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Boy Scouts Key To South Salem's FD Recruitment

SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Without Venture Crew 0062 the South Salem Fire Department might have a hard time surviving. It’s estimated that about half of its active members got their start as members of this branch of the Boy Scouts of America.

“A lot of our members were recruited that way,” said Mike Harris, president of the Venture Crew and a member of the South Salem Fire Department. “About half our active members, all three chiefs, the captains and lieutenants all started in the Venture Crew.”

One of the Boy Scouts' goals in Venturing is to create a partnership with sponsoring organizations, such as emergency response services like the South Salem Fire Department. Venturers have the opportunity to participate in Fire Department functions, including drilling, alongside firefighters. The adult advisers are all active firefighters with a wide range of knowledge and experience. Although there is an emphasis toward firefighting, there are many other aspects of Venturing.

“We are also a social organization,” Harris said. “We get together and do things like whitewater rafting, rock climbing and go to hockey games in Danbury. We hang out together.”

The Venture Crew has been around Lewisboro for many years. Harris, 20, started when he was 15 with a couple of friends and became president when he was 17.

Now the group is looking to recruit more members. At one time it boasted around 17, but Harris says that number is down to around nine, with only five or six active members.

He hopes to recruit more youngsters – ages 14 to 20, both male and female, are eligible to join – by putting on an assembly at John Jay High School. The group also goes to Boy Scout events to help out and promote Venturing and other firefighting issues.

One of the best parts of belonging to the Venture Crew, Harris said, is the competitions the members enter into with other fire departments.

“We competed at the FDNY’s Explorer Day on Randall’s Island and won first place out of two events,” Harris said. “The guys were pretty excited about that.”

Harris said that when students head off to college, the group’s membership suffers, so fresh blood is always needed.

“We are not at risk of falling apart, but the more members we have, the more competitions we can enter,” he said.

The Venturers meet on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. and every third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the South Salem Firehouse, 1190 Route 35.

For more information, call Mike Harris at 914-410-4800 or email .

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