October 26, 2020
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
Since early March, the OCBSA COVID-19 Response Committee has been tasked with reviewing the guidance and restrictions provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of California through the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), local county health agencies, the American Camp Association (ACA), and the Boy Scouts of America and interpreting how they impact the operations of the Orange County Council, its units, and members. This committee has grown to include Medical, Risk Management, and Orange County Council professionals, many of which also serve as Scouting volunteers.
The number one priority for this committee is to reopen Scouting activities in a safe manner. California Blueprint for a Safer Economy uses industry specific guidance as well as risk level tiers to assess what can open at a given time. With this information the committee has reviewed Scouting activities to determine what industry sector they are in. For example: Unit meetings fall into the Day Camp Industry, popcorn sale falls into the retail industry, banquets are in the Meetings & Conferences industry. By determining what industry our operations fall into, we have a road map to a safe and scaled restart of Scouting. Click here to see the council matrix for program delivery guidelines. Some of these industries are open with modifications, some with modifications and limitations, and some remain closed.
In each of these Industry Guidance documents there are several consistent items; Use of masks/face coverings, social distancing, outdoors when possible, and enhanced sanitation.
As industry guidance and our tier status changes, the committee will reevaluate and adjust, one way or another, depending on the direction of the State guidance.
As Dr. Chen, our council physician, recently said, “Scouting is not intended to be convenient. It is intended to be Safe.”
In response to the October 9th State Order regarding private gatherings, our committee has determined that this standard does not apply to Scouting activities. As noted above, we have determined the appropriate Industry standards used to deliver program. Guidelines for private gathering would apply where other industry standards have yet to be announced.
Program Delivery Updates
- Eagle Boards of Review
In-person boards can be conducted following these guidelines. It is important to note that it is up to the candidate, not the board, as to the format between an in-person or virtual board of review. Both must be offered to candidates.
- Chapter Activities/Meetings/Banquets
Chapter meetings are more like unit meetings than like adult meetings and are direct program delivery. As such, chapters are now authorized to resume in person activities and chapter meetings in line with the guidance in the Unit Restart Guide. Chapter banquets however remain in the Meetings & Conferences industry and as such are currently closed to in-person events. These can be postponed or delivered virtually.
- Den and Patrol Meetings at Council Camps
We understand many units are struggling to find a location to resume in-person activities. Recent changes in State guidelines allows the council to offer our properties temporarily for den and patrol meetings during the week. Units must follow guidelines in the Unit Restart Guidebook and those for the property to ensure the safety of all participants and staff.
Currently, space is available only at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center and Oso Lake Scout Camp.
The council reserves the right to revoke/cancel this privilege due to non-compliance of the guidelines, change in state/county guidelines, and council operations at any time and without notice.
For more information about guidelines for using the property and to make a reservation, click here.
The council continues to find ways to ensure the safety of our members and still provide the finest program for youth development in the country. Thank you to all the volunteer leaders who are helping to ensure State guidelines are being met. And, thank you to all the families who are making it possible for their children to participate in our programs safely, and in ways that makes Scouting achievable for them. Together, along with our staff, we are making Scouting stronger! Scout On! #ScoutingSafeAndStrong
August 31, 2020
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
Thank you to our Scouts, volunteers, chartered partners and staff for helping to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 throughout the Scouting community and beyond. Your efforts are helping Orange County become a safer environment with declining cases and a relatively low positive testing rate.
This is an extremely optimistic development and a testament to the Scouting community working together. Our efforts with reinforcing the use of face coverings and physical distancing is bringing us a step closer to resuming full in-person instruction and activities, but we’re not there just yet.
Effective August 31, the new California Blueprint for a Safer Economy is providing new guidelines for the county to manage this pandemic. Based on these guidelines, little has changed from our past council COVID-19 updates on program delivery. As it stands, all previous guidelines are still in effect.
Is Your Unit Thinking Too Big?
Unfortunately, too many of our units have not reengaged their programs. Overwhelming feedback from unit leaders has been that they struggle to find locations for Pack and Troop meetings and the restrictions for large group gatherings prohibit them from hosting hikes, campouts, and other full unit programs. If you are one of these units, you are thinking too big!
The Boy Scouts of America has the best small group program for youth in America…we call them Dens and Patrols. Parents are screaming for programs to resume and the need for social interaction. Based on the new State guidelines, “cohorts” can meet in groups of 14 youth with two adults. Sound familiar?
Packs and Troops which have thrived through this pandemic have used regular den and patrol programs hosted at parks, church parking lots, backyards, or other areas to gather in small groups. One troop in Irvine is hosting patrol meetings at different parks on the same night and time, and patrols rotate skill development activities each week. They are also hosting virtual patrol activities for youth that are not ready for in-person activities. Bottom line, if the same group stays together, uses physical distancing, handwashing and wears masks in proximity, they are meeting State safety requirements.
We are proud to announce that using these same small group tactics and safety protocols the Orange County Council served 2,644 youth, with no documented COVID transmission, at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center and Newport Sea Base summer programs. New fall programs are now being launched for after school and weekend activities – Same small groups, lots of great programs.
It’s true, Dens and Patrols can go on hikes, meet in-person, complete rank advancement, and have fun. No unit needs to halt programs until the full unit can meet. As Orange County moves through the new risk levels, units will be able to emerge stronger and trouble free. Please contact your unit commissioner or district executive for questions on how to reengage your unit this Fall.
The past six months have represented an extraordinary time in our history. None of this has been easy, and we’ve seen our share of differing opinions and expressed concerns. Yet one thing we can all agree on is our desire to get Scouts back to safe and equitable learning environments, where they can engage with mentors and socialize with peers.
The Orange County Council is fully committed to doing everything possible to protect the health of our families, volunteers and staff members. Scouting is a force for good and we need to get our families back together while at the same time prevent becoming widespread drivers of community transmission, which could reverse the progress the county has made.
For these reasons, we will continue to closely follow the guidance of our public health partners, including the county Health Care Agency and the California Department of Public Health. When new information is released that impacts Scouting, we will provide another COVID-19 update on program delivery.
We are not out of the woods yet, but there are promising signs that our county is moving in the right direction. Think small! Let’s get our Scouts in their small groups and deliver program. With continued vigilance, and your partnership, we can turn this corner and safely get Scouting back together.
August 17, 2020
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives, school, and commerce, it also continues to impact Scouting. However, we are pleased to report that during our Summer Programs we had zero reports or outbreaks of illness while serving 2,853 youth with exciting outdoor programs. The Council Program Team and all the volunteers and employees who helped create and implement our Summer Programs this year has done an amazing job. Thank you! The Scouts, leaders, and units that attended experienced a successful and truly unique program this year at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center, Newport Sea Base and our online virtual camps.
As we look forward to the fall and schools getting back into action, many of our units are also getting back to their meetings. Here are a few updates on program delivery going forward as per the county health guidelines.
The Council Service Center remains closed to visitors until further notice. District and Council meetings will continue virtually through September 30th. All three Orange County Scout Shops are Open For Business.
Most of our Scout units are currently active and we encourage all packs, troops, crews, ships, and posts not currently meeting to consider whether now is the time to restart activities. Units must coordinate with their charter organizations and follow local and state requirements and public health guidance, including appropriate social distancing and/or masking.
As we move forward with Scouting, let’s remember that not all Scouts, leaders, or parents may be comfortable with Scouting activities at this time. Please be respectful as each family determines what is best for them.
If your unit is not meeting currently, please contact your unit commissioner or district executive for help getting your program back up and running for the new school year. We have seen many units who have figured out how to deliver programs in this new environment.
Unfortunately, district and council overnight programs are still prohibited. However, large group activities such as Camporees, Camporall, and OA Service Projects, can be conducted in a day-only format using concentric circle programming. Event committee chairs and staff advisors must submit an operating and safety plan to the council for approval before promoting the event. This may necessitate a hybrid virtual and in person program.
Thank you for your engagement with Scouting in the Orange County Council. As we continue to monitor COVID-19 guidelines, we hope to provide more encouraging news as we move forward. Thousands of youth throughout the county are benefiting from our volunteers and their leadership, commitment, and enthusiasm for the values of Scouting. #ScoutingSafeAndStrong
July 31, 2020
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
The most dangerous phrase in our language is “we’ve always done it this way.” – Rear Admiral Grace Hopper
If there is one positive from this pandemic that we can learn from, it’s that under the face of adversity, Scouting has found a way to keep Scouts connected, resilient, and innovative. COVID-19 has challenged each of us as families, volunteers, and staff to find new ways to deliver the life changing experiences and the life lessons our Scouts have come to expect in environments where they can thrive, learn, and have fun.
There is little doubt that change is hard. Most don’t deal with change easily. Every day, the Orange County Council is called upon to make course corrections in how we serve families and units. Our top priority remains the safety of our members and helping to stop the spread of this virus in the community. We are very proud of the work our unit leaders and program staff have done to ensure a safe place to give kids the chance to enjoy Scout programs. Thank you to all our leaders for making this possible.
Unfortunately, Scouting is still under the control of the pandemic. We remain vigilant in monitoring County safety conditions. Fortunately, the Boy Scouts of America, the Orange County Council, and its core of great volunteers are finding new ways to deliver programs, raise operating funds, and recruit new members. From Roundtables, unit leader trainings, programs at camps, unit meetings and activities, and other events, Scouting is evolving and adjusting to our new environment. Your patience, feedback, and innovative ideas are needed to ensure Scouting moves forward.
The council office will remain closed until further notice. District and Council meetings will continue virtually through September 15th.
All three Orange County Scout Shops are Open For Business.
All units are asked to follow best practices in conducting meetings. Please use virtual meetings where you can; host large group meetings outdoors; and conduct den and patrol meetings as small groups. Please continue following the guidelines that were outlined in the COVID-19 #10 Update.
If your unit is not meeting currently, please contact your district executive for help getting your program back up and running for the new school year.
The Fall Wood Badge course has been postponed until 2021.
Spaces are still available for in-person summer programs at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center and the Newport Sea Base. These have been very well received and our kids are having a blast in the outdoors. Click the links to check out the programs and see what safety precautions are in place to protect our children.
New fall programs are now being developed. Stay tuned to see what exciting Scout activities will be offered both virtually and in-person to meet the needs of our Scouts.
Preparing for the Fall
Our volunteer teams and staff have been working on ways to help our units get back on track to begin meetings. A new membership recruitment plan is being shared with Packs to help address limited school access to recruit new families. All members can stay in the know by reading the weekly Scoutweek news emailed every Wednesday evening, and plug in to our social medial sites at OCBoyscouts to receive instant information about Scouting.
No more can we say, “that’s not the way we have always done it.” Scouting may be changing how we deliver program but not the what. Everyday Scouts around Orange County raise their hand and recite the Scout Oath and Law. They make new discoveries about our world and learn new skills for life. They have fun with their friends and mentors. They experience the outdoors. These parts of Scouting will not change.
To all the families; get in the game and on the playing field. Don’t watch Scouting from the sidelines and wait for Scouting to get back to “normal.” Make new adventures with your family right now. The Orange County Council stands ready to welcome new families this fall, and help our units use Scouting to its fullest to deliver their ideal year of Scouting in this new environment. Please do not hesitate to ask for help rather than quit. Together we are finding better ways to deliver programs that are meaningful, relevant, and fun for our children. Thank you for being part of the solution. #ScoutingSafeAndStrong
July 16, 2020
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
The unpredictability of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the impact it has had on program delivery so far has challenged all of us in the Orange County Council to adjust in how we meet the needs of our Scouts, families, volunteers and staff. As you can imagine, none of this has been easy.
The safety of our members and preventing the spread the virus remains our top priority. Moving forward, we continue to ask all our members to remain steadfast in helping our Scouts receive the very best experience in a safe environment. Please continue to use good judgement in conducting meetings, always use physical distancing and wear masks.
As per the COVID Alert on July 13, the council office will remain closed until further notice. District and Council meetings will continue virtually through August 31.
All units are asked to follow best practices in conducting meetings. Please use virtual meetings where you can; host large group meetings outdoors; and conduct dens and patrols meetings as small groups. Please continue following the guidelines that were outlined in the COVID-19 #10 Update.
The 100th Anniversary Block Party on August 29th has been cancelled.
The Women of Character special event will be conducted virtually August 3-7 at 1 pm each day. This is a great event for all Scout families to participate.
Spaces are still available for all in-person summer programs at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center and the Newport Sea Base. These have been very well received and our kids are having a blast in the outdoors. Click the links to check out the programs and see what safety precautions are in place to protect our children.
The Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner honoring the Class of 2019 has been moved to a virtual “Eagle Celebration” event on August 21. This annual hallmark event recognizes Eagle Scout, Quartermaster and Summit Award recipients. This year, a unique and fun event has been planned to justly recognize our top youth in a new format.
Preparing for the Fall
Volunteers and staff have been working hard to create new and improved ways to deliver Scouting in this pandemic environment. Not only has COVID-19 impacted our personal lives, it continues to challenge the way we deliver Scouting. What has not changed is our resilience, our dedication, and our desire to serve more youth with a quality program.
Our teams are reaching out to unit leaders to listen and find new ways to help units thrive. We are preparing for fall recruitment with limited school access. We are designing new fall programs at the properties and we are scheduling unit Friends of Scouting presentations to help fund council operations. Together with our Scouts, families, volunteers and staff, the Orange County Council will keep Scouting strong and get through this adversity. Each of us deserve no less in these efforts.
Thank you for helping make Scouting great for our current members and those we will reach this fall. #ScoutingSafeAndStrong
July 13, 2020
Dear Scouting Family and Friends,
Due to today’s announcement from Governor Newsom to close Office Workspaces for non-essential sectors, the Orange County Council Service Center will close beginning Tuesday, July 14 until further notice.
Scout Shops will continue their modified hours of operation based on the Retail sector.
Program delivery at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center and Newport Sea Base in the Day Camps sector is not affected at this time. The Council Outdoor Adventure team continues to refine safety precautions and is finding new innovative ways to provide safe and fun activities for our youth this summer.
The Orange County Council continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will announce changes as needed. We strongly encourage our families and units to use precautions to ensure all participants do so safely. The next COVID Program Update is scheduled for July 16th.
July 10, 2020
OCBSA COVID-19 Alert
Dear Scouting Family and Friends,
With the heightened alert from the Orange County Department of Health regarding increases in COVID-19 related cases, the Orange County Council would like to remind all families, unit leaders and charter organizations to take extra precautions to prevent the spread of this virus. With everyone working together, Scouting can be the example to the community of responsible and safe environments for program delivery. Together, we can be part of the solution to containing this pandemic.
Please follow safe distancing and wearing of masks during all activities and meetings. If any member feels sick or is uncomfortable participating, please stay home.
The steps the council has taken to provide a safe environment at our camps this summer is working. Kids want to be in the outdoors and the programs offered at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center and Newport Sea Base is meeting those needs. Please check out our exciting summer programs and review what safety practices we have been put in place to ensure a fun-filled outdoor experience in a low risk environment.
Thank you for setting an example, being part of the solution, and for your support in helping Scouting remain safe and strong through these difficult times.
July 2, 2020
Update #10 on COVID-19 and its Impact on Program Delivery
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
As a youth organization, we have a solemn responsibility to our community to do all that we can to limit the spread of Coronavirus. With the recent news of increasing cases in Orange County, Scouting must stand firm in our ability to model and comply with instructions from our State, County, and community health agencies. The Orange County Council remains vigilant in our task to ensure the safety of our members and to those we reach in the months ahead.
This is not the Scouting program we are used to! Yes, we know and understand. We are so grateful to everyone for their concerns, their support and for the work our volunteers, staff and families are doing to deliver the Scouting program and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are so proud of what we have accomplished in this new environment. From our virtual programs, to the reopening of Scouting on a limited basis, we are doing our best to ensure everyone has a quality experience. Thank you for staying engaged with us. We are confident we will come out of this epidemic with a stronger program and a healthier organization.
Scouting is a Solution to Stopping the Spread of COVID-19
- ALL units must follow the safety guidelines included in our Unit Leader Checklist. National BSA has also provided this handout to help units reengage Scouts.
- ALL Charter Organizations need to approve plans for Scouts to begin meeting and going on outings. This includes communicating with leaders how the organization will enforce these guidelines. Units that fail to follow safety guidelines are creating great risks for their families, their community, and the charter organization.
- ALL units must use social media appropriately. Posting pictures of youth and adults not practicing physical distancing, not wearing masks, etc., only adds to the problem and are not showing Scouting as part of the solution. Every unit is part of the collective Scouting program and our communities deserve to know that Scouting is doing everything in its power to help stop the spread of the virus.
- If posting pictures as part of promoting your unit for recruiting, please make sure the content explains that this post is for recruiting purposes. For example: Our unit provides a year-round adventure for youth. These are a sample of programs our unit does in a non-COVID environment.
- ALL District and Council meetings remain virtual through August 15th.
- ALL unit leaders should update their youth protection training now prior to the recharter season beginning in October 2020. This only applies to leaders whose training expires before January 1, 2021. Leaders also need to complete their position training before they recharter as well.
Beginning August 1, council activities that cannot be conducted virtually may reopen if conditions allow. These programs will be restricted to council properties and will have limited capacity. Event committee chairs and staff advisors must provide an operating and safety plan to the council for approval before promoting the event. This may necessitate a hybrid virtual and in person program.
Focused Efforts to December 31, 2020
To ensure that Scouting thrives in 2020, volunteers and staff are asked to focus on these key priorities:
- Ensure units remain strong by providing advancement, camping, and training opportunities to all Scouts and leaders.
- Give all youth in Orange County a chance to join Scouting using a well-prepared fall recruitment unit plan. We strongly encourage families to use social media to promote Scouting. Ask your children to invite their friends. Help get the word out through our schools and other community events.
- Balance the council budget. This is a joint effort between every member family, the staff, and district and council volunteers. In order to accomplish this:
- We need to raise a minimum of $761,000 in Friends of Scouting and Golden Eagle gifts. Please Donate Now and encourage others to do the same.
- We need every unit to participate in the Popcorn Sale and use the super easy new online features. We need to raise $1.3 million in gross sales.
- Virtual and in-person fall special events will need to raise $768,000. When you see these opportunities, please share with your colleagues, co-workers, employers, neighbors etc.
- We need to serve $1.7 million of participants in our summer and fall programs being hosted at our camp properties.
There are over 18,000 youth and adults engaged in Scouting in Orange County. Together, we can rally our communities to help fund and support Scouting in a year that we need the most help. Failing to hit our targets will force the council to cut more staff and reduce program delivery and resources for units to thrive. Please do want you can to help accomplish these priorities for the remainder of the year.
On August 4, the Orange County Council will celebrate 100 years of program delivery in this great county. Just think about the hundreds of thousands of youth, families, service hours, Eagle projects, etc. that we have impacted through this program. Scouting really does make a difference in our community and in the lives we serve. Orange County Council is standing strong in our vision to continue this legacy for another century with your help today. Thank you, fellow Scouts and Scouters for standing tall with us.
June 16, 2020 | Update #9 on COVID-19 and Impact on Program Delivery
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
As the County of Orange continues to ease some of the COVID-19 restrictions, we stand vigilant to ensure the safety of our members and staff. With each new guideline from the State and County health departments, we are adjusting our program delivery and council operations to ensure a safe environment. We hope that as Scouting moves to get back to a new normal, we are able make sure our families and leaders feel comfortable with the steps we have taken.
The council is continually monitoring the buzz around the increased coronavirus cases. Future updates will address changes if needed.
To help get families and units reactivated, the council has published the first three Return to Scouting Checklists that help our members get back into Scouting.
Units are asked to continue using facemasks and enforce physical distancing in unit meetings and activities. Unit leaders please review and follow CDC guidelines as you develop your program this summer.
Scout Shops are Back and Ready to Serve
We are happy to announce that all Orange County Scout Shops have opened. Please review the ocbsa.org/shop for special offers, new hours of operation, and shopper guidelines.
Virtual Meetings Continue
At this time, the State has not issued guidelines to allow District and Council meetings, activities and programs including Eagle Boards of Review. Virtual meetings will continue through July 31st. Council properties will open July 6th for day programs.
Summer Adventures Begins July 6th
We are excited to continue to share some awesome opportunities for in-person and virtual camps this summer. Please check out ocbsa.org/summerprograms for information about our summer adventures and sign up. Space is limited and after just two week of sign ups, spots are already filling fast.
Due to lack of guidance and authorization to operate overnight camps from State and County health departments, Schoepe Scout Reservation at Lost Valley will not open for summer programs in 2020. Troops will have the option to transfer funds on an individual basis to Newport Sea Base or Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center summer programs, transfer their unit deposits to Lost Valley 2021, or receive a full refund for all monies not transferred. The Lost Valley staff will reach out to each unit to coordinate this process.
While it’s yet to be seen, we anticipate recruiting new members this fall could be challenging. Please join us Tuesday, June 23rd for a virtual Fall Recruitment Kick Off and orientation. Meet our new council spokesperson and hear about new materials and ideas to attract new families to Scouting. Social Distancing is keeping us apart, but Scouting is keeping us connected!
Scouting Continues to Thrive
It seems 2020 continues to test Scouting’s strength and resolve. We are so proud of the leadership in Orange County. From our unit and district leaders, to our staff and council board, we are working hard to give every young person a life changing experience. We hope you will join us for a summer adventure, participate in our online programs like the upcoming Scouts Got Talent, or listen to Scout News Live on Thursdays at 6pm. Together we are making a difference in our communities and with the families we serve.
Thank you for sticking with Scouting. Thank you for helping us to stand strong through these challenging times and thank you for your contributions to help fund the Scouting program through donations to the annual Friends of Scouting program. We need your help! Please consider a gift today to help the council meets its obligations to fund Scouting in Orange County. We need your help and your friendship. Donate today!
Be Safe. Be Strong. Visit the Council Resource Hub at ocbsa.org/resourcehub #ScoutingSafeAndStrong
June 1, 2020
Update #8 on COVID-19 and its Impact on Program Delivery
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
The Orange County Council has been closely monitoring safety guidelines from the various governing agencies. As Scouts, we have a responsibility to our community to do everything in our power to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Fortunately, our Scouts have stood strong throughout this pandemic and continued their adventures in new ways by following our safety guidelines.
Thank you to our volunteers and staff for their work to keep Scouting alive and prepared for the day we can get back to Scouting. And that day has come! We are happy to provide this update on unit meetings and summer programs. Please keep in mind that safety is our top priority and we will continue to monitor the COVID19 situation and make adjustments as appropriate.
Scouting Reopens their Doors
Effective Monday, June 8, the William Lyon Homes Center for Scouting will open with limited staff. The majority of our executive team will continue to work remotely. The Santa Ana Scout Shop is scheduled to open June 18. Other Orange County Scout Shops will remain closed until further notice.
In addition, Units are welcome to begin meeting starting June 8th using the following safety guidelines:
- Approval must be secured from the charter organization and whoever governs your meeting location to begin meeting.
- It is still the decision of parents to include their children in meetings and activities.
- Adult leaders must ensure that social distancing is enforced, and face masks are used per State, County and CDC guidelines.
- It is recommended that units begin meeting as dens/patrols to keep groups smaller and work up to full unit meetings and overnight activities.
Adventure Card Sale reopens on June 8. More information will be sent out to the Adventure Card units tomorrow with information regarding the sale, safety recommendations, and storefront sign-ups for Stater Bros. and Irvine Property locations. If your unit is interested in joining the sale, please contact Andrew Royster at email@example.com.
In order to maintain limited social circles, In-person district and council meetings, activities, and programs are still closed through June 30. Virtual meetings will continue as scheduled.
Council properties remain closed through June 30.
- District or Volunteer managed day camps have moved to virtual programs. In-person day camps will be coordinated on council properties. See Summer Adventures Begin update listed below.
- National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) has been cancelled for 2020. Thank you to Arnold Kim and his team for the work they did to prepare for this activity. It would have been amazing.
Summer Adventures Begin July 6th
We are thrilled to finally announce that enrollment for summer programs at Newport Sea Base and the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center will be opening this week. It has been a challenging few months for all, and without a doubt there will be tough times for the foreseeable future. That is why we have worked hard to prepare programs and redesign curriculum in order to offer the opportunity for youth to regain some normalcy in their lives, like camp, even if it is a bit different this summer.
We are preparing these properties and staff to deliver an outstanding summer program. It will however look very different than past summers. Newport Sea Base and the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center will reopen to the public on Monday, July 6 with summer day programs specially created for elementary age (Cub Scouts) and middle and high school age (Scouts BSA and Venturing) campers. The programs running Monday through Friday or consecutive Saturdays and/or Sundays will follow a strict set of enhanced safety protocols developed with guidance from the CDC, ACA, health departments, and the Boy Scouts of America.
A major change in this summer program, besides maximum class sizes of ten or less, is the number of classes/tracks a participant can take per week. In order to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 in our camp setting, we must limit interactions. This means participants can take only one class/track per week. We have done our best to create half-day or full-day programs that are attractive to our general community youth as well as Scouting youth. These program tracks are predesignated and cannot be changed. If there are multiple tracks that you would love to take, it will happen over multiple weeks. We hope you understand. Further information on these exciting programs including virtual camps will be released later this week with enrollment opening for all programs no later than Monday June 8.
Overnight programs at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center remain closed and we hope to resume these in late August.
The first programs at Oso Lake Scout Camp to reopen will likely be a family-based camping supported by our volunteer Campmaster Corps. Enrollment for this program should open in the coming weeks.
Schoepe Scout Reservation at Lost Valley, including Scouts BSA summer camp, remains closed through July 15. This pains us as much as it does you. If your unit was scheduled to attend Lost Valley in a cancelled week you have several options. Troops will have the option to transfer to a later week at Lost Valley, transfer funds on an individual basis to Newport Sea Base or Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center summer programs , transfer their unit deposits to Lost Valley 2021, or receive a full refund for all monies not transferred. The Lost Valley staff will reach out to each unit to coordinate this process.
Thank you again for helping strengthen the Scouting program. Together, we continue to make a difference in the lives we touch and the communities we serve.
Be Safe. Be Strong. Social Distancing is keeping us apart, but Scouting is keeping us connected. Visit the Council Resource Hub at ocbsa.org/resourcehub #ScoutingSafeAndStrong
May 15, 2020
Update #7 on COVID-19 and its Impact on Program Delivery
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
With summer fast approaching, families are asking; “Do I still sign up my Scout for camp, will there be alternatives to onsite camping, when will Scouting get back to normal?” These and many more like them are great questions. Rest assured the Orange County Council staff and volunteers are working hard to ensure Scouting thrives through this extraordinary time.
The safety of our members and families continues to be our top priority. On May 14, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a decision tree to guide camp operations, and while the State of California has entered Stage 2, neither has made it any easier to open our programs. We are anxiously awaiting further information from California and Orange and San Diego Counties health departments, the Boy Scouts of America, and the American Camp Association (ACA) to make a more informed decision regarding allowing Scout activities and opening our properties.
Per the announcement in Update #6, here is the upcoming schedule for meetings and programs:
- Council Offices will remain closed through June 15th.
- In-person unit, district and council meetings, activities, and programs are closed through June 30th.
- Council properties are closed through June 30th.
We sincerely hope the shelter-at-home restrictions will be lifted soon. Our next update will be June 1st.
Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner has moved to August 21st.
Preparing to Restart Scout Activities and Meetings
The Council has been working on ways to reopen Scouting in a way that meets prescribed safety protocols and ensures the safety of our members. One idea would be to open unit meetings in a phased approach such as Phase 1 – den and patrol could meet, Phase 2 unit could host meetings, and Phase 3 larger events such as district program and gatherings could happen. Guidelines will be shared with all adult leaders and families as we get clearance to open our programs in the future. If you have ideas on how to best reopen our programs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer Camp Operations
Orange County Council and Outdoor Adventures leadership for the Newport Sea Base, Oso Lake Scout Camp, Schoepe Scout Reservation at Lost Valley, and the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center have been hard at work to identify potential operation models that would allow some fashion of summer programs while maximizing our ability to prevent a spread of COVID-19 to our campers, staff, and their families at home.
Each of these models include modifications that go beyond our normal safety protocols such as:
- Wellness checks upon arrival at camp each day
- Safety briefings for all campers and additional training for staff
- Requirement for all attendees, staff, and campers to wear facemasks
- Increased sanitation and disinfection of high traffic areas, program areas, classrooms, and equipment
- Reduced capacities at camp as well as in classes and program areas
- Selection of tracks rather than individual classes to limit the number of people campers encounter
- Modification or elimination of programs offered that do not fit social distancing models
Once we receive the complete guidance from the CDC, California and County health departments, ACA and BSA, the Orange County Council will finalize operation plans and submit for approval to the County health department the best model that allows for the safety of our campers, staff, and their families.
In addition to these steps, we have been offering and will expand virtual camping programs. If necessary, these virtual programs could also be implemented in concert with our onsite programs to meet the needs of families that do not want to attend an in-person camp.
Families asked, “do I still sign up for camp?” The answer is yes. “Be Prepared” is our motto and we need to prepare staff, materials, food orders etc. to deliver a high-quality experience. Please continue to sign up. The Council refund policy will fairly return your registration fees if any programs are cancelled.
Scouting Needs Your Help
Scouting in Orange County is dependent on income from donations, activities fees, property revenue, and product sales. A large part of the council budget comes from donations to the annual family Friends of Scouting (FOS) campaign. Unfortunately, income needed to support council operations has become very limited.
As a result, Council leadership has created has prepared various budget scenarios and staffing models to maintain Scouting as best we can. These scenarios account for limited summer programs, delays in reopening Scout meetings, and reduce fall participation in fall scheduled events. What has not changed is the reliance on our members to support FOS with a charitable gift.
Staff and volunteers are working hard to remotely providing service to units, delivering virtual programs, providing support to council operations, and preparing for a full return to Scouting. If you have already given to Friends of Scouting this year, thank you! If not, please consider making your online FOS gift right now. We fully recognize that times are difficult, but we simply ask that you make a meaningful gift to help Scouting thrive in Orange County.
Support our Virtual Giving Platforms:
- Online Adventure Card Sales to Support Hometown Heroes
- Digital Dash – 5k Run, Walk, Row
- Exercise is Essential Challenge
- Pancake Flip Challenge
- Online Friends of Scouting Gifts
We know these are unique and challenging times for many, but please help if you can.
There has never been a time in the history of the Boy Scouts that a monetary gift will be so impactful and so critically needed. Thank you for your kind consideration!
Be Safe. Be Strong. Social Distancing is keeping us apart, but Scouting is keeping us connected.
Visit the Council Resource Hub at ocbsa.org/resourcehub #ScoutingSafeAndStrong
April 29, 2020
Update #6 on the Coronavirus and Impact on Program Delivery
To Our Scouting Family and Friends,
During this time of “Stay At Home,” Scouting has not stopped. Virtual den and troop meetings, merit badge online learning, skill instruction, and even a few Camp-Ins are keeping the Scout Spirit alive! Together with volunteers and staff, the Orange County Council has been busy crafting safe, relevant and life-changing experiences for our members.
The safety of our members and families is still our top priority. We continue to monitor directions from government and health care officials and continue to make adjustments to our programs. As such, the Orange County Council will keep offices, properties, all in person unit, district and council meetings, activities and programs closed through May 31st. We will announce each month changes and extensions if needed. Join us each Thursday at 6 pm on Facebook Live facebook.com/ocboyscouts/live to view Scout News Live, a short presentation with program updates and news you can use.
Program Update: Registration for the South County Day Camp at O’Neill Park has been suspended. Our hope is to move this camp into August. Please stay tuned for more information about this camp.
Preparing for Summer Programs
Lord Robert Baden Powell, founder of Scouting, said “A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.” Boys and girls join Scouting to get into the outdoors and go camping. We know families are looking forward to getting back to normal Scouting and attending camps this summer. The Orange County Council is fortunate to have outstanding camp properties that will be offering excellent summer programs
Effective today, all on-site camping programs will be suspended through June 15th.
We will use the following schedule to announce changes in camp operations going forward:
· May 15th – We will announce programs through June 30th.
· June 1st – We will announce programs through July 15th.
This will allow units and the council time to adequately prepare for camp based on the most up-to-date health guidelines for the safety our campers and staff. It is our sincere desire that camps will operate for the summer. We ask that units and families continue to make reservations to hold your spot for an outstanding, safe camp experience. Potential modifications to the camp programs are being developed now including but are not limited to reduced capacities, later start date, social distancing, medical screenings and additional sanitation. Once we receive formal guidance from state and county health officials, we will be able to finalize and announce our plans.
There is lots to do in Scouting
While Social Distancing is keeping us apart, Scouting keeps us connected. Check out the Council Resource Hub at ocbsa.org/resourcehub for details about programs, virtual advancement opportunities, and other support materials for leaders, families and Scouts. National BSA also has great resources at scouting.org/scoutingathome. Stay up to date on Scouting through the Council calendar. Here are a few programs be offered at this time:
· Digital Dash – Run, Walk, Cycle, Row 5k/10k Virtual Learning Opportunities:
· Exercise is Essential – Stay at Home Exercise Challenge · On-going Merit Badge Classes
· National BSA Camp In – May 2nd · Trail to 1st Class
· Scouts’ Own National Day of Prayer Service – May 7th
· American Red Cross Blood Drive at the Council Office – May 7th
· Pacifica District Camp In – May 9-10th
Do a Good Turn Daily
Scouting’s slogan “Do a Good Turn Daily” calls Scouts to action. Orange County Council has partnered with all the Southern California councils to launch a new council-wide service project to construct face shields for our first responders and medical personnel. Please go to covid19scouting.org for more details. Share photos of your efforts at #OCBSAGOODTURN. Also, please be sure to log service hours for all your projects at servicehours.scouting.org.
Another way to help Scouting and the community is to support our Hometown Heroes with the purchase of an Adventure Card. Sales credit can be given to individual Scouts to help fund their summer adventures. Individuals can purchase cards to be donated to our Hometown Heroes and/or you can purchase discount cards for your own use. Purchase an Adventure Card at: bit.ly/advcard2020.
Scouting Continues to Thrive
If you missed them, be sure to review prior updates to stay well-informed of Scouting guidelines for safety and engagement.
If you have not made your annual Friends of Scouting charitable gift this year, please consider making one at this time. The Council is facing a very difficult time with almost all revenue generating activities cancelled or delayed due to COVID-19. Outside of a few small virtual activities, our only significant source of revenue is through charitable gifts from our families and Friends of Scouting. Please make your gift now at bit.ly/supportocbsa so Scouting can continue to thrive in Orange County.
Al Mijares, OCBSA Board Member and Superintendent, Orange County Department of Education, recently spoke about grit, adaptability, and resilience in the face of adversity. Three important outcomes that Scouting fosters in every one of our members. Our Scouts are Prepared to get through this epidemic and together we remain strong. Thank you to everyone who is working to deliver a quality program during this challenging time. #ScoutingSafeAndStrong
April 5, 2020
To Our Scouting Family,
The Orange County Council remains vigilant in keeping our Scouting family and friends protected. We want to assure you that we are taking all precautions to keep Scouting safe now and in the future.
We are excited to see the outpouring of creativity, leadership, and service amongst our volunteers, staff and members to keep Scouting moving forward. The use of digital resources have kept our members engaged, empowered, and equipped to have a quality Scouting experience. There are more and more FUN resources being added every day to the council Resource Hub and on the National BSA Scouting from Home site. We strongly encourage all families and volunteers to use these ideas and share your own ideas with others through our social media sites.
As we follow the direction set by government and heath care officials addressing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, we remain committed to ensuring that we continue to support you and Scouts. To that effect, the Orange County Council will continue keeping our offices, properties, all in person unit, district and council meetings, activities and programs closed through April 30th. We will announce each month changes and extensions if needed.
Due to these closures, too many of our excellent activities have been cancelled or postponed. We would like to do a shout out to all our volunteers and staff who had spent hours planning and preparing for these events. Thank You to each of them for their leadership and patience. We look forward to participating in these activities soon.
Service to units and volunteers CONTINUES
- Like so many impacted, the loss of income is real, and it has created a significant cash drain on council operations. The council is doing everything in its power to reduce expenses to get through the next few months. We are working with our vendors to delay payments, and we have implemented salary and staff reductions including an entire staff furlough for the week of April 19th thru 25th. We ask volunteers and families to respect this week by not reaching out to staff with calls or emails. Due to labor laws, we will be unable to respond.
- In addition, the council team is continuing to seek donations though social media, calls to past donors, and direct mail campaigns. Districts are helping to fundraise through online virtual events, and our program teams will begin charging for online Merit Badge classes. Every dollar raised now helps to reduce further cuts to program delivery going into the summer and fall. Help keep our virtual merit badge classes affordable, make a donation here.
- The council staff remains focused on helping our units thrive during this time. While the Council Service Center is closed, we will continue to process registration, charters, Eagle Scout applications, donations and payables. Please scan and email paperwork to council staff as needed.
- Supply orders are only being handled directly through the National Distribution Center now. Click here for instructions on how to order advancement and other supplies.
- The council field, program and support staff continue to work remotely via phone and email. Please click here for the staff directory.
- Fundraising donations are still being processed. Click here to make your annual Friends of Scouting donation.
- Summer program registrations are still being processed. Day camp, summer camps, NYLT, etc. are still being planned at this time.
- New families are still being invited to join Scouting. Please help spread the word about Scouting to children from online classes, your neighborhood, social media etc., and invite them to join your unit. New members can join by going to BeaScout.org for the online application and fees will be collected through bit.ly/joinocbsa.
Do a Good Turn Daily!
As our society looks for leadership in times of challenge, we look to Scouting. Scouts have always been prepared, helped other people, strived to be good citizens, and worked to be brave.
Right now, Scouts and Scout Leaders are mobilizing to help our neighbors and serve as a force for the greater good for our community. We ask our Orange County Council family to show your appreciation to essential workers, pride in America, and help where you can safely.
We could not get through these difficult times without the everyday heroes who go to work each day to ensure that we care for the sick, we have food to eat, our mail is delivered, and so much more. We encourage all Scouts to demonstrate their appreciation for essential workers (health care, grocery workers, law enforcement, etc.) with letters, posters, social media postings, or other ways you can.
Fly your America Flag at home, give blood, collect food for those who need help, or make face masks for neighbors and essential workers. If you go outside, wear your uniform. Share your actions of appreciation and service at #OCBSAGOODTURN.
To our Scouting family we say thank you for your continued support of the Scouting program. Together we will make a difference in our communities.
Stay home. Stay safe. Save lives. Be Scout Strong.
March 18, 2020
Update #4 on the Coronavirus and Impact on Program Delivery
Dear Scouting Family,
The safety of all our members, volunteers, and employees remains our top priority. We understand that the fluidity of this situation is causing uncertainty among units and volunteers in relation to its impact on Scouting programs.
Council leadership continues to monitor the situation in real time and is monitoring changes to guidance and recommendations of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and county health departments and will continue to communicate updated recommendations as new information becomes available.
Here are some recent developments and information for our Scouting family:
Effective immediately all Orange County Council offices, properties and Scout Shops have been closed to the public until further notice in accordance with the meeting guidance from the Orange County Health Officer. Our staff will remain available via phone or email. Click here for our staff roster.
Per the new guidelines issued by CDC and the County Health Department, all District and Council events as well as programs at our properties will be postponed through May 10, 2020. Events such as Camporees and Scout-O-Rama will be moved to the Fall. The Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner has been moved to Friday, June 26th. The Men of Character Dinner has been rescheduled to Wednesday, June 17th. Please review the council calendar for meeting notices and new dates for other Scouting events.
Unit, District, and Council meetings must use conference calls and online video services. Click here for links to suggested services. Please adhere to the current youth protection guidelines already in place for digital communications.
In order to continue to serve our Scouting families, the Orange County Scout Shop in Santa Ana will be offering weekly curb-side pick-up of all your Scouting supplies. Please e-mail your order to email@example.com. Don’t forget to include contact information and DO NOT include payment information in the email. At this time, all orders placed by 10:00 pm each Sunday will be ready to pick up from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm the following Monday, or as arranged.
We all know that Scouting teaches us to be resilient and flexible to successfully and confidently face life’s many challenges. Today, we are launching a resource hub for parents and leaders to help support Scouting at home and keep Scouts productive! The site has loads of stay-at-home educational activities for each Scout rank, tips for continuing to work on advancements and youth-friendly content that connects Scouting with their daily lives. The council will continue to develop and add new content and free resources to the hub regularly.
Be sure to share with us how your Scouts are Scouting at Home at #ScoutingAtHome so we can share this inspiration with our Scouting families to continue our mission of building leadership and character. You can share by tagging us in your posts on Facebook or Instagram – be sure you are following us too!
Just a reminder, if you or any member of your family feel sick, DO NOT go into the office or attend any gatherings. Contact your health professional to get care.
Also, unit leaders please be sure to periodically check in with all your families to see how they are doing. Encourage your families to do the same with their own neighbors and other family members. A Scout is Helpful, and at this time, Scouting needs to stand tall and assist others where we can safely.
“Be Prepared” is our motto and there is no better time to live this. We realize these decisions are not without their challenges, and we thank you for helping meet the needs of our communities in difficult times. Scouting can still happen even while we practice social distancing. We welcome your feedback and ideas on how Scouts can keep up on their requirements and stay connected. Please send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and stay in touch via the ScoutWeek email and our social media pages.
Please do all in your power to keep you and your family healthy!
March 13, 2020
Update #3 on the Coronavirus and Impact on Program Delivery
Dear Scouting Families of the Orange County Council,
Our top priority in Scouting is the safety of our youth members, families, volunteers and employees. First and foremost, the decision to participate in Scouting is voluntary, and each family should make a personal decision for what level of participation, if any, it will have in Scouting meetings and activities during the outbreak.
Our council leadership continues to monitor this situation closely alongside local health officials to determine the most appropriate response to the conditions at hand. Therefore, in accordance with the announcement of Orange County School District closures, the Orange County Council strongly recommends and expects an immediately suspension of all in person Scouting activities, meetings and gatherings until schools resume operations. This includes our four camp properties; Newport Sea Base, Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center, Schoepe Scout Reservation at Lost Valley and Oso Lake Scout Camp.
Orange County Council offices and Scout Shops will remain open during this period.
All Scout units, districts, council committees, etc. are to begin using conference calls, emails, and other communication channels to stay focused on Scout programs and postpone or cancel any gatherings until further notice.
Unit, district and council leadership should respect any family’s and individual’s decision not to participate during this outbreak and make plans to help Scouts that do not participate, re-engage after it is complete.
As Scouts and Scouters, it is our duty to Be Prepared. We also must not panic while making the best decisions possible for our Scouting programs and its members. Our council leadership is committed to being diligent with regular communications as this situation evolves. If you have not read the below updates, we ask that you do so to stay abreast of this situation and use the resources and guidelines that are designed to help lessen the chance of spreading this virus and protecting our communities.
March 12, 2020
Officials at the California Department of Public Health announced new recommendations late Wednesday night to curtail the spread of COVID-19: large gatherings should be postponed or canceled across the state until at least the end of March.
The Orange County Council, including all of our properties, continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation. Based on this new information, the Council will enforce the following guidelines effective immediately:
- Council and District activities of 250 or more will be postponed and rescheduled for dates after March 31st. This includes District Camporees scheduled in March and programs at our four properties including Newport Sea Base and Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center.
- Smaller events can proceed only if organizers can implement social distancing of 6 feet per person. If the social distance cannot be accommodated, meetings/activities must be postponed or cancelled. The use of conference calls is highly recommended. Advisers to District and Council meetings will contact their committees with instructions for meetings scheduled this month.
- Roundtables will continue for March 12. Social Distancing will be enforced, and we strongly request any individual who feels sick to not attend.
- Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people while also following social distancing guidelines.
- Some charter partners and unit meeting locations have blocked access to their facilities for the time being. Please contact your location to verify access and timeline. The information from the State recommends limiting access until March 31st. Should your unit be blocked, we recommend that families continue to use their handbooks at home to continue the program and update their leaders on their progress.
Click here to view the guideline from the California Department of Health.
The Orange County Council is committed to providing a safe environment for our members and will continue to update you as information becomes available.
March 11, 2020
The Orange County Council which includes the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center and the Newport Sea Base, has received calls from individuals asking how the Coronavirus or COVID-19, might impact our programs. We are monitoring the situation closely and are prepared to act quickly should the situation warrant action.
While officials say the health risk to the general public in California from Novel Coronavirus remains low, the Orange County Health Care Agency acknowledges the situation is evolving, and our Council is closely monitoring developments. We are also working with the Orange County Department of Education and other agencies to stay alert to changes. Above all, we are committed to protecting youth, volunteers and staff in environments that are safe.
Our Council’s Response: A Scout is Clean
We encourage everyone attending our properties and programs to follow the California Department of Public Health recommendations to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If using hand sanitizer, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Cover cough and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Stay away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like a fever and cough.
Individuals are encouraged to bring personal hand sanitizer. We will also provide hand sanitizer at restrooms and dining areas at camps where soap and water are not available.
Participation in Scouting activities, meetings and fundraisers: A Scout is Prepared!
For now, all programs will continue as planned. Should Public Health authorities recommend additional preventative measures, we will act accordingly. Unless directed by a Public health agency, it is the goal of the Council to not cancel any event without a 14-day notice. There has not been a change to the cancellation policy; however, we will reassess this if conditions change.
Here are some recommendations for continued program delivery:
- Before leaving to an activity, check to see if anyone is feeling ill. If so, that person must remain home and seek medical attention. Upon arrival at the event, conduct the same medical preview screening.
- If someone begins to feel ill at an activity, that person will be quarantined and removed from the activity. The Council will notify Public Health and follow additional instructions.
- Additional bathrooms and hand washing facilities will be provided at district and council outdoor events.
- Scout units and Groups are strongly encouraged to bring hand sanitizer to all activities.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning sprays and wipes.
This remains an evolving situation our Council will post new information on our website and social media as it becomes available. In addition, please connect with these resources: