How Adapting New Methods is Securing Adventure for thousands of families across Greater Philadelphia
For more than 100 years, families have taken comfort in the familiar time-honored methods of Scouting. Weekly meetings, hands-on activities, and weekend adventures have been the routine parents could count on to help forge character and leadership in young men and women. COVID-19 threatened to disrupt that cadence when the sun set on March 12 as Pennsylvanians prepared to honor mandatory say-at-home orders. As we all settle into a ‘new normal’ the volunteers and Scouts of Cradle of Liberty Council are blazing new trails at a dizzying pace. The virtual programs happening today are like nothing we’d ever dreamed of, but they are making a difference in the lives of youth and they feel remarkably like Scouting!
Social Distance Protects Us but Scouting Connects Us
Right now, youth and families are facing anxiety, uncertainty, and loneliness – all risk factors for physical, psychological, and emotional trauma. Scouting offers opportunities for youth to engage both with peers and adults in ways that help them problem solve, think critically about issues and work both individually and in teams for the greater good of our community. Since the earliest days of this crisis, Scouts BSA Troops have continued to organize and provide a sense of control through weekly virtual meetings. While volunteers and parents helped get the ball rolling, Scouts themselves are leading sessions and working to plan good turns and other activities that can be accomplished safely on the trail or around the home.
If you tune in, you’ll be impressed by seeing Scouts exhibit leadership in the face of uncertainty in full uniform!
Delivering Adventure and Advancement
Online Adventures at a glance
When: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 4 p.m. from May 15 through June 19
Cost: Free to all youth
- community service
- emergency preparedness
- physical fitness
At a time when many parents have been pressed into service as home-school teachers while working remotely, Cradle of Liberty Council has launched Online Adventures to supplement volunteer-led programs. This free six-week series of 30-minute interactive Zoom sessions is attended by hundreds of boys and girls each week.
Online Adventures is designed to appeal to both prospective and current Cub Scouts. Program Specialists from the Council’s After School Scouting Packs are leading these sessions and will be familiar faces to many of the Scouts who are tuning in from under-resourced neighborhoods in Philadelphia utilizing Chromebooks donated by the Roberts Family and Comcast.
Merit Badges and More!
Scouts BSA participants continue to pursue an ever-expanding galaxy of live Merit Badges offered at www.colbsa.org/virtual and by other Councils across the country. Each class seeks to kindle an interest in a career or vocation and introduces Scouts to approved adult mentors who have professional experience in fields ranging from criminal justice to STEM and the arts.
The Council has organized a free Career Mentoring Panel Series running June 2 to June 11. The panel is designed to help high school and college students as well as recent graduates connect with leaders in STEM, Skilled Trades, Criminal Justice and Public Service, Accounting and Finance, and Business and Management.
Experienced professionals and elected officials will share details about their industry and engage with our future leaders. These sessions build on other unique opportunities that Scouts have been able to experience including traveling with explorers to the summit of Mt. Everest!
Keeping the Outing in Scouting
A Scout is Obedient, and Cradle of Liberty Council has suspended our physical summer camp operations at Resica Falls and Musser Scout Reservation in accordance with state and local orders. The Council’s commitment to the outdoor program remains strong as we encourage families to take much-needed time away from screens and devices while heeding guidance on avoiding non-essential travel.
We are organizing weekend programs to encourage Scouts to camp together in their own back yards and were encouraged by the success of our inaugural Virtual Camp-o-ree in May. This hybrid approach has enabled Scouts to gain a sense of much-needed comradery as they sing along on weekly Facebook Live Campfires viewed by nearly 10,000 people or gather on chats with Eagle Scout Blue Angels pilots!
Virtual Camp promises to take the #ScoutingAtHome experience to the next level throughout the summer. While we will not be able to experience the pristine Pocono mountain wilderness of 4,200 acres that is Resica Falls Scout Reservation this summer, our virtual program will still provide what we do each and every summer at Resica Falls, and the thing that matters most: a strong, Scout-oriented program. In 2020, this program will take place for each Scout and leader in the comfort and safety of their own home. Virtual merit badge sessions, interactive camp-wide activities, entertaining campfires, and engaging adult leader programs are just some of the opportunities that await this summer.
With our 2020 Virtual Camp @ Resica Falls, we are proud to continue to offer the same high-quality, Scout-oriented program that we have since 1957, albeit in a different atmosphere than we are all used to. Our theme for 2020 is Under the Big Top and many of our camp-wide programs will center around the fun and excitement of a carnival and circus.
Staking a Virtual Campsite
Included: 6 Merit Badges taught by seasoned counselors, a week of our camp-wide program experiences
How: Each scout will receive materials needed for merit badges and activities, along with a few exclusive Virtual Camp items – including a camp patch – in a Camp Welcome Box.
Merit Badge classes can be taken in one week or spread out between June 29 and August 7. Attendance will be limited to ensure quality instruction and financial aid remains available, thanks to generous donors, at www.resicafalls.org/virtual.
Helping Other People at All Times
Scouts everywhere are finding safe ways to support our communities and the Council continues to organize Good Turns in response to appeals from organizations like Philabundance, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and Magee Rehabilitation Hospital.
Eagle Scout candidates continue to find innovative ways to prove their leadership and service and have brought comfort and honor to veterans afflicted with COVID-19. Eagle Boards of review continue to ensure these young people are recognized for reaching Scouting’s highest rank.
Cradle of Liberty is actively supporting healthcare workers with an initiative dubbed #OperationFrontliner that encourages Scouting groups to adopt medical facilities. Scouts and parents select a hospital or first responder organization and coordinate the production of heart-felt messages and signs to be delivered to the heroes who have been working tirelessly to keep us safe.
Adopted Frontliners (as of 5/22/20):
- Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, East Norriton
- Gwynedd Healthcare Center and Rehab
- Jefferson Health
- Lankenau Medical Center, Wynnewood
- Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
- Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
- Philadelphia Fire Department Engine 43, Ladder 9, Medic 7
- St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
- Temple University Hospital
Securing the Adventure
In the face of extraordinary funding challenges presented by COVID-19, the Council has been able to maintain its staffing levels and programs thanks to CARES Act loan programs and an innovative social giving campaign launched on #GivingTuesdayNow. To date, the Secure the Adventure campaign has already raised more than $67,000 in modest gifts from Scouting parents and friends toward a new emergency fund for Council programs.
We know there are better days ahead, but we also know that without identifying meaningful sources of funding to bridge the gap, our services and programs will not be able to be delivered at the same level in the future.
The last thing we want to do is cut back on programs and this is why we need your help today.
We have an ambitious goal to raise $1.2 million by December 31 to meet this challenge and appreciate your help in strengthening Scouting through any means you might have.