Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Federation of North-American Explorers (FNE)?

The FNE is an international association in the Catholic Church for youth and young adults that builds its members into saints through an adventurous outdoors program. We create a space of freedom where we live simply and in contact with nature, become stronger and healthier, and grow in virtue and character. It is here where we learn that the greatest adventure of our lives is the one we live with God.

What is the FNE Mission?

Our mission is to save souls by bringing the Explorer program of Venerable Father Jacques Sevin to North America so that youth and young adults may become ordinary saints as they explore their faith and God’s creation.

Who is Venerable Father Jacques Sevin?

Ven. Jacques Sevin is considered the father of Catholic Scouting. See our page about Ven. Seven for more info or visit our list of saints for more information on all our patron saints.

What do you believe?

We are Catholic. We accept the Magisterium in its entirety, and we are in full communion with the Pope and the Catholic Church founded by Christ and His Apostles. Our movement is consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Believing in the Real Presence is most important for us. We receive communion kneeling and on the tongue.

What is the FNE's relationship to the Catholic Church?

The FNE is a member of the UIGSE-FSE, which was recognized on August 26, 2003 as an international Lay Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right. This means our organization has been granted “official recognition and explicit approval” by the Holy See. It also means we fall under the authority of the Pope, and are overseen by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.

What makes the FNE unique?

We are a Christ-centered youth movement that remains true to its ideals and principles and the teachings of Christ even though the values of society are changing.

What is the history of the FNE?
  • 1907: Lord Robert Baden-Powell founded the international scouting movement.
  • 1913: Venerable Father Jacques Sevin, S.J., travels to England and is trained by B-P.
  • 1916-1918: Ven. Fr. Sevin writes “Le Scoutisme,” a Catholic implementation of B-P’s ideas. This implementation is later recognized by Baden-Powell as the “best realisation of my own thoughts.”
  • 1956: A number of Catholic units and leaders meet in Cologne, Germany on the Feast of All Saints (November 1st), and found a new organization to benefit from scouting in order to build and strengthen peace and unity among peoples in post-war Europe.
  • 1960s: National Scouting Organizations in Europe discontinue support for explicitly religious adaptations of the program, such as Ven. Fr. Sevin’s.
  • 1999: Paul Ritchi of Toronto joins the Baden-Powell Exploring Association (AEBP), then a member Association of the FSE based in Quebec. His is the only Catholic English-speaking group in the AEBP.
  • 2007: AEBP decides to leave FSE. Paul Ritchi meets with FSE Federal Commissioner and receives permission for his group to stay in the FSE as the first Group of a future FSE member Association, the Federation of North-American Explorers (FNE).
  • 2003: The FSE receives status as an international Pontifical Right Lay Association of the Faithful.
  • 2011: North Star FNE Group is founded in New Jersey – the first FNE Group in the USA.
  • 2017: FNE has 30 Groups in Canada and the United States, and more than 1,000 members.
How large is the FNE? Where can we find FNE groups?

We have more than 1000 members in 30 groups throughout North America. Visit the FNE Group Locator for a list and map of locations. The UIGSE-FSE that we belong to has 63,000 members in around 20 countries. Visit the map of UIGSE-FSE member associations for more information.

How is the FNE funded? Are you a not-for-profit?

The FNE is a not-for-profit organization. All funding comes from donations and membership dues. There are no paid employees. Everyone is a volunteer.

Who can join?

The FNE has separate programs for boys and girls, grouped in units by age:

  • Otters: 6 to 8 years old
  • Timber Wolves: 8 to 12 years old
  • Explorers: 12 to 17 years
  • Wayfarer Explorers: 17 to 24 years

For a list of units available in our groups, visit the Units page.

Is the FNE for boys and girls?

Units are all male or all female, with the occasional exceptions made for Otters depending on local group constraints. One of the requirements of our educational and formational program is that “the men teach boys to be men, and the boys remind the men how to be boys.” Likewise for the girls and women. In practice, that means that the uniformed leaders of the boys’ programs at meetings and overnight activities are all male, and for the girls, all female.

FNE like its parent organization, the UIGSE-FSE, considers a differentiated education for boys and girls within equivalent units an essential aspect of its teaching. A parallel and mutual enrichment of both sexes, male and female, enables a full development of the aptitudes and propensities given to each sex by God’s providential plan. FNE therefore gathers boys and girls in two sections, male and female, perfectly separated in their hierarchy and in their program structure.

Can mothers and fathers participate?

Mothers and Fathers are very welcome to help! The delivery of the educational and formational aspect of the movement is limited to uniformed leaders who have made an Explorer promise. We maintain units that are all male or all female. This applies to the youth as well as the uniformed leadership. Uniformed leaders for male units must be men, and likewise, leaders for female units must be women.

Mothers or fathers not involved as uniformed leaders can participate in many other activities, such as Masses, ceremonies, fundraisers, promotions, family picnics, field trips, etc. They can also play a supporting role behind the scenes by providing transportation, purchasing food and supplies, coordinating uniform orders, etc. See our Help Us page for volunteer information.

Why should my child join the FNE?

At the core of our movement are values that teach every participant what it means to become a fully formed man or woman. Our youth learn the importance of meeting life’s challenges with an increased sense of responsibility, so as to be better suited to live, work, and play with youth from other cultures and life experiences. Visit the FNE Parent Testimonials page to learn more.

Can non-Catholics participate?

Christian youth who, together with their parents, are supportive of the Catholic nature of the program delivered by FNE, and accept that that they will be expected to participate in these Catholic activities, can join our movement. This program includes Catholic elements such as praying the Rosary, the veneration of saints, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Because our program acknowledges Jesus Christ as our Savior and that we are children of the Holy Trinity, youth and families who profess non-Christian beliefs cannot be admitted as members out of respect for their beliefs and religious practices.

What do you do?

All our activities strive to integrate the 5-aims of our movement:

  • Strength: a sense of health
  • Nature: a sense of concrete things
  • Character: a sense of self-control
  • Service: a sense of others
  • Spirit: a sense of God

Some examples of FNE activities are:

  • Meetings
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Mountaineering
  • Cooking
  • Pioneering
  • Archery
  • Games and competitions
  • Local excursions
  • Pilgrimages, international travel, and international meetings and encounters
  • Masses, prayers, and other Catholic sacraments and devotions
  • “Works of Mercy Projects” (volunteer work)
  • Pro-life prayer vigils and related activities
How often do you go camping or on other outings?

FNE units for members 8 years old and older typically have 4 or more campouts per year, at least one per season. Annual 10 to 14 day Summer Camps are also offered. We participate in pilgrimages, excursions, and other events. See our online calendar for details as they become available.

Does the FNE use uniforms, handbooks, and badges?

Yes! We are a uniquely and proudly uniformed movement. Our youth and their leaders wear a uniform that their brothers and sisters wear in Europe, one for girls (light blue tops, navy blue skirts/skorts, and navy blue knee socks) and one for boys (khaki tops, navy blue shorts, and navy blue knee socks). Timber Wolves wear berets while Explorers and leaders wear Four-Dent hats (aka: Stetsons or campaign hats). Special belts are worn with a one decade rosary on the right. Timber Wolves also wear a pouch and rope on the left of their belt. This unique uniform is worn by all youth and leaders without exception. Leaders wear the same uniform as the youth in their charge, including shorts for male leaders. The FNE uniform is part of an established and proven pedagogical method that also includes the use of handbooks, badges, symbols, and many activities that bring these all together. Visit our Uniform page for more details.

Are you affiliated to any other youth programs?

We are members of the UIGSE-FSE. We are not affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, WOSM, WAGGGS, the Girl Scouts of the USA, Scouts Canada, Girl Guides of Canada, Trail Life USA, Troops of St. George, or any other youth group.

Can ranks and badges from other youth organizations be transferred to the FNE program?

Ranks from other youth organizations cannot be transferred. Progression through the FNE program incorporates not only the development of different skills, but more importantly considers each individual’s spiritual and moral progress in ways that are not found in other programs.

When and where do you meet?

See our list of units and sections and our online calendar for details.

How do we join? How much does it cost?

Visit our Join Us page for details.

How can I help?

We are in need of volunteers, both in and out of uniform. Volunteers must undergo a criminal background check and attend the local diocesan Safe Environment training. We also need monetary donations, as well as donated items. And most important of all, we need your prayers! Visit our Help Us page to learn how you can help.