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Resuming In Person Meetings and Activities

I am interested in learning about what troops are doing to restart in-person meetings and activities. Our units are sponsored by a local church and the congregation has been given guidance from its national headquarters that they should not resume in-person service and programs until May 2021. They have given guidance that church facility use by renters and affiliated groups can be allowed but only with stringent social distancing requirements. I just sent to our church leadership an in-person meeting plan that outlines our procedures for keeping everyone safe, disinfecting and cleaning the facility after use, and practicing social distancing. We are hopeful we will be approved to resume use of the church for meetings and activities, but we do not have a realistic back up plan and meeting facility should we not be approved, and our troop equipment is all stored in the church and we have not been allowed to access it for 3 months now. Although we have been active and successful with virtual/on-line activities during the pandemic, I am concerned that our troop will not be able to survive if we are not able to meet in person and conduct in person activities at the church until May 2021. Are troops having any success in getting restarted with in person activities and what plans do other troops have for working with their chartering organizations on this.

Finding an alternative meeting place is probably going to be easier than trying to remain virtual for another year. What other options have you explored in your area?

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I think those decisions will vary greatly by state. In Ohio, my troop will begin meeting as patrols at parks. To ensure their won’t be more than 10 people, parents are basically being told not to hang around. Scouts will remain 6 feet apart. Scouts will also be required to have a mask with them in case, for example, they have to cram into a shelter during a thunderstorm. There will be no sharing of equipment without wiping it down thoroughly.

ETA Our CO, a United Methodist Church, has said no scouts are allowed to be on the property at all for the time being, unless it’s to do one of their service projects that involves distributing food to the needy. It’ll be interesting to see how we can get into our shed when the time comes that we need our gear.

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My troop met for the first time in person last night. Prior to meeting, I checked with the Charter Org to make sure it was OK with them for us to meet. As the “owner” of your unit, the Charter Org has the final say in if you can meet in person or not.

We received permission to use the church’s fire ring as the building is still closed. The fire ring has not yet been cleaned up this spring (the troop asked me if we can plan to do that as a service project) so we just sat outside the church, keeping at least 6 feet apart.

The Scouts worked together getting rank requirements signed off, walked back to the fire ring to see what is needed and just enjoyed spending time together.

If your meeting location will be closed until May 2021, I recommend finding an alternative location. Fortunately, you can take advantage of the good weather to meet outdoors for at least the next 4 months. Check with community centers, libraries, schools, fire departments, etc. to see if you can meet in their facilities once it is too cold to meet outdoors.

I would also check with the Charter Org to ask if you can go into the church just long enough to get your troop equipment and make arrangements to store it at an alternate location. You may have to split equipment among multiple families depending upon how much you have.

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In my case I started with a phone call to one of the parents of every scout in my unit to listen to where they are at. I then shared my tentative plan to ensure that I would be meeting their needs. That was followed by contacting my COR with my plans. My COR thanked me and blessed my plans and promised to keep me up to date with their progress.

In my case, we are meeting in my back yard around a fire pit. Last night we cooked foil pack dinners. Our meetings are currently very laid back to support staying apart.

The troop is formulating plans for what the next school year’s program will look like as well. Right now I am more concerned with our troop striving for BSA Aims and Objectives over “looking like a scout program.” I would rather fail at teaching a scout to camp then fail to teach a scout how to live.

We happen to be fortunate enough that we can get all of our scouts into their own tents if those who own their own bring them. We haven’t gotten as far as when we will be able to make use of them yet. My guess is that the campout will be close and scouts will meet us at the campground. But that is a guess. Parents may decide riding in a car is a risk they are ok with.

Yeah, we’re still restricted by the “no gatherings” policy in our state/county.

It’s hard to explain to folks (particularly youth) that you can’t go on a hike outside with a patrol-sized group of kids (plus two adult leaders), but it’s permitted to go sit in a movie theater with folks you may or may not know, as long as you don’t sit together, wear a face covering, and the theater complies with various occupancy and cleaning regulations/limitations. Similarly, some summer camps and day care settings are restarting, but others can’t go forward (e.g. traditional summer camp in our council) because the youth/adults would be commingled in a way that doesn’t comply with the state/county health orders.

As an engineer, I get that there are almost guaranteed to be apparently “stupid” results of any hard-and-fast rules. At the same time, I feel like some of the rule-making outcomes here are mind numbing beyond the usual level.

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I thrive on these opportunities with my scouts. I am very open with my scouts that I them to learn to think critically. And these are perfect chances to discuss critical thinking. The challenge is when they inevitably bring up politics to which I sidestep quickly. I tell them it is not my intent to teach them what to think as much as how.

There’s merit to that position, and I am a big proponent of “how to think, not what to think”. It’s still hard to explain that “ease of enforcement” has trumped “rational approach” in many cases, especially when the decision-making process is sufficiently opaque that it’s hard to be sure that there isn’t additional information out there that differentiates the situations.

It is possible, but I think we the people have “earned” what we got so to speak. When you always look for someone to save you from everything there are consequences.

I want my scouts to leave open that they don’t know the whole story. But the are right that the whole story should be open for examination. And what I have found doesn’t look great. Most of what we know about spread is based on research over 100 years old. In all the other advances nobody has bothered to take a deeper look at viral spread.

Further, it seems that leading virologists don’t know even mention in passing some studies that have been done recently.

This is what Aloha Council from Hawaii is doing: https://www.scoutinghawaii.org/news.

Our troop is currently contacting our charter organization and the school that the troop meets at to ask if it is okay to resume in-person troop meetings and activities again. The troop plans to implement face masks, social distancing and other guidelines from the CDC and local government.

At the moment, we are still having activities online.

A Note on this for Troops - no matter where you are located - it is a great time to start Public Health MB - Scouts will get alot out of it now

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Please check with your local health authorities for details on requirements. Please also check out this document to help you figure out how to get back to Scouting.

BSA COVID-19 Website

Restart Scouting checklist:

Thanks for sharing this checklist, @BenjaminWard. I hadn’t seen it before.

Your Welcome, I am here to make your job easier.

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