Scouts continue despite COVID-19

Nicholas Thorpe, of Boy Scout Troup 9 of Clearfield participated in the National Boy Scouts if America Camp-In on May 2. Thorpe set up his campsite ] in the backyard of his family’s home, where worked on outdoor skills such as cooking, fire building and so forth.

Local Boy Scout packs and Boy Scout troops continue to operate despite the COVID-19 emergency, according to Sheri Price, district executive of the Bucktail Council.

“It’s been a struggle,” Price said. “But we are adapting.”

Scouting has always revolved around group activities, and all in-person activities have been cancelled for the time being due to the COVID-19 emergency, Price said.

And because of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 emergency, The Boy Scouts allowed Eagle Scout candidates to apply for a time extension to complete their Eagle Scout Projects, Price said. Normally Eagle Scout projects must be completed before the candidate’s 18th birthday, but for some this is no longer possible. For example if a Scout’s project was in a school or state park, that has been closed because of the COVID-19 emergency.

But in these difficult times the Scouts have had to come up with new ways to “meet.”

Local Scout troops and packs are now using electronic media and software like “Zoom” for meetings and activities.

The Scouts have also been holding Merit Badge programs electronically. The Scouts recently held a Journalism Merit Badge program with employees at The Progress using Zoom group video teleconferencing software to discuss journalism related topics.

Price said the Journalism Merit Badge Program was extremely successful with 70 scouts, most of whom were from Clearfield and the surrounding counties but some participated from as far away as Texas.

Usually they have about 10-25 Scouts participate in merit badge programs, Price said.

“The journalism merit badge program was our biggest by far,” Price said.

For over an hour the Scouts discussed topics such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, hard news versus opinion, how the newspaper is put together on a daily basis, etc. with the newspaper’s employees.

The Scouts also recently held a Gardening Merit Badge program, which included several sessions with a retired biology professor from Penn State University.

The Scouts also recently participated in the National Boy Scouts of America Camp-In on May 2. Because all of the parks have been closed, the Scouts pitched tents in their backyards and camped outside for the evening by themselves or with their families. And they would check in periodically with other Scouts on the camping trip and discuss how things were going.

It has been more difficult for the Cub Scouts to remain active than the Boy Scouts, Price said. The younger Scouts tend need more direction and haven’t yet developed leadership skills as the older Boy Scouts who are often better at working independently and are more self-motivated than the younger Scouts.

To bridge this gap, Boy Scouts in Curwensville have been mentoring the younger Cub Scouts via electronic media and helping them out with projects.

‘We’ve been working through things the best we can,” Price said

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