Venture/Varsity (1989-present)

Overview
In 1989, National created a new optional program for Boy Scout Troops.  Boys 13 and older could be organized into Varsity Teams if they wanted to participate in sports or Venture Crews if they wanted to participate in a high adventure activity. At first, girls could participate with Venture/Varsity groups as guests, but this was also soon dropped.  Finally, in 1995 due to the confusion with Varsity Scout Teams, the term 'Varsity' for this in-troop program would be dropped.  At that point, Venture Crews could participate in either sports or high adventure activities.  In 1998, with the creation of the new Venturing program, to avoid confusion with Venturing Crews, the Venture Crew would be renamed the Venture Patrol. Despite the similarity of names, members of Venture Patrols can NOT earn Venturing advancement, nor can they use the green Venturing uniform shirt or insignia.  It should be noted that there is no correct term for those participating in Venture Patrols other then 'Venture Patrol member'.  The use of the term 'Venture Scout', while it might seem logical, is not official, and use of it can be confusing.

In short, these are the terms to use:

The Program is called Venture.
Venture groups are called Venture Patrols.
Members of Venture Patrols are called Boy Scouts.

The only information on the Venture Patrol at the BSA's web site had disappeared.

Venture/Varsity Program
The Venture/Varsity program created in 1989 is in many ways a throwback to the use of Senior Scouting and Exploring in troops back in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.  With this program, older boys could be kept in a troop by providing them with a more advanced program aimed at various sports or high adventure activities.

The usual use of the program in most troops would be to organize a group of older boys, at least 4, into a temporary group to plan out and execute an ultimate adventure.  This could be a cross country cycle trip or backpacking trip or participating in a soccer league or the like.  At the end of that program, the group would be broken up.  For the next activity, it would then be reformed, with a new leader and perhaps different members.  Most have found that trying to create a permanent Venture patrol is difficult, but for some it works.  In many ways this is a throwback to the method of using the Explorer Crew in the Troop back in the 1950s.  In other words, the members of the Venture Patrol should remain in their regular patrols, only breaking out for the Venture Patrol to plan and carry out their ultimate adventure work. See that page for a chart showing how this works.

If there was a problem with the program, it would be in the lack of good overall program literature.  What little is contained in the Boy Scout Handbook, Scoutmaster Handbook, and Junior Leader Handbook is not enough.  Many have found that the program is best used in a style similar to the use of Explorer Crews within troops of the 1950s.

Venture/Varsity Uniform
As members of Boy Scout Troops, those who participate in the Venture/Varsity program wear the same uniform.  However, for a time there were office patches for the program.  There are also shirt strips to be worn above the "Boy Scouts of America" strip.  "Venture" for those in a Venture Patrol (formerly Venture Crew) and "Varsity" for when there was a Varsity Team within a troop.  Now that "Varsity" strip is only for the use of the Varsity Scout Team.  Only the Varsity Scout Team can use the orange shoulder loops.  Those in the Venture/Varsity program, as members of Boy Scout Troops are supposed to only wear the red shoulder loops. Also, the green BSA shirt is NOT to be worn by Venture Patrol members.  That shirt is only for those in the Venturing program. Please note that the "Venture" strip is meant as an identification strip for those in a Venture Patrol, not as an award for past involvement.  The Letter is the award for participation.

Venture polo shirt

In 1989, an activity uniform consisting of a polo shirt and athletic shorts were introduced.  From 1989 through 1998, there was a maroon polo shirt with an embroidered fleur-de-lis and "venture" for the Venture Crew, but it appears to have been recently dropped, as it is no longer listed in the BSA Supply Catalog.
 
 
Venture/Varsity Shirt Strips
Venture Shirt Strip

Venture/Varsity Advancement Program
As members of Boy Scout Troops, those participating in the Venture/Varsity programs work toward the same advancement as any other Boy Scout.

However, those in the Venture/Varsity program can earn the Venture/Varsity Letter, and a variety of activity pins.  These pins were for various sports and high adventure activities.  The letter/pin would be earned over a three month period that would end in an ultimate activity. The letter could be worn on the bottom of the merit badge sash or on the right breast of a jacket.  The pins would be added to the letter for each particular activity.
 
 
Venture/Varsity Letter 
Venture/Varsity Letter
Venture/Varsity Activity pins
Backpacking Basketball Bowling Canoe Camping
Caving Cross-Country Skiing Cycling Discovering Adventure
Fishing Freestyle Biking Frontiersman Mechanics
Orienteering Rock Climbing & Rappelling Roller Hockey Shooting Sports
Snow Camping Soccer Softball Survival
Swimming Tennis Triathlon Volleyball
Waterskiing Whitewater Canoeing

Venture/Varsity Organization
Members of the in-troop Varsity program were organized into a Varsity Team.  The leader was the Varsity Team Captain and used the same office patch as the Varsity Scout Team Captain.  There was an assistant scoutmaster assigned to the group, who had a special patch as well.  When the in-troop Varsity program was dropped in 1995, so did the patches.

Members of the in-troop Venture program were first organized into a Venture Crew under the leadership of a Venture Crew Chief.  A special office patch existed for the Crew Chief and the assistant scoutmaster in charge of the group.  In 1998, to avoid confusion with the new Venturing program and its unit the Venturing Crew, members of the Venture program would be organized into a Venture patrol under the leadership of a Venture patrol leader.  Special office patches have been dropped for this group.  The Venture patrol leader would now wear the regular patrol leader patch, as no special patch has been made for this position.  Despite the fact that the position of Venture Crew Chief has been dropped, the patch is still listed in the BSA Supply Catalog.
 
 
In-troop Varsity Office Insignia (1989-95)
Assistant Scoutmaster-Varsity

 
Venture Office Insignia (1989-98)
Assistant Scoutmaster-Venture

Literature
Apart from the 26 activity pamphlets created for the activity pins, no literature specifically for the Venture/Varsity program has been produced.  What little explanation for the program exists is in the Boy Scout Handbook, Scoutmaster Handbook, and Junior Leader Handbook editions from this period.  And that has been a problem for the program from the start.  Many have had problems with implementing the program that a good booklet on the overall program would have helped avoid.  Much of the advice from the 40s and 50s to Scoutmasters trying to make use of the Senior Scout/Explorer programs of that time within the troop could just as easily be used for those trying to use the Venture program today.

The 26 activity pamphlets have been allowed to fall out of print.  They have been replaced by the new Varsity Team Program Features booklets.
 
Venture/Varsity Literature
26 activity pamphlets
Basketball, #3450; Bowling, #3467; Cross-Country Skiing, #33463; Roller Hockey,   #33462; Shooting Sports; Soccer, #3453; Softball, #3452; Swimming, #3473; Tennis, #3455; Triathlon, #3456; Volleyball, #3451; Water skiing, #3478; Backpacking; Canoe-Camping, #33468; Caving, #33446; Cycling, #3437; Discovering Adventure, #33472; Fishing, #3438; Freestyle Biking, #3447; Frontiersman, #33448; Mechanics, #3449; Orienteering; Rock Climbing, #33469; Snow Camping, #3440; Survival, #3441/#33483; Whitewater, #3465
NO PICTURES
Varsity Scout Program Features
   V1  #34837    2001, 177pg
   V2  #34838    2001, 214pg
   V3  #34839    2001, 167pg
 

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Updated: 03/01/2004mrb