Venturing was officially created by the Boy Scouts of America’s executive board on February 9, 1998. However, if you ask Venturing Associate Director Bill Evans, who was there that day and helped create Venturing, he would expand a little.
In 1995, the Outdoor Exploring Committee chaired by Dr. Dick Miller of Waynesboro, Virginia, met in Long Key, Florida. The primary purpose of the meeting was to address the issue of how to support and sustain the amazing growth that outdoor Exploring was enjoying. During a five-year period in the early 1990s, outdoor Exploring had grown 94 percent to almost 100,000 members. When the committee would come up with an idea, it would sound familiar. Then they would refer to a 1950 edition of the Exploring Handbook and find their idea had already been applied years ago. So, if you are a history buff and have an early edition of the Exploring Handbook, you can see the many similarities between the early days of Exploring and today’s Venturing.
If you really want to trace the roots of Venturing, you have to go way back. The need for a senior Boy Scout program probably surfaced the second day after Scouting started in the United States in 1910. Actually, in the very first National Executive Board meeting report, there is a discussion about losing older boys. It was no surprise to our founders that older boys needed an age-specific program with challenges appropriate for them. Older boy programs cropped up across the country during those early years, causing the need for national action. In 1935, the BSA created Senior Scouting, publishing the Guide to Senior Scouting. There were several options, including Explorers, Sea Scouts, and Air Scouts. In 1949, the BSA consolidated the senior programs, with the exception of Sea Scouts, into Explorer Scouts. At that time, a boy could be an Explorer in the troop or in a stand-alone unit called the Explorer post. The Explorer advancement program included the Bronze Award, the Gold Award, and the Silver Award. Sound familiar? The last Silver Awards were earned in 1966 as Exploring began to turn more toward career emphasis. That is until the new Venturing Silver Award was reintroduced in August 1998. The new Venturing advancement award medals are very similar in design to their predecessors of the 1940s and 1950s.
What was true in 1920 is true today: Older teens need a program specific to their needs and abilities. How old are our Venturers, anyway? Our age chart is almost a perfect bell curve with 17 being the highest point. Eighteen is next, followed by 16. There are actually more 19-year-olds than 14-year-olds. Because Venturing is very challenging and usually involves ambitious travel, it lends itself more to older teens.
When Associate Director Evans looks back over Venturing’s last seven years, he points out that the most enjoyable moments of the development are not related to the phenomenal growth. They are moments when he heard Eagle Scouts stand before a group and talk about how Venturing has allowed them a place to be an Eagle Scout and to continue to learn and grow. Moments when a young lady stands before a group to tell how she finally had a place to be a Scout along with her mom, dad, and brothers. Venturing does change lives.