One issue that has come up for some youth in our community is that the timing of city council/commission meetings doesn’t necessarily work out for them to attend. For example, some are in the middle of the day while they are at school/at camp/etc, and can’t attend (or can’t get a ride from a parent, because the parents are at work). Our city council chambers are actually quite small, so that often attending “in-person” means standing outside the glass at the back of the room trying to hear and see what’s going on. The recorded/simulcast meetings are often more accessible for that reason, particularly when a contentious topic is on the agenda.
Based on these types of factors, I do not insist that the scouts attend in person. I understand the perspectives from those who think that “attend” means physical presence except in very special cases, but I don’t agree. I recommend that the scouts plan which meeting they want to “attend” by reviewing the meeting agenda, reviewing any proposed ordinances, and possibly even researching or discussing them with an adult before the meeting so that they get some context for what’s being discussed before they hear about it.
When I’m reviewing scouts’ “interaction” with the meeting, I’m looking for what they learned about differences of opinion, about how they are handled in both a formal sense and in a civil society sense, about how the business of government is carried out, and about how constituents’ input is provided and handled. All I’m “checking for” are the requirements (i.e. attendance and explanation of why they agree with one side over the other), but I’m working within that context to get them to deepen their understanding of the process and how they can make contributions to its success over time. I’ve actually had a couple of youth who, after reading the agenda, decided to not only attend the meeting in person, but also to submit public comments.
I agree that there are many opportunities for the scouts (individually or as a group) to interact with the city council or other community meetings (flag ceremonies, leading the pledge, etc). At the same time, that’s not specifically what’s being asked about here.