What is Venturing?
A fun-filled , co-ed group run by teens, designed for high-school-age students to help develop leadership and teambuilding through outdoor adventures.
Although co-ed, it’s sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America. The program is an evolution of Exploring, which BSA operated for decades. Unlike their Scouting siblings, crew members do not work on badges. Instead they help plan, lead and participate in fun outdoor adventures.
Crew 312 is 17 years old and draws from area schools, including Spring Hill, Dutch Fork and Irmo highs. We are the only active co-ed Venturing unit in the Irmo area. The Crew is sponsored by St. Simon and St. Jude Episcopal Church in Irmo near Cracker Barrel and the Hyatt Place, just off the I-26 interchange.
The Crew has been awarded BSA’s National Quality Unit Award for five years and the Centennial Quality Unit Award for three years.
What do you do?
Fun, social, outdoor-oriented activities. In addition to weekly meetings that might involve a swim party, indoor rock climbing, volleyball, biking, playing soccer or learning how to build fires, the Crew spends at least one weekend each month in an outdoor adventure.
The weekend outings range from camping trips to the beach and mountains to white-water rafting, canoeing, horseback riding, rock climbing, caving and winter skiing, to name a few. One September, the crew traveled to Florida’s Gulf coast for four days to camp, snorkel and chase dolphins. We’ve spent two Labor Day weekends on the Outer Banks and regularly camp and have fun in North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.
Our summer adventures have included hiking stretches of the Appalachian Trail, four trips to Florida Sea Base – a high-adventure sailing program in the Florida Keys – and two visits to Glacier National Park in Montana. We traveled to Badlands National Park in South Dakota this summer.
The crew also is active in community service, including food drives, collecting items for soldiers overseas, preparing meals for migrant farm workers and participating in Habitat For Humanity’s annual Blitz Build and other projects. In 2005 the crew launched a week-long driving safety campaign in three schools that was detailed in Scouting magazine. All activities are planned and carried out in line with BSA safety guidelines.
Who runs it?
Youth members pick and plan what the crew does. Venturing is run by youth for youth. Adults act as chaperones and as advisors. Parents are welcome always on trips. Adult leaders can change any of the officers’ plans if they are deemed unsafe, unreasonable or not falling within BSA rules and guidelines. There are six youth officers who handle the major decisions and are elected each six months. They are assisted by six appointed officers. Venturers learn leadership by leading. Nine of our youth officers have been recipients of the prestigious national Venturing Leadership Award.
How do I check out a meeting?
***You’re invited with your child to a special cookout Thursday, Aug. 13 at the Woodman of the World park on Lake Murray near Ballentine, where you’ll get to hear what we’re planning for the year and meet the adults and youth leaders of the crew (see separate page on cookout)*** If you can’t make the cookout, we meet every Thursday in the education building at St. Simon-St. Jude Episcopal Church, near the Cracker Barrel at the Irmo interchange of I-26, from 7-8:30 p.m. If we are away doing something, we usually leave a note on the door. The exact address is 1110 Kinley Road if you want to use GPS or Mapquest.
How much does it cost?
Annual dues are $60. New members also pay a one-time charge of $15 to cover the additional registration cost charged to us by BSA. The dues pay for registration, insurance, awards, training, T-shirts and other costs. Parents of new members can pay the $75 in two payments of $37.50 or three payments of $25 each if they choose. Most monthly outings involve minimal cost. We generally charge about $30 for each monthly trip to pay for the food they will cook, camping fees and gas. You don’t need to buy any equipment or uniforms. In outings that involve more costs, such as the ski trip or Sea Base, payments are spread out. The annual ski trip typically costs $200-$250. Our Labor Day trip generally runs less than $50. We also hold fundraisers to defray costs. The crew also operates a scholarship fund for youth.
Do crew members wear uniforms?
No. The crew designed its own wearable T-shirt many years ago which members can wear. Adults wear a spruce-green uniform shirt, which also is worn by officers. The cost for the uniform shirt and patches is about $40. The T-shirt cost is included as part of your dues fee.
Do I have to buy any equipment?
No! The Crew has plenty of camping equipment to loan. If we do specialty activities, such as kayaking, skiing or rock climbing, the instructors provide the equipment.
Who can join?
Generally, anyone between the ages of 14-20. If your child will turn 14 in the coming year we also will accept their application. No Scouting experience is required or needed. Most of our members are not Scouts. However, if your son is in a troop, he can join our crew and be a Scout at the same time. If he is a First-Class or a higher rank, he can finish his Eagle requirements through Venturing. Several Scouts have chosen to do so over the years. This crew is designed to be balanced between males and females. The crew’s size generally ranges between 30-40, with about 6-10 of those members in college. About half the crew is female and the median age usually is about 15.
Can I join as an adult?
YES! We welcome all adult volunteers. And female chaperons pay no fees on our trips unless they participate in a special activity such as skiing or rock climbing. Chaperons do not have to do anything other than accompany the group. We ask that each parent contribute some time during the year, whether as a chaperon for an outing or at a meeting, helping to drive the group somewhere, working on a fundraiser, helping with a service activity, sitting on the crew committee, or acting as a resource expert for one of the many topics the crew explores each year.
How can my child join?
Each youth should fill out an application, sign and have a parent sign, then go to our website and download our parent permission form and health history. No medical exam in necessary. Then turn in the fees. Checks are always made payable to Venture Crew 312. All forms are available on our website. That’s it!
Who are the adult leaders?
- Tim Smith is the advisor, the senior adult leader. He is an Eagle Scout, has been a Scout leader for 26 years and is the father of two, an Eagle Scout and a daughter who is a charter member of the crew and an associate advisor . He has served as advisor of Crew 312 since its founding in 1998. He is an elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church and is the recipient of the Celtic Award by the Presbyterian Church, USA, for outstanding service to youth, as well as the Venturing Leadership Award.
- Jayson Harrison is an associate advisor whose daughter, Sarah, is a crew vice president. He also has a son in Boy Scout Troop 312. His wife, Katie, is the crew treasurer. Both he and Katie planned our trip this year to the Badlands.
- Ken Young is an associate advisor whose son, Ethan is the crew’s chaplain’s aide and a student at Brookland-Cayce High School. Ken also is one of our hammock enthusiasts.
- Nicole Wright-Frey is our parent coordinator, the adult who contacts parents with volunteer needs and information. Her son, Isaac, is crew secretary. Nicole, Jayson and Ken are recipients in recent years of the President’s Award, an annual honor bestowed by the crew’s youth presidents.
- Kris Reagan, is an associate advisor and former youth member of the crew. Her brother, Austin, and younger sister Ashleigh, are members of the crew. Kris has volunteered many trips that otherwise would have been canceled for lack of a female chaperon.
- Tara Johnson is an associate advisor and former youth member of the crew who helped chaperon our Badlands trip.
- Joseph Whetstine Sr. is an associate advisor and ROTC commander at Dutch Fork whose son is a crew member and helped chaperon our Badlands trip.
- Tammy Ulmer is an associate advisor whose son is a Boy Scout and joined us last year.
- Jeff Nates is vice chairman of the crew committee, as well as the father of Stuart, an Eagle Scout and former crew secretary who is attending USC. Jeff, a CPA, also is an avid marathon runner and cyclist who has led our treks on the AT. He also is a recipient of the Venturing Leadership Award.
- Matt Wellslager is our crew committee chairman and father of Bridgette, a crew member who is attending USC.
- Tami Leonhardt is an associate advisor. She chaperoned trips to Sea Base and to Philmont, BSA’s high-adventure base in New Mexico and is the mother to Nick, a former youth treasurer for the crew and Eagle Scout.