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Summer Camps and the Coronavirus

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, yknot said:

There's no problem with going camping. 

For camping, I'd fully align with council direction.  I'd fear beyond normal personal liability if my troop camped while our council cancels their own.  I'd only support unit camping if the council explicitly says units can resume their own camping. 

It's not just personal liability.  We are talking real risk.  Plus, I'd be tormented forever if I was the leader that ends up with sick kids and sick adults after being told the council is canceling their own camps.

Edited by fred8033

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Permission slips, explanation and written acknowledgement of risk, explicit liability waivers, and a long term quarantine/lockdown plan if there is a case.  Anyone want to go camping for a month straight?

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3 hours ago, fred8033 said:

For camping, I'd fully align with council direction.  I'd fear beyond normal personal liability if my troop camped while our council cancels their own.  I'd only support unit camping if the council explicitly says units can resume their own camping. 

It's not just personal liability.  We are talking real risk.  Plus, I'd be tormented forever if I was the leader that ends up with sick kids and sick adults after being told the council is canceling their own camps.

Not only that, but most campgrounds are reopening under the requirement that the groups are less than 10 people, and that all campers are from the same family/household. 

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11 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

Not only that, but most campgrounds are reopening under the requirement that the groups are less than 10 people, and that all campers are from the same family/household. 

I expect it will be a phased approach for most states.  Groups of 10 or less would allow some patrol activities/camping.  Groups of ~50 would allow Troop. 

I was much more bullish about summer camp one month ago.  However, that assumed we would be a in a lot better shape now.  One month ago, our state was predicted to see few new cases now and <<100 infections by June 1.  Deaths were declining in mid April, but late April that switched and now daily deaths exceed our previous peak (same for USA).  The latest models I see now show <<100 infections by August 1 … and that assumes we social distance all summer.  https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america

I think as a Troop I'll push for a  mid August Troop lead summer camp if our current date falls through.  Mixing scouts within a community is much less risky than mixing scouts from different regions.  It won't be the full experience, but it may have to do this summer.  I hope we will be able to do this as being locked inside all summer will be tough.

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17 hours ago, fred8033 said:

For camping, I'd fully align with council direction.  I'd fear beyond normal personal liability if my troop camped while our council cancels their own.  I'd only support unit camping if the council explicitly says units can resume their own camping. 

It's not just personal liability.  We are talking real risk.  Plus, I'd be tormented forever if I was the leader that ends up with sick kids and sick adults after being told the council is canceling their own camps.

Absolutely. I'm not talking about doing anything foolhardy. If camping activities are not safe in your council or area, then we need to follow that lead. But for many of us in areas with few and declining new cases, an in town patrol or unit camp out this summer might be within the realm of possibility. Certainly family camping will be feasible for some. I just don't buy that the only way to get kids outside this summer is to send them to a high risk summer scout camp. There are plenty of other options, and in a worst case scenario, we will do a lot of day hiking and outings this summer with the family. 

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9 hours ago, yknot said:

Absolutely. I'm not talking about doing anything foolhardy. If camping activities are not safe in your council or area, then we need to follow that lead. But for many of us in areas with few and declining new cases, an in town patrol or unit camp out this summer might be within the realm of possibility. Certainly family camping will be feasible for some. I just don't buy that the only way to get kids outside this summer is to send them to a high risk summer scout camp. There are plenty of other options, and in a worst case scenario, we will do a lot of day hiking and outings this summer with the family. 

Agreed.  From what I see, this is a family camping / hiking summer.  

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Posted (edited)

If a family (10 members or less) can safely camp and hike, so can a patrol of similar size taking the same precautions.  If we had say an Assistant Chief Scout Executive - National Director of Outdoor Adventures,, he should be fighting for safe patrol outdoor access to national, state, and council campgrounds. 

Social distancing. Learn to walk at same pace to maintain distance.

Temp check

Neckerchiefs (Face masks) for when social distance cannot be maintained.

Bring own food and water, no share.

Establish approved loop trails, in fact help rangers replace existing  trail markings with one way arrows and other trail maintenance.

Cleaning supplies.

Family only transports their scout to and from activity. Packing SM's SUV is suspended.

Other precautions fellow members?

A scout showing how to safely hike was what earning Second Class was all about.

I know this goes against the prevailing conventional wisdom that Scouting is about risk avoidance - that the nanny method is better than the patrol method, that it is wiser to ban power tools and ladders than teach scouts how to safely use them, that Train 'em Trust 'em has no place in Scouting. No, Scouting is about risk management.  We teach scouts how to make fire not run from it, to swim so they can go in deep water, ...to Be Prepared not Shelter Scared.

I will not go silently onto the internet and give up on Scouting or Summer 2020 or wait until a vaccine arrives 18 - 24 months from now.

My $0.01,

Edited by RememberSchiff
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It just seems ironic that scouting, which is primarily about being in the outdoors, which in turn is all about getting away from society, which is just an old fashioned way of saying social distancing, is struggling to figure out what to do.

If summer camp doesn't work then go for a hike. I am doing a lot of hiking these days. If I had young children around we'd be camping. The patrol model is ideal. Do things as a patrol. Minimize crossings between patrols. Have faith that scouts have the imagination to make fun from sticks, mud and rope. They don't need a dining hall and a shooting range. Some day those will seem like a luxury, but for now, stick with the basics and 6'. What they really need is confidence and knowledge to take care of themselves in the outdoors. That way the patrol can have fun while scouts keep their 6' bubbles. Make a game of it.

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This difference between family camping and hiking and patrol camping is that a family comes from the same family and household.  A family will have already infected each other at home.  With a group, there is a potential for one person to spread it to others and then they all return and spread it to more people.   While Scouting might be about the outdoors, there are still situations that lead to close contact which leads to transmission of the virus, such as travelling to and from the campsite in the same car, cooking with the same utensils, using a single camp wide restroom, sharing a tent, and sitting close to each other for activities.    Care still must be taken.   Many states are asking visitors to state parks to always wear a mask.  

When the situation eases, patrol level camping will be viable much earlier than gathering a large troop, and certainly earlier than summer camps that continual mix people in close contact from multiple areas.   If any summer camps try to proceed, I would hope that they switch to a patrol based experience in which the patrol takes the same merit badges, eats together at their own campsite, and generally avoids interacting with other groups.

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I am all for building ourselves up to troop level in the longer term by starting with smaller group activities.  The biggest hurdle at this point is having a place to do it.  From what I am seeing around New England, state campgrounds are going to begin opening later in June, but with limitations- no group sites available, and no "gathering areas" open (playgrounds, observation areas, waterfronts, etc.).  Two minimal camping areas we have used in the past have not given any indication they will allow overnight usage at this point, though we are keeping in contact with them hoping in the second half of July they will allow them for single unit usage and we are planning for patrol level groups to use them.  I'm still waiting to see with many of the scout properties if summer camp is not doable, will they be allowing unit usage on a diminished capacity basis.  So far, my research is telling me that the few that have said anything about summer beyond "summer camp is not happening" have given some statement they hope to run weekend activities (no overnights, and with smaller numbers, by advanced signup only).  My son and another member of his Crew are planning some day trips for june, presuming our Council doesn't clamp down on Scouting activities beyond May.

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1 hour ago, BBQ said:

This difference between family camping and hiking and patrol camping is that a family comes from the same family and household. 

Yes, I agree with you. OTOH, we teach scouts how to shoot guns safely.

2 hours ago, BBQ said:

there are still situations that lead to close contact which leads to transmission of the virus, such as travelling to and from the campsite in the same car, cooking with the same utensils, using a single camp wide restroom, sharing a tent, and sitting close to each other for activities.    Care still must be taken.   Many states are asking visitors to state parks to always wear a mask.  

Traveling: Hike or Camp nearby and have mom or dad drop you off and pick you up. Cooking: Bring your own backpacking stove and gear. Better yet, learn how to do no-cooking meals. Restrooms: Use the National Forest or BLM land. Tents, bring your own, preferably that you've made from a tarp, wood stakes and rope. These campouts do not need to be exotic. To be honest, starting with someone's big back yard would be great. Have each scout clean the bathroom after they use it. Sitting too close: Make a game of it. This could be a good memory.

I agree that this will increase the risk of exposure. And maybe now is not the time to try this. It really depends on what the rules are as well as everyone's comfort level in the patrol. I've seen some parents in my neighborhood select a small group of friends for their kids that will play with each other and no others. It's worth considering this idea as it will still limit how far the virus could spread. It's the poor man's version of contact tracing. Speaking of which, when we finally do have contact tracing this could be a great way to limit exposure and still have some fun.

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, BBQ said:

This difference between family camping and hiking and patrol camping is that a family comes from the same family and household.  A family will have already infected each other at home. 

Yes,  a family who lives together generally does not social distance or wear masks, whereas a patrol would.

Edited by RememberSchiff

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6 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

Yes,  a family who lives together generally does not social distance or wear masks, whereas a patrol would.

Social distance?  Scouts can't keep their hands off each.  Pushing.  Shoving.  Sharing a chair.  Trading gear.  Playing games.  It is 100% unrealistic to think you can have 6 to 8 scouts who are 11 to 15 years old stay six part away from each other for multiple days.  I doubt if you could succeed for 15 minutes.  

  • Each scout would have to be driven by their own parent
  • Each scout would need his own space.  
  • Each scout would need his own tent, chair, table, rain tarp, stove, plan, cooking supplies, wash basin
  • Each scout would need his own bathroom or shovel to dig ... so much for leave no trace.  
  • Each scout need to wear a mask the whole weekend.  Assume 5 to 10 masks per scout.  

Once bathrooms, tables, water spigots, door handles, etc are involved, you just can't avoid cross contaminating.  

As s leader, I do not take responsibility for setting up tents, cooking, running the camp outs or much else.  But I do have a large responsibility for safety.  There is no way I could honestly say I could succeed with socially distance from their own patrol mates.  

One of the proudest traditions in our troop is that we encourage scouts to help each other setup tents.  When you are done with yours, help the next guy.  ... There is no way we could still do that and have socially distancing.  

 

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One of our troop leaders runs a small manufacturing facility of essential goods.  Here's what he's found he has to do in his workplace in order to maintain safe social distancing.

Take all the chairs out of the break room.  Until he did, inevitably people would sit close to one another during meals and breaks, no matter how much tape, marking, and prepositioning of chairs, etc he did.  Buy a bunch of six foot tables to place between work stations, without that people again moved closer to each other to talk, help, examine work product, exchange material, etc.  Institute a strict scheduling of breaks and meals where before it was informal and set by the consensus of the employees, because, again, left to their own devices folks inevitably congregated with too many people too close together.

This is among adults mind you, who can potentially lose their jobs for not maintaining discipline, but still cannot maintain it; because it is unnatural for us, a social species, to do it for a sustained period of time especially in situations that we're already habituated to doing pretty much the opposite.  

He described his experience for us at our adult leader meeting, and thought it laughable that anyone could think they could maintain these type of safe practices with teens and pre-teens out in the woods and fields.

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Posted (edited)

 

Covid-19 will test scout leadership and character more than anything else has in recent times. Not all scouts will be up for the challenge but I cannot see disappointing those scouts who are.

We Scouters can say enough and choose not to provide our outdoor program for the next 12-18 months or longer. Mothball the Outdoor Method.  Cancel the 2021 National Jamboree now. No scouts will earn Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class under current program requirements during that time. Some say the solution is to fudge the requirements or change the whole program. Make it an indoor STEM program or a Lone Scout program or something else until we run into the next crisis we cannot handle and change it again.

My scouts have been stuck inside for two months! They quickly tired of virtual meetings and merit badges as it resembled school at home. None participated in the recent virtual campout. They want to go outside, together as scouts. Is there a Scout way to do this? I think so.

My thoughts:

SM asks SPL and ASPL to research and understand CDC and state safety guidelines for outdoor activities, in particular, a short nearby patrol hike.

SM, ASM, SPL, ASPL all meet outside, usual YP with social distance and face masks. Start brainstorming. If it goes well, build on it, and ask SPL to call a PLC meeting with same guidelines. Come up with a plan for a safe hike. Manage the risk and make clear the consequences for not following safety guidelines!

Have “PLC patrol” execute their hike plan. SPL insures PL’s maintain small group, social distance, wear neckerchiefs (masks), wash hands, safe food handling, temp test, family health survey…Retry until they get it right. When they succeed and they will as they want out of the house. As BP said,  We never fail when we try to do our duty, we always fail when we neglect to do it.

Repeat above but with PL and ASPL meeting with their own patrol to plan a short hike.

Sounds like Patrol Method: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing

Next PLC challenge, a longer hike. Later if allowed, an overnight.

Small steps. Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. - Francis of Assisi.

My $0.02,

Edited by RememberSchiff

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