Youth-led isn’t just for Venturing crews. It applies to the entire Venturing program, as well.
Tyler Grey, an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, has been named the 2020-2021 National Venturing Officers’ Association President. His term as the Venturing program’s top youth leader begins today — June 1, 2020.
A Venturing officers’ association, or VOA, is a group of Venturers that works together to provide support for Venturing crews, share resources and organize events. There’s a VOA at every level of Venturing: district, council, area, regional and national.
Tyler, 19, is a member of Crew 1956 of Simi Valley, Calif., part of the BSA’s Western Los Angeles County Council.
During his term, which lasts until May 31, 2021, Tyler will attend and help plan council, regional and national Venturing events, work to recruit more young people into Venturing and serve on national committees to shape Venturing’s future.
Throughout his term, he will continue to meet Venturers from across the country, uniting in the bond that all “Greenshirts” share.
“My favorite part of my Venturing experience has been making so many genuine friendships and connections with Venturers from across the country,” Tyler says. “Everyone I have met has been very genuine and kind to me, and it’s truly inspiring to see Scouting’s values in action in everyday relations.”
I reached out to Tyler to learn more about his Scouting journey, his favorite Venturing memory and the biggest misconception people have about Venturing.
Tyler’s Scouting résumé
Tyler joined Venturing in 2015, but his Scouting journey began in second grade.
“When I joined Cub Scouts, my sole priority was to become an Eagle Scout, just like my father,” he says. “Throughout all my endeavors in the Scouting program, my father has always provided support and has truly believed in me — something I appreciate immensely.”
Tyler moved to Scouts BSA (then called Boy Scouts) in 2011. In 2013, he completed his goal and became an Eagle Scout. For his Eagle project, Tyler repaired, primed and painted a 300-foot wall at his elementary school. He also painted a mural inside the school.
“Becoming a second-generation Eagle Scout and having my dad at my side through my tenure in the program has been such a fulfilling experience,” Tyler says.
But the young man didn’t stop there. From 2011 to 2018, Tyler earned 111 merit badges and 18 Eagle Palms.
He’s also a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society.
Tyler says a three-day whitewater rafting trip down the American River in Northern California shows what the Venturing program can do for young people.
It was 2015, and Tyler was still new to Venturing.
“I wasn’t too familiar with everyone in my crew,” he says. “At first, I spent a lot of time with my mother, father and sister.”
But eventually, he started to branch out and connect with other members of the crew. They played cards, listened to music and talked about life.
“By the end of the second day, I had almost forgotten my family was there with me,” he says. “I think this was my turning point in the Venturing program. Once I was able to connect with the people around me and form friendships, I actively wanted to go to crew meetings and participate in all activities.”
Misconceptions about Venturing
Tyler has heard some Scouts BSA youth and adult members express concerns that Venturing crews steal young people away from their troop.
“This is not true,” he says. “The aim of the Venturing program is to enhance leadership skills and opportunities. Ideally, Venturers will return to their Cub Scout pack or Scouts BSA troop to provide service as a den chief or a troop guide.”
As Tyler himself proves, a young person can be active in both programs. Young people often find that Venturing crews enhance and extend their Scouting experience. With older youth, crews can plan longer, more extreme high-adventure trips.
He also points to one more misconception he’d like to gently correct: “It’s Venturer and Venturing crew, not Venture Scout and Venture crew.”
How to recruit Venturers
So how can Venturers invite other young people into their crew? Tyler says it starts at high schools.
“Youth in ninth and 10th grade are looking for opportunities for adventure, leadership, personal growth and service,” he says. “We just need to show them it’s there and it’s easy to join. The beginning of high school is a crucial time period to engage these youth while the scope of their interest is still broad.”
Follow Tyler’s journey
As National VOA President, Tyler wants to:
- Unite the National VOA to strengthen ties with the National Venturing Committee
- Increase transparency and visibility through Twitter outreach
- Launch National VOA open house events
- Create orientation resources for regional and area VOAs to use when training their incoming officer teams
To follow his journey, find him on Twitter: @NVOAPresident. Best of luck to Tyler as he begins this new chapter.