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.