Scouting Adapts to a Virtual World Amid COVID-19

STOW, Ohio — When most people think about Scouting, camping and outdoor programs are the first thoughts that enter their minds. Many must be wondering how organizations like the Great Trail Council, Boy Scouts of America have continued to serve their 10,000 youth members in Northeast Ohio.

Though the task was not easy, Scouting has adapted its program offerings into a virtual world. As the schools closed, and the Governor ordered Ohioans to stay at home, the staff at Great Trail Council quickly began to improvise, adapt, and overcome this setback to ensure that Scouts across Mahoning, Medina, Northern Wayne, Portage, Summit, and Trumbull Counties would be able to continue Scouting: At Home.

As these changes began, Great Trail Council started its at home programming by running a camp at home contest. This allowed Scouts to create a camp site in their homes or back yards and submit them using the hashtag #CampAtHomeGTC via social media to be judged by Great Trail Council staff members for three different prizes. The winners of the contest, two Scouts from Troop 74 in Akron, took it upon themselves to make an entire video presentation of their camping experience in their back yard. Readers can view the video on the Great Trail Council Facebook page by going to Facebook.com/gtcbsa.

After the first week of schools being closed, and realizing a need to continue Scouting, more program offerings began to be offered to Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA members, and more. During the stay at home order, Cub Scouts and their parents can join staff members on Mondays and Thursdays at 3:30PM for live meetings to help Cub Scouts continue their journey toward their rank advancement. These live sessions, offered using Facebook, have been a big hit in Great Trail Council with over 500 Scouts tuning in each day to watch what will be offered next.

In addition to Cub Scout offerings, Great Trail Council Merit Badge Counselors have been hard at work offering online courses for older Scouts to be able to continue earning Merit Badges while they continue Scouting at home. Over 360 Scouts have taken part in the online Merit Badge offerings, with Scouts as far away as Oklahoma and Florida participating in the courses as well.

“It’s a really nice time to work on Scouting activities, and we’ve had fabulous experiences with the Merit Badge counselors,” says Emily Voytilla, committee member for Troop 269, Aurora. “I think my kiddo is getting more out of these programs since we have the uninterrupted free time to really think about what we’re doing too.”

Great Trail Council staff and volunteers will continue to keep Scouting strong in Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley by offering programs to all Scouts throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. For more information about Scouting at Home activities and how Scouting is continuing in the area, visit Gtcbsa.org.

Pictured above: Boy Scout Troop 9002 in Poland conducts a virtual meeting.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.