Three Ways Your Council Can Utilize Varsity Scouting
1. Varsity Scouting as a Resource for Community Organizations
Varsity Scouting is an exciting program for older boys that offers the same ideals and principles as Boy Scouting. However, its flexibility allows community organizations to design a program that fits its own needs. Many community organizations use Varsity Scouting as part of their youth program, including the United Methodist Church, Roman Catholic Church, Baptist Church, Lutheran Church, public schools, and housing authorities.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has customized the program to fulfill its needs. Although the program is designed for young men ages 14 to 18, the LDS Church uses Varsity Scouting only for its young men ages 14 to 15.
There is still a tremendous opportunity to expand Varsity Scouting within the LDS Church. All LDS wards should have a Varsity Scout team as part of their youth program.
2. Varsity Scouting as a High-Adventure Program
Varsity Scouting holds special appeal to older boys. Its unique leadership approach involves all adult and youth members, and this flexible program challenges boys who want a rugged outdoor experience. It is well-suited for boys who have outgrown the traditional Boy Scout program and are ready to move on to a more challenging high-adventure program.
Chartered organizations with a large number of older boys may want to form a Varsity Scout team. These young men need challenge and opportunities to serve in a leadership capacity. The BSA has fourteen high-adventure programs to satisfy even the most rugged individual.
3. Varsity Scouting as a Sports Program
Varsity Scouting promotes the use of sports, with the emphasis changing every sports season. This may be especially effective in urban areas where Scouting has not been traditional or a lifestyle, or with an organization that boasts a large group of young men. Competition between several Varsity Scout teams could be developed into year-round competitive sporting events.
A well-balanced program blends Scouting's values with the five program areas of emphasis—advancement, high adventure/sports, personal development, service, and special programs and events. The twelve sports programs available enhance the variety of challenge and action.
How Councils Can Support Varsity Scouting
Appoint a Varsity Scout Committee
This committee should serve as an advocate of Varsity Scouting. Members would help the chartered organization get organized and would assure that new team leaders receive Fast Start training. Committee members will not need to be experts on Varsity Scouting but may need one or two training sessions to help familiarize them with the program. This committee could serve under the membership or operations vice president.
Provide Training for Varsity Scout Coaches
Training beyond Fast Start should be made available to new Varsity Scout Coaches. While Varsity Scouting has many similarities to Boy Scouting, some distinctions remain. New leaders should understand the five program fields of emphasis and how to implement these into a yearlong program. Varsity Scout Leader Fundamentals, No. 33443, will provide your Varsity Scout trainers the information required to conduct Varsity Scout leader training.
Offer High-Adventure Resources
Varsity Scout teams need to know what resources are available as they plan their program. A list of council resources would help as teams plan their program. See Scouting's Adventures for Older Scouts, No. 18-202, for this purpose.
Promote Inter-Team Activities
Encourage interaction among Varsity Scout teams. Most teams are small and may want to join forces for a weekend outing. Teams may also want to compete in a sports event. An annual gathering of area Varsity Scout teams might be something your council could consider.
How Varsity Scouting Works
Varsity Scouting has two unique features that distinguish it from other BSA programs. First, the program revolves around five program fields of emphasis for special appeal to young men; second, it offers unique leadership opportunities so that virtually every team member experiences leadership responsibilities.
The Five Program Fields of Emphasis
Varsity Scouting, through the five program fields of emphasis, offer youth members a wide range of opportunities. All program fields are equally important, and each field should be represented in the program planning of the Varsity Scout team. The five program fields of emphasis are:
- Advancement. Varsity Scouts use the same advancement program as Boy Scouts. They may also earn recognitions offered through such programs as the Fifty-Miler Award and Mile Swim, BSA.
- High Adventure/Sports. Varsity Scouts plan and take part in a wide range of tough mental and physical activities, from snow camping to whitewater rafting. These activities are supported by activity pamphlets that aid teams during the planning process.
- Personal Development. The Varsity Scouting program stresses personal development through spiritual growth, leadership, citizenship, and social and physical fitness. The program manager responsible for personal development helps team members select and participate in activities that will enhance their personal development.
- Service. Until it becomes a constant ingredient in one's daily life, Varsity Scouting will emphasize service. Projects are conceived, planned, managed, and carried out by Varsity Scouts and/or the Varsity Scout team.
- Special Programs and Events. Providing time, ways, means, and encouragement to participate in special programs and events is an important feature of Varsity Scouting. Special events may be national Scouting activities, or district or council events, or an activity with another Varsity Scout team, or a coed activity such as a cookout or ski trip.
Let Varsity Scouting Work for Your Organization
Most Varsity Scout teams are small, close-knit groups of young men who share a number of common interests. Each team member has a leadership responsibility—as a program manager of a field of emphasis or as a team captain or squad leader. Each youth leadership position has an adult counterpart who works with the youth member—similar to that of a player and a coach. The youth members plan and carry out the program of the Varsity Scout team. Every team member should have some leadership responsibility.
Varsity Scouts are members of a Varsity Scout team, which is operated by a community organization. A Varsity Scout Coach serves as the adult leader, and is supported by a team committee. Together, they serve as program advisers for the five program fields of emphasis. The committee includes parents and members of the operating organization.
The top youth member serves as the team captain. He is elected by his peers and is responsible for team meetings and keeping everything on track. The team is divided into squads, and each squad has a squad leader. Each of the five program fields of emphasis has a program manager who is responsible for his particular area of emphasis.
Varsity Team Meetings
Varsity teams usually meet once a week, for 11/2 to two hours. There are two types of meetings: the team meeting and the team activity. The team meeting is a business meeting, lead by the team captain. Typically, after a short opening ceremony and welcome, each program manager conducts business related to his area of responsibility. After that, the team may break into squad meetings to plan upcoming events or activities. The Coach should close all meetings with an inspirational message, known as the Coach's Corner.
The activity meeting is a planned activity session selected from one of the five program fields of emphasis. The appropriate program manager conducts the activity meeting. Activity meetings could include a shakedown for a hiking trip, practicing for a sporting event, gathering materials for a service project, or arranging transportation to attend a social event such as a ski trip or cookout.
A team's biggest challenge will be planning a balanced program that includes all five program fields of emphasis. Many activities will overlap some. For instance, a weekend hiking trip could double as a high-adventure activity, but could also help some members meet advancement requirements. The same hike could include service by planning a conservation project while on the trail.
Varsity Scout Insignia, Awards, and Recognitions
Varsity Scouts wear the field uniform of the Boy Scouts of America, with orange shoulder loops and a Varsity Scout identification strip above the right pocket. They are eligible for the same awards and recognitions as Boy Scouts. In addition, they may earn the Varsity Scout letter and activity pins, which can be worn on the letter, for completion of each activity.
Resources Help Put Words into Action
While Varsity Scouts use the Boy Scout Handbook as their primary guide, these materials serve the Varsity Scouting program in particular:
- Every Varsity Scout Coach will find the Varsity Scout Leader Guidebook, No. 34827, indispensable for addressing how to work with older boys and identify their needs.
- There are twelve sports and fourteen high-adventure activities—from caving and cycling to snow skiing and rock climbing and rappelling—to help teams plan their program in Varsity Team Program Features Vol. 1 (#34837), Vol II (#34838) and Vol III (#34839).