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Temporary Camping Night Policy Due to COVID-19

  April 29, 2020       Policy Updates

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In light of the extended period of camping restrictions attributable to COVID-19, the following temporary modification is being made to the camping requirements for OA eligibility:

Virtual camping (i.e., backyard or solo camping) may be counted toward the required nights of camping for OA election eligibility if all the following stipulations are met:

  • To be counted, all virtual camping nights should be a direct result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and be part of a BSA unit-organized unit camping event (i.e., multiple members of the unit are involved and camping simultaneously at remote locations).
  • Some form of unit-organized communications should occur either during or immediately following the event.
  • All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines should be followed.
  • No more than five (5) nights of virtual camping are to be credited in any month in which government- or council-imposed COVID-19 restrictions are in place.

This change is in effect until further notice.

Given that virtually all councils have either cancelled or reduced their summer camp programs during summer 2020, creating a situation where a high proportion of Scouts did not have the opportunity to attend an in-camp summer camp in 2020, a temporary provision to allow for "virtual" long term camping credit for OA eligibility is necessary.

Virtual Long-Term Camping Authorization

Two situations have developed associated with the current pandemic that may prevent Scouts from having an opportunity to qualify for OA eligibility due to not having attended a long-term camp this summer.

  • The local council camp is closed and not offering a traditional summer camp experience.
  • Scout parents are unwilling to allow their child to attend traditional summer camp programs due to health concerns.

In order to address these circumstances, virtual long-term camping of five (5) consecutive nights is authorized to be counted toward the long-term camping requirements for OA eligibility consistent with the above guidance and the following additional guidelines:

  • A long-term camp plan must be developed and approved by the unit leader prior to the commencement of the long-term camp. This plan is to be individualized to each Scout’s capabilities and situation and should strive to include:
    • Progress toward advancement for each Scout
    • Outdoor relevant experience consistent with local conditions and restrictions
  • Unit-organized communications should occur on a daily basis during the camping experience and include discussion of progress made on summer camp goals.
  • An end-of-camp assessment must be conducted with the unit leader to report on progress made during the experience itself and discuss how future virtual long-term camping experiences can be enhanced. During this assessment the unit leader will make the determination if the Scout’s participation warrants granting credit for a completed virtual long-term camping experience in terms of OA eligibility.

The requirement for a long-term camp of five (5) consecutive nights is relaxed. While council long-term camps should be utilized if available, any combination of short-term and/or long-term nights, in camp or virtual, that are part of a BSA unit-organized unit camping event held within the two years prior to election may be counted toward the 15 night requirement.

This virtual long-term camping authority is not meant to substitute for attendance at traditional council summer camp programs, but rather to provide an alternative for Scouts who fit in one of the two categories mentioned above.

The long-term camping changes are only in effect for the 2021 election cycle.

In cases where lodges have already begun their 2021 election cycle, units which have already held a 2021 election are authorized to hold one additional election. Only individuals who were ineligible at the time of the first election due to the camping requirement then in effect can be eligible for this second election. To be eligible, the Scout must have met the revised requirements at the time of their first unit’s election and this second election must be completed no later than May 1, 2021. Those who were previously considered for election in the first election may not have been reconsidered on this second ballot (i.e., no one can be considered for election more than once in a year).

If you have any questions, please reach out to @email.