Local Scouts host their own camp amid COVID closures

Local Scouts host their own camp amid COVID closures

Kayla Allam, of Troop 438 North Smithfield, crosses a monkey bridge she made with her troopmates while Scoutmaster Josh Thibeault and Assistant Scoutmaster Scott Lagasse stand by. The troop hosted their own week of camp in North Smithfield Aug. 2–8 since they were not able to attend Camp Yawgoog this summer.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – With Scout camps closed, Troop 438 North Smithfield was forced to get creative to give members a camp experience this summer.

The Scouts BSA troop for girls made their first trip to Yawgoog Scout Reservation last summer and was looking forward to a second trip this year. Activities at the 104-year-old Scout camp typically include swimming, boating and working on merit badges and troop projects.

When the camp announced in May it would only offer virtual programs due to COVID-19, Scoutmaster Joshua Thibeault said he and other volunteers knew they’d have to get creative to give their Scouts a camp experience.

“They were all looking forward to summer camp since last year. Everyone was pretty disappointed that we weren’t able to go this year,” he said.

Keeping within the restrictions set by the Narragansett Council, the troop developed its own day camp program for the week they should have been away at camp. Hosted on a wooded property owned by troop committee member Scott Lagasse, “Camp Lawgoog,” as the troop nicknamed it, included many of the same activities they enjoyed at Yawgoog, including hiking, swimming, flag ceremonies and a trip to a shooting range.

The main difference, according to Thibeault, was that the troop-run camp relied on the volunteer efforts of families and troop leaders. Parents dropped Scouts off every morning and returned to shuttle them to off-site activities since carpooling was discouraged due to COVID-19. Leaders arranged for handwashing stations, a portable toilet and other equipment to run a fully outdoor camp. Volunteers ran merit badge programs so Scouts could continue to pursue their rank requirements.

“Sunday and Monday there were a couple of grumbles about, ‘This isn’t like Yawgoog, it’s not the same,’” said Thibeault. “But by Tuesday morning, everyone’s like, ‘It’s not the same, but this is a lot of fun too.’”

In absence of a traditional Scouting summer, other troops have also created their own alternatives. At Troop 1139 Slatersville, Assistant Scoutmaster Scott Martin said the troop hosted daytime activities earlier this month to replace the week they missed at Yawgoog.

Thibeault said the highlight for his troop was when the Scouts completed a rope bridge as part of their pioneering merit badge requirements. They also enjoyed shooting and archery at the Cumberland Beagle Club and completed a 10-mile bike ride.

“There was a lot of work that went into it, and our parents, I can’t say enough about them,” he said.

Members of Troop 438 North Smithfield use an impromptu flagpole to raise the flag during the Court of Honor ceremony that concluded their week of “camp” on Saturday, Aug. 8.

Comments

What an excellent example of the American Can Do attitude. Well done, all!