Re: Decision making by youth
(no name) ((no email))
Wed, 20 Nov 1991 11:19:00 EDT
Until 1986, the National Exploring Division held a National Explorer Presidents'
Congress someplace in the US. The purpose of the Congress was to elect the
national officers of Exploring, to elect or appoint national speciality assn.
chairs, to provide programming and training opportunities equal to those
found at Philmont for both youth and adults, and to provide interaction
between all participants (in other words, to have fun).
In the early days of Exploring, these events were held in Washington, DC and
gave the Explorers participating a chance to meet their real elected
representatives. Later, at the request of those Councils that wanted to
participate but the travel costs were sky-high, it was moved around from
region to region. Finally, the Exploring Division gave up on the entire
concept for four reasons:
*the apathy of today's Explorer Presidents Association's leaders to attend
*the upward costs of participating and hosting such a event
*the Council's attitudes toward youth leadership in one of "their areas"
*national's perception that "such a activity is no longer needed or wanted".
Most Explorers are unaware that something exists for them above the local
unit level. They may be familiar with the Council because of the membership
card or someone mentioning it. They for the most part, are not familiar with
the Explorer Officers/Presidents Association that ALL Councils are urged to
have (EPA/EOA). This is a requirement of the Exploring Committee at the
Council level. 80% of the Councils play lip service to this requirement for
a multitude of reasons...the biggest is that they cannot seem to get it off
of the ground because the youth are not told (and backed up) that this is
one aspect of Scouting that is THEIRS ONLY!
Most Councils don't have the budget for a EPA/EOA. It requires some funding
to hold multi-unit events (activities that a District would do, for example).
Because Exploring is not a "
"high-pri" item (until of course, the Area Director shows up), most Councils
will plan to hold quarterly Exploring activities but won't hold their breath
to see it executed. The other extreme is that the events are planned and
coordinated, but nobody (or a few strong posts that do EVERYTHING any way)
Councils do NOT like the idea of youth representation. I know....I have been
on both sides of the fence. When Exploring was in its heyday, the 26 Area
Exploring Chairs worked closely with their professional counterparts, the
Area Director...and the six regional Exploring Chairs/National Vice Presidents
worked closely with the Regional Director for Exploring or the Regional
Director for Program. Such powerful "workmates" made it a unconfortable setting
for many Councils, who saw the youth chair as a "spy" for the Regional
professional staff....they were paid by BSA...so they were part of the Regional
staff. To have a 17 or 19 or 20 year old to tell a old 53-year old
Scout Executive that "their Exploring program needs work in the area of
program and commissioner support" is well, let say its not the best situation.
So, in four Regions, the Area Chairman (youth) were eliminated. The other two
have Area Exploring Representatives, but their role is one of public relations
and that's it.
National, therefore, thinking that "since the scout Execs don't want Exploring
reps, and the youth in those Councils don't care, and since we cannot afford
to have national events every year for them and get only a quarter of all of
the Post Presidents/Ship Boatswains there....." that they would hold national
elections by mail and not bother with a national event for Explorers every
year. The National Exploring Conference would continue to be held, but the
hoopla associated with electing a national president and cabinet would no
longer be done in the grand manner it once was done.
Who suffers??? The Explorers in local units. They cannot do Council-level
events in many locations because there is NO COUNCIL Exploring Committee.
The ones that *do* exists, are only on paper because they cannot get a
"big wheel" to serve as the chairman of a committee that "does nothing except
holds a banquet once a year to thank the volunteers...." and maybe one other
event. The Council suffers, because the Exploring literture and program
support stuff says that "the Council holds several events each year for all
of the Explorers in the council...you should plan on attending these events
because they are important to the continued motivation and success of the
entire Exploring program..." National suffers as well, since
now the professional staffers there really don't have much to do because the
number and quality of the events have been lessoned.
What is the solution??? Perhaps as was listed in an earlier posting, we need
to return to the basics of our program. Exploring flourished as a separate
division and saw the most growth over the past 20 years because of its
uniqueness. No other division had a youth President, a adult chairman,
and a professional working TOGETHER toward the same goals. This was to be
taken down to the Council level, where the youth Chair of the Council's
Exploring Presidents'/Officers's Association, the adult advisor (the council
Exploring Chair or the Council's Exploring Program Chair) and the professional
(The Scout Executive or the council staff person assigned to Exploring)
worked on getting Exploring the funding, the support and the programs their
Council needed...and with the youth being listened to by the adults and their
suggestions acted on positively by them.
When I served as Council EPA chair in Louisville (I was the first EPA chair
that the Council had), I was listened to by Gregory Cohen, whom was at that
time the Council staff member for Exploring. We spent a lot of days talking
about the direction that Exploring should go into. I saw the results many
years later, when that Council hired a pair of Exploring Executives and
started doing Exploring activities on a quarterly basis. We had fun...and
the youth ran the program!!
Try that today, and I would be asked to sit and "take it up with me later on"
(in other words, "shut up kid...you're botherin' me!")
I don't have all of the answers....and Exploring is very dear and close to me.
I see a lot of it, however, the result of the BSA getting too large and the
professionals not trusting the volunteers....and the volunteers not trusting
the professionals....and both parties not listening to the participants of the
National Exploring Instructor
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City