Local Venture Crew members preparing for Grand Canyon hike
By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Wed., Jan. 16, 2013
It takes a lot of planning and preparation to take 15 people on a 12-day trip to Arizona, but Venture Crew 8150 of Stafford Springs is well on its way to getting there.
The three-year-old group has already purchased plane tickets and made campsite reservations for 10 youth and five adults with plans to do a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon and visit a few other tourist attractions as well.
“This crew started in 2010, and it was a combination of youth from two Boy Scout troops and one Girl Scout troop, as well as others from outside,” said Venture Advisor Deb Winicki. “Venturing is a part of Boy Scouting, but a co-ed program, and you have to be 14 to 20 to join,” she said. “It tends to be more high adventure than what you would get in scouting. The crew chooses a super-activity and then takes a year to fundraise and train for it.”
“It’s the kids that really run the program. We’re just advisors,” said Daniel Irish, another adult advisor for the crew. Irish said that initially the youth wanted to go to Yellowstone Park, but when they did some research, they found that opting for a Grand Canyon trip would be about one-third of the cost. “They were good with that,” he said.
The crew plans to spend five nights in the Grand Canyon and another five in Zion National Park in Utah. While they still need to get permits for the Grand Canyon hike, they expect to backpack down to the bottom, then across and back up to the top. “It’s really wilderness hiking,” said Winicki. “We’re giving ourselves four months to prepare physically, getting our muscles - our legs and our backs - in shape, but it’s going to be hard because the temperatures here are a lot different than the 110-degree temperatures we can expect in Arizona.”
The West Stafford Fire Department is the charter organization for Venture Crew 8150 and provides space at its facility for bi-monthly meetings and other activities. At a meeting in January, the crew welcomed guest speaker Samantha Wentworth of the National Park Service, who talked to the youth about hiking the Grand Canyon.
Wentworth also recommended taking in other sites, such as a visit to the Sunset Crater and the colorful caves that run beneath it that are known as lava tubes, and also visiting Sedona, a.k.a. the Red Rock City, where a variety of hikes take visitors through old pueblos marked with hieroglyphics made by native Americans.
Besides the “super-activity,” the crew also does a number of other smaller activities throughout the year, said Irish. “We did a 50-mile biking trip in Cape Cod last fall. It was really grueling for somebody like me, but the kids had fun,” he joked. Irish said the crew also has participated in a number of local and long-distance community service projects, including a trip to Old Orchard Beach in Maine to help the Audubon Society clean up some marshland area, helping the local Rotary Club with its annual Farm Day event, and participating in food drives for the Stafford Food Bank.
Venture Crew 8150’s plans involve a good deal of fundraising activity, Winicki said, and so far the crew is about two-thirds to its $11,000 goal. They have held car washes, spaghetti suppers, provided holiday gift-wrapping at the mall, and provided a free coffee break stop at the Willington Rest-Stop off I-84. Their second annual Venture Breakfast Buffet will be held at the West Stafford Fire Station on Route 190 on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., with a snow date of Jan. 27. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children under 12.