KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boy Scouts council in East Tennessee is having to change its recruiting efforts this fall.
For years, the Great Smoky Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America and its volunteers have signed up boys and girls at school events, but to slow the spread of the virus, most public schools now are not open to outside groups.
WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare shows you how the Scouts are instead turning to social media, which is a type of recruiting event never before tried in East Tennessee.
Everything in life seems to be online now and there are apps that allow us to see one another during classes for kids and meetings for adults; one of the biggest success stories in the last six months is Zoom, an online video chat tool that has become central to many during the pandemic.
On Thursday night, the Great Smoky Mountain Council will be on Zoom and will have a huge presence also on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites for its recruitment event.
To recruit young Scouts, boys and girls, the Scout story is being told on social media this fall.
For decades, Cub Scouts signed up at their schools. The activity was called, “School Night for Scouts.” This year will be unlike any other.
“With schools being in a different situation with the pandemic it has drastically changed this fall for any youth agency,” David Williams, Scout executive with the Great Smoky Mountain Council, said.
“Currently you can go on to our Council website which is easttnscouts.org/join. You can sign up. We’ll send you a link for the Zoom meeting for your specific school.
“If you dial in tomorrow, you’ll be able to look alphabetically by your school and click on that Zoom link. So tomorrow night you can sign up your son, daughter, your grandchild for Cub Scouts all across our 21 counties through about 10 different zoom meetings.”
As an incentive a model rocket kit will be given to new Scouts.
“Every Cub Scout who signs up this year will get a rocket kit and you will be able to come to a rocket shoot day,” Williams said.
The value in what Scouts means to East Tennessee families continues despite the pandemic.
“It means time together we spend Monday night as our Scout night,” Stacy Langlois, a Cub Scout volunteer leader and mother of two Eagle Scouts, said. “It has been important in growing leadership in both of my children. They have learned to set goals how to achieve the goals, how to have fun, make friends.”
As a leader, Stacy is a little anxious about meeting virtually, but believes it will be successful.
“We just have to get the program out in front of the parents to give them the tools they need to access, to sign their children up virtually,” Langlois said.
“What a great way to spend time with your child. If you have never thought about being a Cub Scout this is the perfect time to do it,” Williams said.
The pandemic has created challenges for everyone. But when your organization depends on face-to-face meetings and now you can’t have those, you have to innovate. The virtual recruiting event will happen Sept. 10, then again next week on Sept. 17.
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