Monday, May 11, 2015

May Venturing Forum: How to conduct a Venturing Open House

Join us this Thursday as a local Venturing Crew Adviser leads a discussion on how to promote your Venturing program to youth and parents by conducting a Venturing Open House.  The purpose of a Venturing Open House is for your crew to show off their program so they retain and gain new members.  See you on Thursday!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No Joke! Outdoor Climbing and Rappelling Opportunity

Join Owen Witesman (AMGA Single-pitch Instructor) and Tom Johnson (BSA Level 1 Climbing Instructor) for an exciting day of outdoor climbing and rappelling in one of our local canyons.  This course will cover the primary BSA Climbing Merit Badge requirements, but is open to young women as well as young men, ages 12 and up. Youth participants will be given priority over adult participants if the class fills up. The course fee is $10 for equipment use, which must be paid in advance to hold a slot. Course size is strictly limited to 12 participants, after which interested youth will be wait-listed for the next course date. Custom courses for groups are also a possibility. Interested youth should contact Owen Witesman at 801-491-4343 or

Monday, March 16, 2015

A story about Adult Leader Recognition

Last month at the Venturing Forum we heard from Andy Wagstaff about Adult Leader Recognition.  He described some of the the BSA square knots and how they are grouped.  He then shared a bit of his scouting history.  With his permission, I've posted his experiences:

I grew up in Maryland, just outside of Washington DC.  I was one of the lucky ones, because I grew up in a Stake that was very dedicated to Scouting and we had a lot of leaders who were well trained and stuck with the program for a long time.  I got my eagle scout award, as did most of my friends.  I had great experiences, and I think in the long run, that shaped my attitudes to Scouting now in ways that I hadn't realized at the time.  Just as a side note, two of my scoutmasters later served as our Stake Presidents.

So flash forward a decade or so.  Scouting has been behind me for some time and I didn't have any particular interest in the program.  My wife and I had graduated and I took a job in Phoenix, AZ.  After a few years, I was called to serve as YM President.  Now, I did a reasonable job of trying to run a program, but our scouting program was pitiful and my heart was just not in it.  I say that with deep regret.  I didn't get it - I was not sufficiently grateful for the gift that I was given and I didn't understand the benefits of training.  I served for a couple of years and soon thereafter, I took a job up in Provo, UT.  We bought a house in Springville and on my very first Sunday, Matt Shockley (one of the best men that I know) walked up to me, introduced himself and asked if I like Scouting.  Oh no!  What can I say?  I was trapped!  Curse that man!  So, the next thing that I knew, I was called to serve as Asst. Scoutmaster, working with Matt.  And that's where my sight slowly began to return.  Matt wasn't flashy - he just did the right things.  He showed up to each meeting in uniform (how embarrassing).  He had a simple agenda for each meeting.  We always started with a game or gathering activity.  Then we had instruction and then he had some sort of closing activity where the boys utilized the skills that they learned.  They didn't know that's what was happening, because it was a game (just as Baden-Powell intended).   I remember the time that he brought boards and rope and told the boys that they had to get across a chasm, but the boards were just to short to reach all the way across.  He also taught cheers and songs and we went on monthly outings.  It began to open my eyes to the possibilities.  As far as I know, just about all of those boys went on missions.

Soon afterward, Matt disappeared for a week.  When he returned, he tearfully described to us something called "Wood Badge."  I didn't understand at that time how influential his example would be.  Within several months, Matt moved away, and I changed callings.  In February 2006, I was called to serve as Second Counselor in the Bishopric, which included serving as COR.  By this time, I felt more determined to dig in and succeed in my calling.  Our Stake presidency was desirous to increase our involvement in Scouting and our training.  Not wanting to look like a slacker, I reluctantly completed my basic training and signed up for Wood Badge and went through a course in May 2007, up at Heber Valley Camp.  This proved to be life-changing.  I remember driving off the mountain at the end of the course, just crying as I drove because of how much it seeped into my soul.  I really wanted to do better.

Since that time, I had to opportunities to work closely with my Scout Committee Chair, Scoutmasters, YM presidency, Cubmasters and Primary presidency.  We used principles of continuous improvement ("Start/Stop/Continue") and have looked for ways to do just a little better.  Our stake held some combined Courts of Honor and along with the boys, several leaders have periodically been called out for recognition.  Right after Wood Badge, I attended a Court of Honor and received a Second Miler award.  It felt so great.  The next year, I received a District Award of Merit.  I didn't want to serve just for the accolades, but I have to tell you that it sure didn't hurt.  It was nice to be appreciated.

Scouting is hard work for the leaders.  I don't have to tell anyone that.  It is even more challenging when you begin as a conscripted leader.  When a Bishop calls you and tells you that he would like for you to put on a uniform, give up hours each week and several days of vacation, and work with boys (and parents) who will be less than grateful for your sacrifices, you have some uncertainty.  These leaders may be tempted to do just enough to not look like a loser.  This is working to not lose, rather than working to win.  If we are in a position to oversee scout leaders, then we need to mindful of the emotional progression that they need to go through to become effective.  I remember serving as an Asst. Scoutmaster and having a lady in the Stake who served on the district berate me for not coming to round table.  Suffice it to say, that I did not feel more motivated to go to round table after that.  We need to encourage them.  We need to mentor them.  We need to recognize and celebrate their successes.  We need to follow D&C 121 and work with them "by gentleness and meekness and love unfeigned ... That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death."  As far as I know, that is the only way to lead another person to joy.

Friday, March 13, 2015

March Venturing Forum - Running a Safe Venturing Program

Kevin Christensen, a Venturing Crew Advisor to Unit 1459, presented at our Venturing Forum last evening on the fundamentals of running a safe Venturing program.  He shared important insights he gained from asking the UNPC office questions about specific policies in the Guide to Safe Scouting, and created the presentation below:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

February Venturing Forum - Adult Leader Recognition

Join us Thursday as Andy Wagstaff, a unit commissioner from the Springville West Stake, presents on Adult Leader Recognition.  We've had a good sized group lately, so come prepared with any questions or discussion related to Venturing.

I also heard back from Gordon Lowe on the Venturing Biathalon held last month.  He said that although there were not any units from Springville who attended (correction, see comments below, Unit 1459 attended and had a blast!), the council or his district has sponsored this successful event for almost 20 years.  He plans on it happening again every year during the second week of January.  So, if your crew is interested, you might start planning for it on January 8-9, 2016 at Miller's Flat in Fairview canyon.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January Venturing Forum - Vision and Recruiting Parents

Before trying to recruit help for your Venturing program, it's beneficial for recruits to know the "why" or the vision behind Venturing.  I thought about vision, and what future success looks like for the Forum, and came up with a simple vision for the Hobble Creek District Venturing Forum:

  • Fulfill Duty to God
  • Perpetually Staffed
  • Worth My Time

I figured if the Forum can meet these goals, we'd be successful.

After talking about vision, we focused on how to recruit people to help with your Venturing program.  Little did the unsuspecting Venturing Forum members know that during this Forum session I was going to try to recruit them for the opportunity to fill Venturing Forum Adviser positions!  I am happy to report that we were somewhat successful!  For your reference, we followed the Venturing Forum's "Seven Ways to Recruit and Retain Top Leaders" found in Appendix K - Page 106.  See you on Feb 12th!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Venturing Biathalon on January 10, 2015

The Black Diamond District will be holding a biathlon at Miller's Flat on January 10th, 2015, for Venturing-age youth. This event has been organized at the council level in the past. The early bird fee is $15 before Jan 1st.  Register at  Contact Gordon Lowe at or (801)377-7785.