The last in-person Court of Honor for Potomac District Troop 447 of Rockville United Methodist Church in Rockville, Maryland, was December 10, 2019. Early March 2020, everybody was excited for the next quarterly Court of Honor, since it would be “the big one”, combined with the Troop Family Banquet and a celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Troop. Everything was being put into place for the event of the year, and then Covid-19 happened, turning our lives upside down, cancelling school, work places and everything Scout related. No meetings, no camp-outs, no Sea Base, no Merit Badge Universities, no Summer Camps, No Court of Honors.
Troop 447 would not be so easily be discouraged. Through the possibility of Zoom virtual meetings, they did not miss ONE Troop meeting. The PLC quickly adapted to the quarantine situation and started to schedule weekly virtual Troop meetings using the Zoom platform. They looked for Merit Badges they could bring to the Scouts, with the help of Merit Badge Counselors associated with the Troop, using online materials, discussions and Kahoots. Remaining requirements needed to be completed by Scouts in their own time, but the PLC provided informative meetings and a sound basis for the Merit Badges. Interim SPL Isaac led the Troop on a virtual Camp-In of 3 days and 2 nights, keeping enthusiasm among younger Scouts from tanking. Online games, Scout skill instructions and stories from older Scouts about High Adventure camps were well received.
In June an online election was held to elect the new Senior Patrol Leader and for the new Patrol Leaders for the 4 Patrols in the Troop. With an attendance of over 60% that evening, it was the best attended meeting since the quarantine.
Newly elected SPL Jackson and his 3 ASPLs did not waste any time and started scheduling the next month of Troop activities, and in early July the PLC conducted the bi-annual Planning Meeting through Zoom, trying to have both virtual and in-person options available for the next 8 months of scheduled meetings; a Scout is prepared.
On July 11, several Scouts from Troop 447 participated in the International Scouts Trash the Trash event, collecting over 80 lbs of trash, earning them the Messenger of Peace Award.
On Saturday, August 1, the Troop would finally come together in person, at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, to practice for the annual Troop fundraiser, the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair parking. Even though the fair had been canceled for this summer, protocols and procedures still needed to be handed down from older Scouts to younger Scouts, preparing them for hopefully next year’s Fair.
The PLC insisted on the highest levels of safety; temperatures of everybody showing up were taken with a non-contact thermometer, face masks were mandatory, as was keeping a distance of at least 6’.
At the end of the meeting an abbreviated Court of Honor was scheduled, which revealed how active the Scouts of Troop 447 had been during the quarantine; 14 rank advancements, 2 of which were Eagle Boards of Review, 57 earned Merit Badges and 26 BSA Awards for Scouts and adults. A remarkable achievement and a testament to the resolve and determination of this Troop to continue Scouting even when at home. A huge help in this achievement has been the leadership, staff and volunteers of the National Capital Area Council and the Scouting at Home and Merit Badges @ Home programs.