Written by Peter Proscia
In response to the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus that continues to spread across the nation, the Boy Scouts of America has released a statement on their website as well as via an email to many Scoutmasters of local troops stating: “With safety in mind and based on guidance from national health officials, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is strongly advising that in-person meetings, activities, events and gatherings of 10 or more people be suspended through the end of March.” Following this statement, they have requested that scouts:
- Avoid in-person gatherings; instead, utilize available digital and online resources, such as video conferencing, to continue Scouting meetings, projects and advancement, adhering to the current youth protection guidelines already in place for digital communications.
- If troops must meet, they limit participants to fewer than 10 people and remain at least six feet apart.
- Follow BSA blogs and social channels, as well as #ScoutingAtHome, for great examples and ideas of how to continue Scouting.
- If a scout or any member of his family feels sick, that person should NOT go into their district scouting office or attend any gatherings. Contact a health professional to get care and notify a supervisor so appropriate measures can be taken.
Additionally, BSA has provided the following FAQ and websites for merit badges and activities that can be completed while practicing social distancing:
- BSA COVID-19 FAQ: https://www.scouting.org/coronavirus/covid-19-faq/
- Merit badges for social distancing: 58 badges Scouts can complete at home: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2020/03/20/merit-badges-for-social-distancing/
- Fun projects for kids that you can do from home: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2020/03/19/fun-projects-for-kids-that-you-can-do-from-home/
The Suffolk County Council has made a similar announcement that “All Council and District Level activities have been postponed for the month of March. Unit activities and events are also postponed at this time. Plus also adhere to guidelines by local authorities and school districts. If you have concerns, questions, or need anything please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our service center, Scout Shop, and BHSC are closed till March 27.”
Local troops, Troop 3333 and Troop 343, based out of Hauppauge and Smithtown have adjusted their functioning to prevent the virus’ spread. Troop 333 Scoutmaster, Anthony Vitellozzi, shares that in order to follow the BSA guidelines and promote the safety of his scouts starting Monday March 23rd, until further notice, all weekly meetings will be held via the video chatting software Google Hangouts and will be dedicated to working on merit badges and advancements. Specifically, merit badges that are centered around citizenship and the impacts the boys have on those around them, especially in times of crisis such as these. According to the website for Troop 343, “ALL Scouting activities have been suspended until March 30, 2020.” They have also canceled all in-person weekly meetings until April 13th and are currently discussing the possibility of digital meetings similar to Troop 3333.
One of the more damaging impacts of the Coronavirus upon the BSA community is found amongst those boys who are in the process of trying to obtain the rank of Eagle, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve. One of the many local scouts impacted is Michael Singh from Troop 3333. Michael was set to hold his fundraiser at Five Guys on March 31st, but the restaurant has cancelled the event due to the current virus. This will have serious repercussions on the timely completion of his project.
For more information on the state of the Boy Scouts of America, as well as COVID-19 visit: