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Valley Scouts enjoy camping out in virtual world

Submitted photo A member of Scout Troop 8115 in Canfield takes part in an online Scouts meeting, which is what many Scouts have been doing since the COVID-19 social distancing has made in-person meetings impossible. Scouts and scoutmasters have met online for meetings and discussing Eagle Scout projects and scaled back Earth Day events

Wanting to continue having Scouting meetings and ways for scouts to earn merit badges and complete projects, local Scoutmasters and troop leaders are using the newest computer technology during the coronavirus pandemic.

Albin Dearing, scoutmaster for Scout Troop 9002 in Poland, said after a few weeks of getting familiar with the computer, scout meetings now take place using Zoom.

“We are able to hold meetings online and allow the scout leaders and Scouts to connect. For the first few weeks, we were getting familiar with the virtual technology format and now have become very comfortable using it. We are able to teach the Scouts leadership using new technology,” Dearing said,

He said this is “a total shift in direction to scouting” since Scouts are used to getting together as groups for meetings, campouts and outdoor activities.

“Scouting is a youth-led organization and scouts are learning an all-new way of leading and learning. The Scouts are very resilient and adapting well to the changes that have been made” Dearing said.

John Brkic, director of field services for Great Trail Council Boy Scouts of America that includes Trumbull and Mahoning counties, said since mid-March, many scouting meetings have gone to the virtual format.

“At first it was a little difficult as we began doing a lot of different online programs. When everything first happened with the coronavirus I thought, ‘What do we need to do to not interrupt what we have been doing for the scouts?'” Brkic said.

He said the Great Trail Council serves 3,000 scouts in Trumbull and Mahoning counties and 10,000 in the entire district.

CAMP OUT AT HOME

He said one of the first events held in March online was a “Camp Out at Home” where scouts created campsites at their homes and took photos of themselves camping and posted them online for a contest.

Another event planned later this month is a “Camporall” weekend where scouts will camp somewhere in their home or on their property and take part in camping activities online.

Brkic said there are also online ways for Cub Scouts and older scouts to earn merit badges while at home.

Brkic said planned in-person activities at Stan Hywit Hall and Garden in Akron will be moved to later in the summer but some programs have been moved online.

“What has been most interesting is the technology is new to a lot of the scoutmasters but we have scouts who know how to set up the equipment and run youth services programs and meetings. The scouts are taking an active role in running the meetings. They are showing leadership skills. They know the technology and how to run it,” Brkic said.

GIRLS’ TROOP

Steph Kelly of Scout Troop 8115 in Canfield, who leads a Scouting troop for all girls ages 10 to 17, said everyone has been learning to adapt.

“When the schools were closed we saw the writing on the wall that things were going to change, and we would have to do more virtual,” Kelly said.

She said the troop’s first Zoom meeting was March 16 focusing on merit badges with an art activity.

“The scouts appreciated the opportunity to connect in this way and speak with each other and show the artwork they had done,” Kelly said, noting Scouts uploaded their artwork to Google Classroom.

“The Scouts are really adapting and enjoying the different social aspects of the online meetings, she said.

Hannah Kelly, a high school junior and member of Troop 8115, said she is familiar with the online technology.

“The meetings have been very interesting and creative. The Google Classroom allows everyone to communicate as a troop. This is letting us hold our meetings and discuss projects under the current circumstances,” Kelly said.

She said she and other Scouts can focus on their Eagle awards.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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