Thank you to everyone that joined us for the May 2020 Council-wide Virtual Roundtable. We had a great meeting and we hope that all of the participants were able to get a lot of good information on how to KEEP SCOUTING and to do so safely.
We shared that during the presentation we would share both the slide deck and the recording from the meeting. A list of Frequently Asked Questions is below.
May 2020 Roundtable Recording
Questions and Answers from the May 2020 Council-wide Roundtable
The following questions and answers were compiled from questions asked during and after the roundtable. Questions have been organized by section. Similar questions from the meeting have been merged into a single question where appropriate.
Remember that more detailed information on this information and more is available in The Hub.
Section 1: Summer Camp 2020
Q: Will New Birth of Freedom Camps be open for the 2020 Camping Season?
A: The Council Executive Board has been meeting weekly since April and is working to make a decision by May 12. Any decision will be communicated to all units that are planning to attend or might be interested in attending our Summer Camps. Announcements will be shared on the New Birth of Freedom Council website and our council and camp social media pages.
Q: Will we be refunded deposits and payments if camps are closed for the summer?
A: Yes. You can read the full COVID-19 Summer Camp refund policy here. If camps are canceled, units will receive a 100% refund on fees paid.
Q: If camps are not canceled, will Scouts that are no longer comfortable or willing to attend because of COVID-19 be able to get a refund?
A: Yes. You can read the full COVID-19 Summer Camp refund policy here. Units must submit a Reservation Reduction Form to process this refund (if a unit is canceling their entire reservation, they should use the Unit Summer Camp Refund Request Due to COVID-19 Form). Units need to submit this form on behalf of the families and refunds will be sent back to the unit, who in turn and return monies paid. Note that all cancelations for the 100% refund must occur 21 days (consecutive not business days) prior to the Scout’s scheduled week of camp. For programs such as Day/Twilight Camp where the family created an account to register and did not register through the unit, please use the Reservation Reduction Form.
Q: Our unit is planning on attending a camp out of council. If that camp cancels summer camp but New Birth of Freedom Council camps are open, what would be the process to register for camp at Hidden Valley or Tuckahoe?
A: You can simply log in to your unit’s Tentaroo account and make the reservation. You can find sites that are available on the Camping Department’s website. If you see that a site is available, but you are unable to reserve the site, please contact Todd Weidner at Todd.email@example.com and Todd will be able to initiate your reservation.
Q: What are the guidelines if camps in other parts of the state have entered the “Green Phase” of the governor’s reopening plan, but our unit is located in a county that remains in a “Yellow” or “Red” Phase? Could we participate in another county defined as “Green”?
A: If the camp is located in an area in the “Green Phase” there is not necessarily anything preventing you from attending. However, please note that some councils have established protocols for units coming from “Red” counties or “hotspots” which limit who can participate. It is best to check that camp’s particular policies in regards to coming from an area that is not also “Green”.
Q: Will the early payment due date for summer camp programs be extended beyond May 15?
A: Perhaps-we understand that the current situation creates a dilemma. We hope to have a go/no-go decision out on May 12. When that decision is made, there will also be a decision made on any extensions for payments. If the deadline is not extended, but your unit feels it cannot make the payment on time, please contact Todd Weidner, Director of Camping, and he will work with your unit.
Q: When will the council be making decisions on camperships?
A: You will receive notification most likely the week of May 11, depending on the outcome of the Executive Committee Meeting concerning the summer camping season which is scheduled for May 12.
Q: If camps are closed, is the New Birth of Freedom Council considering any virtual options such as Virtual Day Camps?
A: Yes. If camps are closed, we want to still provide Scouting experiences for our Scouts. We are currently exploring options.
Q: Will the council allow funds to be directly transferred from council-to-council if one council’s camp closes and another remains open and a unit wishes to participate?
A: If another council wishes to send payment on a unit’s behalf due to a camp closure we will certainly accept that payment. At this point, we have not established a council-to-council transfer option in the event of New Birth of Freedom Council camp closures. We will take that suggestion into advisement. Currently, all plans are to issue refund directly to the unit.
Q: If camps are open, will each participant be tested for COVID-19 or checked for fevers daily?
A: In regards to COVID-19 testing, no. COVID-19 testing is not readily available and there is currently no way for us to do so. Regarding temperature checks, our current protocol is that Scouts will be checked for temperatures on arrival.
Q: If camps are open, have you considered letting units cook their own food in their campsite?
A: Yes, this is one of many options that we are considering in order to potentially open camps while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Any changes to our current camp schedule or camp processes will be communicated with units once decisions have been made.
Q: If camps are open, it might be difficult for Scouts to get physicals from doctors. What is being done to help with this?
A: National announced exceptions and alternatives on Monday, May 11 and we will post those on the Council website in the coming week.
Q: Why didn’t every family attending camp receive a survey?
A: We conducted a survey of both units and families that are planning to attend New Birth of Freedom Council camps this summer. We had a 77% response rate from Scouts BSA unit leaders and a 74% response rate from Cub Scout leaders. Our response rate from parents was 33%. We have contact information for all of our registered units, but units that have not registered all of their attendees only provide numbers of attendees and not names and contact information so it was impossible for us to survey all the families directly. Instead, we asked unit leaders to pass along the surveys to their Scouting families. The unit leaders who received the survey were either the primary contacts in Tentaroo or the designated primary contact for the session of summer camp.
Section 2: Unit Programming
Q: Have there been any discussions about Journey to Excellence impacts due to the stay at home orders? What about the Summertime Pack Award?
A: There has been additional guidance given in regards to Journey to Excellence. You can find that information here. There has not been any specific guidance on the Summertime Pack Award. At this point, any unit activity, including virtual activities would seem appropriate for meeting the requirements for those awards.
Q: When the Commonwealth moves our counties to “Yellow Phase”, can units meet in person or is the recommendation that units remain closed?
A: Units must be able to meet the requirements that are outlined by the state. Some units may be able to meet fully in the “Yellow Phase” while others may be able to meet only on a limited basis. The guidelines for the “Yellow Phase” can be found here. Units will first need to make sure that their meeting place is okay with Scouting groups to resume meeting. If so, units are going to have to follow guidelines for social distancing, masks, and any other requirements made by the CDC. This phase also stipulates that groups are no larger than 25. This likely restricts many packs and troops from having full meetings, but may open the possibility for units to have in-person den meetings or patrol meetings as long as CDC requirements are followed.
Q: When the counties in our council go to the “Yellow Phase” will the council provide guidance for meetings and activities to comply with CDC requirements?
A: As it becomes clear as to what those requirements will be, we will do our best to provide guidance. Our guidance will follow the guidelines established by the state which can be found here and those established by the CDC which can be found here.
Q: Can a unit arrange to do a service project in a safe way ensuring social distancing?
A: During the stay at home order, units should not be organizing service projects. After that order is lifted, units absolutely can. There have some units that have had some success in coordinating projects with their families. There is somewhat of a fine line here. A unit could share with families an opportunity to give blood, volunteer to help at a food bank, or contribute to a service project in the community. In this case, the individual Scouts would participate with their families. The unit would not gather or meet all in the same place at the same time. Scouts from different families would not come in direct contact with one another which would violate social distancing. Families would be making the decision for themselves as to whether to participate or not.
Q: What platforms are units using to run meetings online? Zoom only allows for 40 minutes for the free version.
A: Webex, Skype, Free Conference Call are some of the alternatives to Zoom. There is more information on these platforms on The Hub. Troop 203 in Hershey shared that they decided to purchase a 1-year subscription to Zoom and have seen that their meetings are working even better now.
Q: Our troop is goin got set up virtual merit badges internally. Could we offer our merit badges to the Council but pre-register our troop’s Scouts before opening it up to the rest of the council?
A: Yes. Please contact Christopher Lontz at Christopher.firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work to get it all set up. Thank you for offering!
Q: Have Cub Scout units conducted online meetings that have been successful?
A: Yes. Pack 36 (Penbrook) volunteered that their Webelos Den has had some successful meetings with great attendance. One of the keys with the Cub Scout meetings is to keep the meeting short and as engaging as possible. As many of our Cub Scout meetings are based on interaction between Scouts, the key is to keep the spirit of that interaction in meetings and not drag meetings on longer than they need to be. There is nothing wrong with a 15 or 20 minute virtual Cub Scout meeting!
Q: Are there pre-developed merit badge training slide decks for merit badge counselors who wish to volunteer to teach merit badges?
A: There is not an official repository of merit badge training slide decks. There are a lot of resources out on the web to download and customize slide decks that other counselors have used. If you are interested and need help finding some of these resources, please reach out to Christopher Lontz at Christopher.email@example.com and he can possibly point you in the right direction and get you signed up to be a virtual counselor. If you wish to be a merit badge counselor for one of our future virtual sessions you can sign up online.
Q: Can unit elections for SPL/ASPL be held virtually with secret ballot? If so, under what format?
A: Yes. You can get creative with ways to incorporate traditional best practices in virtual meeting formats. Some platforms do allow for polls or surveys to be conducted during the meeting. Some of these can be tailored to the election process. You could also designate a specific leader and Scout (following the digital youth protection guidelines) to receive an email or a message with the votes.
Q: Will there be any virtual classes on the Going the Distance Academy for Cub Scouts?
A: It is our plan and we are working on getting things put together.
Q: Is there a place where leaders can share links and ideas to use in our virtual meetings?
A: Great idea! Not that we know of right now, but we will look into this some more. In the meantime, check out this cool suggestion from Troop 256! They use a free Jeopardy app that works well during Zoom meetings. Patrols can play as a team. The last game they played used 6 categories: Adventure Begins, Leadership, First Aid, Outdoors, Advancement, and Scoutmaster’s Special.
Section 3: Recruiting/Registration
Q: What is the BSA stance on recruiting?
A: With schools closed, most of our traditional recruiting methods are on hold for the spring. Certainly, units can still recruit after the stay at home order is lifted as long as all of the state’s and CDC’s guidelines are followed. There have been some units that have had success inviting new Scouts to attend virtual meetings. Units can set themselves up that they can accept applications online. Units can send hardcopies or scans of applications to their District Executive for processing. The membership committee will be working on some ways to help support recruiting in the summer and the follow especially as social distancing requirements stay in place.
Q: Will units be provided resources to do online recruitment?
A: Hopefully. At this point none of these resources really exist. They all need to be developed. Everything that has been created to this point have been designed to be a support piece and not a primary driver for recruitment. You can find some of the existing national resources at the Membership and Marketing Hub.
Q: Since packs were unable to conduct a crossover ceremony, can we complete applications for the Arrow of Light Scouts to transfer them to the troop?
A: Yes. The completed applications can be mailed or sent electronically to your District Executive. Contact them directly to make arrangements.
Q: We submitted new applications to our District Executive, but we have not seen those names on my.scouting yet. Is national still processing the applications for the council? Is this part of the delay?
A: Yes, the New Birth of Freedom Council is still using National Shared Services for the processing of our applications. Services provided by the National Council have been restricted because of furloughs and stay at home orders. They have a skeleton processing applications for more than 50 councils across the country. They are trying to keep up, but simply lack the manpower at this point to do so. Once we are reopened, we may be able to speed some of this along once our own staff has access to the national registration system. Please be patient and these will get processed one way or another as soon as possible.
Section 4: Advancement
Q: If a Cub Scout Den has Scouts that need more time to complete requirements, but others in the den do not, can they advance individually or does the whole den have to move together?
A: The whole den does not have to move together. If some Scouts need the extension, that is fine. It is easier to move everyone together, but not required.
Q: In June and July, can Cub Scouts work on requirements for their current rank and the next rank at the same time? (ex: Wolf and Bear)
A: The short answer is yes. Completing the requirements is at the discretion of the leadership in the pack. The goal of Cub Scout advancement is to “Do My Best” and we would extend that thought process to unit leaders and parents. We don’t want Scouts to miss out on possible advancement because of COVID-19, but at the same time we don’t want them to shortchange their experience at the next rank.
Q: Where can I find the information about changes to advancement? The current listing on The Hub is from 4/13/20.
A: All of the current requirement changes are posted on The Hub. Cub Scout requirements can be found here. Scouts BSA and Venturing requirements can be found here. As of the May 7 Roundtable, the 4/13/20 update to advancement is the most current.
Q: What are the current guidelines for Eagle Extensions due to COVID-19?
Q: If summer camp is canceled, will a scout with two years left before their 18th birthday be granted an extension for advancement or for their project?
A: Not likely. There are many avenues for Scouts to earn merit badges outside of camp. Badges can be earned participating in our Virtual Merit Badge Program, our annual merit badge colleges, and working directly with merit badge counselors. It is unlikely with this amount of time that an extension for an Eagle Project would be considered. For most projects, 2 years is ample time to complete. For more resources on the Life to Eagle process you can visit the My Eagle Hub.
Q: With construction resuming in PA, if an Eagle Scout project is construction, can work be completed on the project if the county is “Red”?
A: No. The lifted construction restrictions refer only to commercial construction and not to Eagle Scout projects. Projects will only be able to resume once counties go to “Yellow” and they must follow all requirements from the state and CDC.
Q: How can someone sign up to be a merit badge counselor for future virtual sessions?
A: If you wish to be a merit badge counselor for one of our future virtual sessions you can sign up online.
Section 5: Camp Cards
Q: Where can I find more information on the pricing for the Virtual Camp Card sale?
A: You can find pricing information and more details about the Virtual Camp Card sale online. Virtual Camp Cards can be bought on the online store and are $6.00 to help cover the cost of shipping. Cards that are sold the traditional way are still only $5.00.
Q: Are the camp card benefactors the same first responders/medical personnel that are supplied as part of the #Scoutingcares campaign? If not, who are the benefactors of the camp cards?
A: We may be sending to some of those contacts, but we are not limiting ourselves to those contacts. We are going to try to help support as many folks across the council as we can based on the number of cards we are able to provide.
Q: Who will receive notice of the total Virtual Camp Card Sales?
A: The Camp Card Chairperson for the unit will receive a list of all of the cards sold and who sold those cards in their unit. They will likely receive this at the end of the sale.
Section 6: Scout Shops
Q: Is there a link to order things from the Scout Shop online once it opens?
A: There is not. As we reopen things, please check our website for information on how to place an order with the Scout Shops.
Q: Will council shops be providing any kind of curb-side pick-up for their shops?
A: Perhaps. There will be more details once we move closer to opening. The Scout Shops will not reopen until the Service Centers do.
Section 7: Order of the Arrow
Q: Do we have information on the new Order of the Arrow Election Camping requirements?
A: Yes. The full information is available here.
Q: When will the OA Ordeal be happening?
A: The Order of the Arrow events that were scheduled for April and May have been canceled and there is no immediate plan to reschedule. All of the Order of the Arrow events for our local lodge can be found here.
Q: Will there be an extension of time for Scouts to complete their ordeal?
A: Yes. Scouts who were elected this year will have 2 years to complete the Ordeal.
Section 8: Other
Q: I made a Friends of Scouting donation just before the office closures, I have not received a notification that my pledge was received and have not seen a debt to my account. Was my pledge/payment received?
A: If you made a pledge/payment prior to the closure, there is a good possibility that neither the pledge or payment were able to be processed prior to the office closures. These pledges and payments are secured at our offices and will be processed as soon as our office staff is permitted to return to the office. If you have specific questions about your pledge or gift, please contact Brian DeBease at Brian.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Is there any update on the Hershey Bears Scout Sleepover that was postponed?
A: The Hershey Bears posted on May 11 that the remainder of their season is canceled. You can see the full posting here. Our tickets were purchased through the Group Sales Program. There is a section that refers to group tickets specifically. We are waiting for the communication that is referenced in the FAQ post.
Q: Is the New Birth of Freedom Council Annual Business Meeting Postponed?
A: Yes. The meeting will be postponed to the fall. More information will be available later this summer.
Q: Has a new ranger been hired at camp Hidden Valley?
A: Yes. Greg Jennell joined the New Birth of Freedom Council team as the new ranger at Hidden Valley in mid-March.
Q: With changes coming so quickly, would you entertain holding these meetings more frequently than once a month?
A: It is a good suggestion. We will look into this possibility.
Q: Can units still order the rifles for the Battlefield/Heritage Trails Camporee since it has been postponed to the fall?