Re: Jumping from Scout to 1st Class (Explorer Post incentives)
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 14:15:21 -0700
The issue of trying to keep older Scouts interested and active in the
program especially after having achieved Eagle is traditionally a problem;
however, it is inappropriate to use rank advancement time restrictions to
intentionally "slow down" their progress just so
they will stay with the unit longer. While the motives are good, the
methods are not, and may result in the youth becoming discouraged and
possibly even leaving the program and/or losing interest in advancement.
As an Eagle Scout project Counselor and Board of Review Representative for
many years, I have seen the whole range of candidates from very young
Eagle Scouts to those who are pushing 18. Each one is a unique
individual; some are very qualified at a young age, and some probably
should have had more opportunities to develop; but this is also true of
some of the older Scouts as well, so you cannot use age as a "standard" to
predict success because there are just too many variables in maturity and
leadership development for each one.
It goes against national policy to set locally imposed time
limits on lower rank advancement, but most of all, it just doesn't work.
What needs to be done is to deal with the some of the real problems, which
includes providing a well-rounded and active program for the younger
Scouts; and keeping the older Scouts interested as resources for the
younger Scouts, by providing them a different venue to hold their
We have found that if you provide a challenging, multifaceted, and
interesting program for the Scouts through a variety of experiences such
as participation in National Scout Jamborees, mini adventures, rec center
nights/lockins, monthly summer and winter camping experiences, etc., they
are so busy, they naturally don't concentrate on just rapid advancement.
We also try to provide for as many leadership opportunities as possible
from training seminars, J.L.T.'s to actual leadership roles in the unit,
which again is time consuming and helps develop their leadership skills so
they can rise to the occasion of senior leadership roles effectively.
Our Scouts do participate in our Merit Badge University and Summer Camp
and through that venue are able to obtain not only required but unusual
merit badges that are sometimes otherwise difficult to get through normal
counseling. It is my observation that getting qualified counselors in
many merit badge fields is becoming increasingly difficult, which is one
of the reasons we helped start the Merit Badge University several years
ago. It is a quality program and Scouts must fully earn their awards or
receive partial completions if they do not finish requirements or
prerequisites. Our district advancement has improved dramatically because
of the MBU, and many smaller troops rely on it almost exclusively for
merit badge counseling since they have difficulty getting their own
counselors or obtaining district counselors in many fields.
To keep the interest of older Scouts, Exploring offers a great program.
As I have mentioned in earlier posts, we have had very good results with
an associated Explorer Post specializing in High Adventure/Outdoor
activities, which we started in 1980. The post works
closely with the troop, and members serve in senior leadership capacities;
but one of the reasons they stay involved is because they have the post to
plan and conduct their own activities which are more challenging and of
greater interest to teenagers, and which younger Scouts would not be able
to participate in.
The post has only one business meeting per month and one major
outdoor/high adventure activity per month usually on a weekend; they also
do one or more superactivities on Spring Break and/or during Summer
vacation. These are timed to not interfere with troop events except on
rare or unavoidable occasions where national event participation is
Another significant advantage is that youth can remain as youth members
until they turn 21 which covers a void that the traditional Boy Scout and
Venture programs cannot accomodate. Those Scouts between 18 and 21 are
often still interested in the youth aspect of the programs but are only
eligible to serve in "adult" leadership roles which is a very awkward
situation for them. They are much happier remaining as youth members in
the Explorer program. Also they are great resources; many of our 18 year
olds who attend the University remain active with the troop and post, and
help with counseling, trips, and activities,etc.
The post also serves as an incentive for younger Scouts who see and hear
about some of the exciting high adventure activities the Explorers get to
participate in (SCUBA diving in Cozumel, rock climbing, peak climbs,
canyonlands high adventures, National Exploring Leadership Conferences,
First Responder first aid training, etc.) For the younger Scouts, the
Explorers are "ten feet tall" and serve as excellent role models. Our
Explorers wear the dark green explorer shirts which distinguishes them at
troop meetings, and again serves as an incentive for younger Scouts to
join the post when they are old enough. They are particularly impressed
that the Explorers take the time to work with them as troop guides,
instructors, and to treat them as friends and fellow Scouts.
Most of our Explorers earn their Eagle, and the Explorer Gold Award, and
many have attended the National Conferences. Our immediate past post
president also served as Council Explorer Officer's Association Chair; he
also is the Western Region Explorer Youth Chairman and sits on the
National Explorer Cabinet.
Although it is possible to earn the Eagle Rank in Exploring if you already
have First Class earned in a Troop, our Explorers usually receive their
Eagle through the Troop and earn their Exploring Gold Award through the
Another major advantage of Exploring over Venture program is that
Explorers can have registered female members and youth officers, where
Venture units can only have them as "guests" on trips. Explorers can also
belong to multiple posts, and some of our Explorers also find time to be
in one or more additional posts such as those specializing in Emergency
Management, Law Enforcement and Division of Wildlife Management.
Our Explorers very much appreciate these advantages;
we recently recruited a number of Girl Scouts as Explorers who
participate regularly with us on post activities. We have also attracted
Scouts from other troops who join the post but also remain active with
their troop. Our bylaws specify that support of the troop is a primary
function of the Post.
I know of several other Troops with associated Explorer Posts who have had
similar success; it is certainly worth considering as a significant aid to
retaining teenagers in the program.
I have written more detailed posts about this topic earlier in the year
and would be happy to send those privately to anyone interested.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72 Boulder, CO
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City