Like many other organizations in the township and beyond, Boy Scout Troop 25 in Delran has seen what was to be an active spring outdoors instead forced indoors, thanks to the ongoing effects of COVID-19.
There have been ways for the troop to remain active online outside of previously planned interactions. On its Facebook page, resurrected at the outset of April, were postings where Scouts could conceivably attend virtual Merit Badge sessions, such as the pair of tutorials for Game Design on April 16 and 23.
But leaders of the pack are mindful of keeping things close to home.
“We’ve heard of those. But we’re doing Zoom meetings each week, and in the last one, we got together and the boys chatted for about an hour,” noted Assistant Scoutmaster John Pappas, who has been with the troop for about five years.
“I know they continued their merit badge work,’’ he said. “The latest one is for Citizenship of the World. We’re also looking into one of the more difficult badges, which is Emergency Preparedness. But we don’t have an adult sponsor yet, so we’re looking for someone to help us with that.”
Pappas also said that during the upcoming month, there will be a group online bingo game where Scouts can win by getting a number of questions correct about the various requirements to earn badges.
Another quick and easy learning experience, he added, is a site which shows the boys how to use their neckerchief and turn it into a face covering for protection when going outside or in places where social distancing may be difficult.
“My older son, who is an Eagle Scout, is also going to try to have a cooking session on Zoom,” Pappas explained. “Everybody’s going to get ingredients, and the scouts will try to cook along with him.
“The aim is to have them figure out how to cook the pizza when out on a camping trip.”
The adult leadership group will do its best to advise troop members during a time of social distancing, but virtual experiences can’t match real interaction and community involvement.
“Before all this happened, we were getting ready for some monthly campouts, and getting the five or six new kids involved up to speed with all the requirements,” Pappas said. “We had fundraisers we were working on. And each meeting, we were doing about 30 minutes worth of getting the kids just to play.
“We were working on merit badges, and had adults as sponsors who were ready to help out,” he added. “Those badges are a lot of book learning, but they tend to get pushed aside for the fun stuff, and so when (the kids) get to Eagle Scouts, they’re often behind. Maybe that will change a bit now.”
Although a tightly knit group, the troop always looks for more enterprising young men to join the ranks. Pappas has been pleased with the way the relationship between the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts has resulted in long-term bonds and lasting effects in the community for members who make that commitment.
“We were established in 1949,” he said, “and we’ve been pretty resilient.”
For more information, visit the troop’s website: http://www.troop25delran.com/ and its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/troop25delran/. The troop operates out of Holy Name Church of Resurrection Parish, and holds meetings every Wednesday from 7:30 to 9 p.m.