Tag Archives: Federation of North-American Explorers

Federation of North-American Explorers: Our Standing in the Church

As a comment on recent post on a scouting news site shows, there is some confusion about the standing of the Federation of North-American Explorers (FNE) in the Catholic Church.

Trail for [sic] Life, Troops of St George, and The Federation of North American Explorers lack approval and the support of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This is technically true, but only as far as it goes. The Federation of North-American Explorers has only existed in the United States since 2011, and it does not have the “approval and support” of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). However, as a member association of the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe – Federation of European Scouting (UIGSE-FSE), it has the approval and support of the Holy See. Specifically, the UIGSE-FSE is an international association of the faithful of pontifical right under the Pontifical Council for the Laity, a status that was granted first in 2003 (the decree of recognition can be found in Italian here) for a period of five years (ad experimentum), then permanently in 2008.

In short, the UIGSE-FSE and its member associations (of which FNE is — a very small! — one) enjoy a standing in the Church that other scouting associations, whether traditional or mainstream, Catholic or secular, do not.

Second — and this is an important point as well — the Federation of North-American Explorers should not be lumped in, so to speak, with other associations such as Trail Life USA and the Troops of St. George. The former has a Christian, but not specifically Catholic, identity; while the latter states that it is not a scouting association, and its program is not based on the work of Lord Baden-Powell (in fact, as a “father-son” program it more closely approximates family camping than anything else).

Here are some articles that might help you choose a youth association for your family:

FNE Explorers Winter Camp

Our FNE Explorers group, North Star FNE, recently had its first winter camp. (You can read about it here, or at least see a bunch of pictures.) Since I was responsible for planning the weekend’s Timber Wolf program, I would like to offer a few personal reflections.

Everything came together nicely, and I can say without false humility that that would not have been the case if it weren’t for my brother leaders. Planning food, activities, and two nights’ campfires is probably too much for any one person. Thankfully, we each have our strengths and weaknesses; some people are better at putting together a campfire program, while others are better at shopping for and cooking food for 25 (it’s only when our youth reach the Explorer level and are working as a patrol that we expect them to shop and cook for themselves, though we do like to introduce our Timber Wolves to some of the basics of campfire cooking, setting up a camp kitchen, etc.).

A fireplace can be a good substitute for a campfire. If we had had a smaller group with us, we could have had a fire outside and stayed (relatively) warm – it was a cold weekend! – as it was, with the larger group, we sat around the fireplace and did the same songs, skits, and cheers we would have done outside. And we cooked 48 hot dogs in the fireplace as well! (Pro-tip: put 24 hot dogs in a disposable foil tray, cover with heavy duty foil, place on the embers of the fire, with additional embers on top, and the hot dogs will be done in 15-20 minutes.)

Since I was in charge of the Timber Wolf program, I did not make it over to the Explorer camp to see how they were doing, but they seemed to deal with the cold pretty well and overcome a lot of the hardships associated with camping in such weather (such as needing three hours to cook breakfast outside on Saturday morning).

Camping over Super Bowl weekend is a good way to ensure that you have a park almost entirely to yourself.

Last, this list would not be complete without a shout out to our brothers in West Virginia, Our Lady of the Annunciation FNE, who traveled four hours each way in the bitter cold (with snow threatening on the ride home) to share camp with us.

Semper parati!

The Growth of FNE in the USA

Our group leader/Akela on the subject of FNE in the United States. An excerpt:

Most importantly, we did not want to make promises we couldn’t keep. Still, I personally spoke to approximately 200 people who showed interest in starting new groups. Some we took on who later proved to not be very serious about starting up, and they are no longer in our development plan. We were happy to support them, but likely they were interested because this was in the news and then lost interest as time went on. However, we’ve also had a good number around the country that have shown their love for our movement and their willingness to work to bring it to the youth in their area. These have had our full support and are beginning to thrive. Yes, we want to grow, but for us, growth is something more than setting up a web form and calling whoever fills it out a group. We are truly a brotherhood and we’ll support a new group, but want that new group to also represent the FNE well and be a credit to it. Better to grow with deliberation, and retain our identity, which has been developed over nearly six decades, than to risk the future of our young association here in North America.

One wishes this sort of thing didn’t have to be said, but clarity is always good.