What to do instead

The worldwide health crisis has changed and is changing the way of life. It’s no surprise that it has touched Scouting and affected it in ways we could not have imagined. Even the “any old thing” that Baden-Powell suggested we Be Prepared for probably didn’t anticipate what we’re going through.

It should be evident that our traditional unit meetings need to be approached very cautiously. Many units have policies where meetings and events are cancelled when school is suspended – mainly to account for weather closures or unavailability of school facilities. Those that have such policies in place are cancelling their meetings, campouts, banquets, derbies and other activities. Our district tried an online Roundtable last week – a live teleconference via the Internet and phone-in, and we actually got greater attendance than for an in-person meeting. Trina Klassa, the Cubmaster of the pack that our church charters, has a way of putting things in perspective, and reminded us that while this is a very turbulent time in our schedule-heavy world,  and that we need to re-evaluate our new, albeit temporary, normalcy. I suppose I never realized how Scout-heavy my calendar was until I looked ahead the next few weeks at all the entries that are suspended or cancelled.

While it’s difficult to do virtual camping, there are things that we can do instead of holding out traditional den, pack and troop meetings.  With help from Trina, here are some suggestions:

  • Plant some seeds. It’s long been a Cub Scout activity as it is in many elementary schools. And now that spring is coming or is here, they can be transplanted outside when the time is right.
  • Have your kids help more with meals. One of the essential skills lacking in young people is cooking, and it’s a required skill in ScoutsBSA.
  • While you’re at it, learn or teach a dish from your ethnicity.
  • Do some genealogy to discover your ethnicity.
  • Have your kids rake those leftover leaves that you didn’t have time for last fall. When you’re finished, rake your neighbor’s leaves too (with their permission).
  • Go for a walk. Visit a nearby town and walk the downtown streets. You’ll be an “urban explorer”. Getting outside and exercising is helpful to building a stronger immune system.
  • Or bike on a trail nearby. Discover the trail system in your town or area.
  • Go geocaching while you’re hiking or biking.
  • Learn some sign language, or how to say “hello” and “thank you” in other languages.
  • Teach your kids a card game.
  • Work with your Scout on his or her Pinewood Derby car – or get started on it.
  • Journal your experiences. Take lots of pictures. Put together a slide show or album to be shared when meetings resume, or share them online in private groups with others in your unit.
  • Of course, Cub Scouts can continue working on required and elective Adventures. Generally, all they need is the parent’s “Akela OK”. Advancement reports can be submitted online.

The Scoutmaster of our troop has laid out a plan for Scouts to continue to work toward rank advancement, a way to hold a Scoutmaster conference and board of review via video conference, and ways to obtain blue cards for merit badges. Teleconferencing tools could also make it possible to hold virtual patrol meetings.

Our pledge to help other people at all times can run into roadblocks because of social distancing and sanitation needs, but doing things for other people shouldn’t take a back seat. Check with your town’s senior citizens’ support group to see if there’s anything you can safely do.

And don’t forget to leave a little for Scouting. Our councils still have payrolls to meet, the lights to keep on, and camps to maintain. With Blue & Gold banquets, courts of honor and other in-person events on hiatus, there is less opportunity for families to become Friends of Scouting and support your council through your financial contributions. Go online to your council’s website and find the “donate” link to make your FOS pledge. Be sure to list your unit and district so your pack or troop will receive credit toward its goal.

Keep calm and stay strong for our youth. Keep your distance and wash your hands, and if you’re sick, stay home and follow the latest public health guidelines. This will pass.

This post first appeared on Bobwhite Blather.
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