Re: BSA Age Sections
Amick Robert (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fri Feb 06 12:43:00 1998
Alex raises some good points. As I have posted before, we have a combined
Outdoor/high adventure post and sea explorer ship (which we just started).
We are also directly affiliated with a troop and the Scouts who have
graduated to Exploring are still
concurrently registered as Boy Scouts in the Troop. This arrangement has
been in effect since 1980, and has actually worked very well.
The Post/Ship and the Troop are operated with the idea that both will
provide a menu of opportunities which are broad enough that there will be
something of interest for almost everyone who is a member. It is also
very clear that not everyone will participate in every activity due to
time constraints, focused interests, and outside time commitments.
We do have a broad range of youth in the Explorer Program, ranging from 14
year old Scouts who have just become Explorers/Sea Explorers, up through
20 year old college students who have been in the troop and post/ship and
are now attending college. We also have a few college students who were
not previously in Scouting but who are very interested in Sea Exploring
and participate thoroughly in post/ship activities. One is the Boatswain
of our new Sea Explorer Ship and is well liked by the younger Explorers.
He is also in Naval ROTC, so that is a definite plus for the post/ship.
Our experience has been that the college students very much enjoy spending
time with the younger Scouts, helping them advance, and teaching them
leadership skills. As I noted in previous posts, the younger Scouts
and Explorers think the older ones are "ten feet tall" and there seems to
be a high degree of acceptance and collegiality in the two age groups.
Conversely, there is also the opportunity for the older Explorers to do
activities with their friends in a similar age range. So having this
versatility seems to address the "age-related" concerns very well.
One of the great advantages of this arrangement has been advancement in
that the Scouts/Explorers/Sea Explorers have access to the full range of
advancement opportunities such as Eagle, Explorer G.O.L.D. award, (and
soon to be Ranger and Silver Awards), as well as the seldom-earned Sea
Explorer Quartermaster Award (and the lower ranks of apprentice, able,
I have served concurrently as a Scoutmaster and Explorer Advisor, so my
experience in Exploring has been similar in that Scoutmasters who only
have experience working with Scout troops tend to
be very "nervous" about promoting membership in an Explorer Post or Sea
Explorer Ship for fear that they will "lose" their older Scouts. Sadly,
this is seldom true. We have found that Exploring provides a "new venue"
of interest for that age group, and permits the Explorers to return some
leadership to their troops, while enjoying activities and fellowship with
Explorers on post/ship activities. Most of our Explorers who were active
as Scouts remain active with the troop in Leadership roles such as SPL,
ASPL, JASM and Troop Guides. Most of them earn their Eagle Scout Award.
Other Explorers who have not previously been active with the troop also
spend time with the Troop, as noted above, assisting Scouts.
Scoutmasters should view Exploring as an opportunity to retain their older
Scouts (who might otherwise become bored with the Troop and drop out
altogether). By encouraging the older Scouts to join a post/ship or
co-sponsoring one in connection with the troop as many troops with older
Scouts do, they find a much higher retention rate than just trying to
maintain the older Scouts within the troop or even with a Venture Crew.
There are some Scouts who only wish to do Venture activities and not join
a post, and that certainly should be encouraged as well if that is their
preference, but they should be aware of both programs and be allowed to
make a fair and educated decision about what they choose to do.
We have also found that the Explorer Post/Ship is a major incentive for
younger Scouts to remain active in the troop with the anticipation that
they will be able to join Explorers when they turn 14.
Exploring offers a great deal more opportunities than a Venture Crew
might, including the opportunity of having female members, rather than
just guests, the Exploring and Sea Exploring advancement program, and the
opportunities of attending National Explorer Leadership Conferences as
well as networking with other posts at Council and area Exploring events.
And if Explorers want to be in more than one post, they can join as many
as they have time for; but they can only belong to one Scout Troop/Venture
There are many Eagle Scouts, former Scouts and Explorers attending
colleges and universities who would
very much enjoy membership in a post/ship where they attend school, and
the opportunity to continue working with Scouts and sharing their
leadership skills and knowledge. Alpha Phi Omega is certainly a good venue
for them to do this, and many of our College Explorers are also members of
Alpha Phi Omega, which also has its own Explorer Post composed of under-21
members. Another APO chapter just chartered a Sea Explorer Ship for
We deliberately do not have a lot of "meetings" which are time-consuming;
The Post/Ship meets once per month for a regular business meeting and we
try to do something interesting or fun in connection with it. We do offer
two to four different activities each month, again realizing that various
Explorers will migrate to what the are interested in and have time for.
We also have one Executive Staff meeting per month for the Post/Ship
Youth officers to plan and coordinate the post/ship activities.
I appreciate Alex's suggestion on restructuring the ages, but I would be
concerned that limiting Exploring to sixteen and up would unfairly
prevent membership by many 14-15 year olds who have never been Boy Scouts
and do not choose to be Boy Scouts. By the time a youth reaches 16,
he/she is already well committed on activities and interests, and we have
found it is not nearly as easy to recruit older teens for that reason.
There are always exceptions and we try to have the program be as flexible
as possible to meet the needs of as many youth as we can.
It should be noted that Nationally, very few Explorers have ever been in a
traditional Boy Scout program. This is certainly not true of Posts/Ships
which are affiliated with Troops, but they are, unfortunately, a fairly
small minority among the majority of the posts, particularly in specialty
fields such as Law Enforcement, Fire/Rescue/EMS, or even outdoor high
I definitely agree that the upper age of Exploring
be expanded to age 22; and support the Rover concept. Just as Alpha Phi
Omega meets the needs of young adults in college, where the age can range
from 18-28; there is certainly a place for a Rover program in that same
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72/S.E.S. 72,
Boulder, CO; Longs Peak Council Exploring Training Chair; Advisory Board
Chair, Gamma Theta Chapter, Alpha Phi Omega, University of Colorado at
On Fri, 6 Feb 1998, Alex Chacko John
> That Exploring has so wide an age group may serve to drive away some people who would otherwise have joined. A freshman in
> high school and a junior in college may have a lot in common, but they probably have many differences too. In fact, the interests of
> high-school students and college students can be very different. Many college students are probably turned off by the idea that
> they would be in a post with kids who just got out of the eighth grade.
> Here's an idea to fix these two problems: Restructure the age groups of the BSA Divisions.
> Tiger Cubs -- Grade 1/6-7 years old
> Cub Scouts -- Grades 2-5/7-11 years old
> (A boy would spend 5 years total in the Cub Scouting Program.)
> Boy Scouts -- Grades 6-10/11-16 years old
> (A boy would spend 5 years total in the Boy Scouting Program.)
> Explorers -- Grade 11-Senior in University/16-22 years old
> (A youth would spend 6 years total in the Exploring Program.)
> Rovers? -- College Graduate/22-28 years old
> (A youth/young adult would spend 6 years total in the Rovering Program, if it were instituted.)