Venturing is the older-youth program of the Boy Scouts of America. It’s open to male and female youth from the ages of 14 (or 13 and have completed the 8th grade) through 21. The Venturing program is delivered through small groups known as crews, with the support of the Venturing Officers’ Association, which operates at the council, area, region, and national levels.
The Venturing program was created in 1998, but its origins go back much farther. Programs aimed at older youth have existed for most of the BSA’s history; for example, Sea Scouting was founded in 1912 and the now-defunct Air Scouting in 1941. The direct ancestor of Venturing, however, was the Exploring program, founded in 1949. Much like Venturing crews, Exploring posts often specialized in certain areas, such as the outdoors or a specific career, like fire fighting, etc. In 1998, Exploring was altered to solely focus on career development, and became part of the non-traditional BSA Learning for Life program. The non-career development aspects of Exploring became part of the new Venturing program. Awareness of Venturing within Scouting has grown steadily ever since, though many are still unaware of the program, which is often called “Scouting’s best-kept secret.”
Venturing crews are the core of the Venturing program. Each crew has a chartering organization and is composed of 5-20, or so, youth (under 21). One of the best things about Venturing is that it is youth-led and youth-run. Youth-led means that the youth Venturers make the decisions regarding the crew, and youth-run means that the youth Venturers also handle the logistics necessary to carry out their decisions. Adults (over 21) are part of the program as advisors or crew committee members. Advisors train the youth to lead and then step back, providing support and enabling the youth to lead the crew. Advisors also provide advice where needed and make sure that everyone is safe and policy regulations are followed. The youth and advisors are supported by a crew committee, which appoints crew advisors, provides program resources to the youth officers, and works to help the crew remain successful. Committee members often work with youth officers on specialized matters such as finances.
The Venturing Officers’ Association is tasked with supporting the crews on the higher levels in Scouting: council, area, region, and national. The Blue Grass Council covers a 55-county area in central and eastern Kentucky. Area 6, which is our area, covers all of Kentucky, Tennessee, and part of Mississippi. The Southern Region is one of four regions which cover the entire United States, and National Venturing oversees the entire program. Each level has its own Venturing Officers Association, or VOA, which functions like a cross between a crew’s youth leadership and the Order of the Arrow Lodge Executive Committee. The VOA at each level is tasked with supporting the Venturing program at the levels below it, and is led by youth in leadership positions, much like a crew.