Five reasons why VenturingFest 2020 is a can’t-miss event

Venturers climb through the trees at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
Photo by W. Garth Dowling
Ryan Davis, VenturingFest 2020 Youth Chairman

Ryan Davis is ready to fly right past his comfort zone.

Next summer, on the winding and bumpy mountain bike trails at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, you’ll find Ryan zooming downhill at top speed.

Maybe he’ll be screaming; maybe he’ll be laughing. But he’ll most certainly be having the time of his life.

“I’ve never done mountain biking from a mix of concern and fear,” he says. “At VenturingFest, I will be reaching out of my comfort zone and giving it a try.”

The chance to embrace new experiences, meet interesting people from across the country and fully explore the BSA’s newest high-adventure base are why Venturers like Ryan are registering for VenturingFest 2020.

Registration is open for this third national gathering of Venturers, set for June 28 to July 3 at the stunning, high-adrenaline base in West Virginia.

To learn more, I talked to Ryan, the 20-year-old VenturingFest 2020 Youth Chairman and a member of the National Venturing Committee. He shared five reasons why VenturingFest 2020 should be part of your crew’s 2020 plan.

1. You’ll reach out of your comfort zone.

Ryan believes his story — of wanting to experience things that are a step or two beyond what he’d normally try — shouldn’t be unique.

“I personally believe that each person should come to VenturingFest to try at least one new thing that would pull them out of their comfort zone from what they’re used to and maybe haven’t done before,” he says.

As I shared in my Scouting magazine story about VenturingFest 2018, there’s something about SBR that inspires this kind of measured risk-taking. Venturers are encouraged but never pressured. It’s a fine line, but SBR staffers straddle it perfectly.

Alex Whearty is here to help. The 21-year-old SBR mountain biking staffer from Walpole, Mass., matches each rider to the perfect trail. If SBR’s “black diamond” routes are too intense for someone, Whearty selects an easier green or blue run. If that’s still too much, he’ll invite the participant to ride around the pavilion for a while. This is a zero-pressure zone.

“You get a lot of kids who come in and say they’ve never been on a bike before,” he says. “We try to encourage them, but when it comes down to it, it’s challenge by choice.”

That’s the mantra here at SBR and in Scouting as a whole: challenge by choice. In Scouting, you’re encouraged to try new things, to push your limits and to widen your comfort zone. But if you’re ever uncomfortable or just don’t feel up for something, that’s fine.

“If you don’t want to do it,” Whearty says, “we won’t make you do it.”

A Venturer on a water obstacle.
Photo by W. Garth Dowling

2. You’ll experience big adventures and small lines.

Don’t expect Disneyesque lines at VenturingFest 2020.

The event’s just-right size means Venturers can do more.

“We’ll have all of the key Summit adventure areas open and available without a set schedule,” Ryan says. “Spend more time leading the adventure instead of waiting in a line.”

3. You’ll meet amazing people.

Line dance with a Hawaiian or trade jokes with a Texan. Scouts from all over are again expected at VenturingFest.

“You have the opportunity to meet other youth from around the country and even the world and build those relationships for a lifetime,” Ryan says.

In my story about VenturingFest 2018 for Boys’ Life magazine, I wrote about the unique bonding experience that this event fosters.

That’s what it’s like in Venturing. Your green shirt creates an instant connection.

Soon you realize all Venturing crews deal with the same basic challenges. They want to improve crew meetings, recruit other Venturers and plan better trips.

You learn that everyone comes to SBR for the same basic reasons, too: They want to stretch their limits, try new things and meet people they’d never otherwise meet.

“Just being surrounded by all these other Scouts who are in the same shoes as you — looking for an adventure that they can’t grab back home,” says William Burns, a 20-year-old from Crew 503 of Dacula, Ga.

“Everyone’s on the same level.”

Venturers at a dance party
Photo by W. Garth Dowling

4. You’ll customize your schedule.

As it turns out, not every Venturer is a night owl. That piece of feedback from participants at VenturingFest 2018 inspired Ryan and the planning team to add new morning activities to the usual crop of evening offerings at VenturingFest 2020.

One such activity: stand-up paddleboard yoga.

“We want everyone in attendance to do something they haven’t done before, so we figured, why not try this?” Ryan says. “Of course, we’ll have a dance party, a movie under the stars with a lot of popcorn and more.”

5. You’ll get to relax a little.

With school, Scouting and other extracurricular activities, Venturers are busy.

That makes VenturingFest an ideal opportunity for a summer getaway.

“Don’t worry about cooking or managing a schedule,” Ryan says. “We will be cooking and serving three meals a day for you with open program blocks and limited scheduling so you really can go and do what you want.”

Venturer going down a hill on mountain bike.
Photo by W. Garth Dowling

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.