Explorer Insignia, EX-05Explorers (1949-1958)

In September of 1949, after researching the needs of older boys, the Senior Scouting program was changing into the Explorer program.  Explorer Scouts became ExplorersAir Scouts became Air ExplorersSea Scouts became Sea Explorers.  The age for these programs was lowered from 15 to 14.  Also, National changed the policy such that when a boy turned 14, he automatically became an Explorer.  He could continue in a Boy Scout Troop, or join an Explorer Crew within his troop, or join a separate Explorer unit.

For more information about the new Air Explorer and Sea Explorer programs, see their pages.  The rest of this page will deal only with the new Explorer program.

The new Explorer program also took as its symbol the compass-anchor-wings emblem created for the Senior Scout Outfit.

In 1959, based on an extensive research project dealing with the needs and wants of older boys, this program was replaced by the new Exploring program.

Explorer Program
The Explorer program was changed and expanded from the Explorer Scout program.  Whereas the old Explorer Scout program had an explicit advanced outdoor emphasis, the new Explorer program expanded its purpose to attract more older boys.  Explorer Posts were supposed to have a well rounded program four activity fields: Adventuring in the outdoors, Getting along socially with others, Being of service to others, and Exploring lifework possibilities.  More so then under the Senior Scout program, Explorer Posts were more likely to specialize in some area of interest, which might be hobby based or vocational based.

Explorer Uniforms
Explorers continued with their forest green uniforms. These could be worn with a brown tie.  A white web belt and optional web leggings were also created.  They could wear the khaki scout uniform with maroon tie.  Forest green shorts were not produced, so Explorers would have to wear the khaki shorts. The strips on the shirts now read "Explorers, BSA". In 1954, the brown on green numerals and community and state strips were dropped.  Afterwards, Explorers would wear the standard white on red numbers and community strips.

Explorers BSA strip, EX-01Explorers BSA strip, EX-02

Explorers also continued the use of the fatigue uniform that was started under Senior Scouting.  It consisted of blue dungarees (jeans), a white T-shirt with the Explorer logo, blue fatigue cap and optional blue zipper jacket and white leggings.  This uniform was dropped at the end of 1953, but the T-shirt was continued.

In 1954, bright red wool and poplin jackets were authorized for used by Explorers and leaders.  The wool jacket (or jac-shirt) first started to be used at Philmont.  At first, only Explorers were allowed to use the red jackets.  It wouldn't be until the late 60s or so that the red jacket became the general BSA jacket for use by everyone.

Explorer Uniform, 1950sExplorer insignia place on sleeve, 1950s

Several lapel and collar pins were made, both universal and for advisors.  Collar pins were 7/8 in and lapel pins were 5/8 in

Uniform Pins

Universal pin, EX-08

Universal pin, EX-09

Universal pin in green??


Advisor Collar pin in blue, EX-14

Lapel Pin
in blue

Associate Advisor Collar pin in blue, EX-16

Assistant Advisor lapel pin in blue, EX-17

Advisor Collar pin in green

Lapel Pin
in green

Collar Pin
in green

Lapel Pin
in green

Explorer Advancement Program
The new Explorer program also revamped its advancement program.  No longer using outdoors inspired ranks, instead it had the ranks of Apprentice-Bronze-Gold-Silver.  Advancement through the ranks was done by earning one of several Rating Strips.  These Rating Strips were inspired by the Air Scout Specialist Badges, but unlike the Air Scout program, earning the Ratings was required for earning rank.  To earn them, an Explorer had to participate in an outdoor event, social event, and a service event, as well as do several specific requirements for that rating.  One thing was discontinued was allowing Explorers to earn any Senior Scouting advancement program.  Now only Sea Explorers could earn Sea Explorer advancement and only Sea Explorer Advancement, Air Explorers were the only ones to earn Air Explorer advancement and only Air Explorer advancement, and Explorers in Posts and Troops were the only ones to earn Explorer advancement and only Explorer advancement.

At first, medals for Bronze and Gold were also made.  It appears these were quickly discontinued.  They are very rare.

For rank requirements, go HERE.
For rating strips requirements, go HERE.

In 1954, with the Air Explorers using the Explorer advancement program, the color of the patches were changed and 3 ratings were added to replace unique ones from the Air Explorer program. These new ratings were Construction, Mechanics, and Weather.  A new Silver Award was also created that in design was inspired by the Ace Award medal.

Also, Explorers now had alternative ways of earning Eagle Scout.  In addition to being able to earn Star, Life, and Eagle if they had earned First Class in a Boy Scout Troop, Explorers could also progress through Star-Life-Eagle if they had earned either the Bronze Award or the Outdoor Skills Rating.  The same was true for Sea Explorers and Air Explorers of that time.  Later around 1956 or so, Star patches were made with a forest green background for wearing on the forest green Explorer shirt.  Life Scout patches of that time were just the heart patch, so there was no need to do so.  Why they didn't do so sooner is unclear, as Star, Life, and Eagle patches on white and blue have existed for a long time for Sea Scouts/Sea Explorers to use.


Explorer Advancement, 1949-54

Explorer Apprentice, EX-32Apprentice

Explorer Bronze, EX-34Bronze

Explorer Gold, EX-36Gold

Explorer Silver, EX-38Silver


Bronze Medal, EX-41

Gold Medal, EX-42

Silver Medal, Type 1, EX-43


Bronze Award lapel pin

Gold Award lapel pin

Silver Award lapel pin, EX-47Explorer Silver Knot, type 1, EX-45


Explorer Advancement, 1954-58

Explorer Apprentice, EX-33Apprentice

Explorer Bronze Award, EX35Bronze

Explorer Gold Award, EX-37Gold

Explorer Silver Award, EX-39 (1954 only)Explorer Silver, EX-40 (1955-58)Silver

Explorer Silver Medal, Type 2, EX-44Silver Medal, Type 2

Silver Label Pin, Type 2, EX-48Explorer Silver Award Knot, type 2, EX-46


Explorer Ratings

Explorer Aviation Rating Strip, EX-49Aviation

Explorer Communications Ratings Strip, EX-50Communication

Explorer Craft Skills Rating Strip, EX-56Craft Skills

Explorer Emergency Skills Rating Strip, EX-51Emergency Skills

Explorer Navigation Ratings Strip, EX-52Navigation

Explorer Outdoor Skills Rating, EX-53Outdoor Skills

Explorer Physical Fitness Rating Strip, EX-54Physical Fitness

Explorer Seamanship Rating Strip, EX-57Seamanship

Explorer Vocational Exploration Rating Strip, EX-55Vocational Exploration




Explorer Unit Organization
With the new Explorer program, some changes were made in the officer names.  Post Guide became Senior Crew Leader, and Assistant Post Guide became Deputy Senior Crew Leader.  Other terms stayed the same.

Initially, office insignia was the Senior Scout Outfit insignia recycled.  In 1954, with the changes in the color of the rank patches, office patches also changed color from dark blue to forest green.

In addition, Crews were expected to establish four committees, drawing from the entire Post.  Each of the four were devoted to one of the activity fields of Exploring: Outdoor, Indoor (Vocation), Social, and Service

Unit Term Comparison

Boy Scout Troop

Explorer Post


Post Advisor

Senior Patrol Leader

Senior Crew Leader



Patrol Leader

Crew Leader


Post Secretary


Explorer Office Insignia, 1950-54

Post Advisor, EX-10Post Advisor

Assitant Post Advisor, EX-12Assistant Post Advisor

Senior Crew Leader, EX-27Senior Crew Leader

Deputy Senior Crew Leader, EX-24Deputy Senior Crew Leader

Crew Leader, EX-21Crew Leader

Assistant Crew Leader, EX-18Assistant Crew Leader

Post Secretary, EX-29Post Secretary



Explorer Office Insignia, 1954-1958

Post Advisor, EX-11Post Advisor

Assistant Advisor, EX-13Assistant Post Advisor 

Senior Crew Leader, EX-28Senior Crew Leader

Deputy Senior Crew Leader, EX-26Deputy Senior Crew Leader

Crew Leader, EX-23Crew Leader

Assistant Crew Leader, EX-20Assistant Crew Leader

Post Secretary, EX-31Secretary


National would continue the use of "Standard Explorer Unit" awards from the previous "Standard Senior Scout Unit" awards.  These awards were given to any Explorer unit (Post, Ship, Squadron) which meet certain criteria at the local, regional, or national levels. To see the requirements, go here.

Standard Unit Award

National Standard Explorer Unit, EX-72

Regional Standard Explorer Unit, EX-71

Local Standard Explorer Unit, EX-70

In 1957, a program called "Citizens Now" Conference was started.  It was expected that every council run it by June of 1957.  The conference was to be a 2.5 day event at a local college/university.  A booklet explained the program, "Citizens Now" Conference Workbook (#3046), and a patch was also made.  It was popular enought that many ran it again in 1958.  With the changes in the Explorer program after 1958, this event was dropped.

The basic manual for the Explorer program was the Explorer Manual, which was a revision of the previous Explorer Scout Manual.  This manual gave detailed information on how Explorers operated, and their new advancement program.

The only manual for adult leaders was the generic Hints on Explorer Leadership, which is a slight update of the previous Hints on Senior Scouting Leadership.  Why nothing equivalent to a Scoutmaster Handbook was produced is unknown. This booklet gives only a vary basic overview of leadership information for the Explorer programs.

National also published the Explorer Program Quarterly starting in late 1953.  These lasted until 1966.   Since about January, 1947, National had published program-specific Program Helps in Scouting Magazine.  This had started with “Senior Program Helps”, which gave way to the “Explorer Section” in September, 1949.  The last appearance of the Explorer Section was October, 1953.  After that point, National published three separate Program Quarterlies for Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Explorer programs.

There were Explorer Leader's Program Notebooks as well, which were a continuation of the Senior Scouting Program Notebook started back in 1946.  These lasted atleast until 1968.

Explorer Literature

Explorer Manual (#3506)
2nd edition
  1st         1950, Jan     330p+4p       50000
  2nd        1950, Nov   330p+4p
3rd edition
  1st         1952,Mar     330p+4p        50000
  2nd        1953,Apr                            50000
  3rd         1954,Apr     380p+4p        50000
  4th         1954,Aug     386p+14p       60000
  5th         1955,Apr     386p+14p       60000
4th Edition
  1st         1956,May                           60000
  2nd        1957,Mar
  3rd         1958,Jan

paperback book, Ted S. Holstein, editor

Explorer Manual

Hints on Explorer Leadership (#3482)
   1949          20000
   1950          25000
   1951          25000
   1954          11000
 (other printings??)

paperback, 92pg

Hints on Explorer Leadership

Explorer Leader's Program Notebook
several editions:
1950-51 (shown)    20000
1951-52 (shown)    35000
1952-53 (shown)    45000
1953-54 (shown)
1954-55 (shown)    45000
1955-56 (shown)
1956-57                 65000 
1957-58 (shown)    65000

paperback, 128pg

Explorer Leader's Program Notebook, 1950-51Explorer Leader's Program Notebook 1954-55Explorer Leaders Program Notebook, 1955-56

Explorer Program Quarterly
 V1 winter 1954; spring 54; summer 54; fall 54
 V2 winter 54-55; spring 55; summer 55; fall 55
 V3 winter 56; spring 56; summer 56; fall 56 
 V4 winter 56-57; spring 57; summer 57; fall 57
 V5 winter 57; spring 58; summer 58; fall 58

about 24 pages in length

Explorer Program Quarterly, Spring 1958






Ranger awards

Silver awards



















































*- after the official end of the "Ranger program" in September of 1949, there was a two year grace period for those earning the award.
*- in 1953, earning of the Silver Award became optional for Air Explorers, after Jan of 1955, it became mandatory.  Thus these numbers also include Silver Awards earned by Air Explorers as well as Explorers

Source: BSA Annual Reports, as reported in Art Hyman's book The Scout in Aviation.

Updated: 01/17/2006mrb