Starting a new unit in Scouting takes a lot of legwork, but starting a new unit during a pandemic presents special challenges. Through the tenacity of incredible volunteers and leaders, the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America will be welcoming four new Scouts BSA Troops for girls, one new Scouts BSA Troop for boys, three new STEM Labs, and a new Sea Scout Ship this month.
In March the Council offices were closed due to COVID-19. While adjusting to the new normal, many Council staff members and volunteers began working to ensure Scouting continued. There efforts included starting a virtual Merit Badge Program, creating Scouting at Home resources for parents and youth, and holding virtual meetings. Now new units formation is added to the list of Scouting at Home activities.
There are multiple steps involved in starting a new unit, from finding a chartered organization to recruiting Scouts. The leaders of these new units jumped in to the process with both feet, glad to help create new Scouting opportunities. Even a once in a lifetime event like a pandemic won’t stop them from shaping the next generation of youth.
Burt Wagner, Junior Lab 9941’s Lab Manager says, “STEM Labs fill a gap in Scouting. Just as traditional Scout units focus on “hands on” with outdoor skills, the “hands on” component was missing for many STEM topics. Having a STEM Lab allows Scouts to go from “look at this cool STEM thing” to “come here and do this cool STEM thing.”
Leaders in NCAC believe that creating new units during the pandemic teaches Scouts that although the road may be rough, it is not impossible. Scoutmaster Tony from Troop 350 adds that even as they were completing the paperwork for Scouts BSA Troop 350 for girls, the Troop is, “Zooming through Merit Badges and advancement requirements as they prepare for their trip to Summit.”
Lorrie Hartwell, NCAC’s Sea Scout Commodore, states, “Someday soon we all hope our boats and Scouts will be OUT on the waters leading, learning, feeling those breezes and just having FUN. The Scouts’ enthusiasm turns the administrative challenges of starting a new unit into small obstacles that are easy to overcome. Just ask and help will come!”
The Scouting program provides so much for our youth in the D.C. metro area, especially during this difficult time. It continues to inspire youth to advance, get outdoors, serve their community, and make friends all while using the proper precautions to stay safe. This time in their lives will never be forgotten and the history made by deciding to join Scouting during a pandemic will forever be etched in their memory.
To learn more about how to start a new Troop, Ship, STEM Lab, or other Scouting unit, please contact us and a member of our local Scouting team will be in touch.