A Guest Blog Post by Avery Sytsma
My name is Avery Sytsma, Venturer from Venturing Crew 1776 in Philadelphia. I am also an Assistant Den Leader for Cub Scout Pack 1776, and an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 1776.
Scouting has been a part of my life for nine years now. I first got involved with the Boy Scouts of America when I was 11 years old, after tagging along as a sibling to my brother’s Cub Scout Pack’s Halloween party. It was from that moment forward that I was determined to be a part of the BSA’s program, even if I couldn’t become an “official” Scout.
That was until I learned about Venturing. I waited a few years until I turned 14 and with the support of a few friends, my parents, and some of the cub scout leaders, I led the charge to form Venturing Crew 1776.
Scouting has taught me more than tying knots and setting up tents. Through the Venturing program, I was given the opportunity to grow and to experience new things. I have learned a lot about myself as a person, the world around me, and what I enjoy the most, all through scouting.
I have been given the opportunity to explore the outdoors in ways that I never could have dreamed possible, while learning what my true interests and passions are with each adventure. I first tried archery at a cub scout day camp and now I am a U.S.A. Archery Instructor. I explored local trails on simple hikes and now I have explored mountain trails from within and above a forest canopy. I first learned basic first aid, and now I have the skills to save someone’s life. I learned what it means to be a good citizen and have since then learned how to effect change in my community and the world around me. In learning so much, I have experienced amazing events such as VenturingFest 2018 where I was able to meet scouts from around the world. And lastly, I’ve been able to plan and lead my own adventures. There is never a dull moment in scouting, sometimes you just need a little effort, spirit and creativity.
While many learn how to become a leader through the scouting programs, I cannot tell you that scouting taught me to be a leader; I’ve always enjoyed teaching and guiding. Instead, scouting gave me the opportunity, knowledge, and tools to be a successful leader. I went from Crew President to the Council Venturing President, planning weekly meetings to planning a council wide event all the while applying the key aspects of servant leadership, learning what works along the way. In this leadership journey I learned how to effectively communicate with others, how to work with others, how to mentor others, and not only how to lead a team but, how to be part of the team. I learned how to be someone that people wanted on their team and wanted to follow – I was given the opportunity to grow.
Being part of a team, and self-leadership are the most important aspects of leadership that scouting has taught me. Sharing these skills with others have allowed me to be able to step back, let others lead so that they too may grow and experience what I have been able to experience, as I move on to serve and lead as an adult in the other programs.
I have been fortunate to watch others grow and mentor them along their journey. I have watched scouts flourish from Cub Scouts to Venturers. This opportunity, to know that you impacted someone’s life and been a part of their journey, has been beyond rewarding, making an impact on my life.
Through scouting, I have found things that truly interest me, things that I could dedicate myself to. I have found a family in those who were and still are alongside me. I’ve gained lifelong friends, people who support me no matter what. Together, we support each other and help each other grow. The leaders in the Cub Scout Pack I volunteer at have been supporting me since I was eleven, leading me, guiding me and helping me become the person I am today.
It is the love and support of those around me that inspired me to earn The Venturing Silver Award, and after the program changed to start over and earn the Venturing Summit Award, then the Council Venturing Leadership Award, and now I am working to finish the Venturing Ranger Award.
Scouting has benefitted me in ways I never thought possible. I am humbled looking back at all that I had benefitted from the program and I hope that in the years to come, I can continue to grow and give back to the program that gave so much to me.
There is a strong sense of belonging in scouts, and I have experienced it firsthand. I am extremely grateful to have such amazing people in my life and for the scouting programs that have opened so many opportunities up to me. Scouting is who I am, this is where I belong.
Remember to always “Lead the Adventure.”