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.

7 responses to “Rovers in an Identity Crisis

  1. I agree.

    As a Rover, we’re perpetually in that awkward phase that we encounter in real life between being a”kid” and being an “adult”.
    Many crews have great advisors who have minimal to no input in activities, allowing the crews to be almost wholly autonomous, but not all crews do.
    -What would happen for “crew-panies”, where some are Venturers and some Rovers? Not that Crewpanies are the best idea ever, but would there be an enforced segregation of the sections for insurance/program/age/whatever?

    Some Rovers are even parents, further calling the “youth” label into question.

    • What would be different than at the present? Technically in a “crew-pany” the > 18 Rover members would have a Duty of Care according to BP&P as well as be classified differently by the laws of the Province or Territory in which they reside. For all intensive purposes, you would likely have a company with a massive number of advisors.

      If a crew is run like a troop (with mentors driving the bus) is it really a crew or rather an “older troop” where the members do not gain as much practical experience.

  2. In the case of Crewpanies, Rovers over the ages of majority, (in BC 19.)
    Which would be the responsibility of the the advisors.

    Now, I totally agree. Rovering is the Apprenticeship of Scouting, in whatever form that takes. If that means going off to the north and working for six years and forsaking scouting? So be it. If that means being a leader at 19, and doing as much training as you can do? Great! But be establishing a free cost for rover reg, we allow for rovers to stay involved in the movement rather than putting people off with a near 150 dollars registration fee, IN addition to costs for camps.

    So yeah, Rovers have had an identity crisis, but only due to lack of leadership and examples. Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t step up, but we can’t expect every rover to step up.

    • I’d argue, are you really forsaking Scouting by moving up North and working for six years? Is Scouting something we turn on when we put on a uniform and attend a meeting or is it more so a way of life?

      One doesn’t have to be directly involved with a section to make a difference, we can build leadership skills to take Rovers wherever they want to go in life. Although we do need to be somewhat intrinsically focused having an extrinsic outlook is also good.

  3. Interesting read. One technical point I’d like to suggest for this site: is it possible to easily differentiate authors in the article posting? Maybe list who authored the article next to the posting date? It’d be helpful for the future, when you have several contributors, so everyone can keep track of everyone else.

    • Working on it. I was aware of the problem before posting, and hope to rectify it somehow.

      Currently one can find all the articles written by the author of your choice (author list on the right hand side), but not who wrote a random article.

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