Our council is planning a month at a time, as far as I understand, and adapting based on the latest changes to public health guidance from our local . It doesn’t look like “traditional” scouting, but our unit is meeting regularly over Zoom. It can get a bit chaotic if too many people are talking, or rather “dry” if it’s more of a “lecture” format. However, the scouts who have had scoutmaster conferences and/or board of review have all reported back that they’re enthusiastic for the eMeetings to continue, so it seems like our SPL and patrol leaders’ council are doing something right.
In terms of recruiting, for our troop, we’ve been trying to stay in contact with the DLs and CMs from the packs that (usually) feed bridging Webelos into our troop, including of course our own pack. We’ve had a smaller-than-recent-average bridging, but only slightly. In addition, our recent new-scout classes have been fairly large for us, so this year might be closer to long-term average.
At the troop level, the scouts have a requirement to tell another youth about scouting and invite them to join one of our events. I’ve had at least a couple of scouts reach out to me or other leaders about getting permission to share the eMeeting login with their “recruits”. Word of mouth is usually our best recruiting tool, particularly at the older ages.
I think it would be really tough to recruit if we weren’t at least moderately active in terms of eMeetings. In addition, I think it would be even more challenging at the pack level, since at least for us the majority of our “new blood” came in via in-person recruiting at elementary school open house days and the like.
Our district is working on a virtual advancement fair/activity day to serve both the troop and pack levels. The first one served the troop level pretty well in terms of advancement, but was more about getting cub scouts and their families “excited” about scouting than providing the cubs with advancement opportunities. It was a large success in getting folks excited. At our recent district meeting we were told that 600-odd individuals participated from across the district. The event included:
- scavenger hunts;
- camping in tents or blanket forts, depending on the skill and resource levels of the families, with recognition for various things (e.g. best gateway, best use of a balcony);
- cooking contests (e.g. most traditional breakfast, most creative use of a food item);
- various photo contests
The whole thing was pulled together in about two weeks from concept to execution, so it lived up to its name (Camp Wingit) in many regards. We’re planning for another one with a bit more lead time. ;^)
Our troop committee and patrol leaders’ council (as well as the OA chapter exec committee I advise) are trying to work out what the next six months would look like in terms of program depending on when various public resources are made available (e.g. camps, trails and parks re-opening) and when we’re released to participate in in-person gatherings. We’re largely talking about how to convert “group” activities to “group activities conducted individually” (e.g. hiking at the same time in parks that have been opened, but not doing it “together” so as to comply with social distancing rules). Honestly, the scouts are handling it a lot more gracefully than might be expected of most youth, which is really a testament to their spirit. They roll with the punches as well or better than a lot of the adults are.
I’d be curious to hear what folks one the pack side of the house are thinking, because that may help inform the troop and OA sides on what we can do to help the packs out.