Americans are staying home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We asked Scouts and Scouters to share how they’re continuing Scouting at home and making a difference in their communities. Hopefully, those featured here can inspire you and your unit.
Like many units, girls Troop 5109 of Buford, Ga., has utilized video-conferencing to continue meeting.
Remember to check the security settings of any online application you use to ensure the safety of you and your Scouts and review BSA’s Youth Protection policies.
Here is an outline for virtual meetings and activities that Steve deRosier, committee chair for Troop 482 in Fairfield, Calif., shared for what his troop is doing:
- Our Scout meetings are continuing as regularly scheduled, but instead of meeting at our usual church location, we’re doing it via Zoom.
- Slack provides us full online asynchronous communication. The PLC is able to plan, the individual patrols have channels, and so on. The leaders are using it to collaborate too.
- Several of our leaders have stepped up and are now holding merit badge classes online via Slack, email and other online tools. Everything from Astronomy to Family Life to Citizenship in the Nation to Cooking is being worked on. This move to online is also a great opportunity to push Cyber Chip.
- While we’ve had to cancel or postpone all of our outings for the next few months, we’re working on plans to replace them with shelter-in-place-compatible virtual outings. For example, we’re going to do a virtual campout: the Scouts (with family invited) will camp in their backyards and we’ll have a campfire program over Zoom.
- Once we get moving on our online program, we intend to invite our local Cub Scout packs to our online spaces in order to continue our outreach and recruiting plans. Also, we’re aware that many of our local packs have pretty much canceled everything, so we’d like to provide them a way to continue their Scouting mission if possible.
Jerry Appert, assistant Scoutmaster of boys Troop 91 in Hamilton Square, N.J., says his troop was able to hold senior patrol leader elections online.
“Our two SPL candidates were able to give their speeches over video and respond to questions that the Scouts submitted through the online chat,” Appert says. “We used Election Runner to enable online voting once we were done with the candidate speeches and Q&A.”
Set up a geocache course
Pack 106 of Fulshear, Texas, set up a three-mile geocache course for its Cub Scouts and their families to go on. When the Scouts and their parents find a cache point, it would include a tube with prompts on how to work on outdoor requirements, like identifying plants and animals, discussing Leave No Trace principles and talking about how to be safe outdoors. The pack’s course was set up on a geocaching site.
For details of how Scouter Chris Ramsey set up the course to meet certain requirements, click here.
Also, it’s a good idea to use sanitizing wipes when handling any caches, and make sure it’s placed in a clean area, especially away from any animal droppings if it’s outdoors.
Let the Scouts lead
Rafe Kotalik, senior patrol leader of Troop 777 in The Woodlands, Texas, has not stopped leading his troop during the coronavirus pandemic. He has been making daily videos to encourage Scouts to remain active.
He has also conducted a Patrol Leaders’ Council meeting by teleconference and recommended troop members to follow his lead by making videos — the troop bugler has even made one. The troop librarian organized a Scout library on a covered porch for Scouts to pick up materials and use an online checkout system.
Boards of review
Advancement doesn’t stop; you can conduct a board of review through videoconferencing. Otto Lutes of Troop 282 in Leawood, Kan., earned the Life rank that way.
Cub Scout Pack 415 of Steubenville, Ohio, made this video thanking those working during these trying times.
Earn council awards
Many councils offer special awards, some of which are digital. For example, the Abraham Lincoln Council in Illinois started a Digital Pilgrimage award, where Scouts can do online tours to learn about our 16th president. Check with your council to see what special awards are available for Scouts to earn.
The Alamo Area Council in Texas produced a video for tips for camping at home.
Work on merit badges
Your Scouts can keep working on merit badges; here’s a few to consider. Franki Goodman, Scoutmaster of girls Troop 777 in Marysville, Ohio, and a counselor for the Public Health merit badge, shared these tips for fellow counselors.
Pack 655 of Benton Harbor, Mich., hosted a virtual campfire via Google Hangouts. Some set up fires outside in their fire pits; some lit fires in their fireplaces, and even some used their television (Here’s one you can use featuring Pedro the Mailburro). The Scouts told jokes and did skits like they would around a campfire.
Encourage your Scouts
The Scout Oath and Law guide a Scout’s life every day, whether they’re at home or elsewhere. John Koh, Scoutmaster of boys Troop 263 in Farmington Hills, Mich., reminded his Scouts of that during a Scoutmaster Minute via a virtual meeting:
“The world is a frightening place right now. The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly while our medical professionals are working tirelessly to stem the tide. The best advice I have for you is to be the best Scout possible. As always, live your life every day guided by the principles of the Scout Oath, Scout Law and Outdoor Code:
- Trustworthy, Obedient:
- Stay at home!
- Practice social distancing.
- Loyal, Helpful, Reverent:
- Do your schoolwork.
- Help at home.
- Attend Scouting events online.
- Attend church services online.
- Foster and maintain a sense of community.
- Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Cheerful:
- Be a good daughter or son.
- Be a good sister or brother.
- Be a good friend.
- Be cheerful, especially when others are not.
- Be more patient than ever. People behave differently when they experience higher levels of stress.
- Talk with your family and spread your good cheer.
- Connect especially with your older family members, who might fear this pandemic the most. Consider using video chat. I’ll bet just seeing you will lighten their hearts!
- Thrifty: Be Prepared, but do not hoard, for this will deprive another person from obtaining what they need.
- Be brave in the face of fear.
- Be calm when confronting adversity.
- By exhibiting steadfast courage, you set a good example for others to follow. You’ll be a beacon on the hill, an inspiration for those who see you.
- Wash your hands.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Keep your house clean.
Be the best Scout you can be: Do a Good Turn Daily. Be Prepared.”
Share Scouting with others
Even from home, you can continue letting others know how great Scouting is. Michael Schely, an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 26 and lawyer in Santa Barbara, Calif., found a way to do that through the videoconferencing application, Zoom.
“As a corporate lawyer, I spend a lot of time in Zoom meetings these days,” Schely says. “One option in Zoom is to choose a photo as the backdrop for my camera image. I’ve chosen a photo from the Scouting website, of the 2017 Jamboree, with tens of thousands of Scouts holding candles in the dark at an event. People always ask what it is, giving me a brief opportunity to talk about the importance of Scouting to my family.”