What is Exploring?
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Exploring is Learning for Life's career education program for young men and
women who are 14 (and have completed the eighth grade) or 15 through 20
years old. Adults are selected by the participating organization for
involvement in the program. Color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation,
ethnic background, economic status, and citizenship are not criteria for
Exploring's purpose is to provide experiences to help young people mature
and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults. Explorers are
ready to investigate the meaning of interdependence in their personal
relationships and communities.
Exploring is based on a unique and dynamic relationship between youth and
the organizations in their communities. Local community organizations initiate
an Explorer post by matching their people and program resources to the
interests of young people in the community. The result is a program of
activities that helps youth pursue their special interests, grow, and develop.
Explorer posts can specialize in a variety of career skills. Exploring programs
are based on five areas of emphasis: career opportunities, life skills,
citizenship, character education, and leadership experience.
- Career Opportunities
- Develop potential contacts that may broaden employment options
- Boost self-confidence and experience success at school and work
- Life Skills
- Build physical and mental fitness
- Experience positive social interaction
- Encourage the skill and desire to help others
- Gain a keen respect for the basic rights of others
- Character Education
- Help make ethical choices
- Fulfill one's responsibility to society as a whole
- Leadership Experience
- Acquire leadership skills to fulfill one's responsibilities in society
Young adults involved in Exploring will
- Gain practical knowledge of and experience in a career
- Engage in a program of activities centered on career opportunities, life
skills, service learning, character education, and leadership experience to
encourage the development of the whole person
- Experience positive leadership from adult and youth leaders and be given
opportunities to take on leadership roles
- Have a chance to learn and grow in a supportive, caring, and enjoyable
The methods of Exploring have been carefully chosen to meet the needs of young adults.
- Voluntary association between youth and adults. Because Exploring is voluntary, youth are
receptive to new ideas, experiences, and relationships. For the Explorer, these relationships
provide a connection to new ways of thinking and acting as well as a new identity as a
responsible young adult.
- Ethical decision making. Exploring asks young people to be responsible for themselves, for a
program of activities and experiences, and for other people, thereby providing numerous
opportunities for youth to make effective and ethical decisions. These opportunities are
enhanced by the influence of capable adults and structured activities.
- Group activities. Exploring activities are interdependent group experiences. Success depends
on the cooperation of all.
- Recognition of achievement. Recognition might come through formal awards, but it also is
achieved through the acknowledgment by peers and adults of a young person's competence
- Democratic process. Explorer posts provide exposure to democratic ideals and skills that are
needed throughout life.
- Curiosity, exploration, and adventure. Curiosity is encouraged and a sense of exploration and
adventure is developed through new experiences that provide opportunities for youth to acquire
new skills and participate in action-oriented activities.
Every Explorer post specializes in a specific career program area. More than 100 different
specialties have been organized, ranging from accounting to zoology. Some specialty programs,
such as the following, have grown to include a national committee, activities, and staff support.
- Arts and Humanities
- The Arts and Humanities specialty area includes posts that are organized
around interests in arts and hobbies, acting, commercial art, drama/theater,
fashion design/modeling/buying, interior design/decoration, jewelry/watch-making,
and movie directing/producing.
- The Aviation specialty encompasses a range of programs, including maintenance,
operations, construction, flight attendants, airport management, and aerospace. The Federal
Aviation Administration supports this growth, along with aviation organizations, unions, and
- Through the Business specialty area, young adults become prepared for many types of
careers, from accounting to financial planning. Many posts organize their program around
knowledge of business planning and practices in addition to career preparation.
- This specialty is endorsed by the Broadcast Education Association, International
Association of Business Communicators, National Association of Broadcasters, National Press
Photographers Association Inc., Public Relations Society of America, and Women in
Communications. The Exploring program can serve as an effective outreach program that
exposes high school students to careers in communications and public relations.
- Many national engineering societies endorse this specialty area of Exploring. Its goal
is to promote post programs that open and expand Explorers' understanding of the many
opportunities in engineering and technology.
- Fire/Emergency Services.
- This specialty is endorsed by International Association of Fire Chiefs,
National Volunteer Fire Council, U.S. Fire Administration National Fire
Academy, and local fire authorities. Posts are organized around interests
in fire/emergency services, civil defense, first aid/ambulance corps, fire
fighting, rescue service, paramedic, EMT, and volunteer fire fighting. The
national Fire/Emergency Services Exploring committee conducts every odd
number year the national Fire/Emergency Services Exploring conference, which
is open to all fire/emergency services Explorers and post Advisors.
- Law and Government
- The American Bar Association and other organizations support the high
interest of many youth in law or government participation through Exploring. Law Day activities,
mock trials, and other law-related activities provide firsthand experience in America's legal and
- Law Enforcement
- This specialty is endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs
of Police and the National Sheriffs' Association and is helped by other
national law enforcement organizations and industries. Departments and
Explorers gain firsthand knowledge of each other. Explorers can support many
community-based programs of the department. The post program is supported by
national law enforcement competitions and academies.
- Medical and Health Careers
- The American Medical Association and other national health
organizations support the establishment of posts in hospitals, clinics, medical centers, schools,
and other health-care organizations. These posts render valuable community service and give
members an insight into a variety of career opportunities.
- The Science specialty area includes posts that are organized around
interests in general science, anthropology, archaeology, a career as an
astronaut, astronomy, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computers/programming,
conservation/ecology, environmental science, wildlife/fish management, and
- Skilled Trades
- The Skilled Trades specialty area includes posts that are organized around
interests in auto repair, cosmetology, electrical, carpentry, and construction, to name a few.
- Social Services
- The Social Services area includes posts that are organized around
interests in social service, adult care, child care, drug/alcohol counseling,
exercise attending, funeral direction, home economy, librarian work, museum
curation, school counseling, social work, teaching, volunteer work, youth
organization volunteerism, and disabled career profession.
- In addition to the above, other popular Explorer post specialties include conservation,
computers, music, rescue, radio-TV, architecture, photography, and journalism.
An important goal of Exploring is to help young adults be responsible and caring people, both now
and in the future. Exploring uses "character education activities" to help young adults develop the
ability to make responsible choices that reflect their concern for what is at risk and for the people
involved. Because a character education activity is a problem-solving situation, leaders expect
young adults to use empathy, invention, and selection when they think through their position and
work toward a solution.
What an Explorer post does is limited only by the imagination and involvement of its leaders
build a glider, make an electric car, produce a play, conduct a mock trial, or teach disabled people
to swim. Posts across the country today are experiencing all these adventures and many more. All
that is needed are concerned adults who are willing to share a little bit of themselves with today's
youth tomorrow's citizens.
Getting Your Post Up and Running
Organizing an Explorer post (group) in your organization is easy! Just follow the Five-Step Plan for
Post Program Development:
- Organization's Commitment: Secure a commitment from the chief executive officer of the
- Career Opportunities Development Meeting: A training and program development meeting
for post adult leaders conducted by an Exploring program representative.
- Post Firstnighter Meeting: A special and exciting hands-on meeting held annually by each
post to recruit new youth participants.
- Post Activities Development Meeting: A program planning meeting with Explorers' input to
reach agreement on post monthly activities.
- Explorer Post Officers' Seminar: Training meeting for elected post officers.
What Youth Want
Exploring research has revealed these major points:
- High school students are interested in careers/vocations.
- Teenagers want a broader experience that supplements career information with practical,
"hands-on" experience and is tailored to their cultural backgrounds.
- Teenagers want to belong to a group that provides a supportive place from which they can
address the issues that affect them as they grow and develop. These issues include becoming
more independent, developing social relationships, undergoing psychological changes,
reaching sexual maturity, and re-evaluating values.
Learning for Life provides Explorer posts with the following support:
- Professional and volunteer staff to help the post succeed
- Recruiting, training, and guiding of a volunteer district/division support staff organization
- An annual Explorer program planning conference
- An annual career interest survey of all high schools in the community
- Activity planning and the use of Learning for Life facilities, such as camp
Learning for Life Web Sitewww.learningforlife.org
Visit the Learning for Life Web site for ideas on how your business can connect with today's
Liability Insurance for Participating Organizations
General liability insurance covers the participating organization on a primary basis for any
responsibility they may have on Exploring-related matters without asking the participating
organization or its own insurance to be involved.
Adult and Youth Leader Training
Learning for Life provides basic and advanced adult leader training sessions along with an annual
post leader workshop, quarterly Advisor meetings, and an annual Learning for Life program planning
In 1969, a study was made of the special-interest posts being organized by
William H. Spurgeon III, a businessman from California, and the newly completed
research project for Exploring by Daniel Yankelovich. The 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-like recognition were found necessary to
attract young adults to Exploring.
As a result of this study, special-interest Explorer posts were organized by
businesses and professional and trade organizations. The career interest survey
of high school students was developed to identify and recruit members.
In 1971, the upper age limit in Exploring was changed to age 20 for young men
In 1981, the rapid growth of Exploring led to the development of national
specialty programs in arts and humanities, aviation, business, communications,
engineering, fire/emergency services, health careers, law and government, law
enforcement, science, skilled trades, and social services.
In 1998, Louis Harris & Associates of New York was commissioned to undertake
the challenge of identifying and uncovering the aspects of the Exploring program
that serve as indicators of positive outcomes. They found the program contributes
to the healthy development of today's young adults by providing them with the
environment, resources, and relationships they need to learn and grow.
Today, Exploring is Learning for Life's career education program and exists
to accomplish a major goal: to provide the structure and resources needed for
the youth of America to learn about career opportunities, make ethical choices,
and achieve their full potentials as individuals.
National Awards, Activities, and Scholarships
- Career Achievement Award Programcertificate for career proficiency achievement giving
students distinguished credentials for their resume in the following Exploring career clusters:
arts and humanities, aviation, business, communications, engineering, fire and emergency
services, health, law and government, law enforcement, science, skilled trades, and social
- Council Young American Awardplaque for youth between the ages of 15 and 25
- Congressional Awardsbronze/silver/gold medal for youth between the ages of 14-23
- Law Enforcement Exploring Proficiency Awardsribbon awards in 13 proficiency component
- Learning for Life Leadership Awardfor youth and adults
- National Exploring Excellence Awardfor posts
- William H. Spurgeon III Awardfor individuals and organizations in Exploring
- Aviation Explorer Base Camp at EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, Wis
- Character Education Activities26 components
- Character Education in Exploringfour components
- Challenge Initiative Gamesnine components
- Cooperative Initiative Games21 components
- Engineering Explorer Academy at Georgia Tech University, Atlanta, Ga.
- Engineering Explorer Academy at Georgia Tech, Savannah, Ga.
- Engineering Explorer Academy at Marshall University, Huntington, W.Va.
- Engineering Explorer Camp at The University of Alabama, Huntsville, Ala.
- Health Careers Exploring Exposition at the National Institutes of Health and the Uniformed
Service University, Bethesda, Md.
- Law Explorer National Mock Trial Competition
- Law Enforcement Explorer National Law Enforcement Conference
- Law Enforcement Exploring, FBI Academy
- Law Enforcement Exploring, DEA Academy
- Law Enforcement Exploring, U.S. Marshals Academy
- Law Enforcement Exploring, U.S. Army Military Police Academy
- Leadership Workshop Series16 components
- AFL-CIO Skilled Trades Explorer Scholarship, 2/$1,000
- ATFRA Special Agents' Law Enforcement Explorer Scholarship, 2/$1,000
- Capt. James T. Regan Memorial Law Enforcement Explorer Scholarship, 2/$500
- DEA Drug Abuse Prevention Service Award, $1,000
- Federal Criminal Investigators Law Enforcement Explorer Service Award, $500
- Floyd Boring Law Enforcement Explorer Scholarship, 2/$2,000
- International Association of Fire Chiefs Foundation Fire Service Explorer Scholarship, ,$500
- National Young American Award, 5/$5,000
- Sheryl A. Horak Memorial Law Enforcement Explorer Scholarship, $1,000
- Spartan School of Aeronautics Scholarship, 4/$2,000
- Sporty's Pilot Shop Aviation Explorer Scholarship, 2/$1,000
For More Information
Exploring Program, Learning for Life National Office, P.O. Box 152079, Irving, TX 75015-2079.
Phone: 972-580-2433. Fax: 972-580-2137.
Please mail a postcard with your name, address, and telephone number. Indicate your interest in
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· Learning for Life