How a school partnership is teaching Wisconsin Explorers how to restore a classic car

Six years ago, the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District in Wisconsin bought a 1967 Ford Mustang. It didn’t run; the windshield was smashed; the undercarriage was covered in rust — it was a major restoration project. But it would be a perfect project for high school students, teaching them mechanical and automotive skills. It could spark a hobby or prepare them for a career. The problem came in recruiting dedicated students willing to devote the time to the project.

That’s how Explorer Post 1967 was formed.

Exploring is a BSA program tailored toward teaching youth life and career skills, often through units focused on a specific trade or project. While taking a merit badge can be a great introduction into a certain field, Exploring can offer the opportunity to delve deeper into a youth’s passion or interest.

The new post brought in eight interested students from area schools to work on the car over multiple weekends.

Instead of squeezing in about an hour during a school day, the Explorers would work for at least five hours at a time on a weekend. This way, the youth would have more time to learn how to weld, do wiring and work on the engine. Of course, the first couple of work sessions were devoted to safety and how to use the equipment. The Explorers were quick learners, moving the work schedule forward.

“It needs a lot of work,” says Jodie Swanson, Timber Rivers district executive with the Chippewa Valley Council. “We hope to complete it by spring 2022, COVID permitting.”

The high school provides the space, equipment and materials while the Exploring adult leadership recruits youth and sponsors, including Toycen Ford, Sam’s Paint and Auto Body and Muscle Cr Restorations, Inc. Leadership also lined up parents and other adults who could help share expertise. After the car’s restoration is complete, the vehicle will be raffled off with the school district and council splitting the proceeds.

Let’s go Exploring

Explorers not only learn about cars, but they can study a dozen other career fields, including law enforcement, health care and engineering. Check out more Exploring fields here.

Exploring posts are designed for youth ages 14 to 20 while Exploring clubs are for youth as young as 10. Both programs serve young men and women.

To start an Exploring unit, review the playbook here. To join an existing group, contact your local council or click here.

About Michael Freeman 445 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is an associate editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines.