Hey, Venturing! You’re 20 years old this year! That’s old enough for rock climbing, shooting, designing videogames, scuba diving, playing card games like Magic: The Gathering, whitewater rafting and just about any other activity a Venturing crew wants to learn about and enjoy.
Venturing now boasts more than 13,000 crews and has served more than 2 million young men and young women in its two decades. The organization has come a long way since its debut at a 1998 BSA meeting in Nashville, Tenn. On that day, says Venturing National Director Owen McCulloch, Venturers rappelled from the rafters and raced down the aisles on mountain bikes. The group is young enough that some of its founding members are still active in Venturing today.
That includes Kris Zahrobsky, vice chairman of the National Venturing Committee. He was an Explorer when Venturing was rolled out; a Scout executive asked him to lead the new Venturing effort in his council.
“It was so exciting,” Zahrobsky says. “We didn’t know what we were going into. There was no roadmap. It was great being at the forefront of this program being unveiled to us.”
Looking back on his 20 years of Venturing, Zahrobsky touts the strong youth leadership of the program. Venturers make all key crew decisions while adults serve as Advisors.
“I learned to plan, to execute and to communicate,” he says. “My best friends today are all from Venturing.”
Venturing’s flexible format, he says, means that it can be “everything to everyone.”
Michelle Merritt is Venturing’s national youth president. She’s been a Venturer since age 14. Her first crew focused on high-adventure activities like rock climbing and canoeing, but she points to other crews devoted to STEM, personal fitness, chess and cooking.
“I even heard of one crew that was doing extreme couponing!” she says.
Along with the entire Venturing family, Merritt, a sophomore at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is looking forward to VenturingFest 2018, the second national gathering of Venturers to be held July 1-6 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. In addition to offering tons of fun with zip lines, skateboarding and whitewater rafting, the event will be a great opportunity for Venturing to grow nationally, she says.
“I recently told one of my crew members I was going to speak to some Venturers out in Oregon,” Merritt says. “She said, ‘Wait, there are Venturing crews out West?’ This event will help us bridge that gap.”
Zahrobsky says the organization hopes thousands will attend VenturingFest.
“This will really be all hands on deck,” he says. “We’ll have so many people impacted by Venturing — youth, alumni, Advisors. This will be a wonderful celebration.”
Join the Celebration
Registered Venturers, Sea Scouts, Explorers and Boy Scouts age 14 and up (or 13 and have completed the eighth grade) are invited to attend VenturingFest, set for July 1-6 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. To learn more, visit summitbsa.org/venturingfest