Fort Bliss youth venture across Bliss at LRC
FORT BLISS — The Fort Bliss Venture Crew 2248, spent the weekend navigating some of the installation’s toughest obstacles and challenges.
Beginning Friday, the crew camped at the Leadership Reaction Course before moving to the Soldier Activity Center on East Fort Bliss where they spent Saturday with the Organ Mountain Technical Rescue Squad from Las Cruces N.M., climbing the rock wall, navigating the high ropes course and participating in rescue training.
The OMTRS is a volunteer group, as are all search and rescue teams across the state of New Mexico, which routinely respond to emergencies across the state and constantly train for these situations.
The rescue squad has a partnership with another venture crew from Las Cruces that allows crewmembers to be junior members of the rescue team and often includes them in their training. This was the first time the squad worked with the Fort Bliss crew and said they were happy to do so.
“Some of our best members grew up through venture crew,” said Bob Cort, OMTRS team captain. “I think (venturing) adds to their maturity. They have to learn some responsibility even when they are out on a camping trip or something like that. They have to bring all their own gear. Whatever they forget, they are without. So there is learning of responsibility to think ahead to ‘what might I need’ for this hike or trip or climb. Then with the search and rescue stuff, they get to see what can go wrong and they learn a lot from that too.”
Venturing was officially created by the Boys Scouts of America in 1998. Their stated purpose is to give older scouts a program specific to their needs and abilities. To this end, the crews are youth driven, with adults serving purely as advisors, and operate with the idea to build character, develop citizenship and foster personal fitness to young adults. Venture Crew is open to both males and females ages 14 through 20 (and not yet 21,) or to a youth aged 13 who has completed the 8th grade.
The Fort Bliss crew is one of the youngest crews in the area, but the group, sponsored by the United States Sergeants Major Academy chapel, is undoubtedly one of the most active crews in the area – participating in high-octane outings at least once a month. This fun and high spirit hides a hidden gem in that the crew is singularly supportive and accepting of each of their members.
Melissa Vollbrecht is the mother of a daughter in Fort Bliss’ Venture Crew. Vollbrecht said it was not only the level of activity, but also the unique group dynamic that led her child to join after a heartbreaking experience in another crew, which caused her to leave venturing and scouting behind last year.
“She was helping the Boy Scout troop sell popcorn,” said Vollbrecht. “She asked a Soldier if he would buy popcorn and he said ‘no, you are not a Boy Scout.’ It was a big blow to her self esteem Photos by Daniela Vestal, Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs and she took off her shirt and said, ‘I’m done.’ … It was heartbreaking. I get teary eyed when I think about it. As a Mom, you don’t want to see your child hurt.”
After a few months, the family heard about the Venture Crew and decided to attend a meeting to check things out and has been an enthusiastic member ever since.
“I am so glad she bounced back,” Vollbrecht said.
Venture Crew 2248 continues to draw area youth. Antonette Delgado attended this weekend’s activities and has every intention of coming back.
“I am so happy,” Delgado said. “The obstacle course is so much fun and everybody is so nice to me. I love to get down and dirty and do all the stuff they do like climbing, hiking and fishing.”
For those interested in joining the Fort Bliss Venture Crew, call 231-6016.