Many people already know that Boy Scouts of America is not only for boys any longer. That is because since 1998 the Venturing program of Boy Scouts of America has been the fastest growing BSA group.
Venturing is specifically targeted toward young adults with membership being limited to those between the ages of 13 through their 20th year. The program is also designed for both genders. A youth may join Venturing even if he or she has never been involved in scouting before.
The purpose behind Venturing is to provide positive experiences to help young people mature into responsible and caring adults. Parents who want to encourage their teens to get off the couch, interact with positive role models, explore some new hobbies, and develop leadership abilities would do well to see if there are any Venturing Crews in their area.
Local community organizations, with the help of their volunteers can sponsor a Venturing Crew. Crews may be established to match the interests of local young people, which means a crew is literally what its young members make it. While Boy Scout Troops are supposed to be “boy led” this doesn't always happen. Scout Parent Examiner's son belongs to a wonderful Boy Scout Troop where much emphasis is placed on helping boys earn many merit badges and moving as many boys as possible along to the rank of Eagle Scout.
Unfortunately, the downside is that the Scoutmaster determines the troops' activities and when they will be held. When this occurs in a troop it typically places a stranglehold on the development of older boys in the troop and they eventually lose interest and quit attending. Since Venturing is for older youth and young adults, a Venturing Crew is a natural “next step” for many of these boys.
Venturing Crew 6688 of Lancaster, Wisconsin is a wonderful example of a crew where the youth members take active roles in planning the group's activities. The crew has a website, which lists monthly opportunities for members interested in participating. The website is also positive because it allows the youth members to communicate with Crew Advisor Kevin Olson in a manner, which most youth like to use.
Olson describes his role as providing the youth members with a variety of opportunities to consider and then the youth can vote on, which ones they are interested in pursuing. Additionally, Olson noted that youth members frequently come up with ideas for activities. Those teens then will do more research into the idea and present it to the group. According to Olson, this allows the youth a greater feeling of ownership in the crew and for that particular activity.
A naturally laid back, fun-loving, outdoors type, Olson is the perfect Crew Advisor because he knows the teens in the crew want to see their Advisor and Associate Advisors having fun with the activities they are doing. Olson joked this allows him to, “Act as much like a kid I can.”
Last summer, Venturing Crew 6688 went to Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, an area known for its scenic chain of lakes ideal for canoeing. In 2011, they will go to the primitive Isle Royale National Park in Michigan.
In addition to fun activities, Crew 6688 also does volunteer work giving back to others throughout the year. Last summer, they volunteered at Blackhawk Area Council's first Harry Espenscheid Tour de Blackhawk, an one hundred mile bicycle tour, held as part of the Council's celebration of 100 years of Scouting.
Members will spend the first weekend of December in Chicago, Illinois volunteering on the Christmas Tree Ship. The Christmas Tree Ship is the United States Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw. Through a program with historic ties to Chicago, Cutter crew members work with countless volunteers and donors to gather Christmas trees from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Wisconsin. When the Mackinaw arrives in port in Chicago, school children are given tours of the Cutter and learn about maritime history. Volunteers, such as those from Crew 6688, work to offload the Cutter's special Christmas cargo and then spend time delivering the trees to needy inner-city Chicago families.