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Scouting at Home
Two weeks ago, most people though Zoom was the sound a sports car made. Now, it's the most mentioned remote meeting software around, and being used by thousands of Scouts when they are scouting at home. This strange looking little virus has tipped things over, messed things up, and changed lives for months to come.
With our national guidance to postpone all face-to-face scouting, many adult volunteers have put in a lot of effort to shift how scouting can be done safely from home, in isolation, until the world is a bit less contagious. It's certainly not the prefered scout experience, but we can continue to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
Thanks to these volunteers, new ideas to handle events, camping, advancement, and other scouting topics are popping every day. Here's a few for you to consider...
Some Scouting folks are saying that we're all Lone Scouts now, and advancement should be handled like the Lone Scout program until the "All Clear" is given to resume face-to-face Scouting. That sounds like a good idea, but since the Lone Scout program is NOT a watered down version of the Scouts BSA program, it won't change much.
The BSA has a nice Lone Scout Guidebook for the scout and their guide. This PDF file explains the program thoroughly and mentions three key topics in this discussion.
Trained Leaders: The Lone Scout program expects each adult involved with a scout to know the program and be a trained leader. Since that is not the case in most scouting families, a scout's parent is often not an appropriate person to sign off on advancement. For example, First Class requirement 4a has the scout use a map and compass, and estimate height and width of structures - many adults would have no idea how to do this.
Different Requirements: On page 18 of the Lone Scout Guidebook, a section on Limited Flexibility in Requirements is written. It states "In some instances, family members, neighbors, or friends can be used in place of a den, pack, or troop" - so some requirements, such as cooking for your patrol, could be done for your family.
Also in this section, "Where meeting requirements as written is not possible, a Lone Scout friend and counselor may suggest equal or very similar alternative requirements. These must have council advancement committee preapproval." - there are some requirements that simply can not be done by most scouts right now - without at least a large swimming pool available, First Class requirement 6a is not possible. If you wanted to perform the swim test in a pool at home, approval from your council would be needed first.
Camping: On page 12, in the Safety Rule of Four, it states "...counselor and a Lone Scout who are parent and child may camp alone together in settings where medical services are readily available..." - so a scout and parent could camp overnight in their community.
Leadership: For Star rank and above, Lone Scouts need to demonstrate leadership. Rather than troop leadership, they can lead school, religious, or club groups.
Of all the potential Lone Scout benefits in this time, I think that modifying the Camping guidelines to be available for all scouts is the most useful. The Leadership requirements require a group, just like other scouts, and all other requirements are the same.
Every BSA council has some sort of response to COVID-19 on their website. Many of them are organizing virtual camporees, virtual merit badge clinics, and other virtual events held online.
You might find a more convenient event for your scout at a council across the country. There is a chance that all these efforts now may fundamentally change how merit badges are earned in the future.
I spent a couple hours searching and found this sampling of Councils with Online Virtual Resources and Events. Check them out:
Finally, the spoof Social Distancing Merit Badge has some useful activities for scouting at home.
The new leadership at National has been promising a more streamlined organization able to make big decisions and implement program changes quickly. Well, today they've convinced me with this new addition to the Scouts BSA program.
I have no idea how they did it so fast, but the Social Distancing Merit Badge was announced today. Read the new requirements!
The patch and merit badge pamphlet are being distributed to local scout shops now, but they are already available online at ScoutShop.org if you've got an over-eager scout wanting to start.
I applaud the BSA for their continued commitment to expanding the range of merit badges, having added Tattoo merit badge, Walking merit badge, and Hunting merit badge over the last few years.
Buy Social Distancing patches for your scouts.
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