Message from the chief Commissioner
Welcome to our first National Newsletter! We hope to continue this quarterly. There's so much to share - our equity initiatives on registration, what scouts around the country are up to, online training opportunities, the results from the survey so many of you answered so thoughtfully, and most of all, ways you can participate in all of it. I'm looking forward to a great year full of great connections with all of you.
The protests, vigils, and demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter last summer were the biggest social movement in all of US history. I think everyone, from veteran social justice warriors to casual observers, gained new insights last year about racism, anti-racism, inclusion, and the roles our institutions play in helping or hindering the equal treatment of all. We have much work to do within the BPSA to bring our practices and materials into better alignment with our ideals of being welcoming to all, and the scouting ideal of world peace. We cannot do it without YOU. Some of our current projects and needs are:
-Re-naming Committee: We committed to changing our name. Regardless of who Robert Baden-Powell was as a person, he explicitly promoted many of the institutions and attitudes of his time that continue to be damaging today - racism, sexism, imperialism, colonialism. The scouting program he outlined and promoted is timeless, wonderful, and the core of why we are all here. If you are ready to do the work of teasing out a name that better reflects who we are and what we do, and help implement this change that will further our mission of being welcoming to all, please contact Peter Adrian, Re-naming Committee Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
-Survey Action Committee: This group formed to help tackle the wide variety of small projects we can do to improve. Do you have time to help create new marketing materials? Review our exisiting handbooks for improvement in language or image or small programmatic items? Collaborate on a leader guide for a specific topic like "Scouting with LGBTQ+ Youth" or "Curriculum Resources for Otter Groups"? Click here to volunteer: https://bpsa-us.org/volunteer/
-Pathfinder Manual Committee: This dedicated group has been working diligently for over a year on a full re-write, and I think it will be an amazing example of our very best - but we need someone to coordinate great artwork for it. Contact email@example.com
-Training Committee: Scouting is a practice, not a theory. Our training team is core to spreading the magic of this game, and needs to keep expanding and developing. Joining the Spring VOLT as a participant or a trainer-trainee is a great way to connect with some of your scout siblings and have fun while helping. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or your District/Regional Commissioner
-And there's always more! We need a new Communications Commissioner, we need help developing a democratic and clear process for deep program changes, someone to help with fundraising and grant-writing to financially support scouting for all... contact me anytime at email@example.com
Yours in Scouting,
Amber Wiley, Chief Commissioner
Scouting During COVID
Despite our deepest hopes, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our lives and our scouting. While vaccines are being distributed, it is important to remember that they are not yet approved for children, the majority of our membership. As such, it is vitally important that we continue to have virus and germ protocols in place for our groups.
As a reminder, all scout groups must follow local, state, and CDC guidelines if they plan to meet in-person including wearing masks during activities involving multiple households. Group Scoutmasters should work with leaders to decide whether it's safe to scout based on local conditions. The below resources are provided as support for leaders, and not a recommendation to scout in person or an assessment of whether it is safe to do so in your area.
After diligent work, a group at BPSA HQ, including our new Safety Commissioner, has put together a set of documents to help your group make good decisions as the pandemic continues. We recommend taking a 3 part approach to your scouting. First, do a pre-event checklist to evaluate the risks of your event, and to plan to mitigate possible germ spread. You can use this checklist to help you with this.
Second, be sure your members all do a pre-screen for COVID symptoms and can state firmly that they are healthy to be able to participate. And third, track your member attendance at any event, so that you can let all appropriate members know if someone is diagnosed with COVID after the event. Knowing who has been exposed and should quarantine is vital to controlling the spread. You can use this sign in sheet to track attendance and use as part of your pre-screen, too!
Additional GSM guidance is included in this document that can also help you in planning events and limiting germ spread to participants.
Our team also created a helpful set of guidelines to use if your group feels ready to take a camping trip. Keep in mind, your ideal camping trip plans may need to change to accommodate best practices for limiting germ spread, such as keeping food separate instead of having all your scouts cook together.
Finally, if your group is meeting on-line or video chatting, please be sure to follow our new guidelines for youth protection and electronic communications.
Please contact your District or Regional Commissioner if you would like further guidance in this difficult time.
It's not all virtual scouting (although there's plenty of that as well). Here are some photos from friends scouting (safely) during covid to help brighten our winters just a little.
Training Committee News
Your Trainers are lonely with COVID-19 going on. While we cannot host a Brownsea Training Camp (BTC), we will be hoisting our second Virtual Online Leader Training (VOLT) event. What is Volt?
- VOLT is introductory leader training.
- VOLT includes an overview of BPSA, Youth Protection, and all Sections.
- VOLT is not a BTC and doesn’t replace or provide the depth of experience and training of a BTC.
Who should attend VOLT?
- VOLT is targeted at new leaders and potential new GSMs. Ideally, we would direct these folks to the nearest BTC, but COVID.
How do we VOLT?
- VOLT will be delivered as five Zoom video calls. Participants need to attend all five calls. We will be doing some work as Patrols so your team will need you.
- The session is March 19-21, 2021
- A registration link will be distributed to GSMs shortly or contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Did we mention we are lonely? The Training Committee has several Regions without Trainers. We would like to add folks to our team to help develop, and deliver training to keep spreading the Scouting movement.
Who should join?
- There are specific requirement to be a Certified Trainer, but anyone with time and interest can join the Training community and work toward the requirements.
What are these requirements? Since you asked:
- Must be a BPSA-US registered Rover Knight in good standing.
- Must have willingness to travel to provide training to serve BPSA.
- Must participate in at least one BTC per year (COVID excepted).
- Must complete the BTC Certified Training to the satisfaction of the Regional Training Commissioner:
- Attend BTC3 as a participant.
- Participate in BTC3s as an instructor to experience leading all the training material.
- Lead a BTC3 as the training coordinator with a Certified Trainer observing
That’s a lot.
- Yes but Training is very important and we need to make sure all our Leaders are prepared to do their best for the kids.
How can I get started?
- We could use help for the upcoming VOLT!
- Contact your Regional Training Commissioner or email@example.com
Heads unbowed, many other Brooklyn scouts have also kept going, holding outings and serving the community. They've even shared some great photos. Below we can see:
- 1213th has a small but strong group that’s gotten together to pick up trash in Prospect Park, hike around Fahnestock, and collect food, toys and $300 for the Camp Friendship food pantry
- 5th and 234th hiking at Coney Island, December 5th 2020
- 234th Stuy Rangers hiking at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve on Oct 17th