Re: Senior Patrol (Explorer Post option)
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Mon, 7 Oct 1996 16:49:33 -0600
Keeping the interest and involvement of teens in Scouting is always
difficult. We took steps to solve that problem in 1980 by forming an
Explorer Post in connection with our Troop; the effort has been highly
effective and the members have enjoyed the benefits of both troop and
explorer post for many years.
I would like to recommend that you consider chartering an Explorer Post
concurrently with your Troop.
A post has some decided advantages over a
Venture unit which may greatly strengthen your program for your teens.
We have had a Post for 16 years now, and by design,
the Post and Troop Committee are essentially composed of the same
individuals except for the chairs; but they meet at the same time and
discuss both troop and post events at the same meeting; each program is
viewed as equally important and every effort is made to ensure
compatibility and to be complementary rather than competitive. The
Scoutmaster is an Associate Advisor, and conversely the Advisor is an
Older Scouts have a right to be appreciated for their experience,
their seniority, and the fact that they have "been there, done that" and
want to move on to more challenging events. By providing a separate
program for the older Scouts through Exploring they can do the
things they want to do independently when they choose to do so.
One of the "common fears" expressed by Troop Leaders who have asked about
our program, is that the Troop will "lose" it's older youth leadership.
Nothing could be further from the reality of the situation!
When the Explorers wrote their bylaws they specifically included language
which would commit them to support of the Troop and troop
When you give the older
Explorers this freedom and status, they actually are
very interested in contributing their leadership skills to the younger
Scouts of the Troop by serving in the Leadership corps (we still use that
term/status) in the offices of SPL, ASPL,JASM, troop guides et al; Some of
our very best troop guides are the Explorers, and the younger Scouts think
they are "ten feet tall" as the parent of one younger Scout expressed.
And to their credit, Explorers often participate and provide
leadership to the camping trips and outings for the younger Scouts, help
them with their advancement, and teach them all the skills and leadership
knowledge they have accumulated over the years that no adult could ever
hope to convey as effectively. Explorers are "gold mines" and should
be given every possible encouragement for providing those skills to their
younger colleagues. Giving them an Explorer Post is one of the great
opportunities to encourage their continued participation and reward their
contributions by allowing them a program which they plan, operate, and
enjoy with their friends.
Conversely, the younger Scouts really look forward to one day being an
Explorer because they see all the "really neat stuff" the Explorers do
(SCUBA diving in Cozumel, rock climbing, 14,000 foot peak climbs, Mountain
biking in Canyonlands, National Explorer Leadership Conferences,
Whitewater canoeing on the Green river, etc.) One of our Explorers was
selected as the Western Region Explorer Youth chairman and now sits on the
National Explorer President's Cabinet, to plan the next National
Conference, and to attend various national meetings, events, and
speak at prestigious events representing Exploring. What a great
opportunity for "opening future doors." Another one of our Law
Enforcement Explorers served as National Law Enforcement Youth Chair for
the past two years, and he is known all over the country for his
forthright leadership; participated in the launching of the BSA
National Crime Prevention Merit Badge and Crime Prevention Program
speciality, has been on tv youth talk show panels, and was tremendously
appreciated by the Law Enforcement Explorers at the National Law
Enforcement Explorer Conference this past June. Few Scouts in the
traditional program would have opportunities such as this.
So I think you can see how our younger Scouts are helped to stay
focused and interested in advancement and Troop activities to "get where
they need to go," and become an Explorer when they turn 14. Almost all of
our Explorers earn their Eagle and also the Explorer Gold Award which of
course only Explorers can earn (it is the Exploring equivalent to
Eagle.) Buck Burshears who founded the Koshare Indian Dancers in La Junta
Colorado (Explorer Post 2230/Troop 230) had a great philosophy. He said
"you don't have to wait to become a man to be great...you can be a great
As you may know the
Koshares hold the record for the most Eagle Scouts in a unit; over 560 in
the past 63 years; and a host of outstanding adult alumni ranging from
college presidents, doctors, lawyers, military officers, and other "who's
who in America" leaders. This is really what it's all about....
The Troop and Post are an excellent catalyst for each other and create a
symbiotic relationship which is productive for both groups.
As far as program planning for the Post and the Troop, the Explorers
typically plan their calendar about six months to a year in advance. They
tend to schedule one major activity/outdoor event per month and have one
business meeting/activity per month. The troop does similar planning and
representatives from the post are present to note schedules and potential
conflicts. Through negotiation and compromise, we are usually able to
successfully coordinate dates, avoid conflicts, and work out a
satisfactory solutions if there are conflicts.
In the occasional
situation where there are unavoidable conflicts such as a district or
council/national event which cannot be changed, it often works out that
the Explorers who don't have direct leadership responsibilities in the
troop will go on the Post event and those with leadership duties in the
Troop will, of course, attend the Troop event.
We very much prefer the Explorer Program, as you may have noted from
some of my previous posts to Scouts-L and Explorer-net. Explorers get
some visible recognition by wearing the forest green Explorer shirts, as
well as their own custom-design "polo" shirts with an embroidered logo and
their name and office.
Exploring involvement contributes greatly to "esprit de corps." The new
Explorer Advanced Leadership Development Program is an excellent training
venue for both adults and Explorers and implements some of the latest
leadership development techniques which appeal to teens and adults.
Teens also appreciate having the opportunity
to have female members as actual post members and not "guests" which is
the limitation of the venture/varsity program. We have been approached by
some Girl Scout units about joining our Post as concurrent members because
of our active outdoor/high adventure program.
One of our female members earned one of the first Explorer Gold Awards,
was our program vice president, a C.O.P.E.S. instructor on summer camp
staff,National Explorer Leadership Conference Outdoor/High Adventure
Staff member, and one fine outdoor/high adventure explorer. She just
went off to college on a major national scholarship but will be back to
work on summer camp staff and participate in post activities again; she is
also serving on National Scout Jamboree Staff.
We also network with a lot of other specialty posts such as law
enforcement, emergency management, rescue, firefighting, wildlife
management, and share events and activities that venture/varsity units are
not eligible for. One of our favorite annual activities is the Explorer
Mock Disaster Exercise which is planned and conducted by posts of all
specialities, serving in every position from incident commander to
"victims" and provides a great opportunity for Explorers to gain
proficiency in emergency management skills.
Many of our posts help with or in some cases actually conduct district
and council Scout activities such as Rendezvous, Merit Badge University,
Klondike Derby, and Scout show.
Several of our Explorers participated in the first Explorer Contingent to
the XVIII World Jamboree in Holland in 1995, and their involvement was
Another major advantage is that Exploring deals with the dichotomy of the
18 to 21 year olds. In Traditional Scouting/Venture/Varsity, 18-21 year
olds must register as "adult" leaders. This is an "awkward" time because
these folks rightfully feel that they are still youth members and would
like to continue their involvement. Even though they can register as
"assistant Scoutmaster's," typically there really isn't much for them to
do in the traditional programs so they are much happier as Explorers..
We have a number of Explorers in the 18-21 age group who attend the
University, and remain active in the Post during their college career.
This is especially helpful since they are also good youth leaders for
outdoor activities such as rock climbing.
As a final option, if you are unable to charter your own post,
it is a decided advantage to offer your Older Scouts the opportunity to be
concurrent members of an existing post and still retain their membership
in the Troop. Often this gives them another outlet for their interests and
still allows them to remain active in Troop events. One such very popular
post for local Scouts is sponsored by the Colorado Division of Wildlife
and has many Scout members as well as teens who have never been Scouts.
Remember too, that Scouts who have earned First Class in a troop and then
join an Explorer Post can earn their Eagle Scout Award in the Post, as
well as the Explorer Gold Award which can only be earned by Explorers.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
and Longs Peak Council Exploring Training Chair
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City