Q. Dear Ray,
So my council has recently rebuilt their Venturing Officers' Association (VOA). There are many who want the president to be named as a member of the council executive board and be an equal to the lodge chief. I feel that this is unfair. My lodge has given many years of service to the council and the chief is a member of the board because we do work for camp and for the council. It only makes sense that the chief be part of the board that has the final say for council. Should I petition the Scout executive not to make the VOA president a member of the council executive board? If the president is made a member, should it then be required that if he is a member of the lodge that he must pay his dues? The current president has openly made his negative feelings about the OA known.
Yours in WWW,
A troubled Brother
A. Dear "troubled Brother",
Thank you for writing. Your passion for the OA comes shining through. It is heartwarming.
Let me break my response into three:
- Should you petition the Scout executive NOT to make the VOA president a member of the council board? If you wish to discuss that with him as an individual, it is your right. But, I certainly would not do so as a representative of the OA in any way. We have earned our "seats at the table' by giving good service; our chiefs will continue to be valued for their many contributions through the lodge and by virtue of their own good insights. Having another youth on your board does not diminish the value your chief can bring to the table, nor the esteem with which we can hold our chiefs. The council nominating committee is usually the vehicle through which invitations to the board are filtered, so the Scout executive may not even be the right audience for you to address your concerns. In the event that you do wish to discuss this with anyone, you will want to be award that even the lodge chief is not automatically included as a member of council boards. It is an "invitation only" process. We suggest and recommend that our chiefs be included, but if he serves, it is by invitation, not by right.
- Those who wish to have the Venturing president serve on the council board maybe be looking at the many other councils which have invited their presidents to serve, some with distinction. The National Executive Board of the BSA has also invited the national Venturing president to participate as a member of that body. It could be that those wishing to see another youth voice on the council board are also doing so because it gets real executives and the pillars of your community in close contact with real kids so the adults can both see the terrific "outcomes" of our programs, firsthand, as well as to sit face to face with real kids who can represent all youth to the board concerning important issues from the youth perspective. More kids helping to give input to our councils is a goal of many local programs; it may be behind what is going on in your council.
- As to requiring the Venturing president to be a member in good standing with the lodge, I would suggest that every outreach and welcome should be made. Good relations and respect ought to be modeled by all, and anything you can do to make the Venturing president comfortable at lodge events is suggested. However, it cannot be mandated for the president to be a member of the lodge, ex officio, because many Venturing presidents across the country are female youth members, and could not have been elected into the Order. Also, many of the male officers in Venturing are not OA members because there is no requirement that a male member be first a Boy Scout. Many male and female members of Venturing come straight to Scouting through another path that has nothing to do with the Boy Scout or OA programs. The Scouting program wishes to serve more youth, so has opened up paths to membership outside of our traditional Boy Scout program.
All in all, I understand your concerns and wish your local Venturing president was not critical of our program. Do what you can to educate and involve him. I also hope our chief does not openly criticize Venturing, as I have observed happen as well. We all need to grow youth membership and get our one oath and one law into the daily fabric of more American youth.
As to the specifics of your question, let me summarize to say that this is not a fight I would recommend. Thank you for asking, and I hope you and your OA program continue to grow and prosper.
All my best,