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New Venturing crew in Somerset provides adventure for kids

Pictured are some of the Venture Crew 144 youth that went on the sea kayaking trip to Red Cliff by the Apostle Islands. Shown are Michael Barger, James Major, Cody Anderson, Samantha Swanson and Susie Schmitt.1 / 2
The Venturing Crew 144 elected to go to Lake Superior for sea kayaking in late June. Here members of the crew receive instruction from the leader on paddling, ecology and safety on the big lake.2 / 2

Samantha "Sam" Swanson, 17, hasn't been bored this summer.

The Somerset teen isn't one to be idle anyway. Not when she plays softball, golf, is a member of the school book club, forensics, Girl Scouts and Friends Helping Friends group. The myriad of odd jobs she does for her family keeps her active.

Now she has added one more group to her list: Venturing Crew 144.

"It is so fun," said Swanson. "It's truly geared toward older kids."

Venturing is a revamped version of the former Explorer program in the Boy Scouts of America. Venturing started nationally in 1998, and is open to boys and girls from 8th grade to 21 years old.

It has finally come to Somerset.

Peter Johnson used his seven years of experience with the Boy Scouts in Somerset to begin the local chapter.

"We laid the groundwork about a year and a half ago," explained Johnson. "But the official launch was March of this year."

The group has 14 members so far, both boys and girls, between the ages of 13-17. There are also three adult leaders - all with a scouting background.

The focus of the group is to allow the youth to develop leadership abilities and character. To accomplish this, the group does service projects within the community, such as painting the Old Town Hall earlier this spring.

Swanson said the group being co-ed had definite advantages.

"When you are this age, you want to hang out with both boys and girls," she said. "Working on the Old Town Hall - it was fun. It's not a party without all your friends."

It's not all work for the group, however. They just finished a three-day trip to Lake Superior for a sea kayaking adventure. The group brainstormed trip ideas before settling on Lake Superior and raised the money via popcorn sales and a concessions booth at the Pea Soup Days.

"Between planning and fundraising, it took about two months to go on the trip," said Johnson. "We wanted it to be quick. If it gets too long (between planning and leaving), they lose interest."

Although it rained a majority of the time the 11 crew members and their adult chaperones were there, the group was still able to do some kayaking and explore sea caves and shipwrecks.

"That was my first time being on a lake that size," said Swanson. "My favorite part was when our guide told us about the Apostle Island pirates. We definitely want to go back and do an overnight on the islands."

With the group back in town, they plan on finishing the summer with community involvement projects.

"We'll be helping the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department with some prairie landscaping and restoration in New Richmond," said Johnson. "It's part of a major scouting event."

Tracen Vail, a 17-year-old student at New Richmond High School, is the crew leader for the Venturing chapter. He has been in Boy Scouts for seven years, and was excited to hear Johnson talk about starting the Venturing program.

"It's an excellent choice," said Vail. "You really get out of it what you put into it."

Johnson said that youth interested in Venturing do not have to have a background in scouting, nor do they have to live in Somerset.

For more information about the Venturing Crew #144, email somersetcrew144

"It has been so much fun," said Swanson. "Venturing has taken one of the front spots in my life."