Members of the Venture Crew 615 tend to find fun in the most extreme places.
The coed group already has conquered indoor rock climbing, trail bike riding and whitewater rafting.
Ethan St. Martin, the Crew's secretary, said he especially enjoyed indoor rock climbing in Kennesaw, Ga., and looked forward to the February activity -- a caving trip in Tennessee.
"The activities are a great incentive," the Greenbrier High School senior said, "but being able to reach out to people and hang out with your friends and do things that you communally like is just out of this world."
The idea for a venturing group originated in 2007 when five young men from a Boy Scout troop decided they wanted to participate in more outdoor activities.
The group was formed after Dee Castillo, an adviser of the crew, and Bob Lowrie, the charter organization representative and unit commissioner for Scouting at Wesley United Methodist Church, met with the young men.
Since then, Venture Crew 615 has expanded to 15 people between the ages of 14 to 20, Castillo said. The group costs $11 to join, and activity expenses vary depending on the success of fundraising efforts.
"The whole point is to teach them leadership and how to be better citizens and responsible adults," said Bob Hoelscher, an adviser of Venture Crew 615 and an Army colonel.
Wesley United Methodist established Venture Crew 615 as part of its outreach to local youths, but Hoelscher said that crew members do not have to attend the church.
"The church has bent over backwards to help with the program, but they have levied no requirements on us," he said.
Venture Crew 615 members are not just concerned with having fun. They also assist with services around the area, Hoelscher said.
In September, the group volunteered at a Cub Scout Pal-N-Me event in Lincolnton, Ga., and supported a fellow member's senior project at a charity bike ride in December.
Hoelscher and Castillo advise the group and ensure safety, but crew members accept responsibility for planning and organizing group activities, Hoelscher said. They must coordinate the event and raise money.
"It's fun to watch teenagers try and sort out how to plan an event," Hoelscher said.
The crew already has made plans for more events. After the caving trip, they want to go sea kayaking near Savannah in March and again in May.
"We will be doing some activity every month, either a fun event or a service project," Castillo said.
Hoelscher said he is motivated by the teens' learning responsibility and leadership skills.
"Some of the kids are really growing through this, and I'm real impressed by that," Hoelscher said.
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