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Scouting organization brings rock climbing wall to church fundraiser for others to enjoy
ELBURN – The cluster of kids waiting to conquer the rock climbing wall set up in Elburn St. Gall’s parking lot listened to others talk about their experience with excitement. Parishioner Rose Bostic’s 9-year-old daughter Savannah Bostic had just completed her climb.
“That was so fun. When I got up to the top, I was like, ‘I did it!’," she said proudly.
The rock climbing wall was an activity Elburn’s Venturing Crew 413 brought to the St. Gall’s fundraising pancake breakfast to introduce young people to the activities members participate in through the scouting organization.
Savannah Bostic has a few years before she could join the crew, but she and her 11-year-old sister hope to join one day, said their mom.
Rock climbing is just one of the many outdoor activities boys and girls have a chance to experience by joining the Venturing Crew. Under the umbrella of Boy Scouts of America, Venturers are co-ed groups of boys and girls 14 (13, if they have graduated eighth grade) to 20 years old with opportunities for outdoor adventure, service and leadership.
The event at St. Gall on May 19 was also a showcase for one of the many opportunities the Venturers offer for community service, with the scouts cooking and serving a pancake breakfast to raise money for the St. Vincent DePaul Society after helping the youngsters climb the wall.
The St. Vincent DePaul Society is a charitable organization that, through money raised by churches such as St. Gall, assists needy families in the community. The church, where the Venturers hold their meetings, is a sponsor of the crew.
St. Charles resident Cali Papez, who joined the group about a year ago, said becoming a Venturer was always something she had wanted to do.
“My family has always gone camping, and (what this group does) is more like real camping, more like high adventure,” she said.
She said the crew, currently in its fourth year of existence, has also gone on backpacking trips, whitewater rafting, done indoor sky diving and spent part of a week on a sail boat in the Florida Keys. She plans to go with the group to Hawaii next year, and said she will have to do a lot of fundraising to help pay for it.
Fifteen-year-old Megan Steffey, also from St. Charles, joined the crew nearly two years ago.
“(Venturing) really gives them a lot of experiences, and the opportunity to do things they otherwise might not get to do,” her mom, Melissa Steffey, said.
She said her daughter traveled with the group to the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia last summer to participate in a nationwide VentureFest, where she joined thousands of other Venturers taking part in activities such as whitewater rafting and a backpacking trip that included a 26-mile hike.
“It really teaches them independence,” Melissa Steffey said. “They learn leadership skills, which they are able to utilize in other parts of their life.”
Although the crew is centered in Elburn, the members come from several other surrounding communities, including St. Charles, Maple Park, West Chicago and unincorporated Kane County.
“These kids are such a good group,” said crew advisor Linda Potvin. “They work well together, both male and female. They talk through things, and they learn how to make their own decisions.”
Potvin said they make decisions about their trips, including where they will go, how much they will spend and how long they will stay at a particular place. The members also take on leadership roles within the organization. They are paired with an adult leader as a mentor, and can take leadership classes through the Boy Scouts of America organization.
Elburn resident Acelin Bruhl joined the crew in 2018. In addition to participating in the activities with people he considers his friends, he has enjoyed the service projects the group has performed. He said volunteering with Chicago's the Christmas Ship was a great experience.
The Christmas Ship is a non-profit organization that delivers Christmas trees by ship to the shores of Lake Michigan where they will then be distributed to families in need. Bruhl said the crew stayed overnight on the ship, and helped serve food to the other scouts and volunteers.
“It was really cool to spend time on the ship,” he said.
Other service projects the crew has performed include helping Elburn letter carriers collect food for the Elburn and Countryside Food Pantry, adopting a section of Hughes Road for trash pick-up through the Adopt-a-Highway program and welcoming veterans back from their Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., among others. The crew logs more than 1,000 community service hours every year.
The next large trip the crew will take will be to Hawaii, where they will stay at a Boy Scout camp, and will surf, go zip-lining, go hiking and have a luau. Potvin said they are looking forward to meeting up with a venturing crew from Hawaii, who will host them.
The crew has been very active, and has already been featured in Boys Life Magazine. Leader Potvin, who has been in leadership roles in scouting for nearly 20 years, was highlighted in Scouting Magazine. One of the other founding leaders, Bruce Aderman, who has been a scout leader for about 15 years, was honored in February 2019 with the Silver Acorn Award for especially distinguished service.
“Our crew is lucky to have him,” stated the crew's Facebook post with a picture of Aderman receiving the award.
The crew meets on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at St. Gall’s Church, 43W885 Hughes Road. Papez said that the demands on members are not excessive, and still has plenty of time to participate in soccer and basketball teams at school.
For more information, visit the Elburn Venturing Crew 413 Facebook page, or call Linda Plotvin at 630-531-0061 or Bruce Aderman at 630-404-6113.