Completing a Scout Project During a Pandemic
For Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Eagle and Gold Award, respectively, are the highest rank achievable in scouting and require dozens of hours to complete. The culmination of these prestigious award programs is the "project," if you will -- where a Scout has to identify an issue or need in their community and contribute to fixing it.
Scout projects are incredibly detailed and revered tasks, as the scout must show leadership, management and organization skills that benefit the greater community. The key is that the Scout must manage the entire project, which includes organizing volunteers (if necessary) and a likely fundraising component, which means calling foundations and going door-to-door to raise money.
The Boy Scout Eagle Award and Girl Scout Gold Award are difficult, time-consuming, but ultimately rewarding tasks that require enormous commitment, drive, and organizational skills to complete in "normal" times. But these are not normal times, as we know. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the pursuit of these awards even more difficult, but that doesn't mean the requirements were made easier. Scouts pursuing their Eagle or Gold have had to overcome the difficulties posed by COVID-19 -- and here are some of their stories!
Jordan Rasmussen - Girl Scout Gold Award - Bakersfield, California Troop #2917
Jordan Rasmussen is a senior in high school and is pursuing her Girl Scout Gold Award. She started Girl Scouts in the second grade (meaning she's been a scout for 10 years!) and comes from a scouting family: her mom, she says, has been her Scout leader for her entire time as a Girl Scout, and her brother has his Eagle award as well.
Jordan decided to do her Gold Award project in her own school district -- the district she grew up in -- by bringing the power of active play to an elementary school in a low-income neighborhood, where she had ties to the principal.
The elementary school, Jordan explained, had a huge blacktop area that was totally empty. "The goal of my project was to target the kids who have a hard time staying focused in class. I created an activity course for the kindergarteners, first, and second graders on the blacktop at Beardsley Elementary School, a school in my district." She achieved this goal by using the Fit and Fun Playscapes® Nature Activity Circuit™ playground stencil!
Jordan told us that the project was made even more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic because social distancing measures prevented the team of volunteers she assembled to paint the project from, well -- assembling. That meant that just her and her mom went out to the blacktop to paint the stencils. After three separate rainstorms pushed her paint day back again and again, Jordan and her mom were finally able to paint the playground stencils on the fourth try.
But even after all these challenges, one final one remains in Jordan's way -- a challenge she may not have the ability to overcome.
"Jordan hasn't gotten a chance to see the kids view the stencils," her father, Jeff Rasmussen, told Fit and Fun Playscapes.
Jeff went on to tell us that Jordan hasn't been able to really feel "that fulfillment" she really deserves after working so hard to paint the blacktop area for the kids of that elementary school. He and Jordan both fear that the opportunity to witness the kids seeing the new play area for the first time will never happen, leaving a bit of a hole.
At Fit and Fun Playscapes, being founded by quite a bit of a scouting family themselves, we totally understand where Jordan and her father are coming from. Whether as an Eagle or a Gold, the opportunity to see the work you put in come into fruition and benefit tens of people, be they adults or children, really makes you realize just how much all the hard work was worth it.
For Jordan, though, COVID-19 may prevent that opportunity from coming her way any time soon. In order for Jordan to finish her Gold Award review, and in light of current COVID restrictions, her troop directed her to share a video she created, talking about her project with Fit and Fun.
Rene Reyna - Boy Scout Eagle Award - San Antonio, Texas Troop #496
Rene and his father, Ricardo, organized teams of volunteers and consulted medical professionals about how to maintain strict health standards during the COVID-19 pandemic. They required a health screening from volunteers, scheduled cohorts of fellow scouts, family and friends in to 2 different cohorts with masks on, stood 30 feet apart, and sanitized shared supplies between the cohorts.
Rene says that the project helped him show leadership because he had to put his project plan together in the middle of a pandemic and that he had to supervise different groups of fellow Scouts and adults. Rene said it was hard to manage the group because adults sometimes have their own way of doing things and do not want to take orders from a teenager. Rene's spirits were boosted by the project, knowing that he was helping kids in need, providing a sense of meaning, focus and purpose in a challenging time and working alongside fellow Scouts in a safe, organized manner. The project recaptured his sense of community and worked like a bridge over the social barriers that he, and many local kids, were facing during lockdown measures. He too is awaiting the school to be open so that the returning students can benefit from their use.
Here's some of the work he did!
Fit and Fun Playscapes' founder and CEO, Pam Gunther, knows a thing or two about Scouting. She was a cub scout leader for 5 years and all three of her sons are Scouts, so she totally gets the impact and value of Scouting. Her eldest is an Eagle Scout, her middle son is a Life Scout currently working on his Eagle project and her youngest son just moved up from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.
Fit and Fun Playscapes has always helped Scouting youth with a discount, planning assistance and sharing their wonderful stories. These Scouts, like so many more, deserve our recognition while they are waiting for their Ahh! moment when students return to enjoy the activities they created.
Fit and Fun Playscapes is proud to share their stories in hopes of providing them with the accolades they deserve. It goes to show you that not even a pandemic can stop these dedicated, future leaders!