Many years ago, Venturing was known as Senior Scouting. It was meant as a way to re-engage and reinvigorate the older Boy Scout who was starting to get bored, and keep them challenged and active…
Then near the end of the 1960’s the BSA did something pretty radical. They opened up the program to be co-ed. From 1969-1998 this Exploring program had some pretty amazing things. Most notably membership of over 1 million members in its heyday.
Exploring was a little bit of a different program. While what we know as Venturing now was an optional component of it, Explorer Posts got to determine what focus they wanted to have, and whether they chose to work on advancement or not. Many didn’t, but that was considered perfectly acceptable.
An Explorer in this time had some amazing events and programs that today’s Venturers would be jealous about. Starting with a national magazine mailed to their homes that spoke about what other crews were doing, and helped inspire Explorers to try new things.
Explorers also had council, regional and national events. One of most well known was the Explorer Olympics, which was an IOC sanctioned program to encourage Explorers to compete for medals just like what we are seeing this month in Sochi. But back then they also had National Conferences, or National Congresses every other year, and elected their national cabinet. It was not uncommon to see thousands of Explorers descend on a major university and share ideas, and get excited about the program.
The last National Exploring Conference was in 1998. I was there, and at that point they announced it was time to split Exploring in half, the high adventure program of which would be called Venturing. I’ve been in Venturing for many years now, and as much as I love the Venturing program, it saddens me to see that both Exploring and Venturing are programs that have each lost considerable membership since that time. I think some of the reason for this is that we’ve taken away some of the big things that get people excited about the programs.
With the new Summit Bechtel Scout Reservation having had a great 2013 National Scout Jamboree, why don’t we look at having a national event for Exploring and Venturing there every other year separate from the Jamboree? We’ve seen in those 15 years that national events work, and generate excitement. We’ve got a great place to host them that can use the business, and let’s face it… we’ll never build momentum if we don’t make the effort.
What ideas could we share that could hep make an event like this a reality?