Get to know the 2018-2019 National Venturing Officers’ Association

The six young people selected to serve on the 2018-2019 National Venturing Officers’ Association will play a critical role.

With the support of adult volunteers and professionals, they will shape Venturing’s future, make important decisions and serve as Venturing’s public face.

Their term — June 1, 2018, to May 31, 2019 — will include the second half of Venturing’s 20th anniversary year. These six also will be at the helm during VenturingFest 2018, the national gathering of Venturers set for July 1 to 6 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. (I’ll be there. Will you?)

The 2018-2019 National Venturing Officers’ Association president, Dominic Wolters, will become one of the three top youth leaders in Scouting. He joins Jack Otto, 2018-2019 National Sea Scout Boatswain, and Anthony Peluso, 2018 National Chief of the Order of the Arrow.

Let’s meet the members of your 2018-2019 National Venturing Officers’ Association. You’ll hear about their favorite Scouting memories, an adult who made a difference, their favorite piece of camping gear and more.

Dominic Wolters, National Venturing Officers’ Association President

Council: Northern Star Council (headquartered in St. Paul, Minn.)

Favorite Scouting memory: “Watching the sunset over the Tooth of Time at Philmont when I was at [the Philmont Training Center] teaching last summer.

What makes Venturing unique: “The flexibility of the program. Venturing connects a youth’s passions to activities that will help them to grow as people and as leaders, whatever those passions or activities may be.”

What he does when not Venturing: “This fall I’ll be attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to study economics and finance. I also love to swim, run, and spend time with friends and family.”

An adult who made a difference: “Faith Anderson. She was my council VOA Advisor when I first got involved in Venturing. Working with Faith was always a great experience because she listened. She would gently steer you away from really bad ideas, but she let you explore and make mistakes and learn at your own pace. Her kindness and listening is a large part of why I am here today.”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “The spork. When I was first joining Scouting, my troop would go camping, and whenever we’d do dishes, I would always hate having to wash multiple pieces of silverware from my meal. Enter the spork. It had the benefits of all three utensils (mine had a serrated edge on the fork part) and I only had to wash one thing. Revolutionary.”

Jake Brillhart, National Venturing Officers’ Association Vice President

Council: Indian Nations Council (headquartered in Tulsa, Okla.)

Favorite Scouting memory: “Anything related to the 2017 National Jamboree. Being able to share an experience like it with over 30,000 Scouts and Scouters was phenomenal, and, of course, Foxtrot Base Camp was the crown jewel. Whether it was dancing Elvises or meeting Scouts from around the globe, camp life was truly better up on the hill.”

What makes Venturing unique: “Program design. There’s not a program I’m aware that incorporates and celebrates such a diversity of experiences for its members. Whether it’s STEM or shooting sports, wilderness first aid or whitewater rafting, we encourage our members to make the most of their Venturing experience and make their journey unique.”

What he does when not Venturing: “I currently attend Collinsville High School, and I will be attending Rogers State University to study public affairs. Ultimately, I’d like to go work as a professional Scouter. Outside of school and Scouts, I do freelance graphic design work for several nonprofits in my community. I also serve as a board member of the Brandon Magalassi Foundation, a suicide prevention charity.”

An adult who made a difference: “Outside of my parents, Debbie Downey has been a great mentor for me. She’s been alongside me since I joined Venturing and has been an advocate for the youth. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with a Scout executive or a district chair, I know Debbie is always in my corner and supports me and other area VOA officers.”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “My camp mug. Growing up in multiple states, there’s something reassuring about turning over that mug and seeing all the brands from the places Scouting has taken me.”

Pamela Petterchak, Central Region Venturing Officers’ Association President

Council: Greater St. Louis Area Council

Favorite Scouting memory: “Snorkeling with my crew at Florida Sea Base. During one of our dives, we swam through a huge school of beautiful fish while making our way to a coral reef. Experiencing the amazing beauty of the ocean was a memory I will always cherish, and I also faced my horrible fear of fish!”

What makes Venturing unique: “The Venturing program encourages adventures that push youth outside of their personal bubble. As a Venturer, youth get to explore the world outside of their school by attending summer camps, holding leadership positions and serving in their local community. These experiences are unique because they prepare you for life in the real world and create cherished memories.”

What she does when not Venturing: “This fall, I will be studying computer engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. In my free time, I like going bike riding, playing percussion, competing in cyber security competitions, and spending time with my family and dogs.”

An adult who made a difference: “My crew and district advisor, Michael O’Donnell, has been one of my strongest supporters in Scouting. He helped me recognize my potential to lead others, and I can always go to him for advice and support. I would say that he’s my personal ‘cheerleader!'”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “My hammock. Not only is it a fun and different way to experience camping, it’s so comfortable!”

Katelyn St. Louis, Northeast Region Venturing Officers’ Association President

Council: Spirit of Adventure Council (serving the Boston area)

Favorite Scouting memory: “When I went to Sea Base and we were able to do a dawn dive. We all woke up sometime around 3 a.m., put on our scuba gear, jumped into pitch black water, and ascended just in time to see the sunrise.”

What makes Venturing unique: “Because the youth take the reigns and control what they want to get out of the program. If they want to go caving or on a high adventure, they have the power and support they need to organize and plan it.”

What she does when not Venturing: “Next year, I will attend the University of New Hampshire with a major in biology. In high school, I’ve been involved two show choirs, a microbiology research society, National Honor Society and drama club. Currently, I also work part time at Old Navy.”

An adult who made a difference: “My crew advisor, Judy Dedinsky. Judy was there every step of the way when I assumed leadership positions, both in and out of the crew. She made me realize my potential and pushed me to challenge myself. I would definitely not be the person I am today without her guidance and consistent support.”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “My hiking boots. I’ve had them since my first hiking trip with Crew 7, and I’ve taken them on almost every high adventure. Although it’s probably time for a new pair, they have so many memories behind them.”

Ryan Davis, Southern Region Venturing Officers’ Association President

Council: Gulf Stream Council (headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)

Favorite Scouting memory: “When I was at Northern Tier taking the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience course back in the summer of 2015. We had just finished setting up camp and cooking dinner. As a crew, we laid back on a tiered berm overlooking the water and looked up at the stars. It was truly mesmerizing. In the distance you could faintly see the Northern Lights. While we laid there, our course director, Keith Gelhausen, told us a story that really opened my eyes personally about how leadership connects to your everyday life.”

What makes Venturing unique: “The environment. Every branch of Scouting has a different environment, and I would definitely say Venturing has the most adventurous and partylike environment. You’re able to whitewater raft from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then go line dancing from 5 to 7 and then gorge out to fried Oreos and ice cream for the remainder of the day. I would consider that to be a pretty unique and awesome environment!”

What he does when not Venturing: “I am currently a student at Broward College, majoring in education. I am also a full-time employee of the Geek Squad at Best Buy. With the free time I have in between Scouting, school and work, I do my best spending it with my pup Alfred [pictured] either swimming, hiking or canoeing.”

An adult who made a difference: “My previous area Advisor: Todd Graczyk. We accomplished quite a bit in the last year in Area 4, and it was pretty stressful at some points. His ability to always pull the positive out of a stressful situation and be able to joke around while discreetly pushing us in the right direction is something I definitely admire!”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “My water bottle. I always have several on me when outdoors, but they aren’t always used for water. I generally have a package of Oreos and Goldfish hidden in one of my spare bottles.”

Reece Kilbey, Western Region Venturing Officers’ Association President

Council: Aloha Council (headquartered in Honolulu)

Favorite Scouting memory: “Seeing the sun break through the fog of Haleakalā Volcano for an early morning sunrise while shivering from the frigid air. This was the last day of our 50-mile hike in the crater, and boy was my troop tired, smelly and in need of a hot meal. I’m looking forward to making tons of new memories at VenturingFest this summer!”

What makes Venturing unique: “The possibilities are endless! With the support of your fellow Venturers and Advisors, there’s not much that your crew canʻt do. If you want to sail to another island, letʻs plan it and go! The Venturing program is full of unique opportunities.”

What he does when not Venturing: “I am a freshman at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and am tied between botany and microbiology as majors. I have a deep fascination with orchids, collecting more than 250 species in my backyard.”

An adult who made a difference: “There have been countless adults that have mentored me, and without all of them I wouldn’t be here today. Mr. Lai and I founded Crew 808, and he has stood by me and supported me through many hardships. He first started mentoring me when I was the senior patrol leader of my troop and he was Scoutmaster. It seemed only natural that we continued our leadership in the Venturing program. From late-night calls to last-minute adjustments to activities, he’s always been there.”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “A tie between my sandals and my coffee cup. Both are equally important to any adventure with Reece and should always be the first thing packed.”