When Did Venturing Begin?
Venturing was officially created by the Boy Scouts of America’s executive board on February 9, 1998. However, if you ask Venturing Associate Director Bill Evans, who was there that day and helped create Venturing, he would expand a little.
In 1995, the Outdoor Exploring Committee chaired by Dr. Dick Miller of Waynesboro, Virginia, met in Long Key, Florida. The primary purpose of the meeting was to address the issue of how to support and sustain the amazing growth that outdoor Exploring was enjoying. During a five-year period in the early 1990s, outdoor Exploring had grown 94 percent to almost 100,000 members. When the committee would come up with an idea, it would sound familiar. Then they would refer to a 1950 edition of the Exploring Handbook and find their idea had already been applied years ago. So, if you are a history buff and have an early edition of the Exploring Handbook, you can see the many similarities between the early days of Exploring and today’s Venturing.
If you really want to trace the roots of Venturing, you have to go way back. The need for a senior Boy Scout program probably surfaced the second day after Scouting started in the United States in 1910. Actually, in the very first National Executive Board meeting report, there is a discussion about losing older boys. It was no surprise to our founders that older boys needed an age-specific program with challenges appropriate for them. Older boy programs cropped up across the country during those early years, causing the need for national action. In 1935, the BSA created Senior Scouting, publishing the Guide to Senior Scouting. There were several options, including Explorers, Sea Scouts, and Air Scouts. In 1949, the BSA consolidated the senior programs, with the exception of Sea Scouts, into Explorer Scouts. At that time, a boy could be an Explorer in the troop or in a stand-alone unit called the Explorer post. The Explorer advancement program included the Bronze Award, the Gold Award, and the Silver Award. Sound familiar? The last Silver Awards were earned in 1966 as Exploring began to turn more toward career emphasis. That is until the new Venturing Silver Award was reintroduced in August 1998. The new Venturing advancement award medals are very similar in design to their predecessors of the 1940s and 1950s.
What was true in 1920 is true today: Older teens need a program specific to their needs and abilities. How old are our Venturers, anyway? Our age chart is almost a perfect bell curve with 17 being the highest point. Eighteen is next, followed by 16. There are actually more 19-year-olds than 14-year-olds. Because Venturing is very challenging and usually involves ambitious travel, it lends itself more to older teens.
When Associate Director Evans looks back over Venturing’s last seven years, he points out that the most enjoyable moments of the development are not related to the phenomenal growth. They are moments when he heard Eagle Scouts stand before a group and talk about how Venturing has allowed them a place to be an Eagle Scout and to continue to learn and grow. Moments when a young lady stands before a group to tell how she finally had a place to be a Scout along with her mom, dad, and brothers. Venturing does change lives.
Venturing is a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women who are 14 (and have completed the eighth grade) through 20 years of age.
Venturing’s purpose is to provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults.
Venturing is based on a unique and dynamic relationship between youth, adult leaders, and organizations in their communities. Local community organizations establish a Venturing crew by matching their people and program resources to the interests of young people in the community. The result is a program of exciting and meaningful activities that helps youth pursue their special interests, grow, develop leadership skills, and become good citizens.
Venturing crews can specialize in a variety of avocation or hobby interests.
Young adults involved in Venturing will:
- Learn to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling the values in the Venturing Oath and Code.·
- Experience a program that is fun and full of challenge and adventure.
- Become a skilled training and program resource for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and other groups.
- Acquire skills in the areas of high adventure, sports, arts and hobbies, religious life, or Sea Scouting.
- Experience positive leadership from adult and youth leaders and be given opportunities to take on leadership roles.
- Have a chance to learn and grow in a supportive, caring, and fun environment.
- The aims of the Boy Scouts of America are to build character, develop citizenship, and foster personal fitness. The Venturing methods listed below have been carefully designed to achieve the aims of the Boy Scouts of America and meet the needs of young adults.
- Leadership. All Venturers are given opportunities to learn and apply proven leadership skills. A Venturing crew is led by elected crew officers. The Venturing Leadership Skills Course is designed for all Venturers and helps teach them in an active way to lead effectively.
- Group Activities. Venturing activities are interdependent group experiences in which success is dependent on the cooperation of all. Learning by “doing” in a group setting provides opportunities for developing new skills.
- Adult Association. The youth officers lead the crew. The officers and activity chairs work closely with adult Advisors and other adult leaders in a spirit of partnership. The adults serve in a “shadow” leader capacity.
- Recognition. Recognition comes through the Venturing advancement program and through the acknowledgement of a youth’s competence and ability by peers and adults.
Venturers are expected to know and live by the Venturing Oath and Code. They promise to be faithful in religious duties, treasure their American heritage, help others, and seek truth and fairness.
Venturing’s emphasis on high adventure helps provide team-building opportunities, new meaningful experiences, practical leadership application, and lifelong memories to young adults.
All of the Venturing awards require Venturers to teach what they have learned to others. When they teach others often, Venturers are better able to retain the skill or knowledge taught, they gain confidence in their ability to speak and relate to others, and they acquire skills that can benefit them for the rest of their lives as a hobby or occupation.
Ethics in Action
An important goal of Venturing is to help young adults be responsible and caring persons, both now and in the future. Venturing uses “ethical controversies” to help young adults develop the ability to make responsible choices that reflect their concern for what is a risk and how it will affect others involved. Because an ethical controversy is a problem-solving situation, leaders expect young adults to employ empathy, invention, and selection when they think through their position and work toward a solution.