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Virtual campout - can they count?

Has the BSA issued any guidance as to whether backyard camping as a virtual troop activity can count towards things like the camping merit badge? The requirements states:

“Camp a total of at least 20 nights at designated Scouting activities or events. One long-term camping experience of up to six consecutive nights may be applied toward this requirement. Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.”

We have heard rumors of an official release coming on topics like this but it did not materialize Friday.

IMHO: Organized Troop virtual campouts seem, to my interpretation, to be a designated Scouting event. so long as it follows the proper social distancing and Guide to Safe Scouting with appropriate adult supervision. Under no conditions, until this Zombie Apocolypse is over, should any non-same household scouts/scouters tent in the same backyard, no less same tent.

Joining each other virtually on an app like Zoom during such an event would seem to offer novel opportunity to demonstrate Scout Spirit (sharing songs, stories and skits in a virtual campfire) and for teaching.

We did camp on the property of one of our scouters in the past.

I will, of course, stand corrected if my interpretation violates some other current restriction or definition. Until then, 'tis easier to beg for forgiveness than to beg permission".

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I believe national had said no in an email update, I can’t remember were I read the post. I really didn’t give it much thought until now, figured we make it up during the summer. CT just extended closing through May 20 and most people thinking it will be extended again for school. Until a vaccine or enough antibody testing is done I’m worried about no summer camp or troop camping this summer in CT. So national will need to give guidance on camping merit badge and overnight for rank advancement.

I really hope they do reconsider this, with specific guidelines for what counts. I definitely see ways to truly make this a troop event, and a lot of fun. We’ll do it anyway, but I’d love if the Scouts could also get ‘credit’ for it…

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I could support credit for a troop activity, not to exceed a total number (1 or 2 at most). I couldn’t support it counting as a troop campout. They are just not the same.

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We’ve had to change our end-of-April campout to a virtual one. After discussing it with our DE, we as a unit can make the decision as to count it or not toward camping nights. We’ve talked about having a framework in place, including sleeping outside both nights (or, if they don’t have a tent, sleeping indoors like a cabin campout but still with a sleeping bag and pad like they’d typically use), cooking only with implements they’d have on a campout (no microwaves), completing activities the PLC sets, and having regular videoconferencing group check-ins, including a Saturday campfire and reflection.

I do agree the guide to advancement isn’t prescriptive about the troop or patrol campout in a way that would preclude a SM from agreeing to count it. I normally side on the side of being more permissive, but in this case, we have only missed 1 campout so far. In the end we will likely miss at least 3. That will take us up to mid June. By September, I may be more permissive if we haven’t camped yet.

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The Scouts BSA program office is preparing guidelines for camping. It does us no good to speculate. What ever there guidance is, we will have to abide by it as a Scout is obedient.

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This past weekend our council held a council-wide “Backyard Bash” for all the scouts. Families were encouraged to get outside and camp in their back yard. A number of troops held virtual meetings… but it’s not a “virtual” campout if you’re actually camping.

We cooked meals, did skits, and had all kinds of fun. It was a real campout–just a “family campout” all around the council.

I tried standing in a bucket for the campout, but they said that wouldn’t count toward the Long Cruise award for Sea Scouts…

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The BSA has released guidance on virtual camping and what must be done for it to count towards rank advancement. See the updated https://www.scouting.org/coronavirus/covid-19-faq/ for details

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Out of curiosity, why would Tenderfoot cooking 2 a and First Class cooking 2e be allowed but not Second Class cooking 2e?

Tenderfoot Allowed
2a. – During the same day as your virtual patrol or troop campout, assist in preparing one meal with the help of those with whom you live. Tell your patrol or troop why it was important for each person to share in meal preparation and cleanup.
2b. – During the same day as your virtual campout, demonstrate the appropriate method of safely cleaning items used to prepare, serve and eat a meal.

First Class allowed:
2e. – On the same day as your virtual campout, serve as the cook. Supervise your assistant(s) in using a stove or building a cooking fire. Prepare the breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned in First Class requirement 2a. Supervise the cleanup.

Second Class Not allowed:
2e. On one campout, plan and cook one hot breakfast or lunch, selecting foods from MyPlate or the current USDA nutritional model. Explain the importance of good nutrition. Demonstrate how to transport, store, and prepare the foods you selected.

:man_shrugging:
no idea - there are a few items in the doc that make little sense are are contradictory - we have reached out to authors for clarity

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Welcome to trying to figure out what the BSA meant based on what they said, @AmyAllemann. :dizzy_face:

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How long is a virtual campout? Must the Scouts be online for a minimum amount of time per session or per day?

I would say it depends on what requirements you are completing. The BSA has not set any hard limits.

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Here is the section copied and pasted from the National Council

What changes have been made to rank advancement/camping requirements given the need to maintain social distancing during this time?
We have implemented temporary changes, detailed below, to allow Scouts to complete rank requirements, detailed below, by video conferencing through September 1, 2020. This deadline will be re-evaluated as needed.
The goal when using video conferencing must be to preserve the ideals and intent of each requirement as best as possible. Scoutmasters or their designee(s) should remain mindful of the Methods of Scouting, such as the Patrol Method, before implementing the modified requirements listed below. Some advancement activities can be completed by video conferencing but not all. For example, virtual visits to a city council meeting, national historic landmarks, museums, and art galleries may be acceptable, but swimming, rifle shooting, and motorboating merit badges cannot be completed virtually.
Even when using video conferencing, all virtual campouts and activities should consist of as many elements found on a normal outdoor campout or activity as possible. The most significant difference is that patrol or troop members are not all in the same location. All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines must be followed.
Tenderfoot rank requirements
1b. – Virtual patrol or troop campouts via video conferencing will be permitted.
2a. – During the same day as your virtual patrol or troop campout, assist in preparing one meal with the help of those with whom you live. Tell your patrol or troop why it was important for each person to share in meal preparation and cleanup.
2b. – During the same day as your virtual campout, demonstrate the appropriate method of safely cleaning items used to prepare, serve and eat a meal.
5a. – Explain the importance of the buddy system as it relates to your personal safety on outings and in your neighborhood. Verbally commit to following the buddy system on your next troop or patrol outing.
7a. – Tell how to display, raise, lower, and fold the U.S. flag.
Second Class rank requirements:
1a & 1c. – Virtual patrol or troop activities via video conferencing will be permitted.
3b. – Using a compass and map together, plan a 5-mile hike approved by your adult leader.
4. – Evidence of wild animals can be demonstrated with information or photos of your local area found online.
5c. – May be completed virtually via video conferencing on dry land.
7c. – Learn about the dangers of using drugs, alcohol and tobacco and other practices that could be harmful to your health. Discuss what you learned with your family and explain the dangers of substance addictions. Report to your Scoutmaster or other adult leader in your troop about which parts of the Scout Oath and Scout Law relate to what you learned.
8a. – May be completed virtually using video conferencing.
8d. – May be completed by comparing costs at three (3) online sites or locations.
First Class rank requirements:
1a – Virtual patrol or troop activities via video conferencing will be permitted.
2e. – On the same day as your virtual campout, serve as the cook. Supervise your assistant(s) in using a stove or building a cooking fire. Prepare the breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned in First Class requirement 2a. Supervise the cleanup.
4a. – By drawing, computer software, or other virtual methods, plan an orienteering course that would cover at least one mile. Explain why measuring the height and/or width of designated items (tree, tower, canyon, ditch, etc.) is helpful. Explain how you would complete your course using a real map and compass.
4b. – Scouts do not need to follow their route.
5a. – Evidence of native plants can be demonstrated with information or photos of your local area found online.
6e. – May be completed on dry land.
9a. – Visit may take place virtually or by phone.
9c. – Outings can include past or future plans.
10. – Invite the potential new member to a virtual meeting or future activity using video conferencing.

:diamonds: Q: Will virtual camping count toward Order of the Arrow nights camping?

No, virtual camping will not count toward the 15 nights camping required for membership in the Order of the Arrow.

This guidance (thanks for the links) does not seem to answer the original question - could a virtual campout count toward the Camping Merit Badge?

:frowning:

Since the BSA did not mention the Camping Merit Badge but did indicate which rank requirements a virtual campout applies to, I would assume it does not apply to the Camping MB.

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To make this work, it seems like you would have to have agreement with and participation of the parents, especially for the cooking only with implements they’d use on a campout.

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