When teenagers hear the words Boy Scouts, they often cringe.
"It's too much work." "I'm forced to do this." "Boy Scouts is for little kids." These are typical phrases you might hear from teenagers about Boy Scouts. Some of these phrases are myths, others are true.
*Myth: It's too much work. Although it is true that boys have to put a lot of time and effort into their Eagle Scout projects, the workload involved with Boy Scouts can be entertaining and fun, not boring and hard.
Truth: Some boys are forced to participate. It may be because a parent regrets not getting an Eagle badge and wants his son to achieve this, or that it looks good on a college application.
*Myth: Boy Scouts is for little kids. It is true that Cub Scouts is for little kids; in contrast, Boy Scouts is for older youths ages 11-18.
Now think of the first phrase that might come to mind when a teenager hears the word Venturing. Most teenagers do not have a clue what Venturing is, therefore, they do not associate any phrases with the word. Attach the words Boy Scouts to the word Venturing and, without any knowledge of what Venturing is, teenagers can gather that they are one in the same.
Venturing, a coed youth development program of the Boy Scouts for youths ages 13 to 21, began in 1998 It has been one of the fastest growing Scouting programs to date. Contributing to the success of Venturing, teenagers around the country have started their own crews, which is the same thing as a troop. A crew is run by its members. There are adult leaders involved with crews, but they don't play as big a role as they do in Boy Scouts. Adult leaders in a Venturing crew oversee the crew's activities, set up times and dates for the activities and make sure the crew is registered with a charter, giving them a place to hold their meetings.
Activities differ from crew to crew. For example, Crew 93 meets the second and fourth Monday of every month at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Clarence. This crew has participated in activities such as curling, the Klondike (a camping event) and multiple rock climbing outings.
Crew 93 is run by Laurel Vincett, a home-schooled student who lives in Lancaster. She joined Venturing because she wanted to challenge herself beyond the activities that Girl Scouts offered.
"I heard about Venturing from my dad, who is a Scoutmaster. I was frustrated because there wasn't something similar to Boy Scouts that included girls (Girl Scouts doesn't count -- I've looked through a handbook)," Laurel said. "... So I gave Crew 93 a try."
Laurel is now the president of her crew.
"It basically means that I have to complete an agenda, notify members and run meetings, present ideas, help plan activities, oversee other crew officers, run officer meetings and represent our crew at the VOA (Venturing Officers Association) meetings."
Anne Taylor, a senior at Sacred Heart Academy who lives in Lancaster, has multiple roles in Venturing.
"I've been a Venture treasurer and president," Anne said. "Now I am the Area 3 president and I take care of New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania Venture crews and activities. We have a huge summit coming up in May."
Anne got involved in Venturing in an unexpected way.
"I got involved with Venturing because my brother was involved," she said. "I was always jealous of him and wanted to get involved, so when I turned 13 I joined a Venture crew and got very active in Scouts. I made a ton of friends, got to camp and learn and develop my leadership skills."
Another member who is very involved with Crew 93 is Rosie Lenz, an East Amherst resident who attends Clarence High School. Rosie joined Crew 93 and discovered more about herself and made a few friends along the way.
"It had opened me to find myself," she said. "I had the opportunity to lead my crew, be president of the VOA and be a staff member for the leadership training."
Venturing offers many volunteer opportunities as well as other life lessons and skills.
"Some of the major skills are leadership skills, time management, communication, public speaking, working with others," said Rosie. "You also discover things you never knew about yourself."
White Buffalo is a leadership program that is offered every August through the Greater Niagara Frontier Council. This program is run by youths to teach others how to excel in Scouting and in their everyday lives.
"It's fun but at the same time challenging, and we choose to set an example for upcoming generations," Anne said.
The Area 3 Summit is a camping trip designed specifically for Venturing. It has been designed not to contain any award requirements or advancements, but to emphasize fun, friendship and adventure. This year's summit is being held May 18-20 at Camp Gordon in Dundee (in the Finger Lakes region).
The Area 3 Summit begins with a party that has games, music and food and it culminates with the annual Area 3 meeting and the introduction of officers for the upcoming year. The fee is $40 per person for camping in personal tents or $50 per person for cabin camping. Youths and adults pay the same price. The fee covers all food, program, Summit patch, T-shirt, facilities and program materials. Registrations must be postmarked by April 6. For more information, email Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Chriswell is a senior at Maryvale High School.