Adult outdoor aficionados reading this may feel a twinge of regret that some opportunities for today's young people were not in place when they were growing up.
St. Vincent's Venture Scouts Coed High Adventure Program, for example, is open to young women and men 14-20 years old or those age 13 who have completed the eighth grade.
You can learn more about the program during an open house at 6 p.m. Sunday at the St. Vincent Scout Lodge, 8965 Auburn Road.
St. Vincent's Venture Scout Troop has been involved with helping young people transition into maturity via community service and healthy self-growth for more than 20 years, according to information provided by the group and on the Boy Scouts of America website, www.scouting.org/scout source/Venturing. The organization also gives back to the community through organizing U.S. flag retirement ceremonies, Breakfast with Santa, a community Easter Egg Hunt and many more events.
The program's Boy Scouts of America curriculum exposes youth to thrilling adventures, new friends and personal challenges to build individual self-worth, teamwork and life skills, the local group and Boy Scouts website said. Think snowboarding, downhill skiing, whitewater rafting, spelunking, rappelling, ziplining and many more expeditions.
Each participant takes the Venturing Oath: “As a Venturer, I promise to do my duty to God and help strengthen America, to help others, and to seek truth, fairness and adventure in our world.”
The group is going through re-charter now but currently has 20 adults and 23 youth registered, according to Pat Spillers, adviser to the local organization.
One challenge is finding coed leadership on all trips, Spillers said. The youth pay for their own expeditions but are aided by fundraisers, such as fish fries, Christmas tree sales and the Haunted Castle.
“We've been to several places in Michigan, New York, Colorado and Vermont for downhill skiing,” said Spillers, who has been with the group for four years, “and for rappelling, to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, New River Gorge in West Virginia, and spelunking in southern Indiana. Our whitewater rafting trips have taken us to New River Gorge, and a future trip is planned to Gatlinburg, Tenn.”
Although Neva Hovis, 17, of Northrop High School joined Venture Scouts six months ago initially because her boyfriend was in it, she thoroughly enjoyed her first two trips to Chicago and Niagara Falls and is looking forward to learning leadership and teamwork on future trips with the group. The highlight of her Niagara Falls trip was seeing Nik Wallenda of the renowned Flying Wallendas walk across the falls on a high-wire cable in June, said Hovis.
The promise of adventure also lured Austin Spillers, 17, into the group four years ago. He since has been backpacking in New Mexico, skiing in Colorado, Michigan and New York, and ziplining in Ohio.
The most challenging sports were ziplining and backpacking, said Austin Spillers, adding that the backpacking was especially strenuous because “we had to carry a lot of weight and hike 70 miles in 10 days.”
The trips are not for wimps. Last year at Philmont Scout Ranch, two boys sat down with their backpacks on, fell over a log on their backs at the same time and could not get up on their own, Pat Spillers said.
“We had two people on this trip (Philmont) with foot issues and severe blisters, and I myself had problems,” Pat Spillers said.
The public is invited to learn more about the program at the open house Sunday and to enjoy pizza, cobbler and beverages. Door prizes will be offered.
People also are invited to breakfast or lunch with Santa Dec. 8 at St.Vincent's Scout Lodge. Raffle tickets, surprises and good food will be offered.