For Our Lady Queen of Peace Scout Troop 159, adventure, camaraderie, learning and fun didn’t stop during the pandemic.
The Troop 159 scouts pulled together weekly virtual meetings and virtual camp outs by pivoting to places that were not available locally to them by using Zoom meeting calls.
For example, they worked on merit badges with merit badge councilors and by using video tours, checked out places such as Mars and the Winchester Mystery house.
The boys were able to actually do a virtual camp-out on the planet Mars and took a virtual tour of the Martian landscape.
A COVID-19 plan
The scouts were eventually able to pivot back to outdoor meetings with proper social distancing, masking and plenty of hand sanitizer.
A COVID-19 plan was implemented by adult leadership and put in place during September with weekly meetings and monthly camp outs.
One of the assistant scoutmasters (Dr. J) is a local doctor and temperature checked each parent/guardian dropping off the scout for the meeting or camp-out. The scout was also checked for fever and a COVID exposure questionnaire for each family participating was filled out each time there was an in-person meeting of any kind.
All scouts were required to wear masks at all times and were instructed how to properly social distance.
The scouts first post pandemic Camp-out was at the New Weiss Ecology Center in Ringwood.
Search and rescue of ‘Bob’
The scouts ran a Search and Rescue drill, locating a life sized 150 lbs. training dummy, affectionately named “Bob” by the scouts. Bob was located and treated with first aid and transported to a safe location where his injuries could be further safely treated.
With all camps closed this summer, scouts and leaders created their own summer camp overnight adventure, where the newer scouts worked on Wilderness Survival skills including sleeping, individually in a shelter they built.
The older scouts planed and prepared meals for the 25 campers for the entire weekend.
Over the summer some scouts also planned and carried out a week long 60-mile canoe trek in the Adirondacks where they created the route, planned the meals and camped on a different island every night.
More than 40 merit badges earned
Troop 159 last week held a Court of Honor outdoors with a slideshow provided by one of our scouts showcasing all the fun they had the last few weeks and months.
The 159 scouts earned more than 40 merit badges during the pandemic with 15 scouts earning rank advancements and other achievements.
Even during a pandemic the scouts of Troop 159 are prepared to have fun with their peers, albeit via Zoom or in-person they learned and made the best of the hand we were all dealt.
If anyone is interested in joining Troop 159 or making a donation of PPE, hand sanitizer or any other items they may feel helpful to our scouts please contact Scoutmaster Lee Szolusha at email@example.com.