When you marry an Eagle Scout, it’s a safe bet that your son will become a Boy Scout. But what about your daughter? She won’t become a Boy Scout but via the Venturing and Exploring programs, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has options that can include her too.
“As a mom, I’ve seen how Venturing has helped my daughter with social and leadership skills,” says Paola Rosas, who’s married to Eagle Scout Charles Weed and who volunteers with the BSA as a Venturing crew Advisor. “She’s been [in] Venturing for two years and you can see the transformation in her. She’s more willing to go out of her shell.”
Established in 1998, the Venturing program provides opportunities for participants to develop leadership skills through various activities, such as camping and hiking. Available to young men and women age 14–21, for an annual membership fee of $24, the program doesn’t require that participants be Boy Scouts or earn badges. Venturing crews are established by local community organizations that match their program resources to the interests of young people in the community.
“Venturing is considered a high-adventure program, usually outdoors but not exclusively. We have all kinds of activities, depending on the Venturing crew; we have one that likes to cook,” Rosas explains. “Participants make ethical choices; they commit to the Scout Law and Oath. We meet year-round, at least twice a month, and go camping at least once a month.”
The Exploring program takes this one step further by offering young people real-world career experiences through partnerships with businesses and government agencies. Like Venturing, it’s available to young men and women age 14-21. Exploring is based on five areas of emphasis: career opportunities, leadership experience, life skills, citizenship, and character education. For students with an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), for example, local Explorer posts offer unique opportunities to be exposed to a professional in the field and get a firsthand look at what that person’s career might entail.
A native of Mexico City, Rosas is the middle of three girls. She entered college to become a paralegal but after her second year, she opted to take a break and move to the United States to improve her English skills. She moved to Philadelphia to stay with her aunt, and while there, met her future husband. They dated, but ultimately she returned to Mexico. Within days she received a call from Charles, who informed her that he had arrived at the Mexico City airport and asked her to come pick him up.
“He came prepared with an engagement ring and a speech for my father to ask for my hand in marriage,” she shares. “We married, and one year later our daughter, Citlaly, was born.”
For Latino parents who may not be as familiar with Scouting, Rosas advises that the program is very closely aligned with many similar cultural values, but also affords a rare opportunity for personal growth and development. “Scouting has the tools to confirm the values that we’re already teaching our children. We help them at home, but Scouting can take them to a different level,” she asserts.
That all three of her children would be involved in Scouting (her daughter was also a Girl Scout) was a given. Initially, Rosas says she opted to remain on the sidelines, but little by little she got more involved as a Scout mom, becoming popcorn person for the pack and then increasing volunteer hours, eventually helping to recruit. One day, a member of the local council in West Chester, Pennsylvania, asked her to do more. With her daughter involved in Venturing, she decided to become a crew Advisor and attended the annual Boy Scout Patrol professional development camp this year that was specifically designed for Latinos, including offering bilingual courses.
“It gives you experience and exposure to what the youth go through,” she shares. “You have to work together as a team. You learn how to be a good leader, how to communicate.”
Now married for 17 years, Rosas hopes to return to college to finish her studies, although she admits she might switch her focus. As for her involvement in the BSA, she’s found it to be fulfilling personally, as well as for her family.
“As Mexican moms, we’re very conservative with our daughters,” she says. “We want them to be safe, to protect them. The BSA offers a safe environment for them to experience failure, where they can make mistakes. If you go camping and forget your socks, you may have to sleep with cold feet, but the next time you will pack them first. For girls it will help them build independence and leadership by learning how to deal with mistakes and to relate to other people, including adults who aren’t family members, which are good skills to learn before you are out on your own.”
By Valerie Menard
and Leadership for Girls
Ralph de la Vega