More information about the Order of the Arrow’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak can be found here.
In light of the extended period of camping restrictions attributable to COVID-19, the following temporary modification is being made to the camping requirements for OA eligibility:
Virtual camping (i.e., backyard or solo camping) may be counted toward the required nights of camping for OA election eligibility if all the following stipulations are met:
- To be counted, all virtual camping nights should be a direct result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and be part of a BSA unit-organized unit camping event (i.e., multiple members of the unit are involved and camping simultaneously at remote locations).
- Some form of unit-organized communications should occur either during or immediately following the event.
- All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines should be followed.
- No more than three (3) nights of virtual camping are to be credited in any month in which government- or council-imposed COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
This change is in effect until September 1, 2020.
Units which have already held an election between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020 are authorized to hold one additional election for any individuals who were ineligible at the time of the election due to the camping requirement, but would have been considered eligible at the time if this temporary policy had then been in effect. This second election must be completed no later than July 1, 2020. Those who were previously considered for election in the first election may not be reconsidered on this second ballot (i.e., no one can be considered for election more than once in a year).
Given that virtually all councils have either cancelled or reduced their summer camp programs this year, creating a situation where a high proportion of Scouts will not have the opportunity to attend an in-camp summer camp in 2020, a temporary provision to allow for “virtual” long term camping credit for OA eligibility is necessary.
Virtual Long-Term Camping Authorization
Two situations have developed associated with the current pandemic that may prevent Scouts from having an opportunity to qualify for OA eligibility due to not having attended a long-term camp this summer.
- The local council camp is closed and not offering a traditional summer camp experience.
- Scout parents are unwilling to allow their child to attend traditional summer camp programs due to health concerns.
In order to address these circumstances, virtual long-term camping of five (5) consecutive nights is authorized to be counted toward the long-term camping requirements for OA eligibility consistent with the above guidance and the following additional guidelines:
- A long-term camp plan must be developed and approved by the unit leader prior to the commencement of the long-term camp. This plan is to be individualized to each Scout’s capabilities and situation and should strive to include:
- Progress toward advancement for each Scout
- Outdoor relevant experience consistent with local conditions and restrictions
- Unit-organized communications should occur on a daily basis during the camping experience and include discussion of progress made on summer camp goals.
- An end-of-camp assessment must be conducted with the unit leader to report on progress made during the experience itself and discuss how future virtual long-term camping experiences can be enhanced. During this assessment the unit leader will make the determination if the Scout’s participation warrants granting credit for a completed virtual long-term camping experience in terms of OA eligibility.
This virtual long-term camping authority is not meant to substitute for attendance at traditional council summer camp programs, but rather to provide an alternative for Scouts who fit in one of the two categories mentioned above.
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