Please check in here for resources for Scouting while sheltered in place including virtual camp and merit badge program listings, and touchless service opportunities.
BSA has been periodically updating the national guidelines for safe scouting during coronavirus; click here for the latest BSA FAQ. Another great place to start is Bryan on Scouting’s recent post on Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Summer Camps for Cub Scouts and Scouts.
As a reminders, all parents, scouts, and adult leaders should continue to follow safe scouting practices, including YPT — including for all virtual meetings.
Latest News (as of August 16th). Most councils are winding down summer programs and fall programs are yet to be announced. The programs we are aware of are listed below and will be updated at least monthly.
- Evanston Ecology Center: has restarted their popular afterschool merit badge program. This fall they will be offering First Aid in September, Emergency Preparedness in October, and Citizenship in the Nation in November. These will be held IN PERSON in Evanston from 530p-730pm on two consecutive Mondays; some homework will be required between sessions. In the event the DPH guidance disallows in person meetings, these sessions will likely be cancelled (vs. held virtually) since Evanston Ecology Center does not have the ability to host remote meetings. Scouts are asked to be masked for all sessions and will be socially distanced in the large community room (attendance capped at 15 scouts) or outside (weather permitting). Search keywords for “merit badge.”
- Three Fires Council Rife Shooting MB Clinic: This program is hosted at Indian Mount Scout Reservation (approx. 100 miles from Glencoe) on Saturday September 18th, from 9:00am to 3:00pm. There are pre-requisites and scouts are asked to bring medical forms A and B to follow Three Harbors Council’s camp protocols.
- NEIC’s Camp Oakarro Weekend Shooting Days: Weekend shooting and archery days through November. Space is limited and these sessions do fill up. BYO blue card.
- Central Florida Council: a leader in virtual merit badge programs, has revamped their program to improve service and scheduling; they will be offering badges once a week for a month; sign-ups for September programs are available now (Reading, Cooking, and Radio).
- Buckeye Council’s HomeScouting Adventure Club: A $10 monthly subscription buys access to their monthly merit badge(s). Planned for this fall are Electricity, Cooking, Citizenship in the Nation, American Heritage, and Emergency Preparedness. While the format has yet to be announced, their summer programs included a combination of live and pre-recorded videos, plus activities to meet some of the requirements of the badges. Additional homework and a local merit badge counselor will likely be required to complete the badges.
- New England Base Camp: Registration for fall programs opens September 11th.
- Alamo Council: Susatainability and many electives through October
- Lost Pines Scout Reservation: several weekend elective MB sessions announced through October
- Heartland of America BSA ScoutConnect (self-paced videos)
- Illowa BSA Merit Badge Mondays (20-30 minutes self-paced videos)
- BSA National has posted a 31-day Scouts BSA Challenge featuring a daily merit badge “teaser” activity on their Scouting at Home page.
- If that’s not enough, there is a Reddit thread focused on this topic and the Illinois Merit Badge Finder Facebook page is always a great resource.
- Help on Joining a Zoom Meeting
- All scouts participating in online scouting should have a current Cyber Chip and ensure there is a parent available (even if just listening in the background if there is only one adult leader participating) to ensure compliance with the BSA”s youth protection standards.
- ScoutShare’s tips on holding Troop/Pack meetings with ZOOM, running Remote Quizzes – With Zoom Polling
- Check out CommonSenseMedia’s tips for navigating media during coronavirus
Mr. Heftman is available to conduct Scoutmaster Conferences by Zoom or FaceTime, but asks that they be scheduled in advanced and conducted during non-business hours (evenings or weekends). in order to adhere to YPT standards, scouts are asked to ensure that parent be present (but non-participating) during the conference.
Scouts looking for a Board of Review are asked to reach out to Ms. Lin to schedule a conference via Zoom. BORs will be scheduled on demand with a goal being to provide a BOR within 2 weeks from the date requested (assuming the scout has completed or will imminently complete all requirements) to allow us to assemble panels to involve as wide a variety of reviewers as possible.
While the year-end Court of Honor plans have not yet been finalized, scouts are encouraged to complete any Boards of Review prior to May 31st to ensure sufficient time to order and receive any awards prior to the currently scheduled June 7th BOR. Parents and scouts are asked to review the BSA guidelines for virtual BORs before participating.
Until the Troop resumes regular meetings in the Troop Room, any Scout may take advantage of a Blue-Light Blue Card Special. Ordinarily, it is necessary to secure a signed Blue Card before starting work on a Merit Badge, which are signed after a Scout reviews the Merit Badge Worksheet and requests a card at a Troop Meeting. If you would like to start work on a Merit Badge, please:
- Review the worksheet, which can be found online scouting.org or usscouts.org (or just Google “<badge name> merit badge worksheet”).
- Then email Mr. Heftman, cc’ing a parent or from a parent, that you have reviewed the worksheet and would like to get started. He will sign a card and send you a PDF copy.
NOTE: If you are participating in an online merit badge workshop, please review their FAQ to understand their blue card policy. Some will provide a completed, signed digital blue card at the end. Some ask that the Scoutmaster complete a form prior to participating. Others could ask for a signed blue card (none that we are aware of at yet, but this would be within their rights). So please review the requirements so your completed blue card is not delayed due to paperwork snafus.
For our newest members of the Troop, as well as those still on the road to first class, you can also make progress on your advancement at home. I would suggest our newest Scouts work on learning the required Scouting knots, which can be found in your book, as well as online. https://meritbadge.org/wiki/images/5/5d/Six-Boy-Scout-Knots.pdf A shoelace or short piece or rope is all you need. Take photos of your completed knots and advancement will be updated in your book when we reconvene.
- Knot Kits: scouts interested in working on knots are encouraged to use their handbook and internet to look for instructions on tying knots and to use any rope available at home. If scouts do not have access, or require assistance, they are encouraged to contact Ms. Lin to arrange pick-up of a starter kit (two pieces of paracord plus a knot reference card). You can find diagrams of the scout knots at MeritBadge.org. The ScoutSpirit Council suggests marking the two ends of your rope with different colors to help keep the ends straight. Also, AnimatedKnots.com has posted very clear self-paced, step-by-step animated instructions for many of the most common scout knots as well. Bryan on Scouting has posted suggestions for older scouts teaching lashings online. Last, Boys Life/Scouting Magazine have a helpful reference page featuring videos (some are fast and hard to follow) and explanations of how each knot can be used.
- DIY Orienteering – Chicago Area Orienteering Club now has set up multiple courses (within a 1-hour drive) that will met the 1-mile requirement for First Class. Pace calculators are available to borrow from Ms. Lin.
- The Troop 28 iNaturalist Challenge – to help complete Second Class #4 and First Class #5a
- Official BSA updates on COVID-19, including accepted shelter-at-home rank advancement variations
- BSA Scouting@Home Challenge – 30-day programs (one per rank for Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class), each featuring an activity a day that is rank-appropriate
There are a number of merit badge counselors in Glencoe, and a good amount of partial work on a badge can be started in the comfort of your own home. Troop 28 parents cover most of the Eagle-required merit badges plus over a dozen elective badges. If you are interested in working on any badge at your own pace or with a friend, and would like suggestions for local merit badge counselors, please reach out to Ms. Lin for suggestions.
ScoutShare has published a list of Merit Badges that can be worked on at home, the likely adaptations that are likely to be accepted, and requirements which are unlikely to be completable while sheltered-in-place. As always, you are encouraged to reach out to a merit badge counselor before completing requirements to understand the individual counselor’s recommendations.
In the meantime, BSA National has announced a deal with Amazon to make many of the most popular merit badge pamphlets available by Kindle at the same price as hard copy (this is a big improvement as they used to be much more expensive!). The BSA Scout Shop is also still taking orders online for shipping to your home. In addition to having merit badge pamphlets available for sale, they also have several kits available to assist with merit badges including Basketry, Leatherwork, Robotics, and Woodworking.
- Early during the shutdown, Bryan on Scouting (a great resource for all scouts and scouters, BTW) published a list of 58 badges Scouts can complete at home.
- Personal Fitness: download a fitness log tracker or use the official CDC youth-adjusted BMI calculator
- First Aid: find suggestions on first aid “starter” kits for Second Class rank or for the First Aid Merit badge; purchase missing items locally from the troop
- Communications/Citizenship in the Community: Village of Glencoe Board of Trustees meetings are now being livestreamed and are acceptable to many merit badge counselors. Visit the Village Trustees home page and look for the agenda for the next upcoming meeting to find the Zoom link or phone number to list in by telephone (or watch online via Facebook).
- Art: Here are some great virtual art museum options:
- Citizenship in the Nation: There are a number of great virtual tours of national landmarks and federal facilities available that will be acceptable to many merit badge counselors. The best tours are being offered as livestreams, so scouts can participate by asking questions (with permission from parents!) via social media. Scouts are encouraged to find their own (especially ones that are interesting and ones they may not be able to see when NOT sheltered in place), but here are a few suggestions to get you thinking:
- The USS Nimitz Air Craft Carrier
- The USS Constitution
- Battle of Gettysburg
- The White House
- US Bureau of Printing and Engraving
- The US Supreme Court
- Lincoln Home National Historical Site
- Clara Barton National Historic Site
- Ellis Island
- Sloss Furnaces (Birmingham, AL) National Historic Landmark
- Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
- W.T. Preston Steamboat National Historic Landmark
- Frederick Douglass Historic Home
- While National Parks are federal facilities, there is nothing that remotely matches visiting the National Parks in person. However, here are some great resources to help you pick out which one you might want to visit:
- Last, these virtual tours won’t help you earn a merit badge, but they’re still pretty cool. Did you know you can “tour” the International Space Station while stuck at home? How about the Great Wall of China, the Taj Majal, the Great Pyramids of Giza, or Stonehenge?
The BSA National Scout Shop is still open and has resources including merit badge pamphlets, and kits to make progress on merit badges including basketry, leatherwork, robotics, and woodworking.
The BSA has a non-advancement oriented STEM track for scouts most interested in the sciences. The NOVA Awards can be earned alongside merit badges, and provide recognition opportunities scouts looking for additional STEM challenges beyond the basic merit badge electives. Scouts interested in learning more about the NOVA can read more on the BSA site. requirements for Scouts BSA awards can be found here.
- Kennedy Space Center is offering educational live streams on their Facebook page on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays (these sessions are interactive and staff will respond to participant questions). They are also offering twice-weekly #NASAatHome Spaceport episodes featuring chats with subject matter experts about a variety of spaceflight topics.
- Buckeye Council has announced a STEM-focused Cyber Summer Camp. This will be a virtual program beginning June 8th. “Content will be updated daily, featuring live, interactive videos with NASA engineers and will be available on the virtual campground at anytime to meet the needs of families….Scouts will focus on earning the NOVA Award and interact with a NASA engineer each day during live interactions. By completion of Cyber Summer Camp, the following will be (mostly) earned…Scouts BSA = Shoot! NOVA Award + at least one merit badge.”
- The NEIC Self-Isolation Challenge: The Self-Isolation challenge encourages scouts to continue to do “what scouts do” — whether or not it contributes to meeting an advancement or merit badge requirement. Scouts BSA-age scouts need to complete 4 activities from each of 4 sections (community/home help, scouting skills, youth-shaped scouting, and just for fun). Challenges include cooking at home, sending thank you cards, sewing face masks, going for a hike, designing a new merit badge, and completing a Lego challenge. Scouts can repeat activities if they like. See the NEIC site for more details.
- On Saturday, May 1st, BSA hosted a National Camp-In. The full-day program was recorded and available for view on Facebook.
- The morning program included a moviemaking panel featuring the director of some of the Hunger Games movies, the costumer for Captain Marvel and several of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, and the Golden Globe-winning producer of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Note: all three are merit badge counselors!
- The afternoon and evening program included sessions with NASA Astronaut Doug Wheelock and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
- Other activities throughout the day included scout skills, stories about troop adventures, camp cooking suggestions, and campfire activities.
- Chickasaw Council summary of COVID-safe activities