Since 1910 the Boy Scouts of America has taught outdoor experiences and survival training through hiking, camping and other activities to teach leadership skills.
Like many other organizations, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization’s activities came to a halt, leaving many scouts unable to interact with their peers, do projects to gain badges, advance in rank or have the ability to do outdoor activities.
Mike Rossi, Lakeside Boy Scout Troop 45 scout master, said though it has not been easy, he is glad his troop can finally meet in person again as COVID restrictions in San Diego County have started lifting.
“They were all chomping at the bit to come back and I believe a lot of it is because it is a social thing,” said Rossi. “You could not see anybody and, depending on how strict your parents were, you could not go out and do anything. I do not see any emotional distress or anything negative. They came back and they just bounced right back. They are here, they are smiling, laughing with their friends and the social distancing is not affecting their time with their fellow scouts.”
Rossi said following the lead of the San Diego Imperial Council of the BSA, they have followed county guidelines from the beginning of the pandemic. At first he said they had to meet in groups of 10 or less, and when everything shut down, all in-person meetings stopped, so they started meeting through Zoom.
“For me, I was like a lot of people that this would come, then it would pass and was hearing if we all did the right thing it would go away around May or June when it warms up,” he said. “Because things were short-term, we did a lot of trivia. I had a lot of participants in the beginning then it kind of waned.”
Rossi said some scouts stopped coming to the virtual meetings because they did not have that personal social aspect. Realizing they might be in this situation for a longer time, he started doing breakout rooms where older scouts could teach skills to younger scouts and his scouts were very receptive to this.
Rossi said there are three types of boys in scouting. “One is outdoor camping and that is all they want to do. For some kids it is that rank and moving up, learning the skills, earning Eagle and that is their goal. For some kids it is the camaraderie, the brotherly part where you make new friendships and some of them are a combination of two or three of these – boys who embrace the entire scouting experience and love all aspects of it.”
Pre-pandemic, Rossi said his troop was around 42 scouts, but due to the pandemic and shutdown, he lost some; there are a few he is not sure will come back. But Rossi said the boys in his troop are strong together and now that the word is out, his scouts are returning.
“Boys came back and we will start outdoor activities and we are allowed to go camping,” he said. “It is called family camping, so the only boys who can share a tent are family members.”