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Any seasonal youth program that stokes passion for the great outdoors is a good thing—and rolling it into a year-round one is even better. “It helps with member retention and opens the door to other interests in the off- season,” says Patti Czech, Lake Minnetonka senior district executive for the Northern Star Council. Here are a few season-expanding strategies.

TEAM UP with a partner. Community-minded outdoor retail- ers are a natural fit with programs looking to broaden their outdoor curriculums. “Our registered char- tered partnership with REI has opened the door to a great base of staff volunteers, in-store training seminars, and company-sponsored activities for our snow Venturing crews in the spring and summer,” says Czech.

RAMP UP your volunteer base. Off-season activities require as much staff support as the crew’s primary season program. If neces- sary, reinforce the activities with committed volunteers interested in those specific activities.

CALL UP your local park service. Sometimes the best resources are right in your government-funded backyard. “We’ve teamed up with Three Rivers Park District, a giant park system in Western Minneapolis, to provide year- round programs designed for our Venturing crews to expand their base of outdoor recreational skills,” says Czech.

DRUM UP youth feedback. “Last year, the crew ran a survey with the kids that collected helpful data about stuff they’d like to do in the off-season,” notes Czech. “Once you have that, there’s a much better chance of launching other programs that will thrive as well.”

Christian. “This year, they ‘asked’ me again, and I decided I’d better do it. It’s actually been fun to kind of step out of the comfort zone and take on some more responsibility.” The bus chugs west, past the 8,000-

foot mark toward Teton Pass. Far below in the rearview is a gorgeous winter scene of Wyoming’s Jackson Hole valley. A few miles ahead is the Idaho border, where a lone moose and some elk traipse through the Teton foothills and another forecast for heavy weather is proving accurate. An hour later, the bus pulls into Grand

Targhee. Buckets of giant flakes are falling. A preselected group of Venturers swiftly handles the unloading of equipment—a well-oiled operation working together. “Ski trips are great, but they definitely

require plenty of day-to-day organization among the crew members and a lot of pitching in to keep things running smoothly,” says crew Advisor Campbell. “I think that’s an important part of the whole experience.”


“BEGINNERS AND LOWER-INTERMEDIATES over there and experienced skiers and boarders over here with me,” says a Grand Targhee guide named Mike, leading a group of gung-ho Venturers up the Dreamcatcher quad chair to the mountain’s crest. In the annals of the crew’s powder days, today will be one for the record books. “You guys defi- nitely picked the right week to come,” says Mike, wiping snow from his goggles. At the top of the hill, during a brief cloud

break, the signature spire of Grand Teton National Park, 13,775-foot Grand Teton, appears in the east like a mirage. It’s Wyoming’s second-highest mountain, notes Mike, pausing to let the group absorb one of the most spectac- ular alpine vistas on the continent. “I’m trained in wildlife biology,” he adds, “so if you have any questions about local fauna, feel free to ask.” “What are those black-and-white birds with

the long tail feathers,” asks a goggled Venturer, reattaching his feet to a snowboard. “Black-billed Magpies,” says Mike.

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