Venturing into new territory

Lexington Venture Crew 1775 is chartered with the help of Lincoln Laboratory

By Barbra Gottschalk and Cecile Denton
A group of scouts in Lexington, Massachusetts have formed a new coed Boy Scout organization, called a Venture Crew, sponsored by MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Venturing is the fastest growing program of the Boy Scouts of America, developed for young adults who want a broader experience in leadership, vocations, and hobbies.

Sean Winkler and Ilana Marcus The founding members of Venture Crew 1775 stood with Sarah Klein and John Kuconis of Lincoln Laboratory upon completion of the Crew's incorporation meeting.


Venturing offers positive experiences to help young people mature and become responsible and caring adults. Venturing provides the skills needed for young adults to make ethical choices, experience adventures and challenges, and to take advantage of opportunities to advance their skills and knowledge in the areas of high adventure, sports, arts, hobbies, and leadership. During initial meetings, the Lexington Crew members chose as key objectives: honing leadership skills, participating in outdoor adventures, exploring STEM, and serving the community. In November, the scouts visited with John Kuconis of Lincoln Laboratory, requesting the Laboratory to serve as their Crew sponsor. The Crew leaders watched proudly as the charter documents were successfully agreed upon and signed.

Venture Crew 1775 "The Giant Thumb" leadership exercise challenged the crew to work together to lift a tire off of a 10-foot pole, and then gently replace it, without letting the tire or people touch the pole.

After just two introductory meetings to form their group and get organized, Venture Crew 1775 went on its first adventure outing at Camp Sayre in Milton, Massachusetts. Ten scouts and four adults practiced leadership skills and participated in a high ropes course. The leadership training consisted of a set of targeted activities and challenges. Cecile Denton, President of the Venture Crew, explained the different team activities undertaken. "Putting puzzles together while blindfolded was a memorable test of the group’s verbal communication skills. Another activity tested hand-eye coordination with the task of catching airborne projectiles in an attempt to demonstrate the importance of delegating responsibilities amongst the crew officers, and also for some comic relief," explained Denton, "but 'The Giant Thumb' really made us work together as a team."

After a morning of leadership activities, the group took to the high ropes course to test their newly learned skills. Traversing the course helped the group practice teamwork and using effective communication skills. Each scout had the opportunity to lead and to follow, to find his or her own strengths, and to experience being the weakest in the group.

Venture Crew 1775 The "Chimney" High Ropes Course at Camp Sayre in Milton, Massachusetts.

The scouts climbed in pairs up to a height of 70 feet. They attempted the "Chimney" course which is constructed such that several levels of large square rings are suspended five feet higher than the last. All climbers had to figure out how to work with their partners to climb to the top. Each pair found a different approach that worked best with their combined strengths. "I was amazed how difficult the ropes course was...and how well we all conquered it," said Sarah Klein, Laboratory staff member and adult leader of the Venture Crew. She added "It was exhilarating to master the course with my partner, Bernie Gunther.  It is comforting to know that when we go adventure camping, we can figure out a plan for any challenge."

The Venture Crew ultimately learned that the best way to help struggling peers and support the team is through positive energy and good communication. Overall, the crew came to understand that leadership comes in all different forms and styles. This training effort was successful in helping crew members work outside their comfort zones and grow as a team. Denton finished by adding, "We'd like to thank Lincoln Laboratory for making this crew possible, along with our chartering organization representative, Dr. Sarah Klein."

Klein adds, "The scouts are developing a style for running our weekly meetings that fosters positive team dynamics and is enormously fun!  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Our success has been boosted by the generosity extended by Lincoln Laboratory, including the Director's Office, Community Outreach, Security, and many members of staff who are active in scouting."

The Venture Crew plans to roll out science, engineering, and math discovery activities soon.  Those interested in participating in this STEM mentoring can contact Sarah Klein or visit the crew's website can at


April 2015

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