Category Archives: Discussion

It’s the People (Skills), Stupid


In the past five or six years, I’ve increasingly heard the sentiment locally and through other channels that social camps are useless and have nothing to do with Scouting. After all, are there the markings of a traditional scout camp? Not really. Heck there’s even dances and jello wrestling at one of them!   Like customer service bad events are always shared with 7-10 people while good events are only shared by 1-3  and I wanted to explain with the help of some local Rovers what exactly what they are and what value they bring to the program of Venturer Scouts and Rover Scouts.  Social camps in south-western British Columbia include four (4) main events spread out over the Scouting year. There is a new social camp, Camp Coyote and some smaller Rover Moots that supplement these main program markers.

A few things that are common to all camps:

  • Each(aside from the Rover only Moots) are open to Venturer Scouts, Rover Scouts and members of Girl Guides of Canada aged 15-30 as well as their respective Advisors. It’s also open to other WOSM organizations; we’ve had Australians and Americans attend at least one of these events in any given year.
  • Camp attendance varies from 300-700 participants (Youth and Advisors) from Pacific Coast, Fraser Valley, their respective Girl Guides of Canada areas and occasionally groups from Washington State.
  • Saturday is the main day of activities, usually culminating with a dance on the Saturday night. Awards for events are typically presented at Camp Closing on Sunday morning.
  • Groups attending are responsible for everything they need for a weekend of camping, aside from program. All groups are expected to come with Advisors and their own camp forms. Advisors are responsible for their own youth at all times.
  • Any major breaches of the BP&P are handled by sending the group home immediately (even if it’s at 2am and the parents have to drive out to pick them up), and a formal complaint is lodged with Scouts Canada by the group running the camp. Minor infractions are handled at camp between the Camp Chief and group(s) involved in the mischief.
  • Most of these camps are run by volunteer staff that are aged less than 30, with the majority of planning done by youth 18-25. RoVent is the exception to this; “Friends of RoVent” do a lot of the planning and execution of this event, but are continually looking for new members to run the camp and aim for a Rover to be the Camp Chief.

Continue reading

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Uniforms: The history lesson you need to understand where we stand today

It’s been a week since Scouts Canada unveiled its new uniforms, the first time in 20 years.  Well, ignoring the Circa and Bring on the Adventure.  Both campaigns that failed miserably.  Circa was supposed to bring a modern look to the movement in Canada, instead it just served as an distraction to a sinking ship that was Scouts Canada at the time.

Back in 2005, a document was sent out to all who had email address on file and would be interested in seeing where scouting should go in the next decade. Not the best system of getting feedback but it was a start.  Slowly we’ve seen the document turn into reality.

We’ve seen electronic training for new leaders come out, so there is less time spent away from home. That can be crucial for getting new parent leaders involved and interested beyond the time their child is in the movement, or even recruiting brand new people to Scouts Canada.

We’ve seen a website that is massively better then previous generations.

And we thought this was good web design? (scouts.ca around 1998)

Only slightly better. (scouts.ca around 2004)

Part of that plan is to make camps more usable for scout groups, and I can attest to seeing the results.These sites aren’t only a place to camp, but are building up activities available there for minimal usage cost. Camp Byng for example now has a Frisbee disc golf course, an archery range, and a soon to be high ropes course, among other things. Plus we can make the camps useful for corporate retreats and such. Apparently having a group of adults learning how to work together to climb over a wall is teambuilding. Imagine that!

What I’m trying to get at is that changing the uniform is part of a multi-pronged offensive to get Canadians part of an organization where the core program can benefit all.  Getting rid of outdated ideas and misinformation in terms of getting rid of the stereotypes is part of the reason Scouts Canada is updating.

Let’s talk to Our Chief Scout.

BP on brownsea island, wearing a tie. This guy is classy, ALL the time! Also, not a Zombie.

When Scouting for Boys was published, it was assumed that boys would form troops within other organizations and wear the scout badge on that uniform in addition to the other groups various bits.  Obviously Scouting grew far too quickly for that to work and BP laid out his vision of uniform which was relatively cheap and easy to get.

Which it is now.

So let’s actually compare uniforms shall we?  Continue reading

A Rover Doesn’t Just…

Note: A Rover doesn’t just paint fish onto drains to remind people that those drain run straight into fish habitat.

No, a Rover would find a source of paint, get the entire Area involved, sign up troops, companies and crews, map out routes to be covered, distribute the paint, stencils and routes, organize the press to get involved, and have hot chocolate, a hot dog and a badge delivered to each participant.


A Rover doesn’t just go to camp.

Photo by Flikr user Markeburge with permission

No, Rovers are the type to organize, plan and staff a senior sections camp for both Scouting and Guiding with over 500 in attendance, and wear the most awesome costume for the theme because it is shamelessly ridiculous and singing “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate” word for word at the top of their lungs, while directing traffic and welcoming campers with a smile on their face and in their hearts even though they’ve been up for 30 hours and won’t get much sleep for the rest of the weekend.


A Rover doesn’t just sign a petition for a new park.

Photo by Flikr user Taekwonweirdo under CC

No, A Rover would be the one organizing the effort, rounding up people to get signatures, pushing the media for more attention, getting university students to figure out the economic impact of the addition of the park, pushing politicians and calling bureaucrats, presenting the final stack of signatures before the city council, and then holding the feet of the decision makers to the fire once they decide to go forward.
Oh you better believe there’s more →

New Major Rover Award

A recent monthly bulletin from our Chief Commissioner announced the opportunity to join the team developing a new award for Rovers in our country.

Which means there will be a new top-tier award for Rovers, akin to the Chief Scout and Queen’s Venturer!

So naturally I applied (on the last day possible).
B.P. must have been smiling down on me that week, because I was accepted onto the team of eight from across the country.

But enough about me, lets talk Rover Award!

So what is this new Award?

Continue reading

Rovers in an Identity Crisis


Crisis: Princeton’s dictionary via Google defines the word crisis as

A crucial stage or turning point in the course of something

So why would I say Rovers are in a crisis? Simply put, Rovering in Canada has an identity crisis:  Is it a development program,  a social club, a service organization?

Do we treat Rovers as being less than capable and needing to be hand-held into the leadership positions they choose to take?  Are Rovers not capable of assuming leadership positions right now, letting the “old guard” take a rest?

At present Scouts Canada in terms of process / membership database purposes defines Rovers as being a “youth” section bundled with Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Venturers.  When you register as a Rover, officially you are supposed to use the “Youth” form and pay the “Youth” fee.

Comparing Venturers with Rovers is like comparing the United States and Canada.  Sure, they both share the same parent organization or continent but there is no bigger difference in sections between the two. In Venturers you are dealing with a population that primarily is high school based, is living at home and for the most part, is still has a fairly regular schedule of school and then post education activities.

In Rovers, we have a wide range of demographics, many are in post secondary schools of their choice, some are in the working world straight out of high school and yet several more are in the workforce after finishing post secondary degrees.

In addition, most Rovers are section leaders, the vast majority have at least Woodbadge I, many have Woodbadge II or more.  For all intents and purposes, Rovers are operating way more in a volunteer capacity than a “needs to be structured” youth capacity.

So, why are we still sticking the “youth” label on Rovers?  For many entering post secondary they want to shed the “youth” label, operate more independently as adults.  If we label someone in the same pack as the younger sections we are likely going to treat them subconsciously in a closer manner to the younger sections than we are to other volunteers.

What can we do about it?


First of all, let’s move Rovering to a new registration form, let’s have 3 forms, the BCSV form, the Rover form and the Volunteer form.  The only difference between the Volunteer form and the Rover form is the Rover form entitles one to participate in Rover focused events / camps etc.  We require the PRC/reference check to volunteer with any other capacity anyways so just bundle all of that in.  If we had Rovers self-identify we would have an (reasonably) accurate count of how many Rovers we have.  Right now the only valid statistic is by a birth date age range search.  The “registered as Rovers” number is a fraction, as few as a third of the real amount.

Technically according to the book of all (BP&P) Rovers are in a separate category, a hybrid youth/volunteer.  In short, Rovers don’t fall into either category cleanly.

Let’s drop the Rover fee and make Rovers the one section where national eats the insurance fee.  In a lot of cases Rovers are relatively poor post secondary students.  Many Councils are moving to not charge volunteers a penny to volunteer. We have an even greater case for Rovers than we do for the general population to not charge fees.

Finally, let’s work on the organizational culture so that Rovers are seen as volunteers who also happen to be in an amazing leadership development program.  For marketing purposes, let’s brand and position it as such.

Making these simple changes moves Rovering in terms of our subconscious mind from the same pack as BCSV and into the pack of fellow volunteers and leaders, because frankly, they are.


Rover Round Table Vs National Youth Network Part 2: Seeing RED

That was that, this is now

So I left off Part 1 with the pro’s and con’s of the National Youth Network (NYN); mainly that it provides necessary (for our organization) learning experiences, but for only a small number of youth. The other side of this particular discussion is the the Rover Round Table (RRT). This provides similar life lessons to a broader number of youth, but to a different degree.

The Model

There has been some small momentum over the last few years to properly form a RRT in my council (Pacific Coast Council); sadly way too small for my liking. Over time, I’ve had the chance to slowly perfect my mental model of how the RRT would fit into the current system. It was only quite recently that all the pieces truly fell into place in such a way that they supported each other. I’d like to share that model with you today.

The Rover Round Table should be treated equally to an Area Service Team, and consequently the RRT Mate treated equally to an Area Commissioner.


Obviously the RRT does not service a geographical area within a council, but Continue reading

Rover Round Table Vs National Youth Network Part 1: Fight!

Ok, so I don’t think they should fight/bicker/not get along

I believe they fill two different yet complementary roles. The inspiration for this article arose yesterday when an email was sent out to Rovers/Venturers announcing a call for applications for the position of Assistant National Youth Commissioner – West. (Although not all Rovers it seems. I would chalk that up to MMS not having Rover as a primary or secondary role.)

This position’s role [.PDF] is to service and support the seven western Council Youth Commissioners, and assist the National Youth Commissioner.

The Twitter-verse-ation

The conversation in the Twitter Universe

That’s where the discussion started. Where it ended up was quite different. At a high level synopsis, the merits and effectiveness of the NYN were the main discussion points. Some believed the whole exercise of appointing some handpicked kid (as young as 14), giving them a fancy title, and then have a group of them making decisions for the country to be nothing short of asinine. Others piped in that we wouldn’t have to tack on the youth voice to the structure as an afterthought if we remained connected to the youth. The other main point was its ineffectiveness.

While not completely, I agree all three of these arguments have some elements of truth. Continue reading