Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 26, 2009

The Explorers Club

   My sister and I spent this past week with Dad. We helped him organize some things around the house — things that needed to be done since Mom passed away. Years ago, Dad had a storage building built in the backyard. We thought it was for his lawnmower and tools and things like that. But instead, Mom and Dad used it as a vault to store all of the random stuff accumulated through growing-up years and left behind by their five kids. Our task was to clean out the storage building, organize everybody’s stuff in boxes, build new shelves, and carefully repack everything into our backyard time capsule. Our hope is that each sibling will take their childhood stuff to their respective homes as they come for visits throughout the coming year.

Mother Teresa   As my sister worked her way to the back of the shed she uncovered my old Boy Scout foot-locker. It was exciting to kneel in front of it in anticipation of what I would find inside. I unlatched the rusty hinges and slowly lifted the top. The first thing I saw was my Boy Scout knot board and the hide of a rabbit I had shot with my .22 rifle. Underneath the knot board was a December 29, 1975 issue of Time magazine in mint condition. I had my own subscription to Time magazine during my freshman year of college and had saved several issues. This issue was titled “Living Saints: Messengers of Love and Hope” and featured the image of Mother Teresa on the cover. Even then I was impressed by Mother Teresa’s commitment to the least of these. However, I never would have imagined at that time that I would one day serve in her homes in Kolkata.

   The trunk was packed with all sorts of great stuff, including my stamp collection, post-cards sent by my Uncle Phil from around the world, newspaper clippings of high-school events, a stack of Boys Life magazines, my Cub Scout cap, a ledger where I tracked my odd-job earnings, and a cigar box with some of the miscellaneous items I had received when I was a member of Commander Whitehall’s Explorers Club. Looking at and holding these items brought back some enjoyable memories.

   When I was enrolled in Jackson Elementary School in McAllen, Texas, one of my teachers told us about Commander Whitehall’s Explorers Club and sent us home with membership information. She thought it would be a good idea for us to join the club so that we could learn about people in other countries. I brought the membership information home to Mom and Dad. Although the membership was $5.00 per month, which was a lot of money in the 1960’s, my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to join the club. In addition to the packages and post-cards sent by my Uncle Phil, they felt this would be one more way for me to learn about the world. So, I joined the club.

Explorer's Club   Every month, Commander Whitehall would send a package from some far-away place. Each package contained a map and information sheet, a small souvenir item from the country he was visiting, and a floppy record with his narrative about that particular country. It was always exciting to hear Mom call from the mailbox to tell me that my package had arrived. I wish I had all of the items Commander Whitehall sent, but it was fun to find even a few of them in my old trunk — things like pan pipes from Ecuador, a pair of sandals from someplace I can’t recall, a pipe from Italy with a face carved on it, worry beads from Iran, and more.

   The Psalmist said, “For all things are Thy servants” (Ps. 119:91b). Looking back through the years I now understand a little more about how God used so many people and things to shape my life and to prepare me for what He had prepared for me. I am grateful for the teacher who encouraged us to join Commander Whitehall’s Explorers Club and for Mom and Dad who agreed to let me join. Little did I understand at that time how God would use my Dad’s travel photos and movies, Uncle Phil’s post-cards and letters, a story in Time magazine, and Commander Whitehall’s Explorers Club to awaken my interest in the people of the world. I have never lost the wonder I had as a boy about interesting people and far-away places and pray that I never do. I am deeply grateful to God for Mom and Dad and the people and things He used to prepare me to serve His purposes among the nations.

• • • • •

Note | Please take a moment to read Travelers.


  1. Thanks for letting us know that, you and your sister worked at your father’s house, to helps him! I do these things, for them mostly, that is why I go and visit them most of the times.

    Mortuza Biswas
    July 27, 09

  2. Mortuza…

    I am glad that you help your parents in Bangladesh. Grown children can honor their parents by caring for them as they grow older. This fulfills the spirit of the Fifth Commandment and is something that pleases God. My Mom and Dad cared for their parents and set a good example for me and my sisters and brother. We want to care for our Dad and know this is something that not only pleases God, but would have pleased our Mom, too.


  3. It is exciting to see how God prepared you for His calling on your life. It is another reason why I know God’s Word is Truth!

    Proverbs 3:6 – “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”

  4. What a great story Omar. It is amazing to look back and see how little things prepare us for bigger things.

    Take Care

  5. I have a small round lapel pin that has on it “The Explorers Club 1904”. Since you were a member of The Explorers Club, can you tell me if they issued membership pins. The words are in a circle around the outer edge of the pin and in the center is a flag which has red on the left side, blue on the right side and a white section in the middle which has “E above what looks like a logo and a C below this. I am trying to find out something about this pin to determine if perhaps it belonged to my father, in which case I would want to keep it in his memory. However I don’t know anything about the pin and need to start somewhere. Is there anything you can tell me about the pin? Thank you.

    • Hi Dian,

      I am not familiar with the particular pin you described. The club that I was a part of did not issue a pin. The pin you have predates Commander Whitehall, the gentleman who founded the Explorer’s Club that my school teacher encouraged me to join. It sounds like you have a collectible item and one worth keeping. Thanks for sharing your story.


  6. I have been searching for any of the Commander Whitehall recordings or memento for several years, and while I don’t want to bother you with a silly request, do you have any publishing information for the Explorer’s Club publications/recordings? Apparently the Library of Congress does not have anything with those key words, so I am stumped.
    Those recordings and the monthly (?) package were one of the highlights of my childhood. As a family we would enjoy them and still talk about them after 40+ years!

    • Hi Katerine…

      I too have searched for info on Commander Whitehall, but to no avail. I do still have a few of the items from the monthly mailings but have not found any of the recordings or maps. I may dig a little deeper the next time I visit my childhood home. Perhaps I might find something buried in a box that I have yet to open. If I find anything I will be sure to let you know. Glad to know that you also enjoyed being a member of Commander Whitehall’s Explorers Club.


  7. I have several of the books, maps, and floppy records, and only 1 of the gift items – a little wooden animal. I also have 1 delivery box from World Explorers Program, 461 Park Ave S, NYNY 10016. The copyright on the books and maps is late 1960s by Educational Supplements NY.
    In addition to the World Explorers, I also have several books on different countries from the American Geographical Society Around the World Program copyright 1956 by Nelson Doubleday Inc.

    • Thanks for this great info, Nona. I have been trying to learn more about Commander Whitehall but have not found much. Your info is helpful.

  8. The World Explorers Program was significant when I was a kid. My mom saved everything so I now have nearly all of the little souvenirs and treasure them. Plus, I have all of the booklets and maps. I don’t have any of the recordings and oddly enough I don’t remember ever having them. We were poor and didn’t have much except essentials. My parents must have considered the program was valuable. They were correct!

    Thanks for sharing your and your guests positive experience. I occasionally scour the internet to find just such information. Thank you!!

    • Thanks for your comment, Suzie. How wonderful that your mom saved the items you received. These are indeed treasures. It’s really cool to hear from others from around the country who were a part of the Explorers Club. The common denominator is that we all have fond memories about the club. Thanks for sharing.

  9. hahahahaha… same search brought me here. I had been searching for Whitehall to no avail. Explorers club brought me here. I dont recall a pin, but I did get the same flute. I KNOW I have at least one floppy record somewhere… I WILL find it. But dying to find recordings, or even credits. Who was this guy? If I recall the recordings were pretty blatantly studio done

    • Really hope to one day get more info. Was he a real person or a character made up to teach kids about the world? Whatever the answer, Commander Whitehall inspired me and made me want to learn more about the nations. Let me know if you find any more clues along the way. Thanks for writing.

  10. I loved the Explorer’s Club and was hoping there was still one around that I could gift my granddaughter. I remember all of the items you showed in your picture, but I kept 2 items that were very special to me. One is a little red bean with a cap on it. Inside are a dozen tiny carved elephants. I also kept the India ink stick because of the gorgeous gold design on it. So glad to know there are others who enjoyed receiving those packages as much as I did.

    • Thanks for sharing your Explorers Club story, Cheryl. What great memories we share from those days when we would wait in anticipation of receiving our monthly packages from Commander Whitehall. I too remember the little carved elephants and the India ink stick. Such cool stuff.

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