"Be prepared" is the motto of the Boy Scouts of America, so when COVID-19 hit, pack leaders quickly pivoted to a virtual platform to help boy and cub scouts finish their year requirements.
This fall, though, the organization is working on some new efforts to keep kids safely involved during the pandemic.
"Schools having a virtual start and then delaying the start at least two or three weeks, in most cases. It has slowed down the year-to-year comparison for children joining and we think that, to some extent, we will not recover completely on the number of children on a year-to-year extent," said Tracy Techau, Scout Executive of the Atlanta Area Chapter of the Boys Scouts of America.
Techau says besides yard signs, most scout recruiting turned digital this year.
Techau says scouting organizations across the country are finding creative ways to get children involved and outdoors while still adhering to government regulations for social distancing.
"It varies from community to community. There are certain states that have greater restrictions for social activities," said Techau.
Pack leader Lindsey Paris always starts off the scouting year with her den with a bottle rocket building and launching activity. This year it will look a little different. "We had a digital tutorial build. Bring all your stuff up to Zoom, we’ll build the rockets together and then were going to put every family in a parking spot and when it's your turn, approach the launch pad and try to get that shot. So, we’ll be around other families but we’ll be wearing our masks," said Paris.
Scouting leaders are also hoping to safely bring children the socialization that they've been missing. Especially if the kids are in virtual learning this fall.
"I think it's important to see your friends, catch up with them. I know I need that socialization. Just Zooms with my friends and family, I think it's the same for them," said Paris.
"Children are missing their friends. They're not developing the social skills, the group dynamics, the social norming that is so important for children. It's just not really happening right now for children since schools are virtual. Cub Scouts offers that experience," said Techau.
Techau believes activities like scouting are crucial during this time.
"Scouting is more important now than ever for several reasons. First, the whole motto of Scouts is to be prepared. And all of us want to be prepared as we work through the situations of COVID-19 and whatever happens this fall, this winter, next spring. The concept of just being prepared is resonating more and more with people," said Techau.
Being prepared but also getting children involed in some safe activities this fall.