What’s happening in this Scouting cover? (Or: A history of ‘new Exploring’)

exploring-1“Who wouldn’t like to do Exploring in this pleasant fashion,” Scouting editors wrote in describing the April 1959 cover seen at right. “It’s a case where it might be more fun to fail than to succeed!”

It’s a cover that must have been considered risqué in its time, making it unlike any Scouting cover printed before — or since. But the image surely got readers talking, meaning it achieved its goal. I shudder to picture the stack of letters the editors must have received, though.

Because today’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it appropriate to investigate this Scouting cover a little further. Who are these teens, and what are they up to?

As you might have noticed by the logos on the young men’s jackets, the cover depicts the “new Exploring program,” described in the November 1958 issue of Scouting as the BSA “reaching out to more of these four and a half million high-school age young men where they are, on their own ground, whether or not they have been Scouts.”

Chief Scout Executive Arthur A. Schuck explained in the story that the BSA had no trouble “aiding mid-adolescent boys through that difficult stage of their development.” Reaching older teens, however, wasn’t so easy.

And so beginning Jan. 1, 1959, boys could join Exploring at age 14 and in the ninth grade or higher or at age 15 regardless of grade. Explorers chose Continue reading


Our own background check on the new Secret Service director turns up …

pierson-1Scouting, in all of its many varieties, can build the foundation for a lifelong career of serving others.

That’s true in the traditional Scouting programs — Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing — but also in the lesser-known ones, like Exploring.

Consider Julia A. Pierson to be the latest shining example. Pierson, who became the first female director of the United States Secret Service on March 27, got her start in Exploring. She was an Explorer in Post 103 with the Orlando, Fla., Police Department as a youth and was the 1978 National Law Enforcement Exploring youth representative.

Exploring may be one of the BSA’s lesser-known programs, but it’s experiencing some encouraging growth right now. Last year, membership in the program grew by an impressive 3.4 percent.

Speaking of impressive, Continue reading