Venturing Report 2017 - 2018

A Word From Our Officers

Left: Michelle Merritt (National Venturing President). Right: Cathie Seebauer (National Venturing Vice President)

As the 2017-2018 term comes to an end, we would like to personally thank you for your dedication to the Venturing and Scouting programs. As you know, 2018 marks twenty years of Venturing. As we began celebrating our 20th anniversary, we set out to truly bring together the Venturing family to grow and thrive. It’s been a year of innovation and new ideas as our Venturing Officers’ Association officers, volunteers, and professionals worked together to deliver amazing Venturing experiences across the nation like never before in our twenty years.

Throughout this past year, the National Venturing Officers’ Association’s biggest goal was to improve communication throughout Venturing. Through hosting online “Office Hours,” where youth and adults were able to join us for live discussions on Social Media, we were able to both answer your questions about the Venturing program, and also hear your perspectives on how we can help every Venturer make the most of what we have to offer. We also held numerous town-hall sessions across the country to gain your feedback on the program changes and learn ways we can better support you. While these dialogues were very helpful to Venturing leaders at all levels, they were most important for us to be able to listen to and better serve you as your national officers.

This past year has been incredible for not only Venturing, but for all of Scouting. From the 2017 National Jamboree in West Virginia, to Venturing courses at the Philmont Training Center, along with countless regional, area, council, district, and crew-level events, Venturing has flourished and continues to truly “Lead the Adventure.” The recent changes in the Scouting program have given us the monumental opportunity to begin welcoming the whole family into the Scouting programs, and we are thrilled that all youth will now have the opportunity to experience the full continuum of the BSA, from Cub Scouts to Scouts to Venturing and Sea Scouts. We hope you join us this year in our “Scout Me In” campaign to show the world the amazing things that Scouting has to offer.

Venturing has come far these past twenty years to become one of Scouting’s finest programs, and as the saying goes, those standing on the summit of a mountain didn’t just fall there. We know that Venturing’s success is owed to the hard work of individuals like you who are committed the program, its youth, and its future. Going forward, as Walt Whitman said, “the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Welcoming our next National Venturing Officers’ Association, we know they will provide strong leadership to begin Venturing’s next twenty years. How will you contribute to Venturing’s future?

Yours in Venturing,

Michelle Merritt and Cathie Seebauer

National Venturing President and Vice President

Your Region Venturing Teams

Top Left: Central Region - Jeff Geralds, Dominic Wolters; Top Right: Northeast Region - Robbie DiBiagio, Ripley Price; Bottom Left: Southern Region - Jenn Hancock, Savannah McMillan; Bottom Right: Western Region - David Wilson, Jessica Kent


  • Formed 3 new council VOAs
  • 88% of councils submitted a Council Standards of Venturing Excellence form
  • Supported Area VOAs through new tools and emphasizing trainings
  • Developed new marketing and social media campaigns, including restarting a YouTube channel (called The Central Connection)
  • Report 1 (June - September)
  • Report 2 (October - January)
  • Report 3 (February - May)


  • 93% of councils submitted a Council Standards of Venturing Excellence form
  • 7 new council VOAs formed
  • Held a belt buckle fundraiser to bring Puerto Rican Venturers to VenturingFest
  • Report 1 (June - September)
  • Report 2 (October - January)
  • Report 3 (February - May)


  • Sent large contingents to National Jamboree and VenturingFest
  • WinterFest in Gatlinburg, TN, had the highest attendance ever
  • 8 of the 9 areas had events
  • All regional and area cabinets were full for the first time
  • Report 1 (June - September)
  • Report 2 (October - January)
  • Report 3 (February - May)


  • Improved Communications between Venturers/Crews and the Region
  • Gained more followers on all social media platforms to reach a wider audience and kept them updated
  • Had growth in all Areas, and new council VOAs were formed
  • Held a Regional event located in Area 2W
  • Report 1 (June - September)
  • Report 2 (October - January)
  • Report 3 (February - May)

Recap of Summer

Venturing Blast & Growing a Venturing Program

Two unique, Venturing-specific courses were held at the Philmont Training Center this past summer. "Growing a Venturing Program" focused on covering the basics of building and sustaining a Venturing program in local units. From learning how to keep members for the first 100 days, to retaining older members, to the Venturing awards program, this was an insightful course! The other course, "Venturing Blast" focused more on what it takes to be a successful VOA officer and advisor at the council, area, and region level. Learning how to start a VOA, how to hold large events, and how to recruit committees, this course gave participants all the tools they needed to have a great term. Tucked away in the mountains of New Mexico, Philmont was the perfect location for these conferences, providing opportunities for adventure throughout the week. During the day, participants were able to experience COPE, hiking, shooting, tastes of the backcountry, and much more! While the courses were extremely informative, participants said some of the most valuable aspects of the courses were the bonds and communities formed between participants. Venturers and adult advisors came together from all around the country to create a rich learning environment. Where else are you going to get to hike the backcountry while chatting with the National Venturing Vice President, while singing Disney songs with a Venturer from Hawaii, and comparing notes about NYLT with a Council Venturing President from Idaho? Whether you’re a Venturing officer now, or just curious to see what it’s all about, we would highly suggest you check out Venturing Blast next year at the Philmont Training Center!

National Jamboree

From July 19-28, 2017, over 40,000 Scouts and Scouters gathered at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia to participate in and staff the 2017 National Scout Jamboree. Boy Scouts, International Scouts, Sea Scouts, Explorers, and Venturers from across the nation all had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of adventures. Activities included climbing, zip-lining, BMX biking, and stand-up paddleboarding, to name a few. Additionally, Scouts participated in service activities that totaled to roughly 100,000 hours! These action-packed days also included three stadium shows, featuring performances from X-Ambassadors, Jessie Chris, and the Plain White T’s, as well as a visit from the President of the United States. The Jamboree ended with an amazing laser and firework show that left the stadium in awe. The Summit’s Foxtrot Basecamp was home to the Venturers and International Scouts at the Jamboree, hosting numerous fun events for Venturers like Foxtrot’s Got Talent and the Foxtrot Basecamp Bash. Venturers also had the opportunity to get to know the National Venturing Officers’ Association and the Regional Venturing Officers’ Associations through the Venturing Town Hall Sessions and the Regional Gathering Meetings.

Office Hours

Hundreds of Venturers and Advisors from around the country joined us for a series of question and answer sessions on topics that touch on the daily operations of crews and VOAs. Featuring guests and experts, the NVOA Office Hours series brought new attention to the Venturing program and helped to showcase the phenomenal spirit of Venturing youth.

  • October 5: General Q/A
  • November 27: General Q/A
  • January 16: Awards and Training
  • January 23: CSVE
  • February 21: All About VOAs
  • March 20: Crew Adventures
  • May 25: Program Updates

The first two Office Hours, held in October and November, introduced people to the idea of directly communicating with the experts on the National Committee. Following this success, in January, the NVOA hosted another session on the topics of training and awards; this Q&A was met with great enthusiasm and outstanding feedback from participants. Questions ranged from how to support youth in achieving the Summit Award to how to run a Kodiak Challenge trek. The fun didn’t stop there, as the Office Hours series continued with opportunities to ask about CSVE, VOAs, and Crew Adventures. Our very last session included a Facebook live stream video with special guests the National OA Chiefs and National Sea Scout Boatswains. All in all, the NVOA couldn’t be happier to have had this opportunity to help crews, Venturers, and Advisors make the most of Leading the Adventure.


National Venturing Leadership Awards

The Venturing Leadership Award is presented by councils, areas, regions, and the BSA National Council to both youth and adults who have made exceptional contributions to Venturing at the respective tier for the award. The 2018 National Venturing Leadership Award recognizes great work done in the calendar year of 2017. Read more about them on this blog post. You can see a list of past recipients here.

  • Ripley Price (youth)
  • Dominic Wolters (youth)
  • Lydia Borah (youth)
  • Savannah McMillan (youth)
  • Robbie DiBiagio (adult)
  • Jeff Geralds (adult)
  • Jennifer Hancock (adult)
  • Jack Furst (adult)

Upcoming Opportunities


Join us at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia from July 1-6, 2018, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Venturing! Here in Venturing, we know how to throw an amazing birthday party: you’ll enjoy all the fun of the Summit, including BMX, white water rafting, ziplining, rappelling, shooting sports, and more. You’ll also get to meet Venturers from across the nation (and across the world!) while participating in exciting activities exclusive to VenturingFest. Registration is $600 for youth (under age 21) or $500 for adults (age 21+). Don’t miss out! Registration has far exceeded our 2016 VenturingFest attendance, and we still have more room for you to join us! However, registration closes May 31st, so get yours in now! Can’t join us for the whole week? We are also offering day passes. For more information click the button below!

Venturing Blast

Venturing Blast is a unique experience offered to Venturers at the beautiful Philmont Training Center from July 22 to 28, 2018. You will spend a week learning about how to lead a council or area Venturing Officers’ Association, all while exploring the wondrous outdoors with young leaders from across the nation. This isn’t your typical PowerPoint-style training course; you’ll immerse yourself in leadership while exploring the backcountry of Philmont Scout Ranch. Additionally, you’ll get to meet with officers from other regions and from the National VOA! What are you waiting for? Register for Venturing Blast today before space fills up!

World Jamboree

From July 22nd to August 2nd, 2019, the whole world will be coming to the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia to celebrate the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. The US plans on sending 10,000 Scouts and Scouters, our largest contingent ever to a World Jamboree, and there are three ways for you to get involved! If you will be between the ages of 14-17, you can register to be one of the 6,480 youth participants. If you're above the age of 18, you can register as one of the 2,700 members of the IST (International Service Team), or be one of the 720 adult advisors for the contingents. There are still plenty of openings for both youth and staff, so learn more now about the US contingent by clicking the button below.

And Let's End With Some Fun


Hot and spicy memes are served up frequently on @VenturingBSA and @CRVPresident Instagram and Twitter. Below you can see some highlights from the past year.

The Inside Scoop on the NVOA

Michelle Merritt - national President
  • My favorite memory from this year was getting to represent Venturing during the Report to the Nation event. Getting the opportunity to meet so many of our country’s leaders and hearing their connections to Scouting ingrained in me the impact that Scouting has on the nation.
  • Being a part of the NVOA these past two years has ingrained in me a love for Chick-fil-A and an ability to carry on bags much larger than theoretically allowed on airplanes.
Cathie Seebauer - National vice president
  • This whole year has certainly been one to remember, but I think last summer stands out in particular. From working as a canopy tour guide at The Summit, to MCing the National Jamboree, to staffing Venturing Blast at Philmont, I definitely made some memories to last a lifetime.
  • I'd liked to give a shoutout to all the amazing people that came and rescued me from being stranded at various airports this year (more times than I'd like to admit) due to my bad luck and knack for being on delayed/cancelled flights.
Dominic Wolters - Central Region
  • My favorite memory from this term is watching thunderstorms roll in over Baldy Mountain at Philmont when I was there for “Growing a Venturing Program”.
  • I think the strangest thing I’ve done this year is try to teach someone to ski on melting snow (aka mud) in Michigan.
Ripley Price - Northeast Region
  • My favorite memory from this year definitely has to be recruiting youth to run for VOA positions while attempting to complete a canoe course in Western PA earlier this year.
  • I may or may not have gotten the Venturing logo shaved into my head this year… long story.
Savannah McMillan - Southern Region
  • I think my favorite memory had to be having my officers and everyone at WinterFest and dancing together before the closing ceremony. Everyone was so busy and tired the whole weekend, but in that moment we were all just laughing and dancing and really just enjoying each other’s company.
  • Someone told me that my eyelashes looked like blue butterflies! (Well, maybe it’s Maybelline?)
Jessica Kent - Western Region
  • My favorite memory from this term was the Western Region VOA Orientation. This was the only time/place when all of the Western Region VOA members were together in one place. We bonded over the freezing cold temperatures of Mount Hood as we planned out an amazing year for the WRVOA while having fun in the process.
  • I love huckleberry ice cream… I promise, it's a real thing. Check it out.
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National Venturing

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