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Help Developing a Resource for Managing COVID Risk in Scout Camping

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As part of my Wood Badge ticket, I am trying to build some resources to help troops continue Scout-led activities while still managing COVID-19 risk in a way that works for them and their participating families.  The first is a resource on reducing COVID-19 infection risk in camping (I will post my query about the second in a few days to cut the length of this post).

What I am building is a menu of different ways to minimize infection risk during camping activities, starting from the guidance provided by National (mainly the Restarting Scouting Checklist) but providing many more options to further reduce the chance of transmission.

The intent of the menu — intended particularly for units whose COs have not been comfortable with them resuming outdoor programming or where there are significant numbers of families who are uncomfortable with the risk — is to help these units build a risk reduction approach that will work for them and let them resume programming.

My starting point has been as exhaustive a review as possible of all the Council, individual Council camp, troop/unit, and other Scouting program resources and guidelines that I have been able to collect (many of which have a variety of other approaches to further reduce risk beyond the National-level guidelines).  I have also done a handful of interviews with units who have developed their own risk reduction approaches.

What I am looking for from the collective wisdom here is

  1. any insights from your units’ experience camping during COVID conditions about approaches I should include in the menu and the practicality of approaches you have tried (since any strategy will only actually reduce risk if the Scouts both can and are willing to implement it)
  2. any pointers to particularly good resources I should review or units I should reach out to that might have approaches I should include in the final product

If your inputs are of interest to a broader audience and you are comfortable posting them publicly that is great.  If not, feel free to private message me and we can connect by email.  My intent is to share the eventual product broadly (I will post here if that is permissible) but if you are interested in the product feel free to message as well so I can add you to my distribution list.

 

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Some things we have done since our state and council permitted the troops to start camping again:

1) Prior resuming in-person activities the troop had a mandatory scout-and-parent-must-participate zoom presentation about the covid precautions being implemented.  Not once per trip,  but once per scout.  I think it was helpful.  At least the scouts are doing a much better job of social-distancing at scout events that the church-youth-group kids are doing at church events.

2) No carpooling to or from camping trips.  Parents must drive their own kids to the camp location.

3) Every scout has her own tent - no scout shares a tent with anyone (unless she has a sister in the troop with whom to share).

4) Every scout brings her own food and backpacking stove. (Again siblings can share.)

And of course the scouts go through oodles of handsanitzer. . .

While I am glad that the scouts are doing in-person activities together, and are able to interact with each other in-person, albeit at a 6-foot distance, it is simply not quite the same as normal:

I keenly feel the lack of patrol team effort in (say) food prep -- it is more every-man-for-himself (or rather every-girl-for-herself).  

My daughter, at least, misses being able to share a tent with a couple of buddies.  These are girls that I am talking about.

Also this year is looking to be a very expensive year for a new scout to join scouting. Not only are there the increased dues and the BSA-new-scout-joining-fee on top of the needed hiking boots, raingear, sleeping bag, and backpack.  But now the new scouts also need to buy their own tent and stove right off the bat. (No, none of our scouts was ever registered as cub scouts.)


But it is still  a LOT better than no camping.   And the scouts have been able to do biking,  backpacking,  orienteering, etc.   About 80% of our scouts have done at least one in-person meeting or activity with the troop since we resumed in-person activities.  More than half have gone on at least one camping trip.

 

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I don't think our council has put out specific guidelines yet. No real camping has been done since all parks have been closed until just recently. 

My troop will try a quick local camping trip next weekend.  But so far only 2 have signed up.  

I think we've been conditioned so hard to stay home and be safe that it will be hard to get people back in person. The longer we miss the social interaction, the harder it is to start it up again. 

We need to practice safe interaction. We need to practice being together in person with masks on and distant.

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Pandemic-addled (Adj) :

On 10/21/2020 at 11:01 AM, BryanInOakland said:

... conditioned so hard to stay home and be safe that it will be hard to get people back in person. The longer we miss the social interaction, the harder it is to start it up again. 

We’ve seen the opposite. Boys are starving for interaction. So, attendance at summer camp, troop meetings, and two subsequent camp outs (plus one for older scouts), has been high.

On the other hand, we’re all in different situations. Many of my troop’s parents are essential employees or own their own businesses, and have been out and about since lockdown. But the one family who has avoided social situations ... even if distanced ... as decided not to recharter with us. I told the parents that we’re close to them to not push things. Everyone has their own burdens. For example, after scouting events, I don’t watch my grandson for a week out of an abundance of caution. And, I don’t attend events if I kno I babysit that week. Fortunately we have depth on both the scout-volunteer front and baby-sitting front. (I’m not needed for every overnight, and the grandson has doting aunts and uncles.)

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