Update on the Coronavirus and Impact on Programs

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.

Program Update:
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 communication@ocbsa.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:

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

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: Update #5

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

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 orangecountyscoutshop@scouting.org. 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 communication@ocbsa.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

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: Update #2

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: Update #1

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.

Additional Resources

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: