PUERTO RICO - In January, nine members from the Northeast Region Area 5 Venturing Officers’ Association, more commonly known as VOA, traveled to Newark Liberty International airport for an early morning flight; destination, San Juan, Puerto Rico. After the flight, they toured Old San Juan experiencing some historic sights, food and entertainment.

Some of the historic sights they saw, were the Castillo San Felipe del Morro Spanish fort, the Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, the oldest standing Steeple in the Americas and the Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista Cathedral. They also got to enjoy some traditional Puerto Rican foods, many of which involved plantains.

After venturing around San Juan, they arrived at camp Guajataka for the Venturee. They checked in and were warmly greeted by the staff and participants alike. That evening they participated in their camp program before lights out.

Sign Up for E-News

Saturday morning they awoke to rain; it said hello to them a few times a day. Being scouts, the rain does not take away from the program, but rather adds to it. After breakfast and a brief meeting, they continued to mingle, explore the camp, take photos and participate in a variety of programs and activities. After lunch it was time for the Iron Chef competition in which Chris, our Area 5 President, was one of the judges. That day, they also took part in other activities such as Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (C.O.P.E), canoeing, playing in the rain and mud, swimming and more.

"After dinner, there was a camp-wide talent show, which I had the privilege of judging alongside Council and District VOA members from Puerto Rico," Vice President of Communications Steven Rozek said. "The winners of the show were the Sea Scout Ship that recreated scenes from the Disney movie Aladdin."

Sunday morning, after flags and breakfast, the entire camp participated in an Interfaith Worship Service. Afterwards, participants chose between training sessions including Time Management, Goal Setting, Mentoring and others. In the afternoon they engaged in more camp activities, including something a little different, dancing. Scouts could choose from Zumba, Aqua-Zumba or Salsa. Most of the Area 5 VOA members chose to participate in the Salsa class.

"This was a very different, fun experience which was definitely a part of the trip I will remember," Rozek said.

Later that day they had time to mingle with the scouts and watch the Venturing Challenge. This challenge was a camp-wide race where teams went to different stations around camp performing various scout skills. This challenge was like a mini Klondike in a warm climate. Teams were judged on their scout spirit, teamwork and overall time and performance.

That evening, there was an awards presentation in which two Venturers were honored with the Venturing Leadership Award. This award is presented to Venturers on a Council, Area, Regional and National level for their hard work and dedication to the program. The night concluded with a campfire and celebration with dancing. Late Sunday night, they returned to the airport for a red-eye back to New Jersey.

For a many of the Area VOA members, this was their first time at Guajataka and Puerto Rico. "While our advisor and I had been there previously, we all agreed that it is a great camp and a wonderful place that we would all like return to," Rozek said.

The Venturee is an annual event held at camp Guajataka put on by the Puerto Rico Council and their six District VOAs. Guajataka was founded by Frank Wadsworth in 1938 after the land was donated to the Boy Scouts of America. The event was first held in 2000 and recurs every year bigger and better. This year’s attendance included 20 Venturing Crews, 1 Sea Scout Ship and the Area 5 VOA. In all, there were over 250 participants and close to 300 scouts including the participants and staff.

To get in contact with the Area VOA and learn more about the Venturing program, our email, Facebook page and website are listed below:

Email – nerarea5@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Area-5-Venturing-338401331620/
Website – http://www.ne5venturing.org/