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Conducting Virtual Scouting Meetings

Can my unit/patrol/den conduct virtual meetings?  YES!!

With an uncertain timeline for when regular meetings will resume, the question has come up about units being able to conduct virtual meetings.  Can a unit conduct a virtual meeting?  Yes.  Before you get started though it is important that both leaders and Scouts are familiar with the BSA’s Social Media Guidelines and Scouting’s Youth Protection Guidelines and Barriers to Abuse.  It is important that all of these safeguards are followed the same as they would be in an in-person setting.  Check out this great article from Bryan on Scouting on how Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse work online.

A great first program to run might be the BSA’s Cyber Chip Program.  There are four, age-appropriate program levels and Scouts can earn a patch for completing.

So if you want to have an online meeting where do you get started?  We’ve put together this guide on what you can do.

Selecting a Meeting Platform

If you are going to meet virtually, you need to select the right platform to use.  There are many platforms that allow you to conduct virtual meetings.  There are also many that allow you to meet at no cost.  Make sure you check out the details of each platform and find the best system that works for you.  Here are a couple of that we have researched that may fit the needs of your Scouting group.  (Note: the New Birth of Freedom Council does not officially endorse a specific service, but want to provide options for units to decide what works best)

Zoom

Zoom has several different tiers of plans, but the FREE version would be great for most Scouting groups.  It includes:

  • Ability to have up to 100 people in a meeting
  • 40 minute limit on group meetings
  • Unlimited number of meetings
  • Screensharing capability
  • Options for both conference call and video chat
  • Breakout rooms for small groups

Some of the great resources from Zoom are their tools and instructional videos for anyone that has never conducted a virtual meeting.  Regardless of which system you choose, check out their resources.

Webex

Like Zoom, Webex has several different tiers of plans, but again, the FREE version might be just what you are looking for.  It includes:

  • Ability to have up to 100 people in a meeting
  • No limit on the length of your group meeting
  • Unlimited number of meetings
  • Screensharing capability
  • Options for both conference call and video chat

Free Conference Call

Free Conference Call doesn’t just offer Free Conference Calls, they also have a robust FREE Video Conference service and claim to be able to handle up to 1,000 participants.  It includes:

  • Ability to have up to 1,000 people in a meeting
  • No limit to the length of your meeting
  • Unlimited number of meetings
  • Screensharing capability
  • Options for both conference call and video chat
  • Breakout rooms for smaller groups

Skype

  • Host up to 50 people in a meeting
  • Unlimited number of meetings
  • Screensharing capability

Conducting the Meeting

Try to keep your meeting as close to the structure of a normal meeting.  There is a great example in this article.  There isn’t anything to physically set up or teardown, but you can conduct most of the rest of the meeting as normal.

Cub Scout Meeting

Before the Meeting: Make sure that you set up the meeting using your virtual platform so that all the meeting participants know how to log in.  It is a good idea to establish a Code of Conduct for the meeting to make sure that all of the Scouts and their parents know what is expected during the course of the meeting.  

Gathering:  Have a fun activity that Scouts can participate as in as they log in.

Opening:  Have Scouts recite the Pledge of Allegiance, Scout Oath and Law.  If your pack or den has something special that you regularly like a song still do it!

Activity:  This is the time that you work on the regular Scouting skills.  You may have to look at your plans to make sure that you choose activities that lend themselves to be done in front of a computer.  Make sure if it is an activity that requires supplies, make sure you communicate it before the meeting so that they have it on hand.  You may want to consider incorporating some of these activities as well.  

Closing:  Hold a fun or inspirational opening.  Some ideas are available from a number of different sources:

Closing Ceremonies

Scouting Magazine Closing Ceremonies

 

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