Serving the Community: Meet Venturing Crew 562

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By Heather Bennett
Everyone, or at least almost everyone, has heard of Boy Scouts of America (BSA), but few may know about Venturing, a core program of BSA, or know we have our own local crew. I recently spoke to CJ Inman, a local scout and crewmember, about what Venturing has to offer.

So what is Venturing? Established in 1998, it’s a co-ed, youth-led program for ages 14-20 that let’s members choose their own activities where they will use their scouting skills while developing other vital skills such as leadership, planning, organization, communication and responsibility. There is a crew committee of adults, led by a committee chair, but the crew itself is led by youth crew members that are elected to such positions as president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.

“With Venturing it’s a little bit more of a mature experience than boy scouts,” stated CJ. “Because it’s an older audience that’s participating, it is a lot more truly youth led. We’re the ones that make the decisions, planning – everything is up to us. The adults are just there to make sure everything goes to plan. It’s a lot more responsibility.”

Local Venturing Crew 562 was established just this year, and is affiliated with Troop 562. They meet at St Rita in Santa Rosa Beach on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month. It was the idea of CJ’s scouting friend, Brighton Cardenas, who is the crew’s first president. “He wanted to see a new Venturing crew in our area because the next closest one is a couple of hours away. He wanted it to be more accessible to bring more people into the program.” Said CJ. “Right now we’re only going to get a few years out of it, but it will benefit the community for years to come.”

To get things started, the crew took a survey to see what type of things members were interested in, and if anyone has an idea for an event, they are encouraged to share it at a meeting. “Ideas are absolutely heard,” said CJ. “Everybody’s there to work together to make this a fun experience.”

The crew has had a couple of meetings and unofficial outings, and have more planned events to come, including a trip to the snowy north in winter 2023. “The big event we’re planning for is Okpik,” said CJ. “It’s a huge winter experience.”

Okpik is a cold-weather adventure program created by the BSA Northern Tier High Adventure Base located in the Great North Woods of northern Minnesota and Canada. Here they will learn how to camp and cook in winter conditions as well as dog sled, snowshoe and ice fish.

When talking to CJ about Venturing, I felt the sense of team building that Venturing is about. “The thing that hits home with me with Venturing, you’re forced to learn how to get close to the people that you’re with. It could literally be that your life depends on it so you learn to trust those people and value them,” stated CJ. “If you have a strength that they might be struggling with, you guys come together, to work together to solidify that for both of you.” It’s an experience like Okpik that will help the crew learn to trust and depend on one another.

While Venturing crews are working to strengthen their leadership, team building and accountability, their core values still embrace the BSA adherence of duty and service to others. “Doing your duty to your country also has a metaphorical meaning. Rather than just one country, scouting as a whole has a duty to the world because it’s the world scouting movement.” Stated CJ. With Venturing it’s about the bigger picture. “How can I leave a footprint that our descendants can follow in?”

If you are interested in helping Crew 562 with earning money towards their Okpik adventure, they are currently selling coffee out of Lucky Goat in Tallahassee. They are also planning events like a seafood boil in DeFuniak Springs and a BBQ in Freeport. Crew 562 will also be working with Troop 562 selling Christmas Trees during the holidays for a percentage of the proceeds
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Interested in joining or know someone who is? You can contact their Crew Advisor, Lenny Cardenas at 321-501-4443.