The Explorers Club is a service club for 6-8th grade boys. For more than sixteen years, the organization has served the Chamberlain-Oacoma community and school through fundraising and various service projects. In 2011, St. Joseph's Indian School students joined for the first time and now are active participants in the club.
Since its inception in 2001. the group has raised over $100,000 for their community and school. While that is a significant sum of money, Chamberlain city engineer, Greg Powell, has said in the past, the Explorers have helped start and fund over $500,000 in projects for Chamberlain including ball fields, playground equipment, swimming pool equipment, fishing piers and other infrastructure.
That money has been used for a new baseball field, scoreboard and lights, a new soccer field, new playground equipment, a new picnic shelter, trees, new slides and other equipment for the municipal swimming pool, a fishing pier in the municipal campground, audio-visual equipment and an AED device for the school, the "Meals on Wheels" program, Relay for Life, new flag poles at Avenue of Flags, playground equipment at American Creek Park, equipment at Tri-County Veterans Park and a disc (or frisbee) golf course among other things.
In addition to their fundraising activities, the Explorers have participated in an impressive list of service projects throughout the years, including cleaning the school grounds, assisting with Veteran’s Day programs, assisting with various basketball and volleyball tournaments, serving meals at the Chamberlain High School Athletic Banquet, hosting Halloween parties for the mentally handicapped, and performing various chores for elderly members of the community. They have raised money for numerous people fighting health issues. They are the “go-to” organization for service projects and help in the community.
Each year, the guys trek to Pierre, to meet the governor and various constitutional officers. They tour the Capitol Building, are introduced to the South Dakota legislators and they tour various museums and agencies in the Pierre. They have become quite familiar to government officials, but for all the right reasons!
In the past few years, the group has discussed "Man Stuff" at each of their weekly 7:30 am meetings. During the "Man Stuff" lessons they learn about a variety of essentials including how to tie a tie, how to shake hands, the importance of being on time, how to fold a flag, how to jump start a car and how to accept a compliment as well as some not so essentials like men's room etiquette, how and when to shave and how to wear cologne.
The group knows how to have fun too. Each year they cap their year with a trip to Minneapolis, Kansas City or Denver to see a couple of Major League baseball games. They host a Valentine’s Day dance each year for Chamberlain Middle School students (with a low budget DJ).
The Explorers have been recognized in the past on both a statewide and local basis. They were recipients of the 2002 South Dakota Middle Level Educators “Friend of Education”, the 2002 School Administrators of South Dakota “Helping Hands” Award and the 2002 Chamberlain School District “Friend of Education” Award. Group founder and advisor, Doug Knust, was recognized as a 2005 NFL/Ameriquest Mortgage Neighborhood All-Star for his work with the Explorers. And they have been recognized by the Chamberlain-Oacoma Area Chamber of Commerce as the Volunteer of the Year before, in 2009!
"I am so pleased with your choice of the Explorers as the Volunteers of the Year", said advisor Knust. "Needless to say, I think you made a very good choice. They are such an asset to the community. It is my personal privilege to work with these young men and I am so proud of them for the work they do in the community."
This year, the Explorers have 38 members and are raising money for the "Friday Night Lights" program which is a project to put up new lights at Don Giese Field.