The first time Edward Abraham went snow-camping with his Venturing crew, he knew he was in the right program.
Years later, the current Western Region Venturing President is poised to become the top youth leader of Venturing, the BSA’s life-changing program for young men and young women who are at least 14 (or 13 and done with the eighth grade) but not yet 21.
Edward takes over as National Venturing President on June 1. He will succeed Maddie Culwell.
Edward is an Eagle Scout and Venturing Silver Award recipient. He has staffed National Advanced Youth Leadership Training (NAYLE). He has traveled more than 25,000 miles as Western Region Venturing President. He works at REI.
Even with all of those commitments, he somehow has time to be a college student, too. He attends San Jose State University and is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.
I caught up with Edward by email to learn more about him and his vision for Venturing in 2015, 2016 and beyond.
He explains what a National Venturing President does, how Venturers are handling recent changes to the program and what he feels is the biggest misconception about Venturing.
Bryan Wendell: How long have you been in Scouting?
Edward Abraham: I have been involved with Scouting ever since I was 7. I actually became a Cub Scout while living in Hong Kong, thanks to Direct Service BSA.
BW: What’s one Scouting place you haven’t yet been to that you’re dying to see?
EA: I’ve always wanted to go to Northern Tier. From all of the photos and stories my friends have shared with me, why wouldn’t I want to go canoeing in such a beautiful place?
BW: What exactly does a National Venturing President do?
EA: The National Venturing President represents Venturing at national meetings and attends Venturing events across the nation, when invited. The most important job of the National Venturing President is to support and aid the regions in their efforts to train Venturers and advisors in councils to start Council Venturing Officers’ Associations.
BW: You’re about to be the face of Venturing. What does that mean to you?
EA: To be the face of Venturing means to be authentic to the values of the program. It also means to be a role model in order to inspire youth inside and outside of the program
BW: You’re currently serving as Western Region Venturing President. What have you learned in that role?
EA: The Western Region is geographically huge, and as the Western Region Venturing President, I’ve learned how to communicate and successfully work with individuals from different corners of the region. I’ve also been able to experience and see how Venturing is different across the region through my travels and interactions with youth. These skills and experiences are things that I will definitely bring to the National Venturing Youth Cabinet next term.
BW: Some new Scouting families might not be familiar with Venturing. How would you explain the program to them in 10 words or fewer?
EA: It’s for youth to discover and lead their own adventures.
BW: 10 exactly! I like it. What does Venturing offer a young man or young woman they can’t get anywhere else?
EA: Venturing is the only program that I know of that has such a high emphasis on being youth driven and youth run. Not only do youth in the program get to become leaders, but also they are able to strive to try new things.
BW: Where would you like to see Venturing at the end of your term? What about five years from now?
EA: At the end of my term, I would love to see that every single area in the nation has active and running Area Venturing Officers’ Associations. In five years, I’d like to see Venturing with positive membership growth and stable Council Venturing Officers’ Associations across the nation.
BW: What’s the biggest misconception about Venturing? How can we reverse it?
EA: A misconception that I hear too much about Venturing is that it takes boys away from troops. For a couple of years I was an active Boy Scout and Venturer, and the skills and leadership that I learned from Venturing motivated me to be a mentor to the youth in my troop until I aged out. The way to change this is to successfully communicate with the other programs in the BSA.
BW: What do you think of the new Venturing awards program?
EA: I am a huge fan of the new Venturing awards program because the awards reflect the growth and maturity of a Venturer from when they first join the crew to when they age out. From participation to mentoring and being a servant leader, the new awards program should be something that all Venturers strive to accomplish.
BW: Last year, Venturing adopted the Scout Oath and Scout Law. How are crews adjusting to the change?
EA: From my travels this past year across the Western Region and even different parts of the country, I’ve seen crews are adjusting quite well to this change. Being unified with the other programs in the BSA is something that I see very important.
BW: And finally, what’s your favorite part about Venturing?
EA: My favorite part of Venturing is the endless opportunities that it has given me and will continue to give me in the future. I’ve tried new outdoor adventures and learned how to become a better servant leader. Venturing always has something new to teach me.
Hat tip: Thanks to Brian Gray, the BSA’s outdoor program coordinator, for the details. And of course to Edward for the interview.