Morgan, left, and Landen Mertz are working to start a local Venture Crew. Venture Crew is a youth development program created by Boy Scouts of America for young men and women. The program was established in 1995 with the goal of keeping young men involved and engaged in outdoor activities after they've completed Boy Scouts.

Photo by John F. Russell

Morgan, left, and Landen Mertz are working to start a local Venture Crew. Venture Crew is a youth development program created by Boy Scouts of America for young men and women. The program was established in 1995 with the goal of keeping young men involved and engaged in outdoor activities after they've completed Boy Scouts.

Siblings to start Venture Crew group

Boy Scouts-affiliated program encourages outdoor activities

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The first meeting of Steamboat's Venture Crew is from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the Howelsen Park volleyball courts. Free food and drinks will be provided.

A couple of local teens are organizing a program that will provide Steamboat Springs' young adults with access to a number of outdoor activities.

Landen Mertz, 16, and his 15-year-old sister, Morgan, are working to start a local Venture Crew. Venture Crew is a youth development program created by Boy Scouts of America for young men and women ages 14 to 20.

Brian Berry, a former scoutmaster with Steamboat Troop 194, who was asked by the Mertzes to be the Venture Crew's advisor, said the program was established by the Boy Scouts in 1995 to keep young men involved and engaged in outdoor activities after they completed Boy Scouts.

The idea to start a Venture Crew in Steamboat had been discussed for years, Berry said, and now that it's happening, "It's kind of a thrill." He said Steamboat is an ideal place for a crew.

"We've got so many great outdoor opportunities close by," he said.

Berry said crewmembers, with help from their advisor and adult volunteers facilitate the activities. Interested adult volunteers must undergo background checks and complete program training.

"We get to decide what we want to do," Landen Mertz said. "The kids run it. The adults don't."

He said activities could include camping, water skiing, wakeboarding, hiking, biking and just about anything else. Other activities could involve travel, he said.

Berry said the Venture Crew has a dual purpose of fostering the development of leadership skills and citizenship among young adults by engaging crewmembers with the community. He said they would have volunteer projects and take part in other community events.

Landen Mertz said he learned about Venture Crews after attending the World Scout Jamboree two years ago in London, which brought together Boy Scout troops from across the world. Mertz said his experience with outdoor activities through Boy Scouts and attending high adventure camps in Florida and Minnesota compelled him to start the crew in Steamboat.

And he said there was another reason.

"My sister never really gets to camp," he said. "Her friends want to go camping, want to go biking. We're trying to put this together as a team so we can all do it (together)."

Morgan Mertz said she's involved in Girl Scouts, where some outdoor activities are available, but through Venture Crew, they'll have funding, adult supervision and insurance.

"I love being outdoors and doing fun stuff," she said. "I wanted a way to do that with my friends. : (Venture Crew's) a good way for us to get out and be active."

Landen Mertz said he's been working with a local organization to be the Venture Crew's charter organization, which is required by the Boy Scouts. There is a $10 annual fee to be a member of Venture Crew, but Landen Mertz said most activities are sponsored by the charter organization. He said the crew conducts additional fundraising for larger or out-of-town activities.

The first meeting of the Venture Crew is from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the Howelsen Park volleyball courts. Landen Mertz said hot dogs, chips and drinks will be provided in addition to volleyball and maybe kickball games. After everyone's had some fun and been fed, Mertz said he would give a presentation about what Venture Crew is and how it works.

In addition to providing information, the purpose of the meeting is to generate interest to recruit for Venture Crew.

"Hopefully a lot of people are there," Landen Mertz said.

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