As we all know, the Venturing program is to be carried out through a youth-led Venturing crew. Coupled with the weekly priesthood quorum teaching moments, Venturing’s purpose is to provide life-changing experiences that will help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults ready to move forward in the Church as well as the world.
The key to a good Venturing program is to plan everything using inspiration, dedication, and the Venturing ALPS model: Adventure, Leadership, Personal Growth, and Service. This model was developed during the last Venturing program review in 2014. Coupled with a variety of Church experiences, as well as gospel lessons, LDS Venturing crews can build a solid program around these four areas and will have a program that truly addresses the variety of interests expressed by our young men. These four pillars of Venturing make up the backbone of Venturing, both in program development and delivery. In this blog I want to take an initial look at these four areas of the Venturing program.
This is more than going hiking, rock climbing, camping, fishing, or the “traditional” outdoor high-adventure type of experience. This pillar is where our young men get to engage in a variety of activities that are located outside of their usual comfort zone. Simply stated, it encompasses new experiences that push Venturers to new personal heights: adventures and activities that can provide the social benefits the young men of today crave at this point of their development. While still being focused on the outdoors, it could also be STEM related, or include attending a concert or theatrical event, or even such LDS traditions as a dance festival or roadshow! The level of difficulty is variable and should be tailored to your crew’s skills, desires, and experience. As with all Venturing events and activities, it should be something that is both individual and crew defined. Adventure—in all of its variety—is the historic appeal of Venturing.
Venturing is all about learning new skills and then teaching others these skills. As you know, this is the seamless joining of Venturing with the Church’s emphasis for young men to Learn, Act, and Share throughout their progression in the Aaronic Priesthood. Leadership in Venturing is more than just holding a position or office in the crew. It’s about developing broad interpersonal leadership skills applicable to a variety of life situations and experiences. It is truly experiential in nature. The level of difficulty in the leadership positions and assignments that Venturers participate in escalates as they participate (follow), lead, and mentor. Venturing leadership positions are structured to leverage formal training and practical leadership experience (elected or appointed).
As leaders and advisors of youth, we want our young men to be able to make moral and ethical decisions in all aspects of their lives as they grow and mature. The pillar of Personal Growth is the part of the Venturing program designed to encourage all Venturers to grow in the skills and ethical and moral foundations that support economic independence, lifelong learning, and timeless values. Many of the social and educational influences of the world today that our youth face every day provide little positive guidance on key life, social, moral, and ethical skills. For Venturers, the focus is on personally designed development of goals and personal planning activities, combined with small formal “trainings” taking place during Church meetings, crew activities, and family gatherings that facilitate practical application. As with many aspects of the Church’s Duty to God process in the Aaronic Priesthood, our young men are asked to set personal goals related to development of self, development of others, and development of faith.
From its inception, Venturers have been asked to give service in a myriad of ways. Service is a crucial component to all things Venturing. Not only in Venturing, but in the Church, our young men are asked to develop personal behavior that leads to an ongoing sense of responsibility to give back to others throughout their lives. In the world today, many of our young men have limited control over much of their lives, so in providing service to others they get to enjoy the opportunity to overtly express their values through the choice to serve. Service is always a choice that brings great rewards for these young men. Service projects in our LDS Venturing crews can be done in a group (as a quorum, crew, or family), or may be done individually. These service projects can have a Scouting or a community focus (or both). The key is to truly work towards giving back to others in one way or another. Be creative and serve!
ALPS is an open, free-flowing type of structure, that when used by your crew allows for positive experiences in a variety of ways. These experiences tie in smoothly with the teachings of the Church that occur during Sunday School lessons, priesthood quorum instruction, family home evenings, and even personal priesthood interviews with local Church leaders.
To summarize ALPS, the following is a quick outline highlighting the four Venturing ALPS program areas:
A – Adventure
- New and exciting experiences which are geared to push Venturers to personal heights.
- Adventures and activities provide the social benefits that all young adults (i.e. our Venturers) crave.
- “I can do hard things.”
- Variable in nature. These may be tailored to the crew or the individual. Not just outdoor oriented. Think way outside the box!
- Outings – get out and do something!
- Large Scouting events – council, area, region, national (think BIG)
- Powder Horn
- Jamborees and international Moots
- Super Activities – Youth led and planned (Tier III)
L – Leadership
- Develop broad-based interpersonal leadership skills that are applicable to a variety of life situations.
- Today’s society, as well as the Church, expects our youth to develop high leadership qualities that are broad in nature and experience.
- Escalating in nature
- Participate and follow.
- Combination of multiple experiences from formal trainings to practical experiences.
- Escalating in nature
- Missionary companionship exchanges (priests experiencing a day in the life of a missionary)
- Taking the lead in regular home teaching visits
- LSC (Leadership Skills for Crews)
- NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training)
- RAYADO (21-day outdoor leadership experiential treks at Philmont)
- ROCS (Roving Outdoor Conservation Training at Philmont)
- Kodiak Challenge and Kodiak X
- NAYLE (National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience at all BSA high-adventure bases)
- Outdoor Ethics training
- Various levels aligned with Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace principles
P – Personal Growth
- Individualized in nature with a strong ethical and moral foundation.
- Support for lifelong learning, economic independence, and timeless values.
- Focus on goal development (not in just the setting of goals) and personal planning
- Adult mentorship is a critical component.
- Learn, Act, and Share
- Personal in nature (thus the name!).
- Venturing training in Project Management, Goal Setting, and Time Management
- School, community, church, and crew leadership positions
- Aaronic Priesthood Duty to God process (it’s a continual process NOT a program!)
- Personal priesthood interviews and interaction with Church leaders
S – Service
- Development of an ongoing sense of responsibility—giving back to others
- Character development
- Opportunity for young adults to assert their values and their own personal code of ethics through their choice to serve
- Crew, individual, community, or Church focus (or a combination of these)
- Individualized in nature
- Venturers (as a crew or as individuals) get to decide what projects to do (and why)
This is the first part (#7a) of a three-part blog dealing with the value of using ALPS in your regular Venturing program.
Next up: Part 7b, Venturing Awards and Recognition.
~David Wilson has been actively involved in Venturing since its inception back in the ’90s. He is dedicated to working on strengthening the bridges and removing the walls that occur between the Church and the BSA for the older young men in the Church. David continues to work to bless and serve through his involvement in multiple levels of Venturing (from national to the local council). He currently calls Orem, Utah, home. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.