The ninth in a series designed to help Scout families, Scouts and those new to Scouting better understand what Scouting is, how it works, and how to get the most out of the experience. For past articles, see back issues of The Guide.
Venturing: Dare to Do Something Audacious!
Most Scouting families and adult leaders are very familiar with the Cub Scout and Scouts BSA programs, but are less familiar with Venturing, one of three Scouting programs designed for older youth. Along with Sea Scouts and Exploring, Venturing provides a rich program of activities for older youth. You may have seen them in their green shirts. They often appear at Scouting functions and participate in service projects around the community, but what is Venturing all about?
Launched in 1998 as a spin off from Exploring, Venturing is a co-ed program for youth 14-20 organized into crews. The purpose of Venturing is to provide a positive and supportive environment where youth members can lead the adventure, assume new leadership roles and mature into responsible adults. With the support of adult advisors, youth officers design and develop a program that reflects what they want to experience. There are crews that focus on aquatics activities, COPE & climbing, backpacking and camping, silent sports, or the optional Venturing recognition and advancement program. Venturing provides youth with ways to develop audacious adventures, to strike out in their communities and make a difference. No matter the focus of each crew, Venturers keep the Venturing programs four main areas of emphasis (Adventure, Leadership, Personal Growth, Service), known as the ALPS model. You can see how these areas of emphasis tie into the BSA’s Mission to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law”.
Venturing is also unique in that not only do the youth take on leadership at the unit level like in the Scouts BSA program, but they also have leadership opportunities at the Council, Service Territory (which replaced Areas & Regions in May of 2021) and National levels. The Venturing Officer’s Association (VOA) consists of a team of youth officers who are supported by advisors. It provides leadership opportunities that prepare young people for their respective futures and gives them a voice to help strengthen the Venturing program.
Here in the Bay-Lakes Council we have had some active Venturers that have served in leadership roles at the Area, Region and National level. Currently, Renee Ruman from Crew 9221 chartered in Combined Locks is the Service Territory 6 (Michigan’s UP, Eastern and Southern Wisconsin, and Northern Illinois) VOA President. Renee is also a member of Scouts BSA Troop 6641 charted in Oshkosh, working toward earning her Eagle Scout award. She has served on National Youth Leadership Training Course Staff and National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience as a faculty member at Philmont Scout Ranch.
Venturing offers four rank levels for advancement; venturing, discovery, pathfinder, and the highest achievement, the summit rank. Venturers can be referred to as Scouts as they are members of the Scouting program, and use both the Scout sign and salute. Each crew can determine whether they want to wear some sort of uniform and none is required, but most will wear the green Venturing shirt available through the BSA.
Scouts can hold membership in both Scouts BSA troops and Venture crews simultaneously. Some crews are organized within Order of the Arrow chapters and camp staffs, providing ways for friends to gather and work together outside of the traditional troop environment while maintaining relationships and participating in activities with their troop. Venturing also provides opportunities to remain engaged in Scouting after aging out at 18.
To learn more about Venturing check out the National Venturing Page. To find a Crew near you go to www.beascout.org.
With assistance from Michael Alberts, BLC Field Director