One Unit's Plans for a Fresh Start-Up
Jody Kimball, Council Communications Committee Member
Download the Unit Restart Guide Book
In the blink of an eye, we have just wrapped up nearly six months of canceled and postponed meetings, service projects, and camping events. Many of us have become mini-experts at scheduling and hosting virtual meetings and camp events. Some troops and crews took the summer off. Others have worked on advancement virtually. Quite a few attended summer camp, extended weekend camping events with families acting as patrols, or even went to the Boundary Waters. It’s great that you have been able to be flexible and figure out what works best for your troop or crew. Now it’s time to figure out what’s next.
Here are some things to think about before jumping in with a “regular” meeting. It will be important to check in with the families and leaders to figure out their level of comfort with in-person meetings and their related activities. As always, safety comes first. Please make sure everyone is clear on the guidelines laid out by the state of Minnesota, Northern Star Council and your chartered organization. If families are not comfortable meeting in person, plan to include virtual access and possibly kits that would include materials to work on skills at home.
So where to start? First and foremost, include the Scouts in the planning. Sit down with the youth leadership and ask them to think about the plans and how to keep everyone safe. They are very creative and will surprise you with their solutions. Plan for social distancing, masks, washing hands/using sanitizer, and sanitizing materials between participants.
When it’s meeting time, Scouts will need to be separated into smaller groups of 10 or less. Assigned patrols work great for this. Make sure they don’t mix with the other groups and try to keep the groups the same from week to week. Using orange cones, tape, or similar items to assign spots for each group to gather is extremely helpful. Come up with a game or signal to practice appropriate 6-foot social distancing – kind of like the whistle and “Buddy up” during aquatic activities.
For your first few meetings, allow extra time for the Scouts to socialize. You will find that they are super excited to see each other and just want to catch up. Social time is also important during virtual meetings.
Many of the traditional meeting elements can be included with some modifications. Conduct the opening flag ceremony with patrol members standing 6 feet apart in every direction. Planning time for each group can be led by the patrol leader. If planning a camping event or outing, be sure to have the Scouts update their parents on equipment, food and transportation needs. Activities and instruction time during the meeting can involve skills instruction or competitions. If the Scouts plan far enough ahead, they can have each Scout bring their own supplies and equipment. If not, plan to bring equipment that can be sanitized between uses or gloves to be used during the activities. Hands will need to be washed before and after.
Here are some helpful links:
Council and State COVID-19 Resources and Unit Restart Guide, found in the documents section of this page.
Ideas for Activities - https://troopresources.scouting.org/activities/
Ideas for Skills - https://troopresources.scouting.org/campcraft-skill-videos/
Wrap up the meeting with a Leader/Scoutmaster Minute and closing flag ceremony and you’re all set. Within just a few meetings, the Scouts will be adjusted to the new guidelines and you’ll be able to keep your Scouts moving forward! And remember, Scouts can continue to work on merit badges and other requirements through virtual meetings, too. The key is to stay flexible and identify the needs of your unit as well as the individual Scouts and their families.