Spending time in the wilderness is good for your brain, body, and soul. In fact, studies show that time outside can help youth and adults in their efforts to overcome anxiety, depression, and addiction. For the inexperienced, however, creating meaningful wilderness therapy can be daunting. Staying safe outdoors requires a different skillset than most therapy programs. Fortunately, you have a great resource available in every neighborhood. Scouting is a surprisingly inexpensive way to make wilderness therapy possible in a safe, well-organized way. And there are two great ways to take advantage of this resource: either organize a Venturing Crew or schedule outdoor programs “à la carte” from the wide selection of Scouting outdoor resources.

If your program is ongoing with resident clients or groups that meet regularly, Scouting’s Venturing Program offers a surprising set of services that may be just what you are looking for. And Venturing was designed to be flexible to meet the needs of every interested organization.

Venturing Crews

The Venturing program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is Scouting’s action-packed, outdoor adventure program for teens ages 14 to 21 (or 13 who have completed the eighth grade). Venturing is youth-led and youth-inspired. Groups known as crews plan adventures and carry them out all year long. Along the way, Venturers develop leadership skills, gain personal growth, and give service, all while having a blast!

White Water Rafting at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve

But the affiliate advantages to your organization are immediate. For example, working within your organization’s objectives, they offer these resources:

  • Primary general liability insurance to cover your organization, its board, officers, employees, and youth members and volunteers for authorized Venturing activities. Your organization is indemnified in accordance with the resolutions and policies of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Conduct criminal background checks on adult leaders and older teens (18–20) approved by your organization.
  • Training:
  • Program resources such as camps, adventure bases, outdoor equipment, and other Scouting support services to help you develop a successful Venturing program.

One member of your organization will be named by you to become a voting member of the local Council Executive Board. Known as your Chartered Organization Representative, this person will be the primary link between your organization, the Local Council, and the BSA.

Organizing Your Crew

To get a Venturing crew going is easy! Just follow these steps:

Venturing crew ready to hit the trail at Philmont Scout Ranch

Step 1- To start, you will need to register at least five youth members and six adults, but there is no limit to these numbers. The adult positions include:

  • The main positions or Unit Key 3. This includes your Chartered Organization Representative [see the last paragraph above section], Crew Advisor, and a Committee Chair)
  • An associate advisor (if coed, there has to be a male and female advisor; no associate is needed)
  • Two more committee members (these can be parents, staff or other interested adults).
  • All adults and youth over 18, must complete Youth Protection Training. Adult advisors must also complete Leader Specific Training

Step 2- Apply for a charter using your company or a church, local business, service club, or other group interested in your program.

Step 3- Connect with the local Scouting council to find a District Executive (DE), who will be your BSA contact and help you through the paperwork. Nation-wide, there are more than 200 local Scout Councils waiting to help you organize your crew.

Step 4- Lead the Adventure! As soon as the paperwork is processed and your training is complete, your adventure can begin!

For additional information and support on organizing a new Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship, go to BeAScout.org or check out this article written by a council VOA!

À la carte Outdoor Services at Scout Camps and Adventure Bases

Venturers on “The Rocks” at BSA’s Summit

If you are just looking to take a group of clients, (any age), into the outdoors for 2–10 or more days, Scout camps and Adventure bases are hidden resources waiting for your use. These are many summer dates available and nearly all other weeks during the year, so if you just want to try wilderness therapy and you are not up to organizing a Venturing Crew, take your clients to one these great outdoor facilities.

Below is the Utah National Parks Council outdoor offering, wich you can access at Scout Camp #WeOwnAdventure.

If you are already taking your groups outdoors, think about selecting the services you need at a camp. These include covered pavilions and activity buildings, campsites, cabins, tents, commercial kitchens, outdoor equipment (climbing gear, mountain bikes, canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rifles, shotguns, bows/arrows, etc) swimming pools and lakes, and dining halls with full food service.

AFY is BYU’s newest series in the EFY program

Here is one example of an organization using a Scout Base to build a new program:

For summer 2019, Brigham Young University’s, Continuing Education, is using the Moab Adventure Base for their Adventure For Youth program, a new outdoor adventure version of Especially for Youth. In addition to their programs of spiritual growth and personal development, activities will include the base’s river rafting, canyoneering, mountain biking, climbing, and rappelling.

There are so many outdoor services at camp you can build into your Wilderness Therapy program. Here is a short list:

Project COPE, high ropes course at Beaver Base Camp
High rappel at Moab Base Camp
  • Aquatics
  • Shooting Sports
  • Challenge Courses, COPE cube and other ropes courses
  • Patriotic ceremonies
  • Hikes
  • Firesides
  • Food Services
  • Treks (Handcart)
  • Dances
  • Mountain biking
  • Climbing and Rappelling
  • Rafting and Whitewater Trips
  • Horses
  • National Youth Leadership Training
  • Outdoor instruction
  • Service Projects
  • Swimming in lakes and swimming pools
  • Crafts
  • Wide games

Think about it, if you want to make Wilderness Therapy, part of your offerings, you don’t have to start from scratch. Just form a Venturing crew or reserve one of our camps to try out some pretty great programs.

Looking for camps near you, check out camps on this list to find one near you.

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