Re: Combined Explorer/Scouting "Units"
Amick Robert (amick@spot.Colorado.EDU)
Thu, 21 Aug 1997 21:07:18 -0600 (MDT)
Terry, et al
I would echo Cliff Golden's comments, and add a few of my own. I think
our Post/Troop arrangement is remarkably similar to Cliff's and that we
have had similar successes and activities. I cannot assure you that the
arrangement will work for you, but I would strongly encourage you to try
it. It is never easy at first. When we first chartered the post in 1980,
the Scoutmaster's staff and the Troop Committee expressed similar
reservations about "losing" older Scouts to the Post. We therefore made
a special commitment to the troop that the Explorers (they wrote their
own bylaws) would continue to serve in troop leadership capacities, and to
support the troop in any way possible in return for the Troop/Post
providing them a venue to enjoy Explorer high adventure activities. This
concept has only improved over the past 17 years, and the relationship has
been symbiotic with the Troop as I mentioned in the earlier post. You
have to "get over" the "us and them" concepts and work together as a team
to make the relationship flourish.
Planning and Communication are very
important to avoid conflicting events and needs for resources and
leadership. Don't be afraid to recruit outside members from other troops,
as well as male and female teens who haven't been in Scouting. They can
provide "new blood" and nourish and enrich the Post membership.
On Thu, 21 Aug 1997, Terry Lucke wrote:
> Gentlemen (& ladies)
> For the past year, my scoutmaster has urged the co-mingling of an explorer post and
> our troop. He and his boys are involved with both units (he being my scoutmaster
> and post advisor, his older boys being explorers and his youngest at this point
> still with the troop. Despite reading a few of Mr Amick's presenations on the
> matter, I am still remain unconvinced that this is an appropriate course of action
> for our specifc troop, at this time.
> Let me outline our situation:
> - At present we have appproximately 33 registered scouts although only 19 to 22 seem
> to be active at any given time, and all indications are that this number will at
> best stay even or drop at registration time. This despite the fact that our program
> has significantly improved over the prior couple of year's.
Don't forget that the Post can be an incentive for younger Scouts to join
and remain active; and to anticipate that they will join the post when
they turn 14 to do the "cool" things the Explorers do.
> - Only 1 scout crossed over from the cub pack this spring,
Use the Post as part of your "marketing" portfolio for the Cubs as well.
If you show slides/video of great Troop activities as well as the Post
events, you will be amazed how interested the Cubs are in both programs.
I have talked to many Eagles who said they were motivated to be an Eagle
and to join Explorers
when they saw their first Eagle Scout court of honor, or slide shows of
Explorer activities as a Cub. So first
impressions at an early age are very important. We plan to market National
Scout Jamboree in four years to Cub Scouts starting this year, just to get
them interested in being Scouts and going to Jambo.
> - Our oldest boy is 17 and going for his Eagle. We have 2 to 3 inactives who are
> likewise in their upper teens and who spend what little time they have elsewhere
> (presumably the post although I am not sure of that)
When you are first starting, your 14 year olds may become your best
candidates to get the post going. You may not get much interest from the
16-18 year olds if they are already committed with other
involvements, although if you help them plan an exciting Exploring
program, you may very likely find that they come back and bring their
friends. Activities such as our 1994 (and again in 1998) SCUBA diving
trip to Cozumel were very strong attractions for our Explorers then, and
now for the "next generation" of
Explorers (who were really psyched about going when
they were younger Scouts three years ago). I cannot overstress how
important it is to "think big" and that there are "no bad ideas" when the
Explorers plan their program. Some of our best activities are those
"seemingly impossible, off-the-wall ideas" that teens often come up with.
The best thing adults can do is keep quiet and listen, and seriously
consider each proposal to see if they can help facilitate it. *AVOID the
"yes,...but.." response to any ideas because that is a real turn-off for
> - Beyond that most of our boys are between 11 and 14. and at least half are 2nd
> class and above.
> While it is true that some of the early advancement type activities have become
> "boring" to some of our boys. I am of the opinion that embracing the Explorer post
> as an option for 14 year-olds will tend to detract from the troop and scouting
> activities especially rank advancement.
Our experience has been that the 14 year olds will be more highly
motivated to be active in Post and Troop activities and to continue
earning their ranks. 14 is a great time to solidify the interests before
outside attractions for teens (sports, cars, relationships, etc.) strongly
compete for time and attention. The incentive of getting to wear the dark
green uniform shirts and the special post polo shirts when they join adds
to the "esprit de corps" at meetings and on trips.
When Scouting and Exploring become fun and exciting, it follows
that the older Scout's involvement becomes a higher priority than
competing interests. Hence, they tend to devote more time and energy to
it, rather than outside pursuits. If you don't have a challenging and
interesting Exploring Program for them, there is a very good chance you
will lose them altogether; so the Post is well worth the time and
resources required to make it happen.
Case in point..we involve younger Scouts in Exploring activities such as
the annual Explorer Mock Disaster as "victims." They get to be "moulaged"
with all the "goo and gore" of artificial blood and wounds..which they
thoroughly enjoy, and are all the more interested in being Explorers in
the future. They also get to see how the different posts respond and
perform (e.g., law enforcement, firefighters, rescue/ems, high adventure,
civil air patrol, et al) so get a feel for the type of post(s) they might
like to join ( they can be in more than one if they choose).
> It would seem from reading the posting of settummanque, orblackeagle (Mike Walton)
> dated Mon, 4 Aug 1997, that he too has reservations on this issue. Moreover I get
> the impression from what I have read that the troop/post combination is really
> targeted for 1) a larger population unit, and 2) for older boys (16-17 and up)
> Are these assumptions correct and what is your input given the circumstances
> described above?
Not so! I still disagree with Mike on this one, and have the experience
to support my assertions...Numbers are not relevant. Numbers will build
if program is exciting and attractive to the teens. You have to start
somewhere, and at the beginning you will start with small numbers. You
can still have a quality, and exciting program, planned by the Explorers,
with help and guidance from the advisors and post committee. The most
successful troop/post combinations rely on "cultivating" younger Scouts to
join to constantly replenish the membership as older Explorers leave, so
you always have a good balance of ages from 14-20, and again, recruiting
from outside the troop is essential.
Most posts are relatively small, 10-20 active members is about average.
Some posts are larger and work well, too.
Age is less relevant. Ideally a good mix of incoming explorers at 14-15
years will become the "replacements" for the older Explorers who
eventually move on around age 18 (or 20 if they remain active while they
are in college, as many of ours do). The younger Explorers are "mentored"
by the older Explorers in elected offices and as "crew leaders" for events
> I have read the discussion of the misconception issue, however, as yet with the
> exception of two outdoor "fun" activities, I have not seen any of the explorers
> come to participate in our troop activities, with the exception of my scoutmaster's
> son's at one COH. With the experiences of summer camp most recently in mind, when
> allure of going with the older boys (and girl), in fact left us without our youth
> leaders camp one night, I am very unconvinced that until the issue of
> responsibility is understood and accepted there is no misconception.
This is a planning, communications, and coordination issue as noted above.
You have to deliberately and mutually plan events and activities that do
not conflict or compete. Or if conflict is unavoidable, try to make
allowances and compensate with adult leadership temporarily. The teens
appreciate your consideration and often will make a special effort to
repay your kindness in the future. Our post typically only has one
business meeting per month on Sunday evening, which minimizes time
conflicts with Troop meetings and activities. The post has one weekend
camping/outdoor event per month, and one or more superactivities in the
Summer when school is out. Sometimes the post invites younger Scouts 12-13
year olds who will soon be eligible to join, on some of their activities
to further enhance their interest. Most of our Explorers take the Red
Cross Emergency Response/First Responder training (60 hours) offered in
the Spring, and this year we invited some 13 year old Scouts to join us
which was a very positive step.
*Training is pivotal to a good Exploring Program. Right off the bat get
an Advanced Explorer Leadership Development Training (AELDT) for your
your Advisors/Post Committee so they know how to run a post and how to
brainstorm and plan activities and events. AELDT is conducted with
Explorers and adults together, to establish the working partnership, and
sets the foundation for effective post operation. Again PROGRAM IS
PRIMARY, so schedule a planning retreat/leadership workshop on a weekend
where you can spend a full day or overnight. Brainstorm challenging
activities which the Explorers select, plan, and calendar for at least
three to six months. Be sure to plan at least one summer super activity
as a "highlight" event that everyone looks forward to.
> Unless there is some significantly overriding consideration which we have missed,
> both my charter org rep and I believe have this is not a good course of action at
> the present time, and have indicated that to my scoutmaster.
If you fail to "dare greatly" you may never know whether you could have
succeeded, and may continue to lose older Scouts, by maintaining the same
old methods. Teens will not wait, they simply leave to find more
interesting pursuits, and often those outside of Scouting. Teens need
Scouting more than ever, and leaders need to rise to the challenge and
create those opportunities. Exploring is probably the single most
creative and versatile program in Scouting to meet the needs of teens.
Don't miss the chance to make it work for you. I am confident you will
not regret doing so...
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Longs Peak Council Exploring Training Chair
> I would appreciate any input based on the above. > > Thanks in advance
> Terry Lucke (email@example.com)
> Chairman Troop 39
> LaGrange IL
> PS: Were our enrollment substantially higher (+10-15) and our boys a little older.
> I would have no problem provided that the post's mission and program and actions met
> the criterial set out by Mr. Amick.
> cc C.R.
> Terry Lucke