As part of Snoqualmie Valley Venture Crew No. 115, hundreds of local teens have been positively affected by inspiring exceptional volunteer efforts during the past quarter-century.
Venturing Crews are a high-adventure branch of the Boy Scouts of America. They include young men and women from ages 14 to 20. Crews are designed to challenge members both physically and mentally and to develop an abiding sense of civic responsibility and commitment.
Kim and Anita Ferree founded the crew 25 years ago. Leaders say it has enjoyed unusual local resources, allowing it to successfully attempt adventures that others dare not consider. The program gives youths who struggle in conventional academics or sports an avenue to rebuild confidence and succeed.
One of the most challenging activities is the month-long operation of a Christmas tree lot. It is far more than a simple fundraiser. This once-simple operation has grown into a $60,000 business which sells over 1,100 trees and nets a $24,000 profit. It is a complex business, chiefly run by the teens and experienced young adults. The youths must learn purchasing, marketing, setup and display, pricing, inventory control, transport, delivery, security, personnel and cash management, sales and customer service. This event also serves to strengthen and solidify the crew.
The proceeds from the tree lot have allowed the crew to never turn away a youth due to financial need. Over the years, the crew has acquired an impressive collection of outdoor equipment including all-season tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, cooking gear and snowshoes. They have a fleet of 22 snowmobiles which are serviced and maintained by the crew members, who must learn basic mechanics and how to safely operate the machines. They have built 10 wooden sea kayaks along with a custom trailer to transport them.
While the year is filled with dozens of activities, there are four major ones: the Christmas tree lot, a winter campout, a coast hike and a San Juan islands kayaking adventure. Each of these activities takes a great deal of planning to coordinate the highly complex logistics of equipment, transportation, food, fuel, safety and training. Teens and young adults are expected to immerse themselves into the details, planning and execution.
The teens learn how to do things such as, safely drive a snowmobile deeply into the mountains and camp for three days in the dead of winter, securely maneuver a sea kayak across large inland channels, carefully pack minimal and light gear while meeting the needs of the journey and dressing to survive extreme conditions. They are expected to learn how to troubleshoot inevitable injuries, failures and breakdowns in plans, equipment and people, bringing extra supplies and anticipating contingencies and options in advance.
The program is intentionally and uniquely designed to welcome young men and women of all backgrounds, but is especially beneficial for those who may find it difficult to thrive in the traditional academic, social, or sports environment. For those teens that succeed in facing these complex challenges, the experience is life-changing. Their sense of confidence, belief, civic pride and independence is improved tenfold.
To view a Venture Crew recap and recruitment video, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDLabgbm49o.
You can also follow Snoqualmie Valley Venture Crew No. 115 on Facebook.