Associated with camping and the great outdoors, Scouting groups were forced to go digital for much of the pandemic, as was the case with many facets of life over the past year and a half. Earlier this month, however, marked the first time the Elmira Scouts came together as a group since the lockdowns began.
Cubs, Scouts, Venturers and Rovers watched as three awards were given out September 9 at the Rover den and Scout shed located on Oriole Parkway in Elmira. Among those honoured was long-time Elmira Scout organizer Brian Soehner.
Group commissioner Philippe Bertrand of the 1st Elmira Scouts led the group’s award ceremony around a toasty fire pit.
“We gave Brian his 50th service award – it’s great to be able to honour him. Scouter Mike received his 10-year long service award, and Scout Hayden received the first Elmira Excellence in Scouting award,” said Bertrand. “We’re excited to be together as a group again – it’s the first time this summer.”
The last year and a half forced the Elmira Scouts’ group online, giving Bertrand and the Scouters new challenges to keep the youth aged 5 to 25 engaged in activities.
“Most of them had been on Zoom all day for school and stuff. Scouting is about being outdoors, so it was a challenge to come up with ideas for them.”
Leaders created scavenger hunts and other outdoor games to keep the youth away from screens as the pandemic kept them locked inside.
“The parents were delighted because the kids finally got to go out and run and be kids away from a computer screen. It made a big difference in some cases because of the limited amount of socialization they were doing because of Zoom, so this was one time a week they all got together with their friends from Scouting,” said Bertrand.
With restrictions lifting and more people getting vaccinated, the Scouts are hoping to be able to go on a camping trip in the coming months.
“We are so looking forward to going camping – our Beavers camped every month before the pandemic so we’re really happy that we can go again and for all the properties to open up after they’ve done their inspections.”
Established in 1912, the Scouts provide adventures and a social community for young people. The 1st Elmira Scout Group is now recruiting new and returning Scouts to join in for the 2021-2022 year.