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High Adventure

Teens, young adults lead and learn outdoor skills

Venturer Meghan Pachosz, of New Lenox, Ill. and a member of Venture Crew #402, works to get better balance during high rope COPE activities last year.
Venturer Meghan Pachosz, of New Lenox, Ill. and a member of Venture Crew #402, works to get better balance during high rope COPE activities last year.

CHANNAHON — Venture Crew #402 members frequently gets asked, “What do you do?”

There aren’t that many Venture Crews out there, but the young people of Venture Crew #402 answered that question at an Open House held recently at St. Ann Church in Channahon.

Jamie Rogers of Joliet told a visitor it is a co-ed group, ages 14 to 21, that specializes in high adventure. To prove it, she pointed to pictures from a cavalcade, an outdoor horseback trip that the group took this past summer in New Mexico.

“Eight days on horses. Did that hurt?” asked visitor Beth Jados.

That remark brought a laugh from the group, but these young men and women, Venturers, learn about and like the outdoors, and like doing challenging activities.

"The crew does rock climbing, camping, horseback, shooting sports, and COPE” (which is high-line climbing and zip lining, among other things), Venture Crew President Lexie Yakich of Channahon, a high school senior, said.

Yakich went on to explain what else being in the Crew has done for her.

“I learned a lot of leadership," she stressed.

Taking off from what Yakich said, Rogers explained that a Kodiak leadership seminar they attended focused on leading, including working on problem solving and working with new people.

“The leader training focused also on patience and listening, and taking others’ ideas into account. We learned to decide cooperative solutions," Rogers said.

The co-ed crew, Rogers explained, is a Boy Scouts of America program, but one obvious difference is that it is co-ed. The other is that the upper age limit for Venturers is 21, beyond the age 18, which is the end for boys in the scout program.

Another member of the group, Annie Thuot of Joliet, also a high school senior, said that for her the best part of being in the group is learning new things.

“I learned how to snowboard and ski, and probably wouldn’t have otherwise done that," she said.

But all three, who go to different high schools, agreed that the friendships formed in the crew were the most valued part of the experience.

The adult adviser for the crew, J.J. Fleming of Minooka, will tell you that the adult role is different from that of a coach, teacher, or Scoutmaster.

“The role of the adviser is to be there to guide, or instruct when necessary. The adviser has to be able to step back, and take a back seat. They (youth members) need to experience success, but also work through their failures.  We are there to guide them through the process.”

He explained that many of the members come to the Venture Crew from some type of Scouting experience, but that was not necessary to join.

At the open house, the crew members demonstrated Dutch oven cooking, a type of open-fire cooking, traditionally used on outdoor outings. Two of the girls mixed ingredients for a gooey, delicious dessert that included marshmallows and chocolate chips.

The group meets twice monthly, one monthly meeting is a sit-down planning meeting, the other is an activity. The meetings are Sunday evenings at St. Ann Church in Channahon. The group is sponsored by the parish’s Knights of Columbus, but the youth do not have to have a religious affiliation to join.

The next outing planned is climbing at Vertical Endeavors in Warrenville today, Saturday, Nov 19, a venue that features indoor climbing walls. Visitors are welcome.

For more information on the group contact advisor J.J. Fleming at (815) 521-1487. The group is also is on Facebook. There are other Venture Crews in the Rainbow Council District, including one in Morris.

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