45th Annual Fall Fun Rally
Celebrate the Adventure
20th Anniversary of Venturing and 60 years of Exploring
The first Fall Fun Rally was held at Beaumont in 1974, just a few years after the Exploring program had gone co-ed. It's often hardest to do something for the first time, and we can thank the work of Chair Tib Albach and Advisor Jack Pierson for getting this great program off and running. Its not often that many traditions in Scouting continue for 45 years, but the Fall Fun Rally is one of the few that has.
Talk to someone who was involved in the Exploring program of the 1970s and 1980s in St. Louis and you are likely to hear some stories of their times at the Rally, often highlighted by rides on a Huey Helicopter or a battle of the bands. Attendance at those events drew all kinds of Exploring-- Outdoor, Police, Fire, Medical, and Sea Scouting. Often topping 2,000 participants, the Fall Fun Rally would fill most of the fields at Beaumont with campers and activities.
Exploring has been a slowly evolving program for many years. Explorer Scouts were but one of many Senior Scouting programs during the first 50 years of Scouting in the United States. Sea Scouts, Air Scouts, and Senior Scouts were all predecessor programs to Exploring. In 1949, the term for these programs became Explorers as the BSA attempted to improve the older scout programs. Explorer Scouts were part of the Troop still, serving as what many would refer to as the Older Scout Patrol now.
This year though we celebrate the creation of the Exploring program in 1959. This program really took Exploring down a different path and formed the basis of many of the parts of the current Venturing program and later Career Explorers. At this time different activities, methods, and program were created that were similar, but not identical to Boy Scouts. This gave birth to the Explorer Code, and Motto. Exploring would keep the green shirts that had been in use for parts of the Explorer program formerly part of Troops. Sea Exploring and Air Exploring would keep their separate identities too.
At this time the concept of interest areas came about, including for the first time Vocation. Posts were also able to choose a specialty. These changes effectively created Career Exploring.
Over the next couple decades, Exploring continued to evolved. In many councils across the country Explorer Cabinets were created, giving Explorers representative youth leadership in Districts, Councils, Nationally. In 1969 girls were invited to Exploring activities as participants, not members, and they needed to remain a part of another Scouting affiliated organization such as Camp Fire Girls or Girl Scouts. Then in 1971 girls became welcome to join Exploring as members. Career Exploring grew, and in many places across the country eclipsed the membership of General or Outdoor interest Posts.
The Explorer Cabinet evolved into the Explorer Presidents Association, and later the Exploring Officers' Association. In Saint Louis the EPA/EOA was very active, and had a strong role in the Fall Fun Rally and other Exploring activities for years.
In February, 1998 it was announced that Exploring would be split into two organizations. A new wholy-owned subsidary of the Boy Scouts, Learning for Life was to be created and Career Exploring would largely be spun off into that. Outdoor and General Interest Posts would largely become part of a new program, Venturing starting August of that year.
The Venturing program would renew an interest largely in outdoor interest crews, though there would also be other interests available for units. Venturing would have an Exploring inspired Code, a new sign, and new (optional) uniform pants. Venturing would have a new recognition program. Sea Exploring would become part of the Venturing program, now officially title Sea Scouts again.
This separation of the Exploring and Venturing program was done for two reasons. One was to shore up the distinct programs of the the two experiences. Venturing was now a program more affiliated with Cub and Boy Scouts, and followed in the same traditional view of Scouting of these two programs. Exploring was spun off to focus on the career exploration aspects and reinforce that portion of the Exploring program. The other reason that the two separated was tied to charter organizations and the incompatibilty for many public organizations with the BSA membership standards of the time.
This organizational separation was most notably shown at national levels. Venturing and Exploring were now very distinct programs nationally. Locally though, many things remained the same. The EOA became the EVOA, adding Venturing as part of the program. The Exploring and Venturing programs were part of the Exploring/Venturing department at Council, and Exploring and Venturing were both served by the Exploring/Venturing executives that served the three Areas (91/92/93) in Saint Louis. Explorers were welcome at Swift and other council camps and continued participation in these programs at much the same level as previously. Much remained the same, despite new names for the programs.
Over time this began to change. In 2005, Venturing moved out of the overlay districts of the Exploring/Venturing department for the Greater Saint Louis Area Council and went back into the districts. Later in 2007 the Council dissolved the EVOA and the VOA was formed.
In 2008, the Fall Fun Rally began a chain of anniversary celebrations, first serving as one of the Central Region Venturing events for the 10th Anniversary of Venturing. Later, in 2010, the Fall Fun Rally celebrated 100 years of Scouting as the official National Venturing event, as the Jamboree did not yet welcome Venturers. It was the first National Venturing Event, having been authorized by the Venturing Division of the BSA. Again, in 2013, Fall Fun Rally served as one of the Central Region Venturing events.
Citing years of declining membership for Venturing, the program was largely relaunched in 2014. New manuals, new trainings, and a new recognition program was launched, including the addition of the new Venturing Summit Award. In 2016 Sea Scouts split off from Venturing and became a separate program again.
Recently, a resurgence for Exploring has been taking place both Nationally, as well as locally. New branding for Exploring has been rolled out. A new program for Exploring, the Explorer Club, servicing Middle School youth has been rolled out, and the Greater Saint Louis Area Council has identified Exploring as one of the areas of focus for 2018. Nationally Exploring is also seeing a better integration into Scouting as a whole again, as well as locally being now a full part of district programs.
In 2016, the Greater Saint Louis Area Council and the Lewis and Clark Council announced their intent to merge. With the merger of the two councils, both VOAs came together to create a new organization. In recognition of the separation of the Sea Scouting program, but the real desire locally to work together towards common goals, the VOA became the Venturing and Sea Scouting Officers' Association, launching a Sea Scout Squadron in the Council for the first time.
And so 2018 is the celebration of many things for us. We celebrate the 45th Fall Fun Rally, one of the longest annual Scouting events in the country, and the longest running annual for Exploring and Venturing. We celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Venturing program. We celebrate 60 years of Exploring as the start of all of our older youth Scouting programs. Finally we Celebrate the Adventure that is Scouting!