More about the BSA Explorers Program
Learning for Life
Exploring is the worksite-based program of Learning for Life, and focuses on involving teenagers in clubs, called posts, that allow young people to learn about possible careers, form friendships, develop leadership skills, and enjoy activities with like-minded teens and adults. Each post is open to young men and women who are 15 to 20 years old. Teens who are 14 and have graduated from eighth grade are also eligible to join. All Explorers (teenage post members) are under the supervision of adults who serve as post advisors. The Explorers elect their own peer leaders to serve as post officers, subject to the approval of the adult advisors.
Exploring’s purpose is to provide experiences that help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults. The result is a program of activities that helps youth pursue their special interests, grow, and develop.
Typical Explorer posts include groups of teenagers specializing in a field such as law enforcement, fire and emergency service, health careers, engineering, aviation, skilled trades, and technology. The majority of Explorer posts have an Explorer uniform that they have especially designed for wear during formal meetings and community service activities, a long-standing tradition dating from the time when Exploring was a traditional BSA program.
Some Explorer posts gather together for national Explorer conferences and regional activities, sometimes called academies or musters. The law Explorers have an annual National Explorer Mock Trial Competition. Some BSA councils host activities at which local Explorer posts participate.
The National Learning for Life office administers college scholarships for eligible Explorers, based on written applications. The office also creates a number of recognitions presented by local councils for Exploring adult volunteers and community organizations, the most prestigious of which is the William H. Spurgeon III Award. The Learning for Life office also promotes the Young American Award which recognizes outstanding young women and young men who excel in academics, sports and hobbies, community life, and civic service. These awards (which include a scholarship) are presented at the annual meeting of the BSA National Council.
Fire Service Exploring
Explorer Post 1666 focuses on Fire Service Exploring. Fire Service Exploring is a program offered by Learning for Life that introduces major aspects of the fire service to young adults ages 14–21, or in the ninth grade. Once enough training has been acquired, Explorers can be allowed on actual fire/medical calls under certain conditions such as, but not limited to:
- Explorers cannot enter a structure unless deemed stable and secure.
- Explorers may only enter a structure fire after the initial attack, and search.
- Explorers are not to be used or substituted as trained personnel
- Explorers are not permitted to perform life saving tasks or rescues
Certain local, state, and federal laws as well as National BSA Regulations restrict the duties an Explorer can perform on a fire ground, a medical call, or motor vehicle accident.
The program is divided into numbered local groups called “Posts” which are sponsored and organized by a fire department in the area. This fire department provides some funding, materials, gear, and a place to meet and train. A Post is typically run by the post officers, headed by an Explorer Captain, who is first Explorer in command and usually elected annually by the Post membership. In addition to the captain, there are one or more lieutenants who act as second and third in command. Besides the officers, other positions include secretary, engineer, treasurer and others. Also, a number of adult leaders, called “advisors”, are required of every post. Advisors are above the captain in command and advise the officers and provide training and supervision for Post activities and events.
The Fire Service Explorer Post does not train Explorers to a level of certification, but does offer correct methodology for tasks that the Explorer may encounter upon official entry into the fire service. There are strict guidelines and regulations that must be followed for the Explorer’s safety as outlined by Learning For Life and the Boy Scouts of America.
Explorers may receive verbal lectures, practical skill assessments, scenario mitigation, and other methods of instruction. There are no regulations for instructors as many are members of the sponsoring fire department(s) sharing their knowledge on a less than standardized level.
Most Explorer Posts offer medical training, which can include CPR/AED and First Aid. Medical training is provided while following strict local, state, and federal requirements which may vary vastly depending on location.
Explorers may be permitted to respond with their sponsoring fire department, but under Learning For Life regulations, Explorers are prohibited from performing both as trained emergency personnel and as rescue personnel.
Explorers should remember that this program is for “exploring” the possibility of a future with a fire department and that they are not permitted by law to perform as firefighters or emergency medical personnel.
Fire Service Explorers may be issued professional or casual style uniforms, but are required to identify the member as a Fire Service Explorer.
Uniforms will almost always bear the insignia of Fire Exploring and/or the fire department they run out of. Class A uniforms can bear the American Flag shoulder badge, the official Fire Explorers badge, and sometimes the badge of the department they represent and various pins like name plates etc. The Class B uniform T-shirt will be a simple Explorers or fire department logo printed in the shirt. Turnout gear may or may not have much more than the name of the Explorer printed on the back on the jacket.