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Venturers Find Meaning in the Woods

Young men and women under the Boy Scouts of America contribute to the community while reflecting on life and still having fun.

Rolling out of bed on a cold Saturday morning is not an easy thing to do, especially for a teenager at the end of spring break.

Emily Mausshardt, 16, is president of Venturing Crew 627, which had a conservation project to do that day.

A few blocks away, Tim Avery, 15, prepared for the same high-adventure program, which was getting ready to clear honeysuckle on a cold, snowy morning.

The crew was to have an early rendezvous at their meeting hub, Holy Infant Catholic Church in Ballwin, before heading to the day’s destination, Beaumont Scout Ranch in High Ridge, MO. That was the itinerary last Saturday for Venturing Crew 627, which was started by a former Scoutmaster and Girl Scout Leader, Chris Ford.

Having connections with both Girl and Boy Scouts was a good place to start, considering that Venturing is Co-Ed. Still, not all his Crew members are from Scout Troops, nor or they all parishioners at Holy Infant. Rather, the Venturing BSA program is designed for young men and women from age 14 through 21, and is tailored to outdoor activities, or as Tim Avery would say, “high adventure”.

Ford stood on the church parking lot with adult Associate Adviser Lori Bresnan, and her two grown kids, including Erin, 17.

Another Crew member, Chris Nowak, 16, pulled into the lot, along with George Mausshardt, 19, and his younger sister Emily right behind.

 “After reaching the rank of Eagle with the Boy Scouts, I wanted a new and different challenge,” Mausshardt said on the drive up to the camp. “Venturing touts high adventure activities, but it doesn’t hurt that girls are involved, too.”

It's all part of the three aims of Scouting – Citizenship, Character and Fitness – which are the building blocks that guide the activities that Venturers experience. Conservation or other service projects are intended to build the character of the young people involved, as well as fitness and good citizenship.   

Roy Avery and his son Tim couldn’t quite make it to the church on time Saturday, so instead met the crew at the base, where Ford was reminding the Venturers about the day’s mission: To cut down, clear out and otherwise fight through the invasion of Japanese Honeysuckle that is taking over the woodlands at Beaumont.

Ford then held up a freshly cut piece of honeysuckle and continued.

 “This is what you are clearing out of here today, so take a good look and remember to cut it just above ground level.”

This conservation project is a continuation of the one the Crew started last summer on a Trek to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico.

“In our effort to earn the Fifty-Miler award, we performed a three hour project out at Philmont last year, but in order to finish our service we have to do an additional seven hours back at home in our own council,” Ford told the group. “That’s why we’re here today”.

Before finishing for the day, light snowfall became somewhat of a blizzard. While this may have slowed the pace of cutting down the Honeysuckle, it did little to dampen the spirits of the Crew. A few well placed snowballs kept the mood light and friendly, and when it was all over, the Venturers knew their mission was complete.

 For more information about the Venturing program in your area, go to their new website, www.venturing.gslac.org

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