ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Twice a month, a group of teens known as the 1917 Venture Crew meet at APG's Bayside Community Center to plan new adventures. The crew, which formed last year, is the largest in Harford County, with 16 registered members.
Venturing is a co-ed young adult development program affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The affiliation allows crew members to visit BSA high adventure bases across the nation where they participate in activities like kayaking, canoeing, zip lining, backpacking expeditions and more.
Retired Col. William Montgomery, a 1917 Venture Crew volunteer, said he provides assistance and guidance, when needed.
"The adult volunteers just facilitate the activity," he said. "There is no predetermined cookie cutter curriculum."
Montgomery said because the crew meets on APG, the group has a science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM focus. This past spring, for example, engineers from the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center led a tour of a testing track and talked about STEM careers with the Venturers.
"The crew would like to participate in more STEM outreach activities in the future," Montgomery said.
During a recent retreat, more than 100 Venturers from around Maryland sharpened their wilderness survival skills in "Venturers vs. the Wild" activities at the Broad Creek Memorial Scout Reservation, in Whiteford, Maryland.
Venturers learned how to start a fire, build a shelter, signal for rescue and conduct wilderness first aid.
The retreat featured games, archery, range firing and handling a caving simulator or "squeeze box" - a devise cavers use to practice crawling through small spaces.
Morgan Stahl, 17, who serves on the Baltimore Area Council Venturing Officers' Association, said teens join Venturing because they want to experience high adventure and aren't afraid to "get their hands dirty."
"When we get together we all become one large crew," she explained. "I have met so many friends through Venturing."
Cayley Hall, 15, a member of the 1917 Venture Crew, serves as the vice president of programs. In this role, she is tasked with organizing crew activities.
"What I am learning now will help in the real world," she said. "I can add this experience to my resume and college applications."
Cayley's twin, Bradley Hall, said he has gained confidence participating in different activities and meeting new people.
"It is extremely fun," he said. "I hope other people join our crew."
Christine Curtis, a Venture Crew volunteer from Port Deposit, has twin 14 year-old daughters in the 1917 Venture Crew. She also currently serves as a Boy Scout and Girl Scout leader.
"I wanted my girls to join Venturers since they were toddlers," she said. "I am excited that they finally get to do what the boys do."
The 1917 Venture Crew meets the first and third Monday, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bayside Community Center, Bldg. 2658. Venturing is open to young men and women who are at least 14 (or 13 and have completed the eighth grade) through 20 years of age.
For more information contact Montgomery at email@example.com.