Article contributed by Colin Lemon, Director of Exploring – Western and Southern Regions
Exploring is the career education program of the Boy Scouts of America, and it’s celebrating its 70th anniversary this year! What does Exploring look like in your service area? How can Exploring help you reach your goals and impact as many young men and women as possible? Here are four things you can do to grow your Exploring program and make it a vibrant and exciting element of your district or council:
1.Get to Know Your Exploring Advisors
This is one of the most critical keys to success in any program, including Exploring. If you have Exploring already in your district, visit your posts and clubs and see what they are all about. Bring an interesting resource from your council or www.exploring.org that they might not know about. Offer your support in any way you can. Explorers are just like Scouts and Venturers; they want to feel supported and be part of the council family. Many times, when we see a decline in Exploring units, it can be tied to a lack of service on our part. Let’s do everything we can to make it known that we (you, council, national Exploring team, etc.) are here to support them and keep their program alive and kicking!
2.Think Outside the Box!
Exploring aims to give young men and women a chance to pursue any career they choose. Nationally, over 78,000 career interest surveys were conducted in 2018 and data for over 500,000 students is analyzed weekly. That data consistently shows that the number one career interests are in healthcare. Over 26% of the 78,000+ surveys collected show that students want to explore healthcare while only 6% showed an interest in law enforcement and fire/EMS careers. Look at your Exploring units. Do you have any healthcare posts or clubs? Surgeon and registered nurse are the top two careers being requested by youth, and veterinarian is high on the list as well. Many times, Exploring units at hospitals will have 50+ active Explorers! Stop by a veterinary clinic and let them know that you have an awesome program to help them get students involved in their field. Visit your local community college and start healthcare units there. Community colleges have great resources to teach nursing, dental assisting, veterinary techs, surgical techs, radiology, patient care, and much more!
3.It’s About More Than Careers
We often focus on the career aspect of Exploring, which is a major element, but we forget that Exploring has five areas of emphasis: career opportunities, character development, life skills, leadership experience, and citizenship. If your Exploring units focus on careers but do not take advantage of our character and life skills curriculum in the online Activity Library, they are truly missing out on what Exploring is meant to be! Leadership is an important area of emphasis and can be encouraged by starting a district or council Exploring Officers Association. This is a perfect way to give your Explorers a voice in the Exploring program. The districts and councils with Exploring Officers Associations are usually the districts and councils with the healthiest Exploring programs.
4.Don’t Forget the Younger Students!
Several years ago, Exploring introduced a new concept in welcoming young men and women of middle school age (10-14) to enjoy the benefits of the program. Most Exploring posts nationwide do not have an Exploring club associated. That’s like having most of our troops without packs to feed them! If you want to grow Exploring, clubs are essential. Middle schools are looking for programs that will help them expose students to career opportunities and we have exactly what they need. We even have a career and character curriculum designed by educators, just for Exploring clubs to use as part of their program.
The above tactics, while highly impactful, are just a few of the many ways to strengthen and grow the Exploring program in your district or council. Exploring impacts membership, can bring in new funding and new volunteers, satisfies a need that ALL youth have, and can build new and interesting relationships with community leaders.
Exploring is an awesome program but can only grow if we do our absolute best to serve our units, provide a complete and diverse program, and, most importantly, think outside the box. If you need the resources mentioned in this article plus a whole lot more, visit www.exploring.org and scroll to the bottom of the page where our three resource boxes can be found. If you have questions about implementing these ideas in your district or council, drop me an email at email@example.com or a call at (972) 336-1882. I’d love to help you grow Exploring!
Scouting Wire would like to thank Colin for contributing this article.