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If you attended the recent Toyo Tire Nationals at Reading, PA, you may have noticed a group of young men and women on a mission. In the mornings they could be found directing traffic in the parking lots, and once that was done they disappeared, circulating through the crowd to enjoy the sights, the sounds, and yes, the smells of nitro racing. They’re the Venturing Crew of Shillington, Pennsylvania, and they have a story to tell.
Of course before hearing the story, you may be left scratching your head. “Who,” you may be asking, “or what are Venturing Crews?” The easiest way to think of them is, perhaps, as the next level of Boy Scouts. There’s an old saying amongst Scout leaders: “You lose youth to two fumes. Perfumes and exhaust fumes.” Seeking to avoid that, Venturing Crews were formed in 1998 for older boys and girls. Ranging in ages from thirteen to twenty, Venturing Crews are more freeform than a Scout Troop. The crews are self-directed, with each one choosing its focus and theme and electing its own officers to lead the crew, while the adults are referred to as Advisors. The intention was that, as kids age, there are more and more things competing for their attention. Allowing them to choose their own focus is intended to give them a greater sense of ownership of their crew, as well as provide a foundation for a future career or hobby. One of the core facets of Venturing is teaching. Venturers are expected to teach whatever they’ve learned to others, thus not only passing the knowledge and skills along, but also aiding in retention and understanding of the subject matter.