“Like to learn more about rockets? Or look for odd rock formations? Or listen to the newest rhythm platter?”
If you said yes to any of those questions — and were a teenager in the 1960s— the Boy Scouts of America had just the thing.
In January 1959, the Boy Scouts of America replaced its Explorer program with the Exploring program. This was more than just a suffix change, though.
The BSA and the University of Michigan had done extensive research on the needs of boys ages 14 to 16. They found that boys of that age in the 1950s were less interested in advancement and more interested in having fun with their friends.
A flier from 1958, which you can see below, announced the new program: “No matter what interests you, there are a lot of other fellows who like to do the same things,” it reads. “Generally, the tough job has been to get fellows with the same interests as yours together — and then find adults who would help.”
In the days before Facebook and message boards, it wasn’t easy to find someone who shared your interests in, say, bowling or “loafing in the timberland.”
The BSA’s new Exploring program was the answer.
This unofficial senior Scouting history site offers extensive details and lots of fun nuggets about the new Exploring program (and other senior Scouting programs).
According to the 1958 flier, these were some of the experiences a young person in Exploring could have:
- Parties, picnics, or pizzas — with the girls or without them
- Archery, bowling, tennis, golf, or — well you name it
- Canoe trips, fishing expeditions, or loafing in the timberland
- Exploring some of the thousands of interesting ways to earn a living
- Community service projects of your own creation that will give you a feeling of real accomplishment
Exploring flier from 1958
For a quick overview, check out this flier from 1958. My dad, a former Explorer who earned his Eagle Scout Award in 1965 as a member of Post 6, found it in some of his Scouting files.