If we look at the changing values in society, the constant noise, barrage of information non-stop competing for attention, and at times even demanding immediate attention… just look at how so many of us are glued to smart phones and other similar technology one can get easily distracted as to what really matters!
This is where the Federation of North-American Explorers can come in and help make a difference, a difference that will help positively influence the formational years of a young person such that it will help guide the person to making wise Christ centered choices from childhood right into their senior years of life.
In simple terms some people see FNE as a bunch of Catholic youth having fun and doing good deeds to at times help others and nature. While this is true, what FNE offers is so much more.
Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder then; for it is to those who are childlike that the Kingdom of heaven belongs.” Our youth respond as only children can in a very special and deep manner to reach out and love God through various opportunities offered to them within our FNE program experience.
First we need to help develop the character and beliefs of each child in a constructive purposeful loving manner that ideally complements parental efforts to raise happy, successful, responsible, loving Christ centered children, not an easy task these days.
Youth Role Models (and by that we do not mean people like Justin Bieber)
Without positive role models, youth can often succumb to negative peer pressure (smoking, drugs, porn, gangs) by making impulsive choices lacking consideration of moral implications.
Our FNE movement actively helps develop positive youth role models for youth to look up to for encouragement such as their patrol chiefs and sixers (youth leaders in our movement).
Through and with their youth leaders we weave into their program experience core values of our faith in cooperation with and with the support of parents so that they become often better equipped to make wise choices.
Another goal is to inspire our youth to appreciate and respect God’s wonders! We do so by actively promoting the culture of life by actively discovering nature, respect for self and others, learning to serve rather than to be served and seeing each person as being special in their own right and placing a great value on life at all stages from conception to natural death.
Through mentorship each child is guided to their full potential as an individual and member of our FNE family. Being a member of the FNE Explorer family means just that, you are part of a family. We stress the importance of the family both within society and at home.
Today’s culture: I want it all and want it now! Instant gratification for many is the norm. Marketing efforts including pitches to our children that often contain subtle subconscious suggestions that are often contrary to our faith teachings and beliefs. FNE counteracts this culture influence in a number of ways including:
Through hard work and perseverance youth are guided through the program designed for them achieving goals and increasing self-esteem.
We offer a progressive program that starts with simple and straight forward steps to lay the foundation for more challenging activities and responsibilities. This is done through the use of a number of tools including a badge program and within positions of leadership and responsibility. Every person is special in their own way. Everyone is valued, appreciated and loved. As we say, “the strength of the den is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the den.”
In other cases Instant gratification, self-entitlement, human to machine relationship is everywhere. Our program encourages our youth to discover the wonderful world of person to person contact through games, shared challenges and responsibilities while helping to install the understanding that one needs to honestly work hard to obtain and achieve milestones that are of true value.
For a child to formally become a timber wolf or an explorer they must earn their promise badge (Timber Wolf) or promise cross (Explorer).
This is a gradual process with gestures, ceremonies, mystery, purpose and effort. If one has to work hard and at times struggle for something it often becomes of a greater value and meaning to them.
The program constantly challenges our youth to work together for MUTUAL and shared success through games, building projects and discovery activities that can only be achieved through Initiative, collaboration, co-operation and organization for the sake of their team and in the spirit of fun!
Mentorship, respect of self and others bring out the best in each child.
Through example, by leading a happy family type of program, by expecting youth to keep their promise and law and from a sense of personal honour ... at home family relationships are strengthened as each member of the family recognizes their value and contribution in the family.
Today’s culture often sends out a message… hey don’t worry… be happy… there are no rules, no limits, no accountability to others or a general sense of responsibility. In our movement our youth experience a sense of responsibility through shared activities and tasks and to be accountable for what they contribute to their unit or group. In FNE we promote and live the opposite… as an example….
Every member in the patrol (at the Explorer level for 12 to 16 year olds) has a set responsibility to lead and teach the others in their patrol that operates like a family unit...
· Lashing (pioneering projects)
· First aid
· Accounting / money management
· Record keeping
· Acting – entertainment (e.g. camp fires)
· Photography and more.
Trust is actively earned and given. Our youth (and leaders) have to earn trust through their actions, keeping their word, showing sincere concern for others, and leaders at all levels who place the need of their brothers or sisters before their own such as eating a meal, they as leaders eat last.
Sadly many youth see personal sacrifice as useless. We live and demonstrate the opposite whereas making a sacrifice for the benefits of others is actually quite empowering... FNE provides opportunities as part of their program experience to do just that... By learning to accommodate others, as an example by letting a brother timber wolf win a game for their sense of accomplishment and not your own when you could have won.
Their Explorer promise reflects character and personal honour. The Explorer Promise states as follows:
On my honour and with God’s Grace I promise to do my best, to serve God, my Church, my county, to help others at all times, and to obey the Explorer Law. We expect… no FNE demands that every member truly does their best to keep and live their Explorer promise… at times that we fail we run to Christ through the Sacrament of confession. More on the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) later. Dependence on each other is welcomed, expected and embraced.
So as our youth learn to and willingly take on responsibilities in the Troop as an example they often extend that experience and sense of accomplishment to their home life as testified to by many a parent...
All explorers and leaders further do their best to understand and embrace the Explorer law as described below from within a Catholic faith perspective:
Society often teaches that Power often equates to not sharing with others… We in FNE offer an alternative perspective... through the youth leadership structure sharing of knowledge and skills so that others can benefit actually becomes a point of strength and not weakness... the stronger your team the happier and more productive everyone becomes... and the greater sense of accomplishment and growth for all. This is a valuable skill that will help our youth in years to come when they enter the workplace.
Service to others is learned through mentorship. We don’t simply talk about it; we get out there and do by feeding the homeless, serving at a soup kitchen, cleaning up a park, visiting seniors at a nursing home or simply helping younger members... Explorers helping Timber Wolves as an example... To serve is power in becoming a better and happier person.
Today’s culture: An exaggerated lifestyle… Our youth are often exposed to extremes either on TV, seeing the rich and famous such as an actor, or through other electronic media... But are these images and messages realistic or even truly good for our children??
Happiness in material things is typical and heavily marketed. Throughout our program we work hard to help our youth see that having all of the best material things in the world including money will not make you happy, and that in effect you will feel a deep void in your life because something of great value is missing... We help them discover what that is...whereas happiness comes from within and not from material things. So we use our outdoor program experiences where it is truly inspiring to get up one morning in the middle of nowhere, in the wilderness, to not have a single man made noise or movement, to see the beauty of nature, to contemplate life... And the greatness of our creator ... An Explorer sees in nature God’s creations, he loves plants and animals. FNE offers age appropriate all season camping experiences for its members including a summer camp. It is at camp where the youth really benefit from the overall FNE program experience. Youth frequently return from summer camp stronger and wiser in so many positive ways according to their parents.
Through FNE we provide consistent education on what is good and right. How do we do this… through the jungle story as a timber wolf, through badge work, thoughts of the week discussions, games, challenge activities, sports, lots of fun, laughter, joy, love and through faith activities we continuously help our youth better understand and embrace what is good and what is right.
In society there is a constant search for personal pleasure. By personal pleasure we mean an emotional or physical high that is brief and short-lived that is followed by the strong desire to do it again... Later in life this can be expressed through alcohol, or drugs, or pornography and more... We help our youth learn how to choose wisely from lessons learned through games of all types, to decisions made in the outdoors on a hike or camp out, to taking into account a core set of moral and spiritual values especially in life altering circumstances or temptations.
In FNE simple pleasures are valued by all. Look at a small child after they have opened their gifts on a Christmas morning... what do they play with... the box that the gift came in.
Within our program experience our youth discover that simple pleasures such as participating in a nature scavenger hunt can bring on a sense of enlightenment and excitement through human interaction and through the discovery of nature.
Today’s youth are frequently restless, dissatisfied and emotionally fragile. Some youth are especially sensitive to criticism of their work or performance, others are restless and have little patience to complete a challenging hand eye coordination task, and others are quickly bored or dissatisfied or quickly give up.
In FNE together we continuously seek to build inner strength. If one feels that they are solely dependent on their own human abilities the world at times can become a scary place... Within our program we help our youth discover what is not visible...a greater sense of God and his love for his children.
In today’s culture there is a strong sense of products that are disposable and easy to discard with little thought or appreciation as to its value. To appreciate something you need to spend the time and effort to build something that will be useful and have purpose... so through games and Explorer skills such as lashing and woodwork we build tables, chairs and launching contraptions' whereas we take this opportunity to promote the avoidance of waste, youth are encouraged to reuse products or materials and thereby help in some small way to care for the environment.
So even in building projects we reuse what we have that after we have dismantled larger construction projects we then store the tree limbs and rope for future building projects... Or even the supply of uniform items as a child grows and needs larger sizes the smaller sizes are then made available to the next child.
Virtual interaction can at times blur reality of human relationships … Too much of a focus on the electronic world can blur the appreciation and value of the many gifts that we have been given. We help realize this point through games, trips to places such as a water treatment plant or recycling plant where FNE youth learn the value of reusing products and goods to produce new goods or services rather than simply toss it away with no afterthought. Even used eye glasses can be donated to support youth in countries that are less fortunate than ours.
Now let’s take a closer look at the critical importance of our Catholic faith…whereas society promotes that Faith is unnecessary or a simple private practice… FNE notes that as our society becomes ever more secularized and politically correct it is often difficult to see through the fog the anchor of life, the giver of life, our creator and saviour Jesus Christ. Our movement is a Catholic faith based movement whereas the teachings of our faith are interwoven throughout our program values and experience to help our youth cut through the fog of society, to understand and live the truth of our faith.
Faith is more than attending Mass on Sunday... We move to feeding the homeless, praying before we eat at a public place, participating in Pilgrimages, participating in a silent Pro Life vigil, and through our actions and love for others regardless of background or creed to therefore bring the light of Jesus into an often dark world. Within FNE deep meaningful spiritual moments within the program are lived and shared. We truly embrace and believe when Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder then; for it is to those who are childlike that the Kingdom of heaven belongs”. Our youth respond as only children can in a very special and deep manner to reach out and love God through various opportunities offered to them within our FNE program experience.
To grow stronger in one’s faith, to help build a real solid foundation in their younger years will help our youth make wiser Christ centered like choices later on in life, to provide a steady and reliable compass to help them navigate through the many temptations that can often lead out children in the wrong direction.
This foundation beyond what you have already read is further strengthened through the direct practice and living of our faith traditions and practices at camp, meetings, outings and Pilgrimages in a number of ways including…
Our youth and their leaders participate in heartfelt prayers before and after meals, weekly gatherings and at camp including reciting the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
Youth love stories, so “thoughts of the week” generate much thought and discussion. Here is one simple example that generated lots of discussion amongst the timber wolves…
* Grandma's pet Duck *
There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm.
He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods.
He practiced in the woods; but he could never hit the target.
Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner.
As he was walking back he saw Grandma's pet duck.
Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in
the head and killed it. He was shocked and grieved!
In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile; only to see his
sister watching! Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.
After lunch the next day Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes"
But Sally said, "Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the
Then she whispered to him, "Remember the duck?"
So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, "I'm sorry but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally just smiled and said, "Well that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help" She whispered again, "Remember the duck?" So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.
After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's; he
finally couldn't stand it any longer.
He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck.
Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, "Sweetheart, I know. You
see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing,
but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you
would let Sally make a slave of you."
Discussion followed… points raised by the timber wolves in this case included:
The devil keeps throwing it up in your face
(lying, cheating, debt, fear, bad habits, hatred, anger, bitterness,
etc.) ....whatever it is...
God is always standing at the window and He sees anything and everything that we do.
Sin makes us a slave, and if we do not act we will often fall into more sin, sin that becomes even more serious over time.
The great thing about God is that when we are truly sorry and when you ask for forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession he not only forgives you, but He forgets.
It is by God's grace and mercy that we are saved.
When Jesus died on the cross; he was thinking of you!
Faith is weak without commitment to the community.
Beyond other good activities within FNE (such as feeding the homeless) we encourage our youth to donate part of their allowance to help feed children in 3rd world countries, or to donate sports socks for the homeless during the winter months or to clean up garbage in a local community walking trail or to rake away the leaf’s in the gardens of senior citizens in early November before the snow falls.
Common assumption… Children are not much interested in God, the Church or the Sacraments of the church. This is absolutely NOT true… most children if they are not hindered or discouraged by adults or peers are truly hungry for God and his never ending boundless love.
FNE youth happily and with much joy embrace and participate in key practices of our Catholic faith.
Confession– when Father comes to hear confessions… at the timber wolf level we have only one challenge and that is that they often tussle amongst themselves as to who gets to go first to be at the feet of Jesus to be forgiven of their trespasses. At the older Explorer level requests are often made to the leaders as to the potential opportunity to avail themselves of the Sacrament and when Father is available there is no hesitation to go to confession regardless of the age. Our youth and their leaders in their faith journey grow in their understanding of what personal sin is and how this impleads their relationship and love for the Lord thereby helping them make wiser Christ centered choices in life.
Mass and the Eucharist – the Mass and the Eucharist is by far the center of our Catholic faith and is embraced fully within our FNE program at camp and whenever else possible. FNE youth as they grow in their understanding as to what is actually taking place at Mass grow to love Mass and attend whenever possible with their FNE family and their family at home. The Eucharist is truly the living body and blood of Jesus who comes to us hidden in the host. We truly believe and reflect this on how we elect to receive the Lord through our posture and action as it is truly the Lord himself that we receive. What a gift. Thank you Lord.
Eucharist Adoration – "The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth,"
- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
FNE youth grow in love for Eucharistic Adoration that we participate in at camp, on retreats and Pilgrimages including a camp out behind a local church so that one can take a turn in adoring the Lord between the hours of midnight and 6.00 a.m.
FNE members by extension of their overall program experience often share moments of deep spirituality with each other especially on Pilgrimages as far away as Rome Italy during Holy week for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
In conclusion FNE offers a proven program that stays true to its values and ideals to help counter act society shortcomings that develop the whole child from a spiritual, physical, social, environmental, leadership and service perspective. Come and join FNE as youth or as an adult as a leader.
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