Jordan Parkes was 13 when she first heard about Venturing.
Her brother had just crossed over from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts when someone told her about the green-shirt-wearing, adventure-packed program for young men and young women ages 14 (or 13 and finished with eighth grade) to 21.
On her 14th birthday, Jordan joined Crew 14 of Vancouver, Wash., part of the Cascade Pacific Council.
In the years since, Jordan, now 17, has found great success in that green shirt. She served on camp staff. She was elected crew president, received the Council Venturing Leadership Award, and earned Venturing’s highest honor, the Summit Award.
Jordan says becoming a Venturer has changed her life in significant ways. Here are five.
Five things Jordan learned in Venturing
1. How much she can learn from her peers.
During her first summer as a Venturer, Jordan serve on day camp staff at the Cascade Pacific Council’s Camp Lewis.
In her role as a staffer in training, Jordan learned how much she can learn from her peers. Even young men and young women just a few years older than Jordan could teach her plenty, she found.
“They inspired me to work harder and to think outside the box,” Jordan says. “They taught me leadership and taught me I could be my silly, goofy self.”
Jordan liked the gig so much that she spent the next three summers on staff at Camp Meriwether, the council’s camp on the scenic Oregon coast and a camp featured in Scouting magazine.
“I learned more and continued to grow as a person,” she says. “The staff I’ve spent my time with have become friends and even like family. Staffing gave me the power to love me for me.”
2. How much she can teach to others.
It all clicked for Jordan when, at the end of one of the camp weeks at Meriwether, a troop presented her with a neckerchief signed by every Scout. The Scouts then asked her to be an honorary member of their troop.
That type of validation, while never expected, is wonderful.
“These things have changed me,” Jordan says. “Making a difference in the world doesn’t need to be huge. I learned that I can make a difference in the world one person at a time.”
3. That you’re never done improving yourself.
Whether you’ve been in Scouting for five decades or five minutes, you’re never really done learning.
Jordan has that drive to keep improving, and it’s why she has taken and taught classes at her Order of the Arrow lodge’s Leadership Development Conference. She attended National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference, too.
“I believe that something more can be learned every day of our lives,” she says. “Each one of these experiences has taught me more about myself, leading in the community and how to teach others.”
4. How to let go and let others lead … and even fail.
Jordan says her toughest lesson was learning to step back and follow. To let others lead.
Scouters know the joys of watching a young person excel in a leadership role. But that can’t happen if you don’t relinquish the reins.
“I have been there to support them, answer questions and sometimes let them fail, even if I could have done something to help,” Jordan says. “Failure is a chance for them to learn and grow.”
5. How to ignore those who are overly critical.
Accepting constructive feedback is an important part of being a leader. Letting rude and hurtful comments get to you is not.
As Jordan entered middle school and then high school, she started to care more about how others perceived her.
“I thought, ‘I have to look nice. I need to make a good impression,'” she says.
On Venturing’s birthday one year, Jordan wore her green Venturing shirt to school. Some of her classmates looked at her funny and asked if she was a Scout.
“I was proud to say, ‘Yes, I am. I’m in Venturing,'” she says.
Jordan doesn’t let those comments get to her anymore.
“I’m confident in who I am as a person and don’t need their approval,” she says. “Venturing has given me the confidence to not care what anyone thinks of me. I know that I have skills and leadership abilities that I can use throughout my life. Wherever the trail leads.”
Jordan, I think the trail will lead you to some phenomenal places. Thanks for sharing, and good luck on your journey!