Oh, this will get some attention at the water cooler

Scouting is one of the most vulnerable victims of wedge politics and attempts to polarize voters.  Even among veteran Scouts and Scouters, lines tend to get drawn over what the program should be doing.

Today the New York Times headlines a story, “Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and more.

It’s Explorers, a group which has been distanced from Boy Scouts by moving it to BSA’s Learning for Life programs.  These are not traditional Boy Scouts. I suspect that distinction, small as it is, will get blurred quickly.

It will be interesting to watch discussions about Scouts pictured with semi-automatic weapons and bullet-proof vests.

Exploring used to be more closely related to Scouting.  Exploring was for kids 14 years and older.  I belonged to an Explorer Post in Utah that specialized in kayaking (I was more active at the council level at the time), and I had the grand opportunity to work with a large Explorer Post affiliated with AMR Corp. (American Airlines), where some of our Scouts got significant time in aircraft simulators (in the good old days, when such machines had downtime).  It was a great program.

That was then.  Today, 14-21-year-old Scouts can join Venture Crews, which can be co-ed.  The old Exploring program you remember survives today mostly in Venturing.


10 Responses to Oh, this will get some attention at the water cooler

  1. TruthinReporting? says:

    The May 14th New York Times article “Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More” mischaracterizes Exploring as a “law enforcement, terrorism and illegal immigration training program” and includes a number of other inaccuracies. Exploring does not train participants in those areas, but provides a simulated portrayal of events and necessary skills that are a part of that career field. Exploring is a career exploration program designed to help young people make intelligent decisions regarding their future. As noted in the article, the feature highlighted the law enforcement component of Exploring—which is just one of the program’s many areas of focus, including fire and emergency services, law, health, aviation, engineering, skilled trades, and other occupations.

    We are disappointed that the article portrayed law enforcement professionals administering the program in an unfavorable light. Local community organizations administer the activities of Explorer posts in a controlled, safe, and professional manner. The story featured quotes from leaders during a law enforcement competition involving several Explorer posts and does not represent the comprehensive nature of the program as a whole. Law Enforcement Exploring has been in existence for many years and has helped to produce exceptional professionals in the law enforcement field who are actively protecting our citizens throughout the country. We are extremely proud of our youth participants and adult volunteers.

    Further, the story’s claim that the program is undergoing an “intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters” is misleading. Since the 1950s, the Exploring program and its activities have been designed to keep pace with issues affecting society. The activities highlighted in the article in no way signal a change of focus for the program.

    Last, the article inaccurately describes Explorers as Boy Scouts. Exploring is a program of Learning for Life, a nonprofit organization that provides character and career education programs to participating agencies or groups. Learning for Life is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.

    Exploring offers participants a well-rounded and exciting program centered on career opportunities that positively impact the lives of our youth participant and ultimately the communities they choose to serve. That is the true story of Exploring.

    John Anthony
    National Director, Learning For Life


  2. Ellie says:

    I’m joining Micah in the ::headdesk::

    Obviously, “scouting” has changed over the last 50 years, and it doesn’t look as if it’s getting better.


  3. Micah says:

    These comments seem to distract from the main article — namely about kids pretending to be Border Patrol agents. All I can say about that specific article is OY! ::headdesk::


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Explorers have always been associated with Scouting. Some posts, especially in Career Exploring, probably had little of the Boy Scout look and feel, but they’ve been there — I think since about 1948. Sea Scouts were once moved over, to be Sea Explorers, and once upon a time there were Aviation Explorers. Liability concerns have eliminated the possibility of flying (kids may want to check out the Civil Air Patrol program), and the boating bunch is once again known as Sea Scouts.

    Venturing has been around by that name since 1998, technically. The history is fuzzier than that, however — you can check it out here.


  5. Dorid says:

    Ed, actually, there was some sort of national hoopla over scouting, and the ruling was that scouting COULD exclude gays… because of the way the ruling was writing, I’m sure it could exclude atheists as well. I’ll check up on that and get back to you. I remember the issue particularly because my son is bi, and it was a problem.

    The other thing is Explorers. Unless there is more than one group named “Explorers” who pair teens with potential jobs and give them RL experience in those jobs, I don’t know that it was associated particularly with boy scouts. I was in Explorers myself, with the local police department. I guarantee you I was not in boy scouts ;)


  6. Ed Darrell says:

    I don’t know of any national policy that encourages the exclusion of Scouts on the basis of sexual orientation. As I noted earlier, that’s not generally something a kid is asked. I believe asking such a question would be skirting the law here in Texas, if not an outright violation. Consequently, Scouting does not discriminate against Scouts on the basis of sexual orientation.

    For leaders, it’s a different matter. The case in New Jersey involved a leader. While one might argue that the ruling allows an organization to exclude homosexual boys, I think that’s not clear. There is nothing in recruiting policies that would suggest excluding boys, and asking an elementary school kid what his sexual orientation is would be abuse in some states.


  7. Nick Kelsier says:

    Last time I checked, Mike, there are indeed some Boy scout groups in Minnesota who exclude homosexuals.

    To quote:
    Minnesota scouts have thus far refused any such compromise. Minnesota law allows nonpublic organizations which work with youth to exclude individuals based on sexual orientation, and Minnesota scouting organizations continue to exercise that right. “We very much respect the rights of individuals,” said Mike Surbaugh, spokesman for the Viking Council of the scouts. “But we’re a private, family-based organization that doesn’t believe avowed homosexuals should be extended membership. We have that right.”


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Scouts nationally do not have an exclusionary policy against gays as memberes, and as a pragmatic matter, any policy against atheism is difficult to enforce (no one in their right mind quizzes a first grade boy on such issues); I think that change will come with time, and with more rational people gaining positions of influence in the national organization. Boycotts frustrate that change.

    Ironically, Scouting has one of the best programs to prevent child molesting. The ban on gays in leadership is superfluous, because sex is not approved between any people in Scouting (including married couples). In the interim, I think no boy should be deprived of a good Scouting experience. It’s just too valuable in the long run.


  9. […] workplace I’ll just report on this without comment; let’s just say that times are changing. Today the New York Times headlines a story, “Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and […]


  10. Mike says:

    I admire many facets of scouting, Ed, and our local troops in Minnesota don’t have an exclusionary policy against gays or atheists; but until they address this on a national level I will have a hard time joining you in your support for the Boy Scouts.


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