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Camping in small groups

Is camping in small groups allowed? Since many states are opening back up is there any reason our small patrols can not camp officially? If we can camp in small groups, is there a number that would be considered an official scouting event? Or as long as we have two leaders? Thanks!

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I’d recommend you follow the guidance provided by your district or council.
As for an “official” scouting event, it’s really a question of whether or not your patrol is following the program and camping with the knowledge and approval of the PLC and the guidance of the Scoutmaster/assistants.
To me that means:

  • they have a plan developed by the scouts, including consideration of the Guide to Safe Scouting at https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/gss03/
  • they’ve prepared appropriately, including securing permission from the owner of the land they plan to use for camping
  • they have secured appropriate adult leadership (two registered leaders over the age of 21, always!)

Good advice in this article from Scouting magazine also: https://scoutingmagazine.org/2017/12/no-glamping-allowed/

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  • BSA is a not a public health agency. Guidelines previously published by local councils and BSA national may be out of date. Issues mentioned yesterday in the news:
    • Transmission of COVID-19 via tear ducts and common use of swimming pools.
    • “CDC recommends that everyone 2 years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth when they are out in the community. Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies or children younger than 2 because of the danger of suffocation. CDC recommends that everyone 2 years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth when they are out in the community. Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies or children younger than 2 because of the danger of suffocation.”
    • BSA Home > Outdoor Programs > Camp Director Resource Page
  • Anyone (infant, child, youth, adult) can catch COVID-19. Doctors and universities are still studying how COVID-19 is spread in different populations.

Cases by Age

The following chart shows the age of people with COVID-19. Data were collected from 1,256,017 people, and age was available for 1,253,060 (99.8%) people.

What is social distancing?

Federal CDC guidance 2020-05-23

two people with masks on 6 feet apart

Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. To practice social or physical distancing:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people
  • Do not gather in groups
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings

In addition to everyday steps to prevent COVID-19, keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to this virus and slowing its spread locally and across the country and world.

Limit close contact with others outside your household in indoor and outdoor spaces. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you—or they—have no symptoms. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Here are some excerpts from the BSA’s National Statement on COVID-19 (May 7, 2020):

As always, the safety of our Scouts, volunteers, employees and communities is our top priority.

As the national response to the coronavirus pandemic shifts to a state-focused and phased approach, the Boy Scouts of America is advising local councils to consult with their local and state health departments, as well as local chartered partners, in order to implement the appropriate protocols to help keep our members, volunteers, and employees safe. Units should look to their councils for guidance on whether to conduct in-person meetings and activities again. If a unit’s local council is allowing in-person activities but has restrictions in place (e.g., no more than 10, social distancing of 6 ft. etc.), the unit must meet and abide by those restrictions – even if the unit is traveling out of council/state.

For your question:

If we can camp in small groups, is there a number that would be considered an official scouting event? Or as long as we have two leaders?

An official Scouting event for what purpose (Second Class / First Class reqt. 1a, Camping merit badge reqt. 9, something else)? The Scoutmaster is responsible for ensuring that proper advancement procedures are followed, but the SPL / PLC should be planning / leading troop campouts, and Patrol Leaders should be planning / leading patrol campouts. “Two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings” (GTSS: Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse). The Scoutmaster or PLC could have a troop policy that establishes some kind of minimum in order to be considered a troop / patrol activity.

You need to refer to your local Council. Our local council in Michigan has said explicitly “Scout units are not permitted to conduct or participate in in-person meetings, service projects or other related activities until further notice,” but your council’s position may be different.

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It 100% depends on your council. Our council isn’t allowing it right now because the insurance may not cover it and our State hasn’t given an okay yet. So we’d be camping at our own risk and at the expense of the Chartered Organization. So I believe the organizers of the event would be the ones’ responsible if anything does happen.

Right now, virtual camping is considered camping, There’s some guidelines here:

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Just received letter 5/29 from GSLAC easing the suspension and I quote:

we [GSLAC] are now ready to ease the suspension of in person local unit meetings and activities under the following criteria;

  • All local and state governments, both where the unit is chartered and where the meeting or activity is to take place must clearly permit the activity in terms of gathering size and ability to maintain proper social distancing . All of their and the Federal CDC guidelines must be followed for all phases of the meeting or activity (such as feeding, housing/tents, swimming etc.).
  • Chartered organizations must approve in person activities and/or meetings prior to restoring them. Units should also consult with their chartered organization to determine the best path forward for the unit’s Scouting programs.
  • Parents should be surveyed and a majority of the parents in the Scouting unit must approve restoring in person activities.
  • All meetings and activities are to take place outdoors.

I have some questions for GSLAC, which I provided to them via email, and you guys

  1. What is maximum gathering size?
  2. What is proper social distancing? I will go with "At double arm interval, dress right dress, ready front
  3. Camp Lewallen is only open for families so troop camping can only be done at Missouri State parks. I presume the CDC guidelines are followed by the state then will a troop occupying a camp site be in compliance?
  4. Do we need a letter of authorization in writing from the charter organization?
  5. Should the parent survey be in writing? What is the units exposure to covid29 insurance claims? I believe national and councils should be more forth coming regarding the covid19 liability and insurance situation.
  6. Does GSLAC have Accident and Sickness Coverage (Optional coverage for council or unit? If coverage is not available then a possible solution to avoid liability might be: Sample Waiver/Release For Communicable Diseases Including COVID-19.

When and if I hear back from GSLAC I will post here

Thank You
David Epps

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