Our Venturing crew did a snowshoeing trip this weekend. It was great. In fact, I think it more closely fit the ideal for a Venturing activity than any other activity we have done. At least in regards to the planning and implementation process.
Let's back up a bit. The ideal process to go through in planning a Venturing activity goes something like this:
1. Find out what the boys want to do (from Activity Interest Survey [AIS] or similar form)
2. Find out what resources are available (from Program Capability Inventory [PCI] or similar form)
3. Match crew interests to resources available and plan calendar. Youth members are assigned by the crew president to chair individual activities.
4. Invite consultants (identified from PCI) to come teach skills or otherwise assist with the project. The activity chair does this. The activity chair makes final plans for the activity with help from other youth and/or consultants if necessary.
5. Carry out the project/activity
6. Evaluate the project/activity
Now, we weren't quite perfect on this.
1. We didn't have the Activity Interest Survey complete. I've done this before, but we've never really successfully implemented it. For this activity, we knew the boys wanted to do it because I suggested it as a possible activity sometime and they all said they would like to do that.
2. We also don't have the Program Capability Inventory complete. This is one of the responsibilities of the crew committee, and since we don't have a functional one, this didn't happen. However, in conversations I had with certain ward members I found out they had several sets of snowshoes that they would be happy to let us borrow. I passed this information on to our youth leadership.
3. Since we don't really have the AIS or PCI done, we can't do much for step three. This is perhaps one of the reasons we haven't done the kinds of activities I envision for a really great Venturing crew. We also have struggled the last little while getting a calendar in place. We had a year plan that expired at the end of December but we hadn't done really well implementing it anyway and hadn't been able to get together to plan the next year.
We were able to get a three month plan in-place however, and the boys did all of it. I gave them a calendar and some very brief instructions then left the room. The snowshoeing activity was the one they chose for January.
4. This is one area I'm really pleased with. Along with choosing the snowshoeing trip, they also planned to have the ward member come the week before and teach us about equipment, gear, safety, etc. that we would need to know in order to do this trip. The youth member in charge of this activity contacted the consultant and made the arrangements. All I had to do was show up. I even learned a few things I didn't know before.
5. We had a great time on the trip. It was simple--just a 2.5 mile loop up on the mountain. This picture was taken at the highest point of the trail, just before the largest downhill section.
You can see we had one boy and his dad who came on cross-country skis. We had two boys who couldn't make it (work and other family stuff). At the bottom of this hill we stopped for lunch then continued on, getting home in mid-afternoon.
The trail was packed down through lots of use--we didn't really need the snowshoes. But at least there was snow. I was afraid there wouldn't be with this mild winter we've had so far. But it was a good trip.
Now, I would have really liked to see us rent the yurt the Forest Service has up there, packed in all our gear on snowshoes and spent the night. But with the short planning and experience of the boys (I don't think they even knew about the yurt) it worked out really well to do a day trip.
6. We haven't done much for "official" evaluation, but on the way down the mountain we did talk about what went well and what didn't, and came up with some ideas for next time.
Okay, so it wasn't a perfect activity. But we had a great time. The boys were in charge and I think they learned quite a bit, both about snowshoeing as well as planning/carrying out an activity. And that's the important part.