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Help Building a Resource for Managing COVID Risk in Scout Camping

As part of my Wood Badge ticket, I am trying to build some resources to help troops continue Scout-led activities while still managing COVID-19 risk in a way that works for them and their participating families. The first is a resource on reducing COVID-19 infection risk in camping (I will post a query about the second in a few days to cut the length of this post).

What I am building is a menu of different ways to minimize infection risk during camping activities, starting from the guidance in the Restarting Scouting Checklist but providing many more options to further reduce the chance of transmission, inspired in part by some of the discussion on this forum.

The intent of the menu — intended particularly for units whose chartering organizations have not been comfortable with them resuming outdoor programming or which have significant numbers of families who are uncomfortable with the risk — is to help these units build a risk reduction approach that will work for them and let them resume programming.

My starting point has been as exhaustive a review as possible of all the Council, individual Council camp, troop/unit, and other Scouting program resources and guidelines that I have been able to collect (many of which have a variety of other approaches to further reduce risk beyond the National-level guidelines). I have also done a handful of interviews with units who have developed their own more extensive risk reduction approaches.

What I am looking for from the collective wisdom here is

  1. any insights from your units’ experience camping during COVID conditions about approaches I should include in the menu and the practicality of approaches you have tried (since any strategy will only actually reduce risk if the Scouts both can and are willing to implement it)

  2. any pointers to particularly good resources I should review or units I should reach out to that might have approaches I should include in the final product.

If your inputs are of interest to a broader audience and you are comfortable posting them publicly that is great. If not, feel free to private message me and we can connect by email. My intent is to share the eventual product broadly (I will post here if that is permissible) but if you are interested in the product feel free to message as well so I can add you to my distribution list.

What we have done:

  1. One in a tent unless already living in same house
  2. (not great conservation) but all cooking is done with disposable items (down to utensils). Only one cook per meal. Disposable utensils and plates when needed so no group KP.
  3. Standard screens before a camp
  4. Masks or 6 ft at all times
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Northern Star Council has published a unit restart guide. It may have some information you can use. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FzXGK98g7Tb6X9RyRv2xFEMKGEC9KlSS/view

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Some insights:

  • there are a lot of other things besides COVID that are out to get you. For example, conjunctivitis (pink eye) could be bacterial - and most likely is not COVID if you have no other symptoms than inflamed eye membranes. Get a doctor’s appointment before worrying about the COVID test. Your eyesight may depend on it.
  • cleaning surfaces is probably the biggest challenge for scouts. Bring lots of soap, and sponges, and rags.
  • although folks obsess about tents, the closest contact with multiple people happens in cars. Think about how to manage risk there.
  • have a short phrase that reminds scouts to put masks on indoors. Mine is “burka up”. No, I haven’t asked my Muslim buddies if they find that politically incorrect. I’m hopeful that they’ll concede that it’s just a fun way to get the boys to remember this new pandemic courtesy.
  • remember that the patrol method has scouts in each patrol camping a hundred yards from other patrols and the adults. (That assumes you all are in a big field.) This certainly has its advantages in minimizing contact across “pods.”
  • this year, think long and hard about cabins. Most have been built to limit air circulation.
  • camporees? I’m not so sure.
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