2020 Scout Unit Reopen Plan

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Many are asking when Scouting can Reopen. While most everyone wants to jump right into full scouting the way it used to be, you must also be aware of the many government restrictions and parental concerns requiring a gradual, phased approach incorporating principals of social distancing and personal safety. Below are some examples of what that might look like.

On May 7, 2020, BSA National released on statement about returning to camping - basically passing the decision on camping to local councils. This is because camping and social distancing restrictions vary dramatically between states, counties, cities and private lands. Every council and scout unit should develop a plan to "reopen scouting" for their units.

Official Statement from BSA : Updated 14-May-2020

Read this statement first:

To our Scouting community, In Scouting, we vow to help other people at all times. Now, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Scouting community must do its part to slow the spread of the virus, which will save lives and avoid overwhelming our local healthcare infrastructure. The safety of Scouts, volunteers, employees and our communities is our top priority.

With safety in mind and based on guidance from national health officials, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is strongly advising that in-person meetings, activities, events and gatherings of 10 or more people be suspended through the end of March. Please also follow any restrictions outlined by your state and local health department or other state and local authorities. This applies to youth and adults out of an abundance of caution.

  • See Here - for the rest of the statement, FAQs and other official resources
  • #ScoutAtHome : Follow BSA blogs and social channels, as well as #ScoutingAtHome, for great examples and ideas of how to continue Scouting.
  • Updated National BSA Guidelines 14-May-2020 - COVID-19 FAQ, UPDATED 4/13/20 and again 14-May-2020, In-Person Unit Activities

Scout Council Reopen Plans

Official 2020 Reopen Plans already released by select BSA Councils:

Scout Unit Reopen Plan

"Be Prepared" : Scout Motto - Reopening scouting in your community will mean starting first with a good plan. This is a great moment in time for leaders to model the Scout Motto by preparing a plan for success.

The Scouting can still have a positive daily impact on our youth, families and community.

What is presented here are suggestions only. Situations may vary by community. Actual reopen plans should comply with directions given by local governmental agencies, national and local scout council, and most importantly the unit key 3 leaders with support of the families of the unit.

Phase I - Virtual Scouting


Units Meetings:

  • Dens/Patrols meet online weekly or maybe biweekly (to avoid "zoom burnout")
  • Monthly Pack/Troop Combined virtual meeting
  • Monthly Parent/Leaders meeting

Scout Activities:

Scout Service

  • Scout Service From Home - 19 Scouting service projects for the pandemic
  • Family Life Service projects
  • Remote contacts (Zoom, Text, artwork, pen-pals) with notes of appreciation to our elderly, veterans and other shut-ins who are cutoff from regular social contact.
  • Sewing Facemaks

Scout Safety:

  • Scouts Shelter at Home
  • Scouts avoid contact with others except when doing "essential errands"
  • Scouts should stay active (mentally, physically, socially and spiritually) to avoid the negative health impacts of at-home quarantines.

States Without Stay-At-Home Orders

The leaders of Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming have taken steps to limit the size of gatherings, close schools and some nonessential businesses, and prohibit on-site dining at restaurants. But they have stopped short of directing all residents to stay home except for essential business.[1]

Phase II - Scouting with Social Distancing

Phase II can begin under government guidance reopening small business, school or child-care operations

Many Government Agencies allow gatherings of 10 or less. That is perfect for a weekly DEN or PATROL weekly activity with appropriate social distancing measures.

Unit Meetings:

"Reduced capacity" In-person Meetings (ie Patrol or Den) are held regular a large open area, garage, backyard, parking lot, open park, etc.

  • Scoutmaster conferences
  • Board of Reviews
  • Den Meetings
  • Patrol Meetings
  • Patrol Leaders Council
  • Unit Committee Meeting

Scouting Activities:

  • Family outings to parks, zoos, museums and other attractions opened under social distancing guidelines.
  • Uniform inspection
  • Awards ceremony
  • "No-Contact" scouting games
  • Show and Tell presentations
  • Merit Badge clinics and discussions
  • Safety discussions
  • Talent Show
  • Scoutcraft demonstrations - (i.e. knot tying, building gateways, etc)
  • STEM Projects and Activities
  • Patrol Leader runs patrol merit badge activity.

Scouting Service

  • Scouting for Food - does not require face-to-face contact and can be done anytime of the year. Charities are in very dire need of food and other household supplies - especially those hard to find paper good. Scouts deliver flyers announcing their day of curb-side pickup.
  • Eagle Scout Service Projects - may resume - limit crowd size to no more than 15.

Scout Safety / Social Distancing Standards:

  • In-Person meetings/gatherings are limited to 15 people each (Den and Patrol meetings are ideal for this format)
  • Large meetings for the full pack or troop - are still done virtually
  • No Refreshments or "sharing" of products or food
  • Face masks worn at all times
  • All participants should stay six feet apart
  • Meeting space "common surfaces" are cleaned with disinfectant before and after each meeting.
  • Any scouts/scouters not feeling well or "displaying symptoms" should stay home.
  • Scouts should stay active (mentally, physically, socially and spiritually) to avoid the negative health impacts of at-home quarantines.

Family Camping

"Camping should only take place in accordance with guidelines outlined by your state and local health department and other local officials, as well as under the direction of your local BSA council and chartered organization. There is no formal national policy on social distancing in tents, just as there is no prohibition on tenting alone if logistics can accommodate that request. As always, all BSA youth protection policies must be followed." (BSA 14-May-2020 Covid-19 FAQ)

Beginning in early May, may state and county governmental authorities have granted permission for "family camping" to take place. Many troops and councils have held a number of "family camping" events in the past. Here are an example. "Family camping, along with resident camping, is another timeless outdoor experience that involves Cub Scouting, Scouts BSA, or Venturing program elements in an overnight setting. It requires that two or more family members attend, including at least one BSA member, to count as family camping. Youth Protection policies still apply, but of course parents are responsible for the supervision of their children." (Source: BSA National)

Phase III - Camp Outings with Social Distancing


Phase III can begin under government guidance for reopening small businesses, schools and child-care operations. (Some states rank child-care as an essential business.) Many scout camps and public campgrounds are located in remote settings that are ideal for social distancing. Some BSA Council camps have already canceled their summer programs (to avoid large group gatherings) BUT ARE STILL OPEN for unit based camping and activities.

Unit Meetings:

"Reduced capacity" camp activities (ie Patrol or Den) are held monthly (or even more frequently during summer months).

  • Does your county allow for "Day Camps"?
  • Does your county allow overnight camping?

Scouting Activities:

  • Small scout unit outings to parks, zoos, museums and other attractions opened under social distancing guidelines.
  • Cooking, camping, fishing and other scouting outdoor recreation
  • Regular outdoor sports and field trip activities - including swimming, athletics, hiking, boating and cycling.
  • Full range of MOST all patrol led Merit badge activities
  • "Rugged Overniters"
  • 2020 Summer Camp Options
  • "Star Parties"
  • Patrol Leader runs patrol thru outdoor merit badge activities and field trips.

Scouting Service

  • Outdoor conservation

Scout Safety / Social Distancing Standards:

  • Camp activities are limited to 15 people each (Den and Patrol meetings are ideal for this format)
  • Face masks worn at all times (most sporting activities are exempt from this)
  • Any scouts/scouters not feeling well or "displaying symptoms" should stay home.
  • Scouts should stay active (mentally, physically, socially and spiritually) to avoid the negative health impacts of at-home quarantines.

Stage IV: 2020 Open Summer Camps

Stage IV- Scout Gatherings

Troop meetings, camporees, jamborees and large campfires can be held when government agencies finally lift restrictions on large assemblies.

Note: Many government agencies are restricting large group events to Stage IV.

See Also