By: Bob Trejo, Scoutmaster, Scouts BSA Boy Troop 98, Whitpain Township, PA
Editor’s Note: While we all navigate the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, the lessons of the Scout Oath and Law are as important now as they ever have been. Scouting can play an important role for youth and families during this challenging time, so the Cradle of Liberty Council encourages units to have virtual meetings while we practice social distancing. Virtual meetings are also an opportunity to ensure our youth and their families are “mentally awake” by helping them learn as much as they can about the current situation, and “helping other people at all times” by knowing and following recommendations and spreading the word about the importance of Being Prepared.
Troop 98’s effort described in the article below is a great example of effectively running virtual meetings. While the content in this case is geared toward older Scouts, the same techniques can be used for Cub Scout den and pack meetings.
Virtual Troop Meetings + Covid-19/Public Health Curriculum
Troop 98 successfully carried out a virtual troop recently during our regular meeting slot. We had around 60 simultaneous participants. We’d like to suggest that other units consider meeting online rather than not meeting at all, and we’d like to help you do so, if you’d like.
Online meetings can help units:
- Offer continuity of the Scouting program.
- Educate their membership and, by extension, others in the community about the current situation.
- Demonstrate the relevance of Scouting in the current situation.
- Allay concerns.
- Stay in touch with their membership.
- Promote ongoing advancement.
Our topics were Overview of the Coronavirus Situation and the reason for Social Distancing/Flattening the Curve followed by the start of Public Health Merit Badge.
Here are the details:
We used Webex for our meeting, which worked out quite successfully even with just a free user account. The free account even gave us the ability to record the session. Other options to consider: Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Bitrix24.
We sent around directions to our members ahead of time and encouraged them to try connecting with a laptop and early so they wouldn’t run into problems or delays.
We developed a Google Slides presentation using information primarily from the US CDC and part of a Prezi online presentation developed by a Scouter some years ago.
We had our senior patrol leader staff open and close the meeting, and another youth leader contribute with a discussion and embedded video about how to properly wash hands.
We were joined by a medical doctor (the director of Emergency Medicine at Einstein Montgomery Hospital, who is a Scout parent). He presented a portion of the session and answered questions throughout, which were selected from the live chat session that participants had access to.
We have a recording available for replay on YouTube. We think it would be better for units to present the session themselves (using the presentation linked above), but you could use the recording if you’d like.
Recording 1 (YouTube) • Recording 1 (Google Drive)
Entire Session (Coronavirus & Be Prepared + Public Health Merit Badge): 90 minutes.
You can see a couple of screenshots and feedback on our Facebook page.
We gladly offer these resources for any unit’s use. We’d also be happy to help you set up the technical capability to run a virtual troop meeting (it’s actually pretty easy). We can also set up a web page for your unit to post instructions.
Finally, please consider that the underlying messages of the Scout Motto plus the Oath and Law are incredibly well-suited to the current situation. We spoke to our Scouts about these during our meeting (at the start and as a Scoutmaster Minute at the end). As this situation evolves I encourage you to empower your Scouts to Be Prepared, be informed, and be helpful, both to themselves and others.
Please take care of yourselves and your Scouts and Be Prepared.
You may contact Scoutmaster@bsa98.com