Garden State Council Scout Executive Patrick Linfors offers this recap of the main points discussed at the online “town hall” held on April 7th.
Thanks to the 50+ people who joined our Online Town Hall last night. The Council Key 3 is hearing feedback requesting more visits like this throughout the year. Stay tuned for future opportunities to gather as a Scouting family.
Several of you asked if the call was recorded. Unfortunately, the answer is no. While there may not have been youth on the call, as a practice, the Council doesn’t record video calls because it’s against Youth Protection policy and the BSA’s digital safety guidelines.
We covered lots of ground on the call, thanks to great questions in advance and during the meeting. Much of the topics were related to COVID’s effect on our programs.
Here is a brief recap.
- Unit programming. We discussed the importance of Dens, Packs, Troops, Crews, Posts, and Labs continuing to meet by using technology. Our mission is too important to wait until we can meet again in-person.
- Good discussion on working with overwhelmed parents, sharing with them how “Scouting-on” is a positive and healthy distraction for the whole family.
- Discussed service ideas for families/units like making cards for the medical community, cooking meals for home-bound seniors and, if you have supplies, making face masks.
- Good questions/discussion on digital safety. In fact, we have an update tip sheet for Digital Safety (linked above)
- Discussed tips for using Zoom. That list will soon be on the “Scout On! Hub.”
- Lots of questions regarding the program opportunities Council is providing online.
- Discussed what’s available to families/units at the “Scout On! Hub,” which is here: http://gardenstatescouting.org/scout-online, including activities for all ages and our ongiong virtual merit badge series.
- Coming soon to the Hub: a special Duty to God service as well as special video programming for Cub Scouts and STEM Scout content.
- Lots of questions regarding the summer – Cub Scout Day Camps and Scouts BSA resident camp at Roosevelt Scout Reservation.
- As of today, the Council is planning like those adventures will happen as planned. However, volunteers and staff are preparing for three options: 1) camp happens as planned, 2) camp happens in-person in some modified way, or 3) camp doesn’t happen in-person and we offer online activities.
- ScoutBook. With youth taking merit badges online, we discussed how units are taking more advantage of ScoutBook. Next week, the Council is hosting a “how-to” training on all things ScoutBook, with a special focus on the merit badge process. Stay tuned to the Council website, Facebook page, and Knapsack email newsletter for the details.
- Crossover for Cub Scouts. While the in-person ceremonies may not be taking place, you could choose to do them digitally. We do recommend moving forward with the transfer of youth to Troops via the youth application. While transfers can’t be completed through online registration, there is a digital solution. Use the fillable PDF of the youth application (linked below, along with an instruction document). Signatures or e-mail approvals from the parent and adult leader is enough to process the transfer of a youth.
On unit finance:
- Camp cards. Discussed the extension of the sale, which now runs through the end of June. Updates can be found here: http://gardenstatescouting.org/CampCards
On Council operations:
- Yes – the staff is working remotely and is providing quality customer service to all members and units.
- Yes – the Executive Committee has authorized the Council to apply for federal assistance through the CARES Act to help protect employees and jobs.
- There were questions about the financial health of the Council. Yes – events like Friends of Scouting (FOS) presentations and community special events are being postponed; but, we are confident the families that love Scouting – and the community that needs Scouting – will rise to the occasion and answer the call.
On the Council’s strategic plan:
- The Strategic Plan that was in place was extended in 2019 through the end of 2020. There is a plan to create a new Strategic Plan for 2021.
- The committees that were studying Council properties and the size and orientation of Districts are on pause until we learn more about the outcomes related to the National BSA bankruptcy.
- No – the Garden State Council is not directly impacted by the bankruptcy. We are business as usual. The dollars we raise locally are 100% for the growth and health of Scouting in the Council’s six South Jersey counties.
On Council goals:
- Growing membership
- Strong, compelling program
- Financial stability
- Good discussion here on everyone working to reach into the community and invite more families to participate.
- All units are encouraged to ensure their pins at www.BeAScout.org are 1) on, 2) up-to-date with proper info and 3) ready with the “apply now” button turned on. Especially in this environment, if a family wants to join Scouting, this is how they will do it.
- Family Scouting was celebrated. All programs of the BSA serve boys and girls and we should be working to engage all families and all youth in what we do.
On the Council website:
- Yes – a new website is in formation. It will be easier to use and mobile-friendly.
Again, thanks to all who were on the call and made it fun.