TOMS RIVER – Scouts who are a part of the Venture Crew 129, chartered by the American Legion Post #129 in Toms River, have earned their Summit Award and much more throughout their adventurous year.
The Venture Crew was initially formed to give scouts a high adventure program and shifted its focus to meet the demand for more S.T.E.M. related programming that was in demand. An Explorer Club, started by advisor Melissa Townsend, was based in S.T.E.M. activities that mirrored some of the programming of the Venture Crew.
In 2018, the Crew participated in Venturefest at the Summit Bechtel Reserve where they were introduced to kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boards. This started a “Sea Scouts Ship” and based it on paddle craft. This interest shifted the Explorer Club’s program to a maritime focused S.T.E.M. program.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders and scouts worked hard over the past year with virtual meetings, in-person responsibilities and intense training. Training was provided by the crew’s leadership and the Northeast Region where they were able to get introduced to maritime activities and earn some rank requirements.
Some activities the scouts have enjoyed included cycling, fishing, hiking, camping, shooting sports, snorkeling and various S.T.E.M. activities. In addition, the scouts have also completed ILSC, first aid, CPR, Wilderness First Aid, and the Kodiak and Kodiak XL Challenge as the crew completed the requirements over the summer.
A few members went on for additional training and completed the Leave no Trace Trainers program as well as the Certified Angling Instructor Program. All eligible members were elected to the Order of the Arrow and actively participate in cheerful service when the opportunity arises.
Other achievements from the year are: joined the Jersey Shore Council quarterdeck, completed the 50-mile Award, completed the BSA Stand Up Paddleboard Award, completed the BSA Kayaking award, co-hosted the Toms River Paddle Race, and several scouts earned the entry level Sea Scout’s Marksmanship Awards in Rifle, Shotgun and Pistols.
Each scout has earned the Summit Award, the Eagle Scout rank, William T. Hornaday Award, Council Leadership Award, Scout Strong Presidential Active Award, the Venturing Marksmanship Award, and the Ranger Award.
Romel C. and Ashley S. have led the adventure for the crew over the past few years. Romel has earned the BSA youth Religious Emblem, National Outdoor Achievement Award with all the devices, Doctor Bernard Harris Supernova Award, Thomas Edison Supernova Award, BSA Complete Angler Award, Venturing Quest and Trust Award, World Conservation Award, Messenger of Peace Award, Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award, and is one merit badge away from earning them all.
“The uniqueness of the blended three-unit approach has enabled our program to attract students from the entire district to participate in one or more programs. The program promotes an environment that includes all families to participate with their scout. The Duty to God program is offered twice a year to all scouts who desire to participate and develop a deeper spiritual understanding. The crew also participates in joint programming with several other units which helps round out the traditional aspects of scouting such as camping, and traditional scout skilled activities like the Klondike Derby. It also offers the ship an opportunity to share paddling with other scouts,” Townsend said.