Scouting is a fundamental part of American life. Fostering a love of the outdoors along with a strong sense of community, at its best scouting can be a great force for good in the world. However, at its worst, scouting can become a gatekeeper to community and a great hindrance to that which it set out to nurture in the first place.
With this in mind, Navigators USA, an alternative scouting program, was first created in order to include everyone – while helping each person develop their fullest potential free from discrimination. We aim to establish a world without prejudice or ignorance, and to treat every person with respect, no matter their race, creed, lifestyle, or ability. Navigators USA is a welcoming and secular scouting program.
Navigators USA was founded in 2003 by a group of volunteers who had previously led Boy Scout Troop 103 in East Harlem, New York City. These founders saw a need for a more inclusive scouting experience than what was on offer at the time. Navigators USA was born.
The first Navigators USA Chapter started in a homeless shelter – an outreach program of All Souls Unitarian Church. This alternative scouting solution provided (and continues to provide) an all gender, secular, non-discriminatory environment for scouts.
During Navigators USA’s first four years of existence, a curriculum and handbooks were published (with the help of a grant from McGraw-Hill). Another four years was spent testing the model – as Navigators USA slowly grew to include six Chapters. In 2011, a website and Facebook page were created – in the hopes others would find us. They have. Navigators USA has grown at a steady average of two new Chapters a month – with over 290 as of Fall 2020!
Navigators USA goals, mission, and values are outlined in The Navigators’ Promise/Moral Compass. Everyone – from the smallest child to the eldest adult – must memorize the Navigators’ Moral Compass:
As a Navigator, I promise to do my best
Navigators USA provides a plethora of activities and programs for its scouts – among them community service and leadership development. On the Navigators USA website, you can use the handy Activity Finder (there’s an easy tutorial!) to discover activities as wide ranging and diverse as relay races to outdoor safety bingo to making dreamcatchers.
Navigators USA Chapters may choose how, exactly, to advance their own youth. One of Navigators USA’s main ethos involves children taking control of their lives. In general, however, there are levels based on age and achievement many Chapters can use to distinguish and motivate their members. Stargazer and Junior levels often advance by age, while the Senior level often employ achievement requirements prior to advancement.
Navigators USA gives you the freedom to run your Chapter the way you see fit, in order to create a purpose driven, fun, and sustainable enterprise. Building a nature-oriented community takes all ages and genders working together. Starting a Chapter is free! All you need to do is review the Starting a Navigators USA Chapter document on the Navigators USA website.
Then, once you’ve gathered together a committed group (you need at minimum two leaders and five children), you can fill out an application. Again, there are no fees, but you will require general liability insurance once you begin meeting in person. Navigators USA offers a 50% subsidy on whatever premium you get for your first year.
Navigators USA provides an inclusive environment for historically underserved communities in scouting. Navigators have Chapters throughout the US and even in Europe!
Navigators USA provides an alternative scouting experience like never before. Our program helps people become aware of themselves. They learn about their capabilities and shortcomings while interacting with others in groups. This way, people learn how to grow into the best versions of themselves.
Navigators USA is also committed to ensuring the safety of all individuals, regardless of race, gender, or region. Our program allows participants to express their identities in a safe and equal environment.
Finally, Navigators USA helps develop leadership skills in individuals by teaching them how to lead small groups within the organization. This remains an excellent (and the most tried and true) way for people to learn how to be effective leaders and work together towards a common goal.