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Advancement help questions

Good morning -
We have a great scout (age 14) who is working very hard on finishing up his First Class BEFORE the end of October. He shouldn’t have any problem with this except he is reluctant to go on the last 2-3 campouts he needs for his activities. This is largely due to his younger brother who is on medications that can make him vulnerable to catching COVID-19. He will also need to pass his BSA swim test. He is also well on his way to finishing up his Star rank as he was just appointed as the ASPL, and has several merit badge in the works. What can we do to help this young man out and help him reach his ultimate goal of Eagle?
I also have another question. We will be holding our first campout of the year in August as our winter and spring were cancelled due to COVID-19. We will be requiring masks, hand sanitizer, parents bringing and picking up their sons from the event, everyone brings their own tents, and no tent buddies. The one ting I am trying to figure out is what to do about cooking and cleaning. Thank you all for any and all help.

Hi, @JohnBurnham,

Have you taken a look at the BSA’s COVID-19 FAQs?


There is a specific discussion of using virtual camping to satisfy rank-level camping requirements. They also mention that swimming, at least in the merit badge context, can not be done virtually.

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At 14 he’s in good shape. I’m assuming you know he has to be a First Class Scout for 4 months before he can put on Star. I agree with @CharleyHamilton’s interpretation on swimming. We have boys that take a lot of time under normal conditions to pass the swim test so I’m not surprise there is no virtual option there. I suppose if a parent got with a SM or ASM and did a video of the swim test with a stop watch and recorded it that might work. The only problem there is identifying the cheaters that put their feet down. Some things just have to be done in person.

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There are ways to minimize risk:
Swim test: find someone with a private pool or pond and a BSA guard to monitor.
Campouts: have him ask his patrol to isolate the week before a weekend activity. We had scouts doing this anyway before summer camp last week. No symptoms by day four – yes I breathed a sigh of relief.
Patrols should camp at a distance, the traditional 100’ yards is the traditional norm if you can find a field that big.
Tents: consider hammocks and/or individual tarps and mosquito netting. This allows scouts to distance without feeling alone.
Cooking/cleaning: no excuses there. Strictly patrol cooking. Servers wear masks and gloves. Sanitize tables after meals. (Really should be done anyway.)
Latrines and frequently touched surfaces are a different story. Those might need to be taken care of by adults if you are using industrial strength cleaners to sanitize.

Even with all this, it may be an unacceptable risk for this scout. Sometimes we make sacrifices to be sure we aren’t hurting the one’s we love. If that’s the case, guide the scout in earning other MBs that don’t require social contact. If he has to wait until age 16 to earn 1st class, at least he’ll have MBs for upper ranks and palms.

Thank you Q
Very good avice. I will pass it on to him at this week’s Court of Homor.

An private pool may have a higher COVID-19 risk than open water.

Chlorine kills the virus. Private pools use chlorine too.

Not all private pools are created equal. Indoor, or even covered, pools are intrinsically problematic as surfaces are not exposed to UV and air circulation may be reduced. Entering through the owner’s house could be problematic if either party has not been isolated for a week.
On the other hand, we also need to accept that it’s a big country and cases aren’t everywhere.

Worth noting: ponds accumulate parasites from amoeba to leach. Standing waters that are very clear might been treated with a herbicide.

In all these things, a little judgement and asking around goes a long way.

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Thank you all for your help. We had our Court of Honor this Wednesday and our scout has decided that December or January night be the latest he could get 1stCkass… He is still plugging away at the advancement and earning merit badges. Thank you all and stay safe.

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If the Scout is currently 14, then he might be selling himself short by thinking that December-January is the latest that he can earn First Class rank. The tenure requirements for Star (4 months), Life (6 months), and Eagle (6 months) add up to 16 months (less than a year and a half). Should be enough time to earn Eagle Scout rank by age 18 if he focuses on merit badges right now.

Thank you Jennifer. He has taken 2 weeks of virtual camp and will be starting all 3 citizenship and I will be starting the scouts On Family Life.
Thanks again.

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Our troop set up a COVID response team to design policies and procedures for when the troop is ready to begin outdoor activities again our webmaster, quartermaster and SPL has been very engaged in the group. Parents with medical professions and a Girl Scout leader is also in the subcommittee. Here is what we developed.

During activity transportation, drop-off and pick-up

  • Minimum medical form A&B
  • Scouts and parents will sign agreement to the COVID rules in addition to COVID screen questionnaire
  • Fever screening at arrival
  • Caravaning discouraged
  • Scouts and at least one parent will attend trip; transport individually

Within the campsite, including sanitation and personal hygiene

  • Once you arrive at camping site, you stay (no coming & going)
  • Patrol camping; senior leadership will camp with Phoenix
  • Encourage hammocks - create hammock city
  • Participate as a patrol and minimize interaction of patrols
  • Patrols operate independently
  • sleeping head to foot and solo tents or with sibling
  • No socializing in tents
  • Scouts and adults must wear masks if within 6 feet of others and not running.
  • Appoint person to make grocery runs including ice; they remain separate from the others
  • Spray down latrine with bleach and rinse after 2 minutes with hose; every 2 hours and after use.

During meal preparation, and cleanup

Each family cooks individually at campfire

  • Each family brings cooler with own food to eat
  • Use disposable eat/drink and utensils
  • Use three bin method for cleaning cookware only
  • Use labeled refillable water bottles (no sharing)
  • Trash to be removed to safe distance immediately after clean up

During eating

  • Bring own chairs
  • Mark off 6 foot increments for seating and standing around fire pit
  • Chuck boxes must be sanitized before and after use. Limit use of pot to one person and then its cleaned

Specific scouting activities - Use lysol or bleach solution spray on all equipment

Canoeing & Kayaking

Hiking- see prior report

Mountain biking - no sharing bikes while on trail

Fishing - each scout brings own equipment


Woodworking/ handicraft - each scout brings own tools

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