- “A Wilderness Explorer is Friend to All, be it Plants or Fish or Tiny Mole”
- ―Wilderness Explorer Motto
The Wilderness Explorers are a worldwide scouting organization committed to encouraging and educating children into protecting nature and good citizenship in general.
Like many scouting organizations, Merit Badges are a key element of one's standing as a Wilderness Explorer. At least four ranks exist within the Wilderness Explorers: Tadpole, Minnow, Fish, and Senior Wilderness Explorer. Much of Russell's character arc is focused around finishing his merit badge collection with the "Assisting the Elderly" Badge and thus earning the Senior rank. Despite this, his Wilderness Explorer troop experience seems limited in its interaction with actual Wilderness, considering his inability to properly pitch a tent.
The vast array of badges that a Wilderness Explorer could possibly earn have been explored in a Wilderness Explorers activity book released around the time of the film as well as in activity experiences at the Disney Theme Parks.
The Wilderness Explorers are a central focus of activities found at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure and a full Wilderness Explorers experience at Disney's Animal Kingdom. These generally take the form of filling out a Wilderness Explorers Guidebook with stickers representing merit badges.
With the Animal Kingdom version encompassing the whole park, some of the stops for the Wilderness Explorers activity have served as a means of expanding the history of the organization, with a marker in the Maharajah Jungle Trek attraction commemorating a Wilderness Explorers visit taking place in 1912.