer Group won the International Youth for Development Prize 2005, nicknamed the "Nobel Prize for Young People" for their development projects in Peru. A leading International jury led by President, Mrs Jolanta Kwasniewska (First Lady of Poland), Mr. Massimo Barra(International Red Cross), Mr. Steve Fossett(Adventurer, World Records in 5 sports), Mrs Seiko Hashimoto (Member of the Parliament Japan — Triple Olympic Games Medal holder), Mr. Suwit Khunkitti (Minister Thailand), Mr. Malik M'Baye (Director of UNESCO), Mrs. Dr. Amaya Gillespie (United Nations Director) voted their projects as overall winner in the Development category. They were commended for their participation in the Youth of the World Campaign and for the outstanding project that they had undertaken in the framework of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
- As a joint project, representatives of 3 Dublin Venture Scout Groups (35th Donore Avenue, 127th Drumcondra and 5th Port Dollymount) will be travelling to Kolkata, India in December 2008/January 2009 to work with orphaned street children at the Loreto Sealdah school. Their project will involve both manual work such as building and painting and social work such as providing English language and remedial teaching assistance. There are 18 in the travelling party which will set out on the 20th of December 2008 and return on the 11th of January 2009. The project has been called "The Rainbow Challenge."
National Venture Forum Committee
Every October a National Venture Forum is held in Larch Hill. Each Scout County is entitled to send 3 delegates and each scout group is entitled to send 1 observer. At the forum motions regard Venturing are passed and the NVFC is elected. The NVFC has 9 members (6 Provincial reps and 3 national panel members). The NVFC represent ventures at national and provincial level. They sit on programme teams (NYPC, International, Participation) and have the right to attend NMC meetings. The NVFC also compile reports for the Programme Commissioners to let them know how Ventures feel.
Leadership in Venture Scouts
The Venture Scout Crew should decide its own programme and should run itself. The Venture Scouts should have full say in the running of the programme. The Scouters role is to support and encourage the Venture Scouts to implement the Youth Programme as designed; generally speaking they should only interfere with decision making when there is an issue concerning welfare, safety legality or Scouting principles. Venture Crews will form smaller groups to plan and complete specific activities. Venture Scouts should be Encouraged to take on more responsibility as they progress over time. Each Venture Scout should be given the opportunity to take on a leadership role on a regular basis.
- "Ventures: Rogha Award". Ventures. Scouting Ireland. http://www.scouts.ie/ventures/rogha-award. Retrieved 2006-08-07.
- "Ventures: Rogha Award". Ventures. Xtreme Venture Group. http://www.xtremeventurescouts.org/rogha.htm. Retrieved 2006-08-07.
- "Ventures: National Venture Forum Committee". Ventures. Scouting Ireland. http://www.scouts.ie/ventures/national-venture-forum-committee/. Retrieved 2006-08-07.
- "Ventures: National Venture Forum Committee". Youth Participation Policy. Scouting Ireland. http://www.scouts.ie/resources/adult-resources/official-documents/. Retrieved 2006-08-07.
- "Irish Explorer Belt". SI Events Team. http://www.scouts.ie/ventures/venture-event-information/irish-explorer-belt-portugal-2006/. Retrieved 2006-08-07.
- "Challenge". SI Events Team. http://www.scouts.ie/ventures/venture-event-information/challenge-2006/. Retrieved 2006-08-07.
- "TriZone". SI Events Team. http://www.scouts.ie/ventures/venture-event-information/trizone-the-national-venture-triathlon/. Retrieved 2006-08-07.
- "Donnybrook Scout Group". Scouting Ireland. http://donnybrookscouts.org/. Retrieved 2006-08-07.