The Guide to a Voyageurs Program
Being Called to Teen Ministry Every Cadet club has a few boys who “graduate” from R•P•B or Guide Trails programs but aren’t ready to leave their cadeting years behind. If you have been the counselor of one or more of these boys during their cadeting experience, it may tug at your heart to see these boys leave when you know they’ll miss the camp outs and snow derbies and you’ll miss their enthusiasm. But your head tells you that it’s hard to justify creating a program for such a small number of boys and you will, reluctantly, let these boys go, x but have you considered? — • Although the numbers may be small for your particular club, there may be other clubs in your area that have a similar situation, and if those clubs are within reasonable driving distance you may want to combine resources to form a Voyageur group with members from several churches. • That older teens — especially ones that have been faithful in their club participation, may be very good at helping design and implement their own program, making the work load for you as a counselor, lighter. So if just one or two boys are interested in Voyageurs it may be easier to implement the program than you think, and certainly worth the time you would invest. Of course any ministry, no matter how big or small, requires prayerful consideration. Look through this material, talk to the boys who will be potential members, talk to family and friends, and talk to the Lord x and be open to His answers. It is important that your step into the world of Voyageurs be a spirit-filled step. If you feel called to this ministry — fantastic! Be ready to be blessed by this opportunity as much as you hope to be a blessing.
Belonging It is the natural, God-given, desire of everyone to want to “belong” to something. Groups empower us. Groups influence us. And it is especially important for teenagers to feel part of a group. Unfortunately that desire will often take them in wrong directions as is seen by the proliferation of the gang culture in our society. Gangs have often filled a void that appears in our society’s push to create “mega-institutions” like large schools where kids can often get lost in the crowd and the chances of making a sports team or academic group. Where will a teenage boy turn if he’s not into competitive sports or he is intelligent but not in the top ten percent that makes the honor societies or academic clubs? A Voyageurs club is a great alternative for many young men.
Interest Area Ideas
Here are some possible Voyageurs club activities. These are just to get you going. Be creative in your approach to an area of interest that you and the boys share. Backpacking: Learning about equipment, practicing outdoor survival skills, first aid, planning a backpacking trip, culminating in a backpacking trip over several days. Bicycling (Road or Mountain): Learning bicycle maintenance, safety equipment, and riding techniques. Take training rides and a season ending grand tour. Kayaking (White Water or Sea): Learning the fundamental kayaking skills, water safety, and first aid. Canoeing: Learning the fundamental canoeing skills, water safety, and first aid • Year-end week long canoe trip Hunting (Rifle, Muzzle loading, Bow): Take a hunter safety course, build a rifle, study the habitat and biology of the game animals, and enjoy several hunting outings during the season. Fishing: Build a fishing rod, study the habitat and biology of several fish species, and experience several fishing outings during the season. Aviation: Take ground school, Study the physics of flight, field trip to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, and take flying lessons. Environmental Studies: Work with your local land conservancy group to develop a plan for a piece of property that they have recently acquired. Birding: Learn to identify birds by visual markings or their calls, build a list of birds you have seen and where they were seen or heard. Take a trip to participate in or observe the World Series of Birding. Skiing (Nordic or Alpine): Learn ski technique, winter survival, ski equipment, culminating in a ski race or ski tour. Winter Camping: Learn winter survival, study the history of polar exploration, take an excursion to a large outdoor equipment retailer, plan and participate in a winter camp out of several days in length. Cabinet Making: Learn the tools and skills of fine woodworking culminating in the creation of a piece of fine furniture. Photography/Video Production: Study photographic technique, learn the history of photography, and create a series of images that are framed and hung in a year-end “show” of your work or outline a story, write a script, direct actors, edit, and produce a short drama. Snorkeling: Complete a Red Cross or Saint John’s swimming course, study coral reef biology, excursion to an aquarium, and prepare for a trip to a snorkeling destination. Sailing: Refurbish an old sailboat, complete a water safety course, study the history of sailing, and plan several sailing excursions. Community Service: Research the needs of your community and implement a program to help fill one of those needs or plug into an existing program that serves the community. Ministry Exploration: Interview pastors, missionaries, lay ministers, and evangelists, become a member of your church’s mission committee, and prepare an evangelistic campaign to reach your church’s neighborhood. Computer Programming: Learn the code for the Unix system on Apple computers, create your own simple video game, Take a trip to Cupertino, California, and tour the Apple headquarters, and attend the MacWorld Exposition.
Planning a Voyageur Season
Look over the above list of possible interest areas that a counselor could use to create a ministry to teenage boys. This list is far from exhaustive but it gives you an idea of how you could use a hobby, interest area, or skill, to build a relationship with a teenager. And it isn’t necessary that you are well seasoned in this interest area. It can be a good experience to learn along side the boys rather than be strictly “the teacher.” Look for and be ready to use other gifted adults to teach a session of your Voyageur meetings. Many retail establishments that sell the equipment needed for your chosen skill or activity are very eager to provide you with information or training in exchange for opportunity to gain a little exposure for the products they sell. A typical ministry that is built around a interest, hobby or skill will begin with meetings that teach the fundamentals of the skill or hobby and any safety concerns while participating in the activity. Then there may be some projects or events that help the boys practice the skills they’ve learned, and finally planning for a “graduation event” — some type of goal for your season of learning and practicing. Of course most gatherings of your Voyageur group will include a devotional or sharing time that integrates your activity with God’s work in their lives. Look at the column to the left for a example schedule for a Voyageur season.
Unfortunate but Necessary If you have been involved in other Cadet programs you should have seen the booklet on child abuse that the CCC provides with all counselor’s manuals. If you have not read this booklet, please do so. It is an unfortunate fact of life that there are adults who will take advantage of teens and teens who will use accusations to discredit an adult. Preventing situations that makes these accusations and advantages possible is a key to avoiding these issues from arising. This booklet helps you understand and prevent child abuse issues. Contact the Cadet office for your copy.
Let’s look at an example of a Voyageur season, using the fishing interest area.
In early summer, a couple months prior to having your first meeting, you call a couple of the boys that expressed interest in a Voyageur group and ask them to help you plan a program for the year. You took these boys fishing a couple times in the past two years and they’ve always been eager to go fishing with you and eager to learn. So when you suggest fishing as the activity you’d like to focus on, they say they’re “on board” with the idea.
The first step to putting together the program is research. The boys are well versed in internet research so that’s where they begin. Using a search engine and the key words “Fishing instruction” they find the site “http://fishing.about.com/od/basicfishinginstruction/”. Here is an extensive list of articles on fishing — everything from short paragraphs on getting twists out of fishing line to longer articles on why one person enjoys fishing. There is plenty of material here to form the foundation for instruction at several meetings. They print out several articles that they find particularly interesting, and you file them in your Voyageur resource file.
One of the boys lives near a sporting goods store so he agrees to stop in on a Saturday morning and inquire if there is anyone available (preferably the store owner or manager) who would be interested in talking about fishing to a group of boys — specifically about equipment. He finds that they are eager to come to one of your meetings and show off the equipment that they sell. The sporting goods store also has a collection of DVDs on fishing techniques that they loan out — an excellent tool for a couple of your meetings. Then there are the Bible Lessons. You take the lead here and go back to the internet and search on Amazon.com for “devotional” and “teen” and find “Revolution: The Bible for Teen Guys” and Josh McDowell’s “One Year Book of Youth Devotions.” Both receive good reviews and your positive experiences with Josh McDowell’s other materials seem to make these a good choice so you go ahead and order them.
When talking to some friends after church you mention that you are thinking of starting a teenage Cadet group centered around fishing. One of the friends mentions that he knows that Bill Symons, an elder in the church, is really into fly tying and fly fishing. Now you have another great connection. After a few phone calls you have a commitment from Bill for at least one meeting during the year and a possible outing to see his fly fishing technique in action. A couple years ago, on your family camping trip, you stopped at a Provincial Department of Natural Resources fish hatchery. They had an excellent tour of their facility that explained how they manage the game fishing industry in their area. A few phone calls later and you have a commitment from them to give your group a personal tour. One of the DNR officers you talked to suggested that you get in touch with a gentleman from a local sportsman’s club who has been a lifelong fisherman and is particularly good at talking with kids about the sport. You have another great resource lined up.
One dream you’ve always had is a week-long canoe/fishing trip into the lakes of the Algonquin Provincial Park in Northern Ontario. You feel this would be an excellent season ending event for the boys. You call several outfitters in the Algonquin area after an internet search on “Algonquin” and “Outfitters” leads you to: “http://algonquinoutfitters.com/algonquin-park/fishing/”. You plan to propose this to the boys as a reward for being faithful in attending and participating in the group’s activities.
And you also have some strong feelings about the group experiencing a service project. The first thing that comes to mind is the Bible’s reference to being “fishers of men” That would be a great theme for the devotions and service aspect of your group. The reference from the Bible is a direct call to spread the Good News. You place a call to the head of your church’s missions committee and ask about possible involvement of your group in any projects that they’re planning. You find out that the committee has been talking about a “spring break” trip to an inner city mission that is working with Habitat for Humanity to build housing. Sounds like a great project for some strong young men.
Of course, there will be some expense involved in both the fishing trip and the service project, so there will be some fund-raising to take care of. You don’t like the idea of just selling stuff to raise money so you look into the possibility for service work in the community. A friend who works for the city tells you that the city pays for groups to do clean-up work after the Christmas parade. You sign up for that. And then you read about a boys’ club that solicits pledges for neighborhood clean-ups so you make a note of that. Now that you have an idea of what you would like to accomplish during your season, it helps to create a meeting schedule for the year. It won’t be set in stone. There may be conflicts with the boys’ schedules, but this preliminary schedule helps create a guide for the year — outlining the things you want to accomplish.
Based on the research you and the boys have done and the commitments you’ve gathered, you put a schedule together that looks something like the list below. With a few exceptions, you expect to have your regular meetings every other week. Outings and fund-raising projects will take up an occasional evening or Saturday morning. Each regular meeting will have a devotional time. The boys will take turns leading the devotions. September 7 • Organizational Meeting • Planning for the year
September 21 • Regular Meeting • Study Fish Biology
October 5 • Regular Meeting • Fisherman’s Code
October 8 • Saturday Morning • Field trip to the fish hatchery
October 19 • Regular Meeting • Bill teaching Fly Tying
November 2 • Regular Meeting • Planning for Spring trip
November 16 • Regular Meeting • Natural resources officer talk
November 25 • Parade Clean-up
November 30 • Regular Meeting • Sporting goods store workshop
December 7 • Regular Meeting • Video of Top Fishing Techniques
December 21 • Christmas Party
January 4 • Regular Meeting • Planning for Spring Trip
January 18 • Regular Meeting • Making Ice Fishing Tip-ups
January 21 • Saturday Morning • Ice fishing outing
February 1 • Regular Meeting • Building a fishing rod
February 15 • Regular Meeting • Building a fishing rod — continued
March 1 • Father / Son Night
March 15 • Regular Meeting • Finish fishing rod building
March 29 • Regular Meeting • Finalize plans for Algonquin trip
April 3–8 • Spring Break • Service Project
April 19 • Bill teaching fly fishing technique
April 29 • Fly fishing outing with Bill
May 6 • Neighborhood Clean-up
May 17 • Regular Meeting • Video of Algonquin Provincial Park
May 31 • Equipment Prep for fishing/canoeing trip
June 19–24 • Algonquin trip
Re-cap The key to putting together a Voyageur group is taking advantage of resources, planning, and team work. Resources: The internet is an incredible tool to get the information you need, and indirectly it can point you to publications or periodicals that can help you, but don’t forget the people in your community, especially your church community, that are great resources (including moms and dads of the boys). Just let your needs be known, and you’ll be surprised how many gifted people who you work with, socialize with, or worship with that would love to help you out. Check out the Voyageurs Resources link. Planning: Develop a schedule for your year early on in the group’s development process. It will provide a road map and goals that will keep the club on track. It isn’t a problem that you may not get commitments for workshop leaders or outing leaders that early in the process — the schedule can flex. But at least you know where you want to be. Teamwork: See yourself and the young men as a team. Give them responsibilities to develop parts of the program. You will be amazed as to how a teenager can “rise to the occasion” if presented with a challenge. And the side benefit is it means less work for you.
The traditional resources for written information are, of course, the library (community and college) and local bookstores.
Human resources are always great. If you can find someone in your community or church who has expertise in your voyageurs interest area, and they are good at communicating their experiences, grab hold of that opportunity! Nothing builds enthusiasm like personal interaction. Ask your expert to provide demonstrations, tell stories, or involve the boys in a dramatic reenactment of his/her experiences. The more senses (hearing touching, smelling, etc) you involve in the teaching process, the better your boys will learn. The key to finding the right people to help you is to network. Let friends and family know what you are planning to do with your Voyageur group and tell them to ask their friends and family if they know of anyone who is involved in your group’s study area.
Cadet Corps Materials
Take a look at our on-line catalog to see if there are materials that may be helpful. The booklets of the Guide Trails program are an especially good resource. For example, many voyageur groups will use the Woodsman Guide Trails booklet as foundational information for their program that focuses on backpacking.
The Internet is an amazing world-wide resource. If you don’t have a computer and internet connection at home, or feel inadequate in using this resource, spend some time at your local library or community college, where there are people who will help you get up to speed. Chances are, most of your boys use the Internet for their school work and can help you discover the best way to use search engines to find what you’re looking for.
Here are a few internet links that may assist you in developing your Voyageur program.
On-line Search Engines
Outdoor Gear (for biking, hiking, camping, kayaking, hunting, etc)
Dr. Marv VanderVliet is known to many through his years of service as Corps chaplain, but his passion has always been for cadeting at the grass roots level. He has a real heart for kids and especially for kids who have been handed some tough challenges in their lives and often have made bad choices. When he thought of starting a Voyageurs program, he thought in terms of helping these troubled kids by creating a program just for them. Marv drew on his love for sailing and decided to share his passion with his Voyageurs group. While cruising the waters of Lake Michigan, Marv often has opportunity to share his love of the God who made the wind and the waves. Below are some photos of Marv and his group enjoying their sailing adventures. What Voyageur adventures have you had? Feel free to share them with us.
It takes a few hands to get the boat underway. Marv has learned the importance of getting volunteers to make the Voyageur program a success.
There’s a good wind and the Spirit is filling the sails of all who are a part of this Voyageur program.