Meet your 2016-17 National Venturing President and National Sea Scout Boatswain

Pratik Vaidya of the Chief Seattle Council has been elected National Venturing President, and Rachel West of the Austin, Texas-based Capitol Area Council has been named National Sea Scout Boatswain for the 2016-17 Scouting year.

Their terms as the youth members in charge of Venturing and Sea Scouting begin June 1, 2016, and end May 31, 2017.

Together with Order of the Arrow National Chief Hunter Jones, Vaidya and West are the three top youth representatives in Scouting. They’ll be invited to deliver the BSA’s 2016 Report to the Nation in late February 2017 in Washington, D.C.

2016-17 National Venturing President: Pratik Vaidya

Vaidya is the current Western Region Venturing President and is studying biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan.

He started in Scouting at age 7 as a member of Pack 159 in Herndon, Va. He has attended or served on staff at more Scouting training courses and events than I have space to name here.

He’s an Eagle Scout and Venturing Silver Award recipient.

As Western Region Venturing President, Vaidya started seven new council Venturing Officers’ Associations, or VOAs. VOAs give Venturers the power to plan events within the council and are an essential component of Venturing success.

In his year as National Venturing President, Vaidya hopes to improve communication in Venturing, create active VOAs in more than 50 percent of councils nationwide, promote Venturing programs (like VenturingFest), and “develop an atmosphere of camaraderie, unison and networking between national VOA officers to share ideas, strategies and techniques,” as he wrote when applying for the position.

2016-17 National Sea Scout Boatswain: Rachel West

West is an active member of the Texas Sea Scout community and a graduate of National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience, or NAYLE, and the Sea Scout SEAL training course.

She’s a member of Ship 911 of Georgetown, Texas, and has completed numerous leadership courses in Sea Scouting and Venturing. Like Vaidya, West is a recipient of the Venturing Silver Award.

She plans to study biology at the University of Texas at Austin and is a talented violinist in her high school’s orchestra.

West takes the helm of Sea Scouting at an interesting time for the program. In February, BSA volunteers and professionals voted to make Sea Scouting its own program within the BSA. It had previously been a part of Venturing.

The move is a “significant milestone for Sea Scouts, BSA,” according to a release from the National Sea Scout Support Committee. The change provides “Sea Scouting with access to the full range of attention and support at the National Council and throughout the BSA organization.”

In her application for National Boatswain, West says she wants to make a difference.

“I have been changed by my experience as a Sea Scout because I truly found the person I was meant to be,” she writes. “The leadership opportunities that I had through Scouts gave me enough confidence to be able to succeed in not only the Scout side of my life but all of my life.”