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Scouting during a pandemic

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 3:01 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - For the thousands of kids in Northeast Wisconsin who are either boy scouts or girl scouts, 2020 has been a year unlike any other.

Both organizations have made major adjustments when it comes to programs and recruitment, but they’re also pointing out that scouting has it’s advantages during a pandemic.

“Because we’re outdoors doing a lot of our activities it makes it so that they’re in a safer environment to begin to do things during the pandemic that they may not be able to do with other groups. Families and children are crying out right now for opportunities to be able to do things together in a safe way,” says Ralph Voelker, Bay-Lakes Council of the Boy Scouts of America Scout Executive.

Right now is the time of year most children sign up to become boy scouts or girl scouts.

“Typically we’d go into a school, we’d do a roundup, we’d introduce them to the pack and we can’t do that right now, so we’ve kind of changed, we’re doing a lot of what we’d call a drive-up event, you might see us in a park, the kids can come up, we can safely social distance and introduce them to scouting that way,” says Niki Petit, Bay-Lakes Council of the Boy Scouts of America Vice President of Membership.

While some outdoor activities continue, a number of programs have gone virtual.

For example, the entire cub scout plan is online, as well as scouts earning most merit badges.

And for the girl scouts, recruiting during the pandemic has led for a new way for girls to experience the program.

“As a council, we know this whole thing is brand new and a little challenging so we know that and we’re offering a brand new, open to any girl registering, called eTroop which is a completely online virtual girl scout experience, and it’s going to give lots of resources for girls to do activities outside and things like that, but also connect with other girls who are living the same life with them,” says Melissa Loest, Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes Communications Director.

“Right now, kids have time, right, their sporting events were cancelled, a lot of their school functions were cancelled, so they have this idle time and if you want your kids to have some good, constructive things to do, scouting is it,” adds Petit.

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