Following the words of the Boy Scout motto to “Be Prepared”, Troop 976 of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Vienna, Va did just that and more this week. In this time of uncertainty and social-distancing due to the coronavirus, the leadership and scouts of Troop 976 rallied to continue with their regularly scheduled Wednesday evening Troop meetings. Instead of holding a meeting as they usually do in the Counsel Room at OLGC they took it online!
On Wednesday March 11th 27 Scouts of Troop 976 utilized online video teleconferencing via Zoom to participate in their meeting. This inaugural approach went extremely well keeping the Troop not only on schedule but connected with one another. Scoutmaster Abe Bacarra set up the teleconference and laid out ground rules with the Scouts at the start to help the boys understand Zoom’s features and to also help in keeping the meeting under control. For example, virtual handraising was one of the many areas instituted with the boys to insure a forum where each boy could follow the discussion and also participate.
As moderator, Mr. Bacarra had planned initially for a 10 -15 minute virtual Troop meeting to see if the approach was even viable but their meeting lasted for 45 minutes and could have gone longer. The Scouts were not only engaged but excited to be continuing in some format with their normal routines. The Scouts followed a pre-set agenda that was listed on screen. An unexpected side benefit emerged in that there was even more participation than usual from the younger scouts as the format seemed to help with any hesitation to participate.
“The Scouts took the virtual meeting in stride,” Scoutmaster Abe Bacarra said. “I think this is indicative of their generation where they have been exposed to computing/mobile devices from an early age. The virtual meeting is in line with current distance learning efforts. The boys are so adept with this technology that they may be helping their parents setup Webex and Zoom sessions for their office meetings.”
Due to the great success of the meeting last Wednesday the Troop plans to continue using the online format for their weekly Troop meetings as long as social distancing is necessary. In fact, Troop elections for Scout leadership positions are scheduled for next week and will continue now online. The Scouts are not the only ones going online. On the same night the Troop’s adult comprised Committee meeting led by Committee Chair Pete Thiringer took place via teleconference as well. Even more, there are plans already in process to hold virtual scout Boards of Review (needed for rank advancement) next week. Troop 976 is not only remaining “Prepared” but keeping their close connections during these unprecedented times.