For those that do not know me, I am Mark Ramirez, the father of Theodore Ramirez (New Scout Patrol- Radioactive Scorpions). I volunteered to coordinate summer camp this year.
I am writing to give you an update with respect to summer camp. I apologize in advance for such a very long email; however, the pandemic has made everything more difficult and complicated. I would ask that you please take to the time to read this email as there are some critical dates and information below.
In addition, I am also going to ask for your patience, the pandemic has given us several challenges to overcome, and I sincerely hope that you will not let this dampen your resolve with respect to sending your scout to Goshen. I can personally attest, that scout camp was the best part of my summer when I was growing up. I cannot emphasize enough the value of it, even if social distancing provides hurdles and impediments for us.
The council had a webinar on April 1st where they outlined some of the changes (due to Covid) that will be in place this year. There is more on that in the email below.
First lets me start with some basic facts:
Troop 131 is planning and committed to going to Goshen – Camp Olmstead this year as they have done past summers!
We are locked in for WEEK 3 – Sun Jul-11 2021 2:00 PM – Sat Jul-17 2021 7:00 AM
Early Discount Price Youth/Adult $400/$225 Before April 16th
Regular Price $440/$265 May 14th
Later Registration $480/$305 After May 14th
Given the fact that the new regulations just came out on April 1st, I asked the council if they would extend the early bird deadline another two weeks. While they did not want to change it for everyone, they did agree to give us a grace period. With that said, let’s try to get as many Scouts signed up as possible before the 16th.
Note- The start of Merit Badge registration starts on April 16th at 9:00am as well.
You should be able to make payments electronically through our Zell account, more information to come on that.
For those who have new scouts in the troop or have never been to Goshen, see below some links for your reference.
COHORTS- General organization
The biggest change this year and because of COVID, is that the scouts will be organized into Cohorts. Over the past year, many of us have organized our families/kids into pods, this is basically the Scouts BSA version.
See link below for more information but I tried summarizing the critical points below.
All of this is mandated by the Governor with input from the Virginia Department of Health. As a result, it is subject to change; either relaxed or made more stringent, depending on the number of infections in the state. Given last year and now with the roll-out of the vaccine, I hope you will all forgive me for a bit of optimism and that we find ourselves in an improved situation by mid-July.
With that said here is what Scouts BSA/NCAC is requiring, and this will require some logistic maneuvering on our part:
Scouts in a troop need to be organized into Cohort(s)
· 25 is the maximum (not necessarily recommended) people (adults and youth)
o No minimum size- except that each Cohort is required to have two-deep adult leadership- I suspect that this will de facto be our limiting factor.
o Scouts in a cohort are encouraged but not required – to have the same merit badge schedule.
§ Within a cohort- a minimum of two scouts are required to attend one merit badge.
§ In other words, if we have 8 scouts in a cohort, they can attend a maximum of 4 different merit badges during a time slot.
§ If we can get the entire cohort to generally attend the same array of merit badge that would be ideal.
· Once the Cohort is established, they cannot (at any time be within 6 feet of each other- even at a troop level.
· For merit badges, and when the cohort arrives, they will be separated by a minimum of 10’ from other cohorts and their instructors- as a result the number of scouts in the classes will likely be low.
· Scouts and Leaders within the Cohort do not have to wear masks if no other cohort is present or nearby.
· At camp Olmstead and for the Dining Hall they will utilize shifts with social distancing and use outdoor seating. See attached dining hall menu for your reference.
Prior to attending Goshen, the scout will need to be symptom free, and each family will need to do ONE of the following:
1. Option 1: Engage in a 14-day symptom screening and then fill out a form indicated that you did this.
a. This is basically a quarantine.
b. The quarantine is with only members of your immediately family or your cohort- no one else
c. Adults of course may go to work but should limit their exposure as much as possible.
d. Youths are restricted to their family unit or scouts from their cohort.
2. Option 2: Provide Negative molecular COVID test that is within 7 days of the first day of summer camp
a. Adult Leaders who attend Goshen- will also need to quarantine like the youths.
b. Unfortunately, there is no exception (at this point) for adults who are fully vaccinated.
c. As of Saturday, I am fully vaccinated, so my hope is that they will relax the quarantine requirement for vaccinated adults, otherwise it may prove difficult for the leaders to attend.
d. No travel restrictions beforehand, however, you still need the negative 7-day result or the 14 quarantine.
Unfortunately, there is no Bus Transportation offered this year. This may change, but we cannot count on it. Cohorts may travel together, so will try to organize a carpool for pick up and drop off.
TRAILHEAD-NEW SCOUT PROGRAM
For new or younger scouts (those who are not yet Scout, Tenderfoot or Second-class Rank) they may register for the Trailhead program. The trailhead program works on basic scout/rank skills but as a result limits the number Merit Badges, they can work on.
· I attached the updated Trailhead Schedule to this email for your reference.
· They will spend one half of the day on Rank requirements the other half on Merit Badges (3 maximum)
· Unlike previous years they will have several groups of trailhead scouts – some will do Merit Badges in the morning and Rank Advancement in the afternoon, while others will have the opposite.
· For Trailhead Scouts- it is important for them to sign up for badges that interest them! The goal is to get them excited.
· Trailhead is not required for any Scout, even if it is their first year in Scouts BSA or first year at summer camp. Even if your Scout does fall in to one of those categories, Trailshead might also be repetitive if they have already worked on the rank advancement requirements scheduled through the week. Please check the schedule to see what will be covered to see if it is a good fit for your Scout.
· The council recommends the Swimming Merit Badge for all Trailshead scouts, but it is not required. Shooting Sports badges are not compatible with the Trailshead schedule, so your scouts will not be able to take those.
· The Swimming Merit Badge will be offered at 9am, 10am, 2pm, and 3:10pm. Previously it was only offered during the three time slots in the morning.
Note- The start of Merit Badge registration starts on April 16th at 9:00am.
I attached to this email the updated merit badge schedule, please use this as a reference point when talking to your scouts.
For younger scouts there some pre-requisites that are not always clear, First Aid and Emergency Preparedness are the two that come to mind.
In addition, any scouts that are interested in Shotgun Shooting/Riflery/Small Boat Sailing we need to prioritize as their registrations fill quickly and once, they are filled, that is it.
We would like to use a part of today’s troop meeting, to give the boys some time to review the merit badge schedule with each other and think about the cohort(s) they will organize into. It is very likely that they will be roughly patrol based.
I am the Unit Registrar; therefore, I will handle all the registration and for Camp and Merit Badges, however this is what I need from you. Please email me (email@example.com) the following:
1. Expression of interest that your Scout would like to attend Summer Camp (just trying to get a sense of how many scouts and who might attend).
2. Expression of interest that you would like to act as an adult leader for either the full week or half week- note you must be registered with BSA and have an up-to-date Youth Protection Training.
3. Indication that your Scout would like to be part of the Trailhead program.
4. Any Merit Badges that your Scout already knows they would like to take.
You can pay at any time, however, given the short timeline for the early bird deadline, please submit your payment to the troop via Zell and email me that you have done so. I will register your scout as soon as that is done, even if we have not yet figured out the cohorts or merits badges.
I am planning on going to camp this year, for at least a half week if not the full week. Depending on how the scouts want to break themselves down, we may need quite a few adults to attend as well, so please consider doing this. In the past the troop has paid the cost for two leaders to attend. If we need to have more than two leaders attend, we can amortize this against all the leaders so can share the benefit/burden.
There is a whole group of additional forms that need to be filled out, however, for now, we can put that on the back burner and focus on registration.
I will attend the troop meeting on Monday, but please feel free to email if you have any questions. I will do my very best to answer them.