Almost from the start of the Scouting program in the US in 1910, the issue of the "older boy problem" arose. The age of Boy Scouts ran from 12 to 17. There was always a problem of how to keep the older, high school age boys interested. What might interest the 12 and 13 year old might bore the 15 or 16 year old. Even B.P. recognized this and started to establish specific programs for older boys in England. The first of the older boy, or "Senior Scout", programs created was Sea Scouts with a manual written by B-P's older brother. This program was adopted early on by the BSA in 1912. Later on, other programs were added in the US, most under the umbrella of the Senior Scout program of the 1935 and afterwards. Some of these, like Rovers, were picked up from B-P, others home grown.
In researching the needs of older youth, the BSA made changes to the Senior Scout programs over the years. The Senior Scout programs of the 1930s and 40s gave way to the Explorer programs of the 50s. Further research lead to the Explorers of the 50s giving way to the Exploring program in the 60s. In the 70s Exploring went co-ed. Programs came and went to meet the needs of high school and college age youth. Most recently, Exploring was split into two separate programs: LFL/Exploring and Venturing.
In addition to these programs, many others were created with stronger ties to Boy Scout Troops, but still aimed at the older boy (13/14 and older).
It should also be pointed out that in addition to these official programs, many "unofficial" (from a National Council standpoint) programs were also implemented in many councils. (and yes, many of the official programs started out as unofficial local programs). Most were honor or camping societies similar to the OA (and in a few cases were as wide spread and popular as the OA when it was accepted as an experimental program of the BSA), many aimed at keeping the interest of older boys in scouting. A discussion of such groups is beyond the scope of this site, but another site hosted by the US Scouting Service Project does cover them. Please check out the site on Scout Honor Societies here.
For most scouters, many of these programs are unknown. Many ended long before most of them became involved in scouting, and there are few resources of accurate information about these programs. This web site is an attempt at correcting this.
Gathered here is information about these programs: their purpose, awards, uniforms, insignia, literature. As much of it is not easily obtained, it is hoped by putting forth what information the author has, that others will come forth to add to this. Until we see a formal, written, complete history of these programs, this site will have to be the closest thing possible.
Programs are loosely organized by eras, so while there seems to be duplicate listings for some programs, realize that these are for different periods of the program.