Re: Youth Led Explorer Posts
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Fri, 19 Sep 1997 12:01:58 -0600
On Fri, 19 Sep 1997, Cindy King wrote:
> A friend has asked for the wisdom and insight of Scout-L.......
> How do you keep an Explorer Post youth led?
Cindy, et al:
Without knowing the reason for your inquiry I will address your question
Exploring is of course designed to be run by the youth with
*assistance* from adult *advisors*...unfortunately there are those
advisors who view their role as far more controlling (either directly or
indirectly) than they should.
This may as a result of inadequate training or a good understanding of
what the actual role of an advisor is. Those who have held other roles in
Scouting who come into Exploring may bring some preconceived notions of
"how it should be" which may be in conflict with the intended function of
an Explorer advisor.
The best way to get everyone on "track" as far as Exploring Leadership is
to make sure they get the Explorer Advanced leadership Development
Workshop Training. This course is intended to be taught with a balance of
Explorers and Advisors/Committee members together. It brings out what
youth think about adults, and what adults think about youth, and allows
them to compare their concepts together. It also provides team building
and leadership development opportunities, and especially emphasizes the
value of input and participation by each Explorer to develop a program
which will meet the needs and interests of all members. And it highly
stresses the importance of good communications between all members and
In our post we think communications is so important we have a
Vice President for Communications who maintains our web page, posts to our
e-mail list server, calls members, sends out mailings about activities and
meetings, and makes sure that everyone is aware of what is going on.
One of the biggest problems we constantly have to remind adults to avoid
is being "judgemental" about ideas advanced by the Explorers...As one
advisor so aptly put it, the ..."yes, but"...response to an Explorer's
idea is a real turn-off. It must be remembered that in brainstorming
ideas for program and direction of the post there are *no bad ideas*..and
frankly, if Advisors listen to Explorers they will be quite amazed at how
effective and creative their ideas can be. Some of the finest post
activities and trips have come from seemingly obscure or "impossible"
ideas advanced by Explorers.
Most of all, adults MUST treat explorers as colleagues! Explorers need
respect and self-esteem now, more than ever. They need to try new
directions, to fail, and learn from their failures, just as we all do.
Good advisors will help them not fail catastrophically, but yet realize
that the greatest learning comes from trial and error, or "guided
discovery" as it is referred to in some Scouting Training programs..
The greatest disservice an advisor can do is to remove this opportunity
because they "know it won't work, so there's no point in going there.."
Explorers must be regarded as the young
adults that they are and treated accordingly with dignity and respect for
their views, their values, their interests, and their right to
self-expression. They are at a critical time in their lives where they
are still forming values, modeling their lives after those which they
admire and respect, and establishing a path for their future lives.
If the post has an Explorer/Advisor relationship in which the Explorers
and Advisors feel comfortable in kidding and teasing each other , and
similarly the advisor feels comfortable in participating in post
activities and taking direction from the Explorers willingly and with
enthusiasm, among other positive attributes, this is a sign of a healthy
As with any Scouting program Explorers who have FUN first of all will
remain in the program. The advisor's role is to see that "doors are
opened" to permit the Explorers to achieve their goals when such needs
I had a discussion the other night with a new Explorer Advisor who seems
to really have found the "light" on working with teenagers. She remarked
that most of the youth had come from traditional Scout Troop backgrounds
in which there was significant adult "review" of youth leader decisions.
(It should be noted that typically, most Explorers have never been in
Traditional Scout Troops, but there are some, such as our own post in
which most of the Explorers are Eagle Scouts and concurrently registered
in our Troop)
One of the new post officers was conducting a discussion
about post program planning, and hearing no input from the advisors,
finally said,"well, what do the advisors think about this?" The new advisor said, "you
are in charge of your post, and you are making good decisions, so
stick to your principles and believe in what you are doing. This is your
organization. We will only make suggestions if we feel that you are
potentially getting yourselves into areas which may be dangerous or in
conflict with safety rules or policies of the BSA. We will
always give input if asked for it, but only if you ask us to give it.
When you have decided on your course of action, we will do anything we
can to help you get where you need to go with it."
Later after the meeting, the new officer came to the advisor and said,
"you know, if this had been in my old Scout troop, the leaders would have
been questioning my decisions, telling me why they wouldn't work, or
suggesting different things whether I asked for their input or not.
Exploring is really great!"
I can't possibly top that statement...it speaks so well for itself.
What advisors can do, especially for the post officers is make sure they
have officer staff meetings prior to post meetings to work out agendas,
and help them develop the leadership skills they need to accomplish their
roles as post officers, in effect, be a mentor for them but let them lead
their post without intereference or oversight. When they ask for help,
give it freely, but in the form of a "menu" (e.g, "here are some
possibilities you may wish to consider..you should evaluate each of them,
for their merits, and if you don't find them useful, then search for new
options"). This often gets the creative juices running, and their
resourcefulness will astound you.
I hope this is helpful..
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Council Exploring Training Chair, Longs Peak Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City