Exploring Program Grows After 13 Years of Membership Declines
From: Assistant Chief Scout Executive Gary Butler
I am very pleased to announce that after a 13-year drought, we achieved growth in Exploring at the end of 2012. This was a 3.3 percent growth, with 3,701 more young adults now experiencing real-world careers than did in 2011.
How did that happen? It was a result of many factors. Our Learning for Life team simplified and revitalized the new-post organizational process. They conducted lots of research into both what works for growth and, equally as important, what does not work. Our Chief Scout Executive stood up and publicly stated that “Exploring counts.” We included Exploring in several criteria for Journey to Excellence. New sales and marketing materials were made available to councils at no cost. Our Learning for Life team traveled the country over the past two years training nearly 1,300 people—including just over 400 volunteers—from 190 councils in how to research, sell to guidance counselors and CEOs, plan post programs, and increase youth participation. We did these things to make selling Exploring easier for you in the field. You engaged volunteers to help youth learn about careers. Your efforts paid off. I applaud you!
Here are some interesting tidbits that piqued my interest and may give you food for thought as you plan your 2013 growth strategies. Our average post size over all careers increased from 19 to 22 over the past two years. The posts with the largest average size are health care posts, with 43 Explorers. (Every county has a hospital looking for future employees.) What is exciting is in 2012 the average growth of Exploring in councils with growth was 44 percent, up from 16 percent average growth in 2011 and 10 percent average growth in 2010.
The Learning for Life team has committed to helping every district grow at least 100 Explorers. Exploring has a simple plan on how to accomplish it. We have the tools. We have the knowledge. We just need the discipline to make the appointments and sales calls. Exploring is also sustainable. More and more councils are finding ways to obtain corporate and governmental funding to support Exploring. With career education a key priority in the Department of Education’s agenda, they have recognized Exploring as an important partner.
Exploring has a great future. Thank you for your efforts, and congratulations on a job well done! If we can grow Exploring and Boy Scouting, we can grow our other programs, too. As always, your National Council stands ready to assist you in your efforts to serve more young people. Good Scouting and good Exploring.