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Scouting Programs

Explorer Scouting Program

What is Exploring?

Exploring exists to teach important life and career skills to young people from all backgrounds through immersive career experiences and mentorship provided by community and business leaders like you. Together, we equip young people with character, leadership and life skills that can be used both today and in their future careers.

Exploring is based on a unique and dynamic relationship between youth and the organizations in their communities. Businesses and community organizations initiate a career-specific Explorer post or club by matching their people and organizational resources to the career interests of youth in the community. The result is a program of interactive activities that helps youth pursue their special interests, grow, and develop.

We work with thousands of local, regional, and national businesses and organizations to deliver the Exploring programs representing hundreds of different career fields.


Exploring serves two different age groups, both coed. Explorer Clubs serve middle schoolers, aged 10 - 13, in sixth through eighth grades. Explorer Posts serve older youth 14 - 20 years old. The program model is the same for both age groups - hands-on and interactive character and career activities are facilitated by trained business leaders in your local community.


Exploring began as a senior program in early Boy Scout troops. These older boys carried out high-adventure activities and service projects, and gave leadership to young Scouts. In 1935, senior Scouts were called Explorers for the first time, and many were organized in separate Explorer crews in troops, using a senior Scout program. In May 1949, the National Executive Board revised senior Scouting to recognize as Explorers all young men in posts, Sea Scout ships, Air Scout squadrons, and all Boy Scouts over age 14 in troops.

In 1954, the National Executive Board and the University of Michigan led a national study that revealed the needs, desires, and concerns of boys 14 to 16. As a result, a completely new Exploring program was developed and put into effect January 1, 1959. This new program included activities, methods, and recognitions that were similar to, but separate from, the Boy Scouting program. After almost 10 years of limited progress, a study was conducted of the special-interest posts being organized by William H. Spurgeon III, a businessman from Orange County California, and the newly completed research project of Learning for Life by Daniel Yankelovich. This study indicated that 83 percent of youth surveyed wanted more information on careers than they were getting at home or in school, and 94 percent wanted adult associations. Coed participation, sports, and adult-life recognition were found necessary to attract young adults to Exploring.

As a result, special-interest Explorer posts began to be organized by businesses and professional and trade organizations. The career interest survey of high school students was developed to identify and recruit members. This opportunity to join posts that specialize in careers or recreational programs attracted large numbers of young adults to Exploring. In April 1971, young women became eligible for full membership in Exploring, and the upper age limit in Exploring was increased to 21. With these new methods came a series of national activities designed and conducted to strengthen local posts and ships: the safe-driving road rally, the Explorer Olympics, and the national Explorer Congress, which led to the organization of the Explorer Presidents’ Association, involving Explorers in planning their program at every level. By 1981, the rapid growth of Exploring led to the development of national specialty programs in aviation, business, science and engineering, law and government, law enforcement, health careers, outdoor, Sea Exploring, sports, career education, arts, skilled trades, social service, fire and rescue, and communications. An Explorer Presidents’ Association Congress was designed to train local and national youth leaders. A biennial national Explorer leadership conference was implemented in 1994.

In 1991, the Boy Scouts of America announced the creation of the Learning for Life character education curriculum that could be facilitated by educators in the classroom. Learning for Life was considered a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1998, Exploring functioned as a career education program and was subsequently shifted to the Learning for Life program.

In early 2013, after 18 months of piloting the program in 17 local councils, Learning for Life obtained official approval to start the Explorer Club career education program for young men and women who have completed the fifth grade and are at least 10 years old but have not completed the eighth grade and are not yet 15 years old. The Explorer Club program was created in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s recent emphasis on career education at the elementary grade levels.

Later in 2013, Learning for Life approved its first fully functioning executive board and now functions as an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America.