Saturday, May 16, 2009

Explorer-Scouts Train in Post-9/11 Law Enforcement Methods -

Explorer-Scouts Train in Post-9/11 Law Enforcement Methods -
"...The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.

It is all quite a step up from the square knot. ..."
This was a little jarring to read, especially written as it was in a sensational style. A couple things need to be noted, though.

The Explorer division of the Boy Scouts of America are NOT Boy Scouts. They are Explorers. They are a coeducational group of young men and women from 14 through 20 who typically explore such career paths as medicine, law enforcement, firefighting, and other emergency services -- as well as government, communications, and other career paths. Even so, they do not enforce laws, practice medicine, fight fires, or perform any other activities that are not appropriate for teenagers. They do learn about such career paths and may perform duties that are appropriate for their age and training.

In the late 1960s I was a part of the Exploring program in a unit (referred to as a "Post") that specialized generally in emergency preparedness. In 1969 Hurricane Camille devastated parts of
Virginia and our post was asked to be a part of the cleanup and support team that was deployed to Nelson County. I spent a week there with a few of my fellow Explorers doing such things as cleaning buildings, moving debris from roads and fence lines, and performing other tasks as needed. We saw first-hand the devastation of the land and in people's lives. It was emotionally draining, but fostered in me a sense of service that has stayed with me, and that I have the privilege of passing on to my own son as well as other youth.

The Explorers of today are a part of the Learning For Life program, which is not a "traditional" Scouting program. Since much of the LFL program is conducted in the public schools in age-appropriate programs for K-12, some of the requirements of the Boys Scouts of America are not appropriate, including the requirement to perform one's religious duties.

The Learning for Life websites has a short response to the New York Times article.

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