Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tom's Biography


I am married to my incredible and amazing wife Jeannette for over 25 years. We met at Univ. of Georgia and began dating and married when I was in the Navy. We have two beautiful daughters Rachael and Rebecca.  I couldn't be prouder of them.

Growing up

I moved around a lot as my dad was a contract Engineer for MANY government contractors. mostly in the burgeoning US Aerospace industry and NASA programs. In fact I was born the very day Apollo 11 Lifted off for the Moon. He worked for Grumman on the Lunar Lander at the time.

Youth Scouting

Boy Scouts was the one constant in my young life. As I moved from one place to another, I would find a new Troop to call home. I was in five troops before I turned 18. At the time, I appreciated the leadership skills I developed on Summer Camp staff over advancement. Finally, I completed my Eagle award just before my 18th Birthday.

U.S. Navy

As a means to pay for my college degree, I enlisted in the Navy early in 1990. After a delayed entry, I went to Boot Camp in Orlando Florida in May of 1990. The Navy Nuclear Program was very challenging for me. Graduating from the Machinist Mate school, then Nuclear Field A School, I went to Prototype Training in Charleston, SC. Serving aboard the USS South Carolina from February 1992 till the end of my enlistment. I held about every job in my division including Reactor Plant Maintenance Supervisor and Engine Room Supervisor. While in the Navy, I completed as many college courses while underway as I could, correspondence courses and tested out of many college level courses.


I completed my Bachelor's of Science Degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology in Applied Science from Thomas Edison State College.

Duke Energy

I am a Senior Technical Writer and a former Plant Operations Specialist. I create and edit various plant operating procedures and administrative guides.

Adult Scouting

I started as an adult scouting leader right after moving to Gastonia. I went to the 1996 Leader program kickoff and was introduced to many leaders that helped me gain a grounding in being a real Scouter. That Fall I completed the Scoutmaster Basics course and Outdoor Leader Skills course. The next Spring I completed Woodbadge course SR-201 held at Camp Bud Schiele in Rutherfordton, NC. Finishing my 'Ticket' in the Summer of 1997, dedicated to becoming all I could as a Scouter to give back to the program that gave me so much.

Troop 58

I served as Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop Committee and as Troop Committee Chairman.


I have been the Unit Commissioner since 2007 and Assistant District Commissioner since 2010. I have presented many Adult Leader training events from 1997 to the present.

Troop 6

I served as Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop Committee Chairman and now serve on the Troop Committee.

Crew 6

Crew 6 was founded so that I could share scouting with my daughters. I hadn't known much about Venturing at the time but have built a level of knowledge to now present the Venturing Advisor Specific training course. Up to this point, I had been giving back to scouting what it had given me. Now I am sharing this amazing program with my own children. 

Ship 459

Ship was founded in 2017 to much success. I'm serving on the committee right now. Sea Scouting has a rich and storied history. I look forward to being a part of the Ship program.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Do you need the new Venturer's Handbook?

Issued just after the new Venturing Program was announced, the Handbook for Venturers was released by the BSA. The new Handbook incorporates the brand new Venturing Awards system. With emphasis on the new ALPS model for Venturing Awards/advancemnt the new guide offers a lot to Venturers. These awards requires more and better record keeping. This should be completed and tracked on an individual basis and at the crew level.  This new book has signoffs for the completion of the requirements for these awards. Unlike Boy Scouts, a Venturer may go some considerable time between requirement completions. So, one place to OFFICIALLY sign off these requirements is a good thing. It is not the responsibility of ANY leader to keep track of the crew's award progress. It is our moral duty to encourage them to push themselves to do there best and you should take that duty very seriously.

So, what's in it?
A detailed book review on the Handbook is not needed here but here is a brief overview of what you will find:
  • Basic structure of Scouting and Venturing
  • A breakdown of the Venturing ALPS program model
  • Leading and planning crew events, adventures and service to others
  • Resources for you and your crew
  • A place to record your Venturing journey and track progress on Venturing Awards
The Handbook for Venturers is an excellent way to keep track of your requirements, Service hours, outings, training etc.  We Scout Leaders are old and feable.  We need help remembering who did what when.  With one definative place to track these requirements then everyone has to keep ownership of their own advancement.  It's really about self-reliance and accountability.  Which are not bad traits if you ask me.  Just don't ask me who attended Crew Officer's Orientation two years ago!

So, what's NOT in it?
The Handbook is not a Boy Scout Handbook.  It does not contain any scout skills other than Leadership.  I advise active Venturers to get the BSA Fieldbook.  This book contains everything the a Venturer needs to succeed in the outdoors.  Firestarting, cold weather camping, knife/ax care and use, canoeing, etc. This is an AWESOME book!  I can't stress that enough.  If you want to know how to do something in the outdoors at a proficient level, this is where you start.

It's available from the official BSA store here:
Scoutstuff - Handbook for Venturers

Requirements for Venturing, Ranger, Quest and Trust Awards
(simular in look to the Handbook for Venturers but has a red cover)
Venturing Awards and Requirements

BSA Fieldbook - I recommend the spiral bound copy to last
BSA Fieldbook at Scoutstuff.org

BSA Fieldbook - Digital copy for Kindle

Yours in Venturing,
Advisor Tom Dewey

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Five Things I Learned Starting a Venturing Crew.

I started a new Crew in 2013. We faced many hurdles the first year. We had to learn together what Venturing was all about. We made mistakes and we had successes. Just after our first summer of camping and National Youth Leader Training, which I had 3 crew members attend. Things began to improve drastically. We completed our first year with a Journey to Excellence Gold Award. A measure of success that shows you can have an active, youth run crew.

I've learned that the two primary responsibilities of an Advisor are Youth Leadership Development and Annual Program Planning. Everything else supports this or gets in the way. Here are a few things that I've learned along the way to help with these responsibilities.
  • A POSITIVE ATTITUDE IS A RECRUITING TOOL: Having a positive attitude can move mountains! But it takes time. Always have a 2 minute "elevator" speech ready to explain with a positive attitude what Venturing is to a new acquaintance. Your crew must recruit year-round. Have a recruiting plan and implement it. Find your own positive scout spirit to get you though the tough times. 
  • YOUTH PLANNED PROGRAM:  The best recruiting tool is an active, youth planned, annual program. This doesn't mean you lock them in a room and don't let them out until they have an annual program. You do what Advisors do, you guide them through the process. The process described in the Handbook for Venturers.  
  • BE A MENTOR:  The little things are important. Be a guide and mentor to your crew. Ask them about what means the most to them, go to their dance/theater performances, games and award ceremonies. A mentor is not the same as a friend. Your goal is not to tell them what they want to hear, but what will help them succeed in life!
  • BE FLEXIBLE:  Each Scout has to find their own way down the Scouting trail. Some will not go backpacking and some won't go to a museum, some want to just socialize and some are hard core campers.Your success or failure as an Advisor does not depend on how many Venturers go on a 50 miler trip. Be open to finding an unexpected adventure.
  • SHARING OUR VALUES IS WHY YOU ARE HERE:  Scouting values are important to Venturers as well as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Remind them that the the Scout Oath and Law can help them as they become adults. They will face may challenges as they mature. The Oath and Law are tools they can use to help them make good choices. Relating Scouting values to teens is not easy. They think that they know it all. If you are honest you did too when you were that age.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What is a Venturing Crew "Annual Program"?

Annual Program Planning

The Annual Program is simply what we do as Venturers.  EVERYTHING we do. whether it's fun stuff, service, meetings, crew activities or Scouting events.  Sometimes the Program gets lost in the rush of Scouting schedules. First you have to start with the Annual Program buckets.  Lets break it down.

These buckets can be simplified into a well known Venturing acronym, ALPS.

  1. Adventure: Camp outs, outings and Scouting events
    • Outings: Camping, Backpacking, over night travel, Tier II, etc.
    • Day Trips: hiking, museums, movies, putt putt, Tier I, etc. 
    • Large Scouting Events: Area and Regional events, Council VOA events, National Jamboree, World Jamboree etc.  
    • Super Activity: Also called Tier III event (4 days or more) - High Adventure Camp, week long trips, YOUTH MUST PLAN, A traditional summer camp where everything is pre-planned might not be a Tier III.  
  2. Leadership: ILSC (Introduction to Leadership Skills for Crews) and NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training) AND implementation of the whole Youth Led Venturing Program itself.
  3. Personal Growth: Crew Leadership, Advancement opportunities and training like Goal Setting and Time Management.
    • Fundraising: Fundraising events need to be the Venturer's choice, not the committee/adult's. Crew ownership of the Fundraising is an important part of the program. These involve salesmanship and leadership skills that every Venturer should have.
  4. Service: Multiple Crew service projects should be scheduled over the year, include at least one for your Charter Organization. This provides character development through Community service, Charter Organization service and scouting service/promotion. Again, it is important to let the youth decide which projects to do. 

Preparation for the Annual Planning Conference (APC) starts with a survey of the youth of which activities they'd like to do.

Then you will need to gather some things for the APC:

  • Youth Survey
  • Program Capability Inventory
  • Council Calendar
  • High School Calendar - we have Scouts from 5 or 6 School Districts
  • High Adventure Camp or Jamboree Information
  • Venturing Handbook
  • Training Calendar
  • Troop/Charter Calendar
  • Program Features Vol. I, II & III

Utilize the Venturing BSA's official website for Program Planning where you can find forms, calendars, budgets, spreadsheets and step by step guidance for Program Planning.


Next Level Tips 

Use your calendar to develop a basic skills instruction plan with the Table of Contents fron the Program Features book. For example,
you are planning a Backpacking trip, the month BEFORE the trip you will have skills instruction on Backpacking from the Program Features book. You just need a TOPIC for each month. Details can be worked out at the monthly Officer's Meetings.

Distribute the calendar to all parents and youth.  Even better, have an online calendar like google calendar.

Have an APC camp out or retreat away from your normal meeting spot. This will allow for more creativity.

Good luck and remember, the best thing you can do to promote your crew is a good program!

Below is an example of one of our past Annual Program Plans:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

One Year To A Youth Led Crew

Adapted by Tom Dewey  9/29/15

Both youth leaders and adult Scouters learn from their training that crews should be led by the youth. Countless crews in councils across America have met this challenge, your crew can too. What you need is a road map to success. A step‑by‑step plan so that they are on the same path that Lord Robert Baden-Powel created for us over a hundred years ago. This program year is as good a time to set goals to meet our vision of a Youth Led Crew.

1.   You have to step in when safety is an issue or there are behavior problems.Safety and the well-being of the scouts is a Advisors' first job. 
2.   Communicate
Tell the youth leaders and the Crews Committee about why a youth led crew is so important.  Ask for their support and patience.  Communication is key when changing the status quo.
3.   Set a date for an ILSC Training Conference
Ask for help at the Council VOA meeting, someone there has done the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Crews before. Use the ILSC Syllabus and power point (If desired).  This is usually a 6 hour course that can be split up into 2 or 3 sessions, one long day or over a special training camp out. Repeat this training every year. Let the scouts progressively take this over.
4.   Crew Officers, Crew Officers, Crew Officers.   
Crew Officer meetings are needed once a month for about 30 minutes and maybe 5 min at the end of each meeting. More may be needed in the first 6 months to get the ball rolling.  The Crew Officers are at the heart of a Scout Led Crew.
5.   Conduct an Annual Planning Conference.
With a survey of the scouts, tentative schedule and troop/district/school calendars, computer based training is available at Scouting.org on how to conduct an effective Annual Planning Conference. The Crew President and Advisor together direct the APC.
6.   If a scout asks for help, send him to the President or Activity Chair.  
Whatever it is, small or large, don't do it for the leader. You take away his/her authority.
7.   If something needs to get done, call for the President or Activity Chair not an individual scout. Let them delegate as he/she sees fit.  As the famous scout leader Green "Bar" Bill used to say "Train 'em, Trust 'em and Let 'em lead." 
8.   Send one or two scouts a year to NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training).
There is some kind of magic about taking scouts out of their normal Crew and teaching leadership skills that they can't get with their regular buddies in the Crew. NYLT is the greatest leadership program in Scouting, period. The leadership skills they learn there help them throughout their lives.
9.   Keep with it, persistence is the key. 
      It gets easier each month. You will notice a step change after the first group completes NYLT. Then support their leadership at every meeting and outing. Give the youth leaders the confidence they need to be effective leaders.
10. Beware of good intentions.
Keep adult leaders, parents and committee members focused on the goal. From the outside, some may see the Youth Led Crew as a chaotic, leadership vacuum when they are learning and growing with each leadership opportunity.

This tool was originally developed as part of my Doctorate of Commissioner Science Thesis on Developing a Boy Led Troop in 2012. It was adapted in 2015 for use in Venturing crews. Original material can be found at http:/www.piedmontcouncilbsa.org/programs/scoutmaster-resources/50598. Please credit source material and use it freely.  This material is not an official publication of the Boy Scouts of America. Nor is it meant to take place of leader training or manuals.  

What does a successful crew look like?

Taking what I learned working as a Boy Scout leader for many years, I have applied it to our Venturing crew. Two years after founding the crew, I feel like I’m just beginning to get how Venturing is different and similar. And more importantly, how to take advantage of this knowledge. I’ve tried to adapt the concept of the “Patrol Method” into a “Venturing Method”.  It’s really more of an exploration exercise than a complete principle. This blog has helped me see what the program can be. A wonderful age-appropriate extension of the Scouting movement! 

We don’t have very many Venturing crews in our council. But, we do have a functioning VOA (Venturing Officers Association) with a great annual program. The Council Venturing Officers Association is another great way for youth to develop and grow leadership skills. I love these Venturers but I couldn't find that model for a successful crew I was looking for.  

The Advisor Handbook covers a lot of details but not the basic youth Leadership development principles that lead to a successful crew, Youth leadership development through training and a great annual program. The best resource for finding what scouting should be about is Clarke Green at scoutmastercg.com. He conveys the principle of living the Scout Oath and Law through youth leadership development.

There are three things that lead to a successful crew: PROGRAM, PROGRAM, PROGRAM. A program that is planned and executed by the youth. An Advisors job is to set them up for success with youth leadership development. Word will spread slowly about the crew's annual program, how fun it is and that the youth plan and execute it all.

One other thing I believe helps build a successful crew is a sense of legacy and tradition in a crew.  We have a candle that I built just for our induction ceremonies. Another example is our tradition of attending certain events like our annual Southern Region Area 5 event ironically called The Legacy.  

One of my proudest moments as an Advisor was having a room full of Venturers, in uniform, at our Court of Honor a few weeks ago and the journey that led to that event. A journey that begins with brainstorming, planning and ends with a great Start, Stop, Continue review. A review to use what we have learned to plan the next event.  

Successful Venturing Crews: always building, mentoring and growing the program, Venturing and the Crew.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Venturing Crew 6 Honors Local Scouts

Venturing Crew 6 recently hosted their semi-annual Court of Honor. A Court of Honor is a special ceremony to recognize crew members that have achieved awards in scouting.
That evening, Venturing Crew 6 honored its members who had completed the requirements for recognition in various programs offered in venturing. Acknowledging the importance of the support they received from fellow members, while meeting their own individual goals and requirements.
In 2014, Venturing underwent some changes; one of the major changes that were implemented was the new advancement program. The venturing awards and recognition program is designed to help venturers grow in the areas of adventure, leadership, personal development, and service. Awards serve as benchmarks that give venturers a structure for developing their own personal vision into manageable goals that lead to recognition by their peers, mentors, and the larger community.
The new venturing award program has four levels, the Venturing Award, the Discovery Award, the Pathfinder Award, and the Summit Award. Crew 6 presented its members who had earned awards under this advancement program. 

To earn the Venturing Award, scouts must agree to live by the Scout Oath and Law, go on a Crew Outing or camping trip, learn about Person Safety and discuss joining the crew with the adult Advisor.
Seven Venturers met these requirements for the Venturing Award; Nicholas Jenkins (also an Eagle Scout), Imani Floyd, Jacob Ingram, William Morton, Angie Ward and Gunnar Hester.
To earn the Discovery Award, Venturers must participate in a district, council, area, region or National Venturing event. They realize benefits that they have gained from their training for leadership and for service. Venturers rush on, working, serving, and leading. And as they go, they set one personal growth goal related to each of the following areas, citizenship, leadership, service to others, community/family, outdoor experience, and total fitness. They must plan, prepare for, and lead to completion two crew activity projects.
Six Venturers me all the requirements for the Discovery Award; Will Carpenter, Rachael Dewey, Zachery Dixon, Renee' Gomez, Elissa Miller and Haley Saunders (currently working on her Girl Scout Gold Award).  
Angie Ward and Haley Saunders were recognized for completing a week-long National Youth Leadership Training Course held at Camp Bud Schiele this past Summer.

Crew 6 also recognized Crew President Renee' Gomez for her rather unique skill as the official Crew 6 Zombie makeup artist. She has used this skill at many events that the crew has participated in like the Annual Gastonia, NC Zombie Walk for charity and our own annual event Zombie Survival Weekend.  In this event, participants have to compete in scout survival skill challenges in a competition event, while being chased by zombies! 
Venturing Crew 6 meets weekly Sundays in Gastonia at the Family Life Center of First Baptist Church of Gastonia. More information on the crew can be found at www.facebook.com/pages/Venturing-Crew-6 or contact Crew Advisor Tom Dewey at thdewey@gmail.com.