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Scouting's Venturing drawing youth in

POSTED: August 9, 2011 12:55 p.m.
Photo by Lillian Gray/

Members of Boy Scout Troop 500 work to meet merit badge requirements earlier this summer during a rappelling excursion on Fort Stewart.

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Venturing is one of the fastest growing Boy Scouts of America programs today, here in the local area as well as across the country. Young men and women learn leadership skills while engaging in challenging outdoor activities and community service.
Venturing provides young people with positive experiences to help them mature and develop into responsible and compassionate adults, according to www.scouting.org. Venturers participate in outdoor sports, including camping, hiking, sea kayaking, snorkeling and mountain climbing. They also do service projects in the community, such as organizing food and blood drives and volunteering with the elderly.
In Liberty, Long and south Bryan counties, coed crews of Venturers ages 14-21 are increasing in number.
“It’s a growing program and people are starting to recognize it,” BSA Liberty District Executive Micah Donaldson said. “The high adventure is one-fifth of the program. There’s also arts and hobbies, religious life and sports activities.”
Donaldson said Venturing is a fairly young program compared to other traditional Boy Scout programs.
The Boy Scouts of America just celebrated its 100th anniversary, according to Dr. Glen Carter, Liberty District chairman.
Venturing officially was created in 1998, Carter said. It is similar to an earlier Boy Scout program, Exploring, which developed in the 1930s and ’40s, he said. Exploring currently is a life-learning program that focuses on career exploration in such fields as law enforcement, medicine and aviation, Carter explained.
He added that Boy Scout troops normally are affiliated with nonprofit organizations, such as churches and civic clubs like the Lions. Exploring posts also could be sponsored by local businesses. Boy Scouts and their charter organizations “can partner on (community) projects,” Carter said.
“We’re just starting our recruiting,” Donaldson said. Liberty, Long and Bryan counties’ public schools began the 2011-12 school year this past week.
Donaldson said 329 young people already have registered for Venturing crews in the Liberty District, which includes all of Liberty County, south Bryan/Richmond Hill and Long County/Ludowici.
He expects to sign up 250-300 more young adults in the next 60 days.
“We have 10 units or crews in the Liberty District,” Donaldson said.
Last year, there were 595 Venturers in the Liberty District, he said. The annual fee to join Venturing is $15, according to Donaldson. Crews normally hold fundraisers to pay for their adventure activities and trips.
Along with individual crew activities, Venturers can participate in summer camps and Coastal Empire Council events, he said.
A number of Venturing crews from across the Southeast participated in a four-day, 50-mile sea kayaking paddle event this summer as part of a camp, Donaldson said. Four of 22 crew members from Texas who participated in the paddle were autistic, he said. They paddled near Black Beard and Creighton islands, located near Liberty County’s coastline.
When the area council’s Summerfest 2011 was held at the Savannah Civic Center on July 25, Venturing crews and Boy Scout Explorers participated, Donaldson said.
“Youth from four states attended,” he said. “There was a zip line and climbing wall set up in the civic center. They also had a caving competition.”
The Rev. Rich Wright, senior pastor of Hinesville First United Methodist Church and BSA Liberty District membership chair, explained that there is a progression in adult supervision among Boy Scout programs, dependent on age levels.
“Cub scouts begin by being adult-led,” he said. “Boy Scouts is adult-supervised but boy-led. In Venturing, adults serve as mentors and young people do all the leading, all the planning.”
Donaldson said some members of Girl Scouts join Venturing. Like Boy Scouts, Venturing offers recognition through various awards, including the ranger, bronze, gold and silver. The Venturing Silver Award is equal to earning Eagle Scout in the traditional Boy Scouts, Donaldson said.
Wright and Carter said Boy Scouts, Explorers and Venturers are more likely to attend and graduate from college, adding that scouting can open up scholarship opportunities.
“Venturers can stay active right through college,” Wright said. He added that adult volunteers to mentor or lead Boy Scout groups always are needed.
For more information, call Donaldson at 912-927-7272 or 912-414-7649 or email mdonalds@bsamail.org.

 

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