By the time they get to be Venturers in the Scouting movement, the young men involved have learned important life skills by working as part of a team, volunteering to help improve the community and helping others.
The hard work of four 1st Elmira Venturers was recognized on Oct. 24 when they were presented with the Queen’s Venturer Award at the 24th annual provincial ceremony at Queen’s Park.
Ben Bell, William Johnson, Keegan Mathers and Alex Fisher were presented with the award by Lt. Governor David Onley, recognizing they possess the character and ability to be of service to their community.
“This is my last year so it’s an accumulation of everything we do throughout the program,” said William Johnson.
“We build character, gain friendships and learn how to work together.”
Johnson, 17, said that Venturers is for young men in high school, and that the four recipients of the award are the oldest boys in the club. There are four others in Grade 11, and five who have just joined this year from Scouts.
The award recipients must demonstrate skills and knowledge in a number of areas, including fitness and exploration. They must also hold a current standard level first aid certificate, and be certified in a service skill such as the bronze medallion, ski patrol or search-and-rescue. Additional requirements include acting as a community leader or working with youth clubs; they must be actively involved in a decision-making body such as student council; and must demonstrate continued spirituality.
They must also complete at least 50 hours of volunteer work, and the 1st Elmira Venturers have easily surpassed that as they have been very active in the local community for many years.
“We help with the Kiwanis Club and their Lobsterfest and Oktoberfest events, and we do log-sawing at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival as well. We also have a float in the Elmira Santa Clause Parade,” explained Johnson.
Venturers isn’t just about working and volunteering, either. They maintain a close connection to the Beaver, Cub, and Scout tradition of camping and learning outdoors skills. They are responsible for planning and organizing their own camping trips, and that they’ve been to Killarney Provincial Park on several occasions.
The group also spent some time in Florida this past year learning how to scuba dive.
For advisor Brad Fisher, watching these four young men achieve this prestigious award choked him up a little bit.
He came up through the system with his son, Alex, starting in Cubs and working all the way to Venturers.
“I went through their learning curves with them in some ways, and it’s a very emotional and proud moment for sure.”
Fisher said the demands of Venturers are very different from those of Scouts and the younger groups – the young men are responsible for planning their own trips and packing their own supplies.
“It’s quite a demanding program. When they arrive at Venturers they have all the skills they’ve picked up from Scouting – whether or not they knew they were picking them up. It’s expected they know what they need on camping trips, and if they didn’t bring it, they’re old enough to remember what went wrong, and they won’t do it again,” he said with a laugh.
Fisher’s role, along with the other advisors Brian Soehner, Daryl Bridge, David Johnson and Jim Wilkinson, is to act as “armchair” advisors and to offer advice when asked by the boys.
The next step after Venturers is Rovers, but Johnson notes Elmira doesn’t have a Rover troop yet. He plans to attend university for environmental science, adding he and the other members of the troop may help with the leadership aspect of the younger Beavers, Cubs and Scouts in town.
Johnson said he has really enjoyed his time in the Venturers, noting he has made a good group of friends that he will have for the rest of his life, thanks to the strong bonds they’ve developed.