Article submitted by Deanna Heisler, Norwela Council-Caddo District Director
Some Unit Serving Executives may be unfamiliar with the value of Exploring in driving growth for their council; however, by making use of available resources and utilizing key tactics, Unit Serving Executives can make Exploring an integral part of a successful growth strategy.
So, what is Exploring? It is a mentorship opportunity for youth looking to discover their future. It is made possible by direct relationships in the community with businesses, departments, and municipalities. Exploring serves two different age groups, both coed. Exploring clubs serve middle schoolers, aged 10 – 14, in sixth through eighth grades. Exploring posts serve older youth 14 – 20 years old. The program model is the same for both age groups – hands-on and interactive character and career activities are facilitated by trained business leaders in your local community.
Pro tip: What major departments in your town would benefit from a youth program? Do any of these experience high turnover of employees? Who has adequate facilities ready for instruction of youth in an Exploring program? You would be surprised just how many you already know!
The Benefits of Exploring
You may be asking yourself, “Why is Exploring so beneficial to a council and a district?”
- Impact the council JTE score
- Boost council and district membership
- Create community service opportunities
- Build relationships and networking potential for new charter partners otherwise not involved in Scouting
- Retain members by offering new and exciting challenges
- Provide critical information to councils seeking the long term effects of the Scouting program
Many Scouters may be organizing Exploring posts and clubs for the very first time. If you’re one of these new Exploring leaders, don’t let planning a new program overwhelm you. There are multiple resources at your fingertips! Being familiar with the Exploring.org website makes you a fantastic resource to your units for information and quick answers on topics such as:
- Planning hands-on activities, guest speakers, and field trips
- Who to include in the planning process
- Building an Exploring program calendar
- Where to recruit
Timeline model for Exploring Success (full year):
First Quarter- Identify available opportunities (i.e. youth programs already in the area who would be a great partner, charter partners)
Second Quarter- Conduct Surveys at schools and schedule meetings with key individuals at departments/organizations
Third Quarter-Promote new clubs/posts to schools. Schedule/plan/complete open houses
Fourth Quarter- Train commissioners and establish an Exploring Officers Association if you don’t already have one. Host a super activity and help new units through the recharter process.
** Host quarterly Exploring meetings in addition to the above
Resources for Growing Exploring
With 12 different career fields and a multitude of subcategories, the Exploring program offers a repeatable model for standing up units in these different fields. Finding the right opportunities comes down to knowing the area and having the right tools to promote Exploring in your community.
Marketing & Membership Hub for Exploring – Now, you can easily navigate to the most effective sales and recruitment tools to grow your Exploring programs.
Career-field-specific resources and PSA videos – The BSA Brand Center is your go-to source for a host of career-field-specific promotional resources, including videos. Did you know your local television stations will run public service announcements (PSAs) at no cost? You can find multiple PSAs in the Brand Center that you download and provide to your local TV station. Make the ask and have them to play these clips as often as possible through a certain date.
Club anthem video and Career Interest Survey video – The BSA marketing team has been working hard to bring you even more testimonial assets to wow future Explorers and advisors. Check out the videos featuring Exploring clubs and the Career Interest Survey (CIS). The Career Interest Survey is a great tool for high school counselors, as well. It helps provide an opportunity to better serve their students as well as give you another tool to bring a potential charter partner to show the need from the youth in the community.
Scouting Wire would like to thank Deanna for submitting this article.