A Short History of Royal Rangers
In The Beginning
IN 1961 THE DECISION WAS MADE by the Executives of the Assemblies of God to begin a ministry for boys. This ministry was to be under the supervision of the Men's Fellowship Department. In the fall of 1961 Brother Howard Bush, executive director of Men's Fellowship, contacted Johnnie Barnes who was then District Christ Ambassador's President of the North Texas District, and requested that he come to Springfield to supervise the formation and development of this ministry. In January of 1962, Johnnie Barnes moved to Springfield to assume this position. The first few weeks were spent developing the basic philosophy of the program, such as purposes, goals, activities, emphasis and the organizational structure., Many different names for this ministry were submitted to the executives for consideration. During one of the executive meetings Brother Charles W. H. Scott suggested the name "Royal Rangers." The group agreed and the program had its official name.
Initial age groups
This ministry was divided into three age divisions. Ages 9-11 were called Pioneers, ages 12-14 were called Trailblazers, and ages 15-17 had a choice between Air or Sea Rangers. The local unit for each age group was called an "Outpost." The unit leader was called an "Outpost Commander" and his assistant "Lieutenant Commander." The outpost was divided into patrols with a Guide and Assistant Guide over each.
Writing the materials
Johnnie Barnes spent the next few months tooling out the contents of Royal Rangers, which included the pledge, code, motto, advancement requirements, content of the handbooks, application form, charter certificates, membership cards, promotional brochures, uniforms, badges, insignia, and awards. Commander Barnes was awakened one night about 1:30 a.m. with an inspiration which resulted in the design of the Royal Rangers emblem. Six handbooks were prepared-the Leader's Manual. Pioneer Handbook, Trailblazer Handbook, Air-Sea Ranger Handbook, Adventures in Camping, and an Outpost Record Book. While the handbooks were being prepared, a pilot outpost was organized in Springfield, Missouri. The first outpost in the nation was organized under the leadership of Bob Reid. Valuable knowledge and information was gleaned by observing this group in action. By October, 1962, the materials were ready and Royal Rangers was officially launched by announcements and articles in the Pentecostal Evangel. Training - the key Realizing that the success of this ministry depended upon trained leadership, in 1963 a Leadership Training Correspondence Course was developed. Bob Reid was appointed National Training Coordinator, and became responsible for the enrolment, grading and processing of this course. (Later in 1965 this position was assumed by Paul Feller, in 1971 by Don Franklin, and in 1974 by Paul Stanek.) With the development of qualified teachers, the training course materials have been utilized for a classroom-type training course for leaders. Current courses are being conducted in most districts. Over 25,000 leaders have enrolled in the Leadership Training Course. To upgrade teaching standards, a standardized certification program for LTC instructors was developed in 1976. To implement this program the first Instructor/Trainer Seminar was conducted in Springfield, Missouri in 1976. Publications In the fall of 1963 the first issue of Dispatch magazine (a quarterly publication for leaders), was published. Also included in Dispatch was a weekly Bible study course, and a planning guide. This publication was designed to give leaders new ideas, devotions, and information. For many years, Johnnie Barnes served as editor of Dispatch. In 1974, this responsibility was assigned to John Eller. In 1977, Dispatch was enlarged and changed to a new format and David Barnes became editor. The magazine-is now sent to all registered-leaders rather than just to the Commanders. The first District Commander's Seminar was held in Springfield, Missouri in March of 1963, with 20 District Commanders in attendance. These men were commissioned by Brother Howard Bush in a very impressive ceremony conducted in the Assemblies of God Headquarters auditorium. Speaker for the occasion was General Superintendent, Thomas Zimmerman.
The first district-wide Pow Wows (designed for fellowship, training and evangelism), were held in 1964 with five districts conducting Pow Wows. Today over 50 districts are featuring this district-wide event, with many reporting outstanding evangelistic results. One district reported that 143 boys were filled with the Holy Spirit during one council fire. To encourage and give recognition for the district promotion of Royal Rangers, the Silver Eagle Award program for District Commanders was launched in 1965. The following year (1966) several District Commanders were presented with the Silver Eagle Award. Currently 106 District Commanders have qualified for this recognition. Realizing the important role that the District Superintendents play in their districts, the decision was made in 1965 to involve these men more directly in this ministry. Each District Superintendent was given the title of District Chaplain. The inspirational and promotional assistance of these men has been very valuable to the Royal Rangers. Due to an unusual interest for this ministry in Latin American countries, in 1966 a Royal Rangers handbook was translated and printed in the Spanish language. This ministry is experiencing an unusual growth in these countries as well as in many other countries around the world.
That same year (1966), the first group of Royal Rangers were organized in Australia. The group was located in Petersham, New South Wales. Under the leadership of Commonwealth Commander Will Thorne, groups have now been organized in most areas of Australia. A complete training program including NTC, NTT and ANTC is being utilized, plus an active FCF program. In 1977 they conducted their first National Camporama with outstanding attendance. Similar reports have come from other countries. For example, Venezuela reported over 1,200 in attendance at their first National Camp. At present 42 countries are utilizing the Royal Rangers ministry. Many non-Assemblies of God churches who qualify, are using the Royal Rangers ministry. Two fraternal organizations (Congregational Holiness and Pentecostal Free Will Baptist), are utilizing Royal Rangers as their official boys program. Buckaroos So many requests to include young boys in Royal Rangers were received that in 1966 the decision was made to develop a junior auxiliary for boys ages 7-8. The new age group was called Buckaroos, and the program was built around a western theme. A new handbook was prepared for Buckaroos and also a booklet for Buckaroo leaders. The program was officially launched during regional Sunday school conventions that same year. This has become one of our largest enrollment age groups.
In 1968 the decision was made to add another division to the 15-17 year old group calling them "Trail Rangers." This gave the older boys a choice of either Air, Sea, or Trail Rangers. The main emphasis of the Trail Rangers program is trail-type camping and survival techniques. A new revised handbook and additional materials were prepared and made available in 1969. Straight Arrows Requests continued for the involvement of even younger boys, particularly for 5-6 year olds. Therefore, in 1977 the Straight Arrows program was launched. This program with an Indian theme has been enthusiastically received. The program for college students entitled, "Chi Omega Rho" was born in 1972. There are now active chapters in Central Bible College, Evangel College, Southeastern Bible College and Southwestern Bible College.
In 1966 another addition to the Royal Rangers program called the "Frontiersmen Camping Fraternity" was developed. This endeavor was designed to encourage advancement, to cultivate the very best in Christian example and service, and the development of camping skills among older boys; to encourage leaders to complete the leadership training program; to stimulate Christian involvement and the preservation of historical primitive skills of our American forefathers. This fraternity with its colorful ceremonies which feature members dressed in authentic historical clothing, now has chapters organized in over 50 states. Another milestone was achieved in FCF history when the first National FCF Rendezvous was conducted in Springfield, Missouri in June, 1972. Over 200 delegates from all over the United States gathered to participate in this spectacular event. During the bicentennial year of 1976, the second National Rendezvous was held in Dogwood Valley, Missouri. The colorful bicentennial theme made it an event that will long be remembered. The 1980 National Rendezvous was Held in the beautiful Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, with over 600 in attendance. In 1977 a new enlarged FCF Handbook was printed, plus a new booklet entitled "FCF" Chapters Officers Handbook." Royal Ranger Week A special Royal Rangers week in June, 1966 was designated by the executives to give recognition to the Royal Rangers program. This was to be come an annual observance. The dates were later changed to the first week in October. Increasing the staff Early in the beginning of Royal Rangers, the need for qualified men to assist in the promotion of the program was realized. A number of special promotional assistants were appointed and given the title, "Aide-de-Camp." Later the decision was made to appoint an Aide-de-Camp for each district and a Regional Coordinator for each region. In March, 1968, the first meeting of the National Aide-de-Camp Council was held in Springfield, Missouri. Prior to 1976 the District Commanders and Aides-de-Camp had separate annual conferences. In 1976 the decision was made to combine these two bodies into one National Council. Membership was expanded to include the District FCF Presidents, the District Training Coordinators, the District Aide-de-Camp, and Deputy District Commander. The council had its first combined meeting in Springfield, Missouri in 1977.
National Training Camps
To meet the need of more specialized training for leaders, in 1968 four National Training Camps were conducted in Missouri, Colorado, New York and California. The camps were designed to give leaders the very best on-the-spot training possible. The response and benefits of these camps were so outstanding that more camps were . e added the following year. There is now an annual National Training Camp in over 20 locations. To assist in the training of qualified staff for NTC, a series of NTC Staff Schools were conducted in 1981. These schools are conducted periodically. To meet the demand for even more outdoor training for leaders, in 1970 four National Training Trails were conducted. These training trails, which have expanded 4-n recent years, continue to meet a very vital need in the training program. As a logical sequel to NTC, an Advanced National Training Camp was added in 1973. The demand for specialized training continued. National Canoe Expeditions were added in 1973. (These canoe expeditions are now being conducted by regions and districts.) The National Aquatic Camp was added in 1976. The latest in specialized training for leaders was the first Winter National Training Camp conducted in the Colorado Rockies in 1977. Junior Leaders Camp was introduced in 1972. Now many districts are conducting JLTC in their area. Some districts are conducting Junior Training Trails and winter camping events for boys.
The High Adventure Magazine
Nineteen and seventy-one was the year High Adventure was born. This special publication for boys is being utilized to challenge boys in narrative form to higher ideals and greater spiritual dedication as well as providing them with worthwhile, exciting reading. High Adventure now has a circulation of over 55,000 subscriptions.
The Gold Medal of Achievement
The top award for boys in Royal Rangers is the Gold Medal of Achievement. This outstanding award has been earned by over 800 boys. One hundred-ten have earned the Medal of Valor by risking their lives to save others. Each year a Ranger of the Year on each level from local outpost to national, is selected and honored. To meet the demands of a fast-growing program, many additional books were printed. There are now 15 handbooks to assist this ministry, plus the handbooks and training materials are printed in Braille. A number of brochures, awards training materials and promotional materials have also been printed. Currently, the Gospel Publishing House is providing over 250 Royal Rangers items.
A dream come true for Royal Rangers was the first National Camporama. It was conducted in 1974 at the beautiful Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Personalities included an astronaut, military and governmental leaders, and top Assemblies of God leadership. Bands, outstanding music and singing, plus over 40 events made this a fantastic experience. Around 1,500 fortunate boys and leaders attended this event. The second National Camporama was conducted in 1978 at Farragut State Park, Idaho with 2,000 in attendance. In 1982 the National Camporama was held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Three thousand four hundred attended this event One special feature was a day at the WORLD'S Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. Royal Rangers was the largest Reaching From the very beginning the Royal Rangers Ministry proved an ideal evangelistic outreach. Leaders discovered that the exciting feature of this ministry provides a golden opportunity for reaching boys for Christ. Outpost devotions, personal counseling sessions, and campfire services became the scene of thousands of boys accepting Christ as their personal Saviour. Annual reports show over 7,000 being filled with the Spirit. The enrollment of men and boys climbed to approximately 200,000 with many more thousands involved in the Royal Rangers ministry in other countries. The main purpose of Royal Rangers from the beginning was to reach, to teach, and to keep boys for Christ. Our priority goal is evangelism--reaching boys-for Christ. Second, the Christian development of boys through proper teaching, training and involvement. Third, is the conservation of boys in our churches, and for future leadership-thus creating a continuous cycle of man-boy involvement. However, we believe our goals must reach beyond the spiritual development of boys. Our aim is to contribute to the development of the total boy--spiritually, mentally, physically and socially. A unique blend of spiritual, outdoor, recreational, self-reliance, achievement, and educational activities has assisted in reaching these goals over the past 18 years. If the trend of this ministry continues, and we are confident that it will, Royal Rangers are destined to make a tremendous impact for Christ in the coming year. [circa 1980]