The Boy Scouts of America prides itself on serving the community and bringing it together. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way they're conducting meetings and giving back to those in need.
"As soon as our Cub Scout packs were not able to meet in person is when things started to get a little more difficult, but that's also when we saw the leaders really shine," said CEO for Atlanta Area Boy Scouts of America Tracy Techau.
Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts run similar schedules as their local school systems.
"We’re still sort of in that three-fourths or 80 percent of completions for the year, so it really lines up quite a bit with schools, where schools were more than half way through the year but not quite ready to call it done," said Techau.
Many Cub Scout dens are choosing to do their meetings virtually. The thousands of volunteer leaders are also encouraging their scouts to complete activities at home, whether it be a hike, project or other outdoor activity. Sean Cravens has been doing just that with his son.
"Everything’s been impacted, including scouting, of course, because it is a social thing, whether it be den meetings, pack meetings, camping trips," said Cravens.
With many scout camping trips now canceled or postponed, the Boy Scouts of America - Atlanta is encouraging scouts and their families to set up a tent in the backyard this weekend as part of a virtual community campout. Cravens and his family plan to participate, weather permitting.
"We will be streaming a program all day long. Everything from how to do Dutch oven cooking to launching rockets,” said Techau. “We’ll have skits and songs and raising the flags."
Scouts across the country are also missing their end of the year moving-up ceremonies.
"To be honest, for the Eagle Scouts, I definitely feel it's a bummer for those guys and girls, because it's probably something they've been working on for 10 years,” said Cravens, who is an Eagle Scout. “So, for them to miss out on a ceremony, it is very much like graduating seniors right now.”
The Boy Scouts of America says they will be flexible and extend deadlines for all potential Eagle Scouts who need the extra time. But even with the pandemic, the Boy Scouts are finding a way to still lend a helping hand. Scouts set up tents for the VA Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia, after learning the facility needed the extra space to screen patients.
"The scouting experience is strong, and it's times like this that the scouting principles are so important,” said Techau. “In good times and challenging times, we want to teach all of our children to be self-reliant, to be prepared, to do good daily and to help other people at all times.”