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First ever National Venturing Event announcement

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Hello everyone,


Perhaps a bit of history and a more behind the scenes look would help to alleviate some of the concerns.


First, we know it may not be what you were looking for. I too would someday like to see a National Venturing weeklong activity, put on at a National Level. But this year, it wasn't happening. And as we got closer to the Centennial Year, with no Centennial Activity for Venturers on the horizon, the Youth of our Council VOA asked if they could put on one, using our annual event the Fall Fun Rally as the event. This event, the largest annual gathering of Venturers in the country with more than 700 in attendance annually (historically there have been over 2000 people in attendance) is really only one of two events that could have been named as such. The other is the Winterfest in Gatlinburg, a good event I'll be at with a GSLAC contingent in a couple weeks. Gatlinburg is primarily an Exploring event (though there will be hundreds of Venturers there too), and does very well as a annual regional event on a weekend just as the Fall Fun Rally.


In any case, for the date, that's a hard thing to pick even within just a council. At a certain point, you can't avoid everything. And this year, if you were to have a national event for Venturing, you'd have to steer clear of the Jamboree, and summer camps. That pretty much means it has to be done during the school year. We know this will limit attendance, but we're going to do everything we can to make this work better. People will likely have to miss one day of school if you have to drive more than 6 hours, but all I can say is that we're certain you'll have the experience to balance that. Life is about choices, and the youth we tend to get in Venturing are busy no matter which weekend we choose. High School Dances, College Football, and even NFL games will be impossible to miss in the fall. Will everyone be able to attend? No. Other events are hard to attend because of the cost. Trust me, we are sensitive to these and will do what we can to alleviate these issues.



We're also sensitive to the fact its a weekend event which may be outside easy driving distance for most folks. We're in the process of lining up blocks at neighboring hotels, and we'll be making suggestions for getting in and out of St. Louis. For those of you in driving distance, we're looking at doing a ride share board for people from councils to share, and encouraging councils to get contingents together (such as people in the Southern Region do annually for Gatlinburg). One advantage to doing this just in suburban St. Louis is that our airport (served by the major carriers) is only about 35 minutes to Beaumont.


From our standpoint, we don't see this as being the only way to hold a National event. I think this year this is the designated National Event, but in the future, I would see other councils asking for that designation (with a demonstrated plan as we did) or maybe National putting something on, after proving there is a market for it this year. For me its important that we make this successful, because this is the first event of its type, and whatever happens here will impact how the future of 'National Venturing Events' happens. So I would ask the Venturing community to offer suggestions on improving this, especially with 8 months to do so.


If you have an idea, or would like to help with the event, feel free to contact the FFR committee. We'll be posting a suggestion board, FAQ, and staff volunteer form at the www.fallfunrally.org website in the coming days.


I look forward to meeting many of you at this event, and continuing the discussion on how to improve the event in the coming months.



Jeff Abernathy

Fall Fun Rally Advisor -- 2010

Greater St. Louis Area Council


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We have been discussing this on the BSA Venturer Facebook group as well. It seems that the only ones really excited about this are the ones within a 5-6 hour drive.


A couple of points...


From the Panhandle of Florida it is a 12 hour drive by car, 14-15 by bus. If a Crew from Phoenix, AZ wanted to attend, they would be looking at a 22 hour trip one way (via car). Boston? 20 hours. ... You are looking at more time spent getting to the event than you actually spend doing stuff.


Per Amanda Vogt:

"As to the event schedule:

We are starting things around 6pm on Friday, and there will be multiple Friday night activities going until at least midnight, and we start back up on Saturday morning and have over 50 some things happening that day, with a closing show and multiple evening events that night (again until midnight). On Sunday we are still talking about having some type of activity going, but we have actually gotten the response from many units over the years (in and out of council units) that said they would prefer to just head home so that the youth have time to finish homework before heading back to school on Monday. So the event is really running for 6 hours on Friday, and 16 hours on Saturday."


I am sorry, but this really needs to happen on a 3 day weekend, with check-in on the Friday (or Thursday if Friday is part of the 3 day weekend) prior. This would allow 2 full days of fun/chaos and day 3 for travel. You can call it a "National Event", but if it is not feasible for Ventures throughout the the Nation to attend, it really isn't one.




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Heck, looking at it like that, it's not feasible for Scouts from opposite sides of the country to attend Philmont or Jambo. I give these folks major kudos for working hard on this. Maybe it'll evolve into something bigger and better down the road!

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John-in-KC sez: "Of course, GSLAC is never wrong."


I may be talking out of my hat here, John. But just the description of their Rally sounds pretty amazing to me. Does our beloved HOAC do anything really equal to that? Something that might be considered "National" caliber? Again speaking from a platform of virtual ignorance of the Venturing program in our town, it just seems to me that it has been a little slow to take off. Our mutual district seems to have a fine crew or two, but I'm not seeing a lot from the Council as a whole. And if you're comparing apples-to-apples I would think our Venturing program should rival in size and scope to the one in St. Louis.

Just my two-bit observation.


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I'll toss in my 2-cents worth.


Boy Scouts have a commonality that is shared by every troop throughout the world.


Troops gather at district and council levels because they share this commonality of interest and program.


They will make the bigger effort if even pieced together to get to a national jamboree.


Even a few scouts may make the biggest effort to get to a world jamboree.


However, venturing is based on diversity of interests. There is no way that a scuba crew and a reenacting crew are going to find some common interest that will draw them together even within the same town.


Maybe groups of certain interests may pull something off, i.e. Sea Scouts, or Venturing Crews all designed around high adventure, etc. I can see this happening on, at the most, a regional basis.


I am thinking the numbers of interested Venturing scouts just are not going to be there for anything on a national level to justify the effort put into it. As one can see from the comments thus far, maybe a regional event is possible with a lot of extra effort, but a national? Not going to happen.


My boys went half way across the country to attend a non-BSA national event because it was focused on the interest of the Venturing crew. Yet they have never attended a district or council Venturing event in their 10 year history. For most of our boys traveling 1-2 hours to make a crew meeting is not a problem for them. One of our boys came the night before and stayed in a hotel so he would be ready at 8:00 am the next day for the meeting. Obviously, travel isn't an issue for our crew. Driving 3-4 hours for an event is common.



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"However, venturing is based on diversity of interests. There is no way that a scuba crew and a reenacting crew are going to find some common interest that will draw them together even within the same town."


Not true.


We've had many Venturing events that have a variety of activities and bring in a wide range crews/ships. IF crews/ships take a narrow-minded attitude of 'you must provide activities exactly tied to our specialty, or we won't come', there's not much you can do. But if crews/ships are willing to come to a FUN filled event with a variety of activities they can do with fellow Venturers, most will come. We had an event that brought out several crews, including one that was a scuba crew. We had NOTHING scuba oriented, but they had fun doing stuff like archery, COPE, etc.



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@ shortridge - You say "Heck, looking at it like that, it's not feasible for Scouts from opposite sides of the country to attend Philmont or Jambo."


These are week long events and it is feasible to attend. To compare a 1.25 day event to Philmont or the Jamboree is crazy...


Make the "Venture National Event" worth the trip to get to it and people will come. My Crew is was all geared up and ready to go to this when they first started talking about it, but as soon as they found out it was scheduled to go just one full day... All that enthusiasm just disappeared.





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@ Shortridge - From Delaware It would be a long haul, but you also added the Jamboree in there and that is only a few hours away.


While I realize not everyone is going to be central to each location, the event should be long enough to offset the travel time to get there and back. If the event is big enough and it is something worth doing, the travel time/cost would be worth it. From where I am, roundtrip to Philmont is 42 hours. Was it worth it for us? Yes. Would we have gone if we lived in Delaware? Probably. We might have changed travel plans and used an aircraft vs a bus, but we still would have gone.


We go to Gatlinburg for Winterfest each year as well. 9 1/2 hours drive time each way, only 3 hours shorter than the drive would be to the Fall Fun Rally. So why not go the extra 3 hours?? They are doing nothing there that we cannot do here. At least in Gatlinburg the kids can do something they never get to do here. SKI!!! So the event makes the travel time worth it.


So as I said before... I am glad they have stepped up and are trying to get a National Event for the Ventures up and running. We need it and the kids want it. Now make it long enough so that when we show up we can get into it :)

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I'm not promoting that unless the activity is of the crew's interest they should try and dictate to the organizers that they take that into consideration. It's just that if the boys/girls have X amount of $ to spend, they are more apt to spend it on activities that are of interest to them and forgo those that don't.


If my boys were given the option of spending $100 on a local event vs. $800 for a national event of their interest they would always decide to go with the $800, saving the $100 to put towards it.


I'm sure there may be a lot of local events that were able to at a low cost attract a variety of different crews, but we're talking a major event with a hefty cost for someone to travel a long distance to attend. A crew could use that gas and food money for a cross country trip and apply it to local crew needs more effectively and decide as such.


I have worked on and off with Exploring/Venturing for the past 35 years and I haven't seen much evidence for a pan-interest activity that will draw scouts from even a local area.


Even if I had a high adventure crew, spending the dollars to attend a short event in Philmont would be better served to go and actually take a trek if large amounts of $$'s were being considered. The cost to get to Philmont would be the same. The decision would be between hanging out with a number of other Venturing Scouts vs. taking a trek. I don't know if there would be many takers for the hang out option.



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I needed to follow up...


My issue is not the program. It sounds like a good program. Execution of the program will tell.


My issue is with the Key 3 for the event: Professional Staff Adviser, Volunteer Advisor, and local youth member in charge. Belayer and Mr Abernathy in separate posts said "We decided to leverage an existing event." That's ok for content, but why do that for schedule? This is Venturing. The target audience group is high school and college youth. This is also the Midwest. Schools go back in session in mid-August. Is the time to ask for significant travel commitments when the youth are doing what they are supposed to be doing -- learning? That's silly. Automatically, the commitment for this form of event drops off the edge of the universe. OGE, in Pennsylvania, has to justify to families time as well as cost.


I don't know about his district, in mine this kind of trip is an unexcused absence. Belayer and Mr Abernathy both I assume live on the Missouri side of the Mississippi. They know what the General Assembly and the State Board of Education have set in terms of standards for school districts to draw budget dollars from the State.


As I've mentioned in my earlier post, the timing of the event forecloses many college Venturers ... and they exist, I promise you. If you're in Army/Navy/Air Force ROTC, and you're on scholarship, you have duty to be where your Professor of Military Science tells you to be ... and if that's manning the salute gun at any number of football stadiums, you won't even think about breaking out to attend a Venturing event. Ditto if you're in one of the university marching bands: Game day is a class session. Want a fast way to lose a letter grade? Miss the game. Equally ditto if you are a pre-physical therapy major, and you're support staff to the team, or you're on a spirit squad. $250 an hour tuition, at a public university, is not chump change. Bump to a private school, and that same hour runs $750.


So, is there a good reason GSLAC could not have adjusted the date to do this before HS students are in session, and college students are on campus? That's my question... They made a hoopla over "National Event", but the planning does not support the title.

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St Louis guys, I did not mean to impugn your event. I used to live in Alton, Il. and love the St Louis area.


When I got an email saying there was going to be an announcement of a National Venturing Event in 3 days, I thought that meant an event everyone in the nation would have a chance to attend, like the National Jamboree. Yes, I know not every scout can attend the Jamboree, but not because its during school time.


The St Louis area is very centrally located and would be a great spot for a summer time event for 3-5 days, but for a weekend event? I think calling it a National Event is misleading. I am very happy to know its all youth driven, as is the Venturing way and I wish you all the success in the world.


NEPA, Northeast Pennsylvania Area council has had large Venturing events for years, the Venturing Rendezvous in the Spring and the Insomniacs Revenge in the fall. (activities start on Friday at 10pm and go stright on to 8pm Saturday)They attract youth from all over the east coast from West Virginia to Maine come to Goose Pond in Hamlin, PA. One year a Crew from Canada showed up, these are great but no one thought to call it a National Event because the "nation" cannot attend. But I don't want to quibble semantics. I wish the St Louis area well and continued success in their Event and look forward to a time when an event is held where all venturers have a shot at attending.

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Awesome event. I don't think there's ever a perfect time for this sort of thing, so I think you all did right by maximizing use of an existing facility.


If National REALLY cared about getting the nation's Venturers in one place for a rally, they'd ask all councils to bring crew contingents as well as troops to Jambo! Until then, a series of 3-day nation-wide events sounds like our best bet.


NER-4 has an area-wide event for all of its units that weekend. (Look up "Campaganza". When I heard the name I had my doubts, but those in the know guarantee me it'll be huge. "Adults picked the name, but youth picked the bands.") So, my crew will be drawn there. Wonder if there's anyone interested in pitching in for a video feed between the two events?

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