LEWISTOWN - Kelli Walters recently became the first female in the Juniata Valley Council to be awarded the Boy Scout of America Venturing Silver Award, the equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle Scout award. The 20-year-old from Lewistown was recognized at the Seven Mountains Scout Camp in Spring Mills on Saturday. After working toward the award for the last six years, Walters said she felt very accomplished to receive such an honor.
Walters, who comes from a four-generation Eagle Scout family, began in the Venturing program when she was 14. Seeing all of the fun things her brother was doing in scouting, she could not wait for her 14th birthday, as this gave her the ability to join the excitement and do the things she, "...couldn't do in Girl Scouts." Walters became a founding member of Venturing Crew Eight from the Port Royal Methodist Church shortly after she became of age.
Venturing is a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women ages 14 through 20. Venturing's purpose is to, "Provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults," according to BSA. The program includes high adventure activities, such as kayaking and rock climbing, combined with emergency preparedness and leadership skill focuses. The aims of the program are to build character, develop citizenship and foster personal fitness.
Kelli Walters, 20, of Lewistown, holds her Venturing Silver Award, which was presented at the Seven Mountains Scout Camp in Spring Mills on Saturday. Walters is the first female in the area to receive the honor.
In order to obtain the Silver Award, Walters had to first complete two other levels of the Venturing program. The first award a Venturer needs to earn on their path to Silver is the Bronze Award. Walters chose to work on the Outdoor Bronze award, one of five different choices Venturers are given. This award included first aid, leave no trace, emergency preparedness, and concentration skills. These skill sets are used to better prepare crew members for outdoor situations. Walters not only had to learn and practice these skills, but also had to teach them to other groups. On June 11, 2008, Walters earned her Outdoor Bronze Award, qualifying with first aid, cooking, land navigation and leave no trace core requirements.
Walters moved on to her Gold Award, obtaining it June 21, 2010, just days before attending the National Scout Jamboree where she spent almost two weeks staffing the Venture shooting area. The Gold Award is a very detailed award. Venturing Gold Award candidates must be active and registered Venturers for at least 12 months before final qualification. They must serve in a leadership role within the 12 months, and they must participate in a district, council, or national Venturing event or activity. They must also set and accomplish one personal goal in six different areas. Walters held the office of president for four years, and the office of secretary for one, as well as held a position as Den Chief for Pack 113 in Alfarata, in order to complete her various leadership qualifications. Citizenship, leadership and service were just three of the many areas Walters set personal goals in. Walters said that service was one of her favorite goal areas, also stating that serving others during Kid Connection and at the LUMINA Spaghetti Dinner was not only fun, but rewarding.
After several more months of hard work and dedication, Walters passed her board of review for the Silver Award on Aug. 23, 2011, and received the endorsement of the Crew Advisor and the Juniata Valley Council Advancement Chairman, along with his committee, on Oct. 31, 2011. In order to pass her board of review, she had to go through several more different trials, each giving her new and distinct leadership and survival skills. To receive the Silver Award, Venturers must be proficient in emergency preparedness, including standard first aid, CPR and Safe Swim Defense, participate in Ethics in Action and complete the Venturing Leadership Skills Course. During Ethics in Action, Walters had to converse about different controversies and what was ethically right and wrong. In addition, she had to participate in various leadership positions, demonstrating how to be an effective leader and why leadership is important in each situation.
-- Venturing is a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women ages 14 through 20.
-- According to BSA, venturing's purpose is to, "Provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults."
-- The program includes high adventure activities, such as kayaking and rock climbing, combined with emergency preparedness and leadership skill focuses.
-- More online: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Venturing.aspx
When asked what the hardest part of obtaining the Silver Award was, Walters said, "Since I was the first girl in the council to get the award, it took some time to figure out what was needed for a Board of Review."
Walters also has received other various honors throughout her time as a Venturer. In May 2008, Walters was asked to speak at the Shawnee District Good Scout Dinner, explaining what scouting means to her. In January 2012, she also was asked to represent Venturing at the Distinguished Eagle Scout Dinner for Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson. During her time Venturing, she also traveled to many different places and experienced many different activities. Hiking several different large mountains, as well as deep sea fishing, snorkeling and sailing are just a few of the adventures Walters explored.
Her time Venturing also led to an interest in the college degree she is pursuing. Walters, who will be a sophomore at Slippery Rock University this fall, is pursuing an education in Park and Resource Management. Walters said she hopes to someday become a park ranger, and she continues to educate others in the way of Venturing.
More information on Venturing can be found on the Boy Scouts of America website at www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Venturing.aspx.