All of us have been living the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic with many of this year’s annual spring and summer Scouting events being canceled. But, as Baden-Powell once said: “A Scout goes about with a smile on and whistling. It cheers [them] and cheers other people, especially in times of danger, for [a Scout] keeps it up all the same.” A Scout is Cheerful! All Scouts live this part of the Scout Law; Order of the Arrow Arrowmen are specifically committed to “Cheerful Service” and promise to “… seek to preserve a Cheerful Spirit” (excerpted from the Order of the Arrow Obligation).
And so, in true Scouting Spirit, the Arrowmen of the Aquia Chapter of the Amangamek-Wipit Lodge 470 of the Order of the Arrow (OA) cheerfully pressed on, looking for ways to uphold the OA’s commitment to community service. The Fredericksburg Luminary is the Chapter’s biggest service event leading into the summer months, followed by the Flag Day Ceremony at Quantico National Cemetery. The Luminary was really beyond a creative solution, but the Aquia OA leadership were determined to put their heads together to figure out a way to offer a virtual alternative to the Flag Day event.
A typical American Flag retirement ceremony is mostly centered around disposal – putting Old Glory to flames in a way that honors those U.S. Ensigns whose service life has ended and are no longer fit for public display (e.g., ripped, torn, frayed, faded, etc.). As an alternative, Aquia OA Advisors, Lorraine Lince and Karen Purinton offered the challenge of a virtual Flag Day event to the Chapter Chief and his team. Chapter Chief David Grabber and his Vice Chiefs Josh Floersheim, Michael Holliday and Sean Nodurft seized the opportunity and moved out smartly. They recruited fellow Aquia OA Arrowmen and family members to help produce various segments for their Flag Day video.
Enthusiasm was running high! The Scouts immediately began to come up with ideas that would both honor our Nation’s Flag and offer instruction, demonstration, and education to fellow Scouting families. Every level of Scouting incorporates a Scout’s Duty to Country. The OA leaders’ goal was to make it so any individual Scout or Scouting Unit would be able to use the video as a resource. Parents could use this at home with their Scouts and other family members as well. Since the idea began the last week of May, they only had about two weeks to hit their video’s targeted release date of June 14th, Flag Day – this included production and editing. Very ambitious!
For the virtual event, the OA leadership wanted to offer all Scouts information about the history of the American Flag itself and give information about how U.S. Flag care fits into advancements – ranks, belt loops and merit badges. The Chapter Officers decided that the first order of business was to demonstrate opening (Flag raising) and closing (Flag lowering) ceremonies, complete with appropriate bugle calls. Other elements included how to correctly fold the Flag, display the Flag, and show how to properly retire a Flag in a ceremony honoring its service to our Nation and Citizens. The Scouts also included “fun Flag facts” highlighting important dates and lesser known facts about our national ensign.
The biggest challenge was doing this virtually. Obviously, due to the on-going COVID-19 constraints, the Aquia OA team couldn’t work in person or as a group, so the collaboration had to be done completely via group phone calls and video conferences. Another challenge was that everyone had different devices that took videos in different ways – a real challenge when editing; but the team pressed on undaunted. A Google Drive was set up so that each participant/contributor could upload a video or slide from home. The Aquia OA Advisors then took all submissions and put them together into one presentation. It was successfully uploaded to the Aquia and Aquia OA Facebook pages on the target date for Flag Day, June 14, 2020 and shared at this link: https://youtu.be/qX6BQCQiY1E.
All in all, it was a great learning experience for the Scouts. They did a great job coming together as a team, working towards their common goal and they did a great job executing and overcoming the challenges caused by the pandemic. We are proud of them!