Has anyone had trouble with scouts performing position of responsibility duties due to COVID? Anyone find creative solutions?
I think this depends on what your unit has been able to do (and not do) with your local restrictions. Even if you’re meeting remotely, the SPL, ASPL, and PLs should all be doing their jobs. The PLC should still be meeting, and hopefully doing troop and patrol activities via Zoom. Our Bugler has been playing his horn via Zoom. The toughest one might be QM, if you are not able to camp.
We are not meeting in person. Has your troop guide been successful at his duties?
We did meet in person this Fall (outside, before it got too cold) and we were able to do a couple of campouts and day outings as well. So the TGs were able to function almost normally for a while. I suppose it could be possible to set up a virtual meeting so the TGs are helping teach some of the younger scouts, but it is tougher than the SPL/PL roles, I think.
I’m in SoCal, so in-person has been a non-option since last March. Our troop guide has been a total stud over Zoom. He’s been regularly coordinating meetings with our newer scout patrols (we have two right now) over the past several months, and teaching, reviewing, and approving various advancement requirements. Our new scout patrols have actually had many rank advancements despite the challenges.
We generally have two ASMs assigned to each patrol to manage the 2-deep requirements for patrol meetings, as well as record Completion/Leader Approval of sign-offs by youth leaders in Scoutbook. I won’t pretend it’s not a lot of work (having done similar stuff myself with the older scouts in the patrol I serve), but it’s certainly not been insurmountable.
Any particular challenges that your guide has had for which I might be able to suggest approaches or ping my guide for suggestions?
Our patrols haven’t been meeting. We have had troop meetings but not patrol. Many of our scouts are not attending online meetings. Using the designated patrols, we only have two or three scouts per patrol online.
We’ve had mixed success with patrol-level and troop-level Zoom meetings. There’s been a lot of “finding our feet” with regard to making sure that we have a meaningful program for the meetings, rather than just meeting for the sake of meeting. It’s not as if that issue is unique to virtual meetings, or even to scouting meetings, really, but somehow it seems more visible in the virtual meetings.
What has worked best for us is to have a clear plan for the meeting communicated in advance of the meeting, with “a little something for everyone” as part of the plan. We’ve been trying to involve things like polling/quiz web apps (e.g. kahoot, Google forms, etc) to get more active participation from the scouts. The more active the scouts’ involvement in the meeting, the better the results we’ve seen. Again, not something that’s outside of expectations based on in-person meetings. It takes a lot more planning/prep to set up the software aspects and to deal with when it doesn’t work so well. We still have somewhat intermittent participation, and some scouts/families have just thrown in the towel waiting for the ability to get together in person again.
Oddly, the structure (or lack thereof) has been less of an issue in the patrol meetings that I have attended, as the scouts have generally “filled the silence” more effectively in the smaller group (5-9 scouts, depending on the patrol/attendance). I’ve been trying to work more intensely with the PL I advise on assisting him with developing a plan and having things ready for the patrol meeting, so that he has the support he needs for implementing his vision. Some stuff we’ve done (or are planning to try) in patrol meetings include planning hikes using online tools like AllTrails, CalTopo or TopoView, merit badge presentations/classes by invited counselors, “group” cooking (e.g. one recipe that everyone tries vs each with a favorite recipe for the same food), and planning for patrol service opportunities (e.g. “Any Soldier” mail). Although we can’t actually get together, things like planning patrol hikes that scouts can take with their families (then discuss later in a patrol meeting) lets them get a bit of the sense of community back, in the face of all of the social isolation.
If you think it would be too hard to get the patrols to meet individually, you might consider blocking out some time at a troop meeting to have the patrols in break-out rooms (you would need 2 adults/room, not just two adults, as I read the requirements) or even double-up patrols for patrol-level competitions (e.g. kahoot quizzes, knot tying on camera, etc) to keep scout skills sharp-ish. Again, it takes a lot of adults to make these things happen, rather than a more typical arrangement with just an SM and ASM in a large room/open space where the patrols could gather in person. Our troop meetings were running short, due to limited amount of content to present at the troop level, so our PLC is testing the idea of having a patrol meeting at the end of every troop meeting (split meeting time roughly half to each part), with the patrols in their own Zoom breakout rooms.
Where we are, it looks (to me anyway) like we’re virtual for the long haul, so we’re giving it the full court press to come up with ideas that will work with Zoom meetings. Hopefully some of them will work well for other uses even after we’re back in-person.
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