Canceled Camp Sparks Virtual Academy for Scouts

by Tim O.

Scouts from Troop 73 in Westfield created a Virtual Academy after their usual summer camp was closed due to COVID-19. The Academy opened June 22 and runs through July 11 on Zoom, on Google Classroom, and other online platforms. The Scouts created websites, created Google Classrooms, and scheduled Zoom meetings. Attendees, youth instructors, and adult merit badge counselors were recruited by email. Scouts from Troop 73 in Westfield, Troop 203 in Scotch Plains, and Troop 235 in North Plainfield participated.

The Academy held classes on Cyber Chip to ensure all attending Scouts were trained in internet safety. A Dan Beard program for rank advancement from Scout rank through First Class rank was coordinated by CJ E., incoming Senior Patrol Leader. Camp-wide Activities and classes for 13 merit badges were coordinated by Andrew C., outgoing Senior Patrol Leader, who also ensured that two-deep leadership and youth protection standards were met. Camp-wide Activities included games like, and Scattergories. There was even a Minecraft version of Camp Winnebago, the Troop’s summer camp, created by Johnathan C. and CJ E. Adult advisors for the Academy are Christian Estevez, Sr., Glenn Fannick, and Christine O’Brien.

A Virtual Academy Live is tentatively scheduled for July 25 at Watchung Reservation to cover rank requirements such as orienteering and trailblazing. There will also be a model rocket launch to complete the Space Exploration merit badge.