Patrol Cooking at Camp

INTRODUCTION

Scout camps all across the world typically provide food through a dining hall system where kitchen staff cook and serve the meals, but there is another way for troops to get their daily dose of nutrients. Here at McNeil Scout Ranch, we offer an alternative method that promotes leadership skills and team building all while creating memories through cooking.

Amongst the morning breeze rustling through the grass, one might also hear the sound of sizzling bacon cooking on a camp stove as scouts prepare breakfast for their troop patrol. Although dining hall meals offer an easy and reliable way for participants to eat before their exciting day full of adventure, the patrol method teaches youth valuable life skills. First used by Baden-Powell in 1907, patrol cooking is an easy and fun way for troops to cook, eat, and clean during their weeklong camping experience at McNeil Scout Ranch! In this post, we’ll define Patrol Cooking, describe a typical patrol cooking setup, and provide 4 tips and tricks to get started with Patrol Cooking in your troop.

WHAT IS PATROL COOKING?

Patrol cooking stems from the root source of the Patrol Method: youth working together towards a common goal where each participant has an important role and adults act as guides that supervise. The patrol method allows Scouts to lead each other through teamwork.

A Scout patrol is a small team of normally six to eight youth from the troop and can be made up with a Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) or a Patrol Leader (PL) who organizes and leads roles and assignments for the members. Having a troop split into smaller groups leads to self-accountability and responsibility for troop success.

Patrol cooking is set up where each person in the patrol has a job. Two scouts might be in charge of getting the food from the drop-off location and bringing it back. Another scout might be responsible for preparing the food and another cooking it. Lastly a scout or two sets up the wash line for all the scouts to clean personal mess kits and cooking equipment. Every person must complete their task for the patrol to be able to eat and continue on with their day.

WHY IS PATROL COOKING IMPORTANT?

Patrol cooking creates jobs for each person in the patrol where if incomplete the system doesn’t function. It encourages the scouts to rely on each other for the success of the group. Without a scout preparing the food, cooking, and cleaning, a patrol can’t continue in their day at camp. Having scouts cook their own food cultivates a love for cooking and creating the food that fuels their bodies. Cooking one’s own food fosters memories and connections among youth. The hard work and effort put into making a meal leads to satisfaction that the dining hall simply cannot replicate. By cooking their own food youth gain a sense of accomplishment all while honing their communicative and leadership skills. Patrol cooking cultivates an environment where youth gain valuable life skills.

Communication

Scouts need to work together timely to complete all their tasks on time for them to eat and clean up.

Teamwork

Each patrol is a team that works together towards a common goal.

Problem-solving

Scouts might need to overcome the challenges of cooking or working well together if arguments arise.

Initiative

Youth are encouraged to take action for what needs to be done in order for the food to get made and the site cleaned up. Patrol cooking fosters leadership skills.

Planning and Organizing

A Patrol needs to plan who does what job and who is responsible for certain aspects of the cooking process. A great way to do this is by making a duty roster that alternates jobs.

Learning

People learn so much through hands-on interaction like cooking for themselves. Patrol cooking is the perfect opportunity to create a learning environment.

HOW TO SET UP PATROL COOKING IN YOUR TROOP

Who decides which participant is going to gather supplies, prep, cook, or clean for each meal?

Each patrol is led by a patrol leader who is typically in charge of making something called a duty roster. This is a list of job assignments and a space to write the name of the person doing that assignment for their specific meal. These assignments should be rotated every meal so that a scout isn’t stuck doing a specific job the entire week. Duty rosters keep the patrol organized and running smoothly during mealtimes.

JOBS TYPICALLY ASSIGNED

Food Runners

These scouts are in charge of going to pick up the food from a pre-assigned meeting location. If a patrol doesn’t know where this is already, they should ask a counselor ahead of time to show them. This crew needs to be made up of at least two individuals for the buddy system as they are leaving their campsite to go pick up the food and bring it back. This crew is also in charge of making sure they have the right amount of food for their patrol when picking it up. Typically, the ingredients are split up into bags with the number of servings written on the bag. The scouts are responsible for making sure this number matches the number of scouts in the patrol while also reading the ingredient list to make sure they have all the ingredients they need before heading back to camp.

Cook Crew

The cook crew is responsible for preparing the food and cooking it. This crew should ideally have at least two individuals but can be done with one if the patrol is small. Here they are tasked with reading the cooking instructions and following them accurately. They must follow all food safety procedures such as washing their hands before starting and making sure meat is cooked thoroughly. This crew holds a large amount of responsibility as they are the ones using knives to cut the food and fire to cook it. It is important for these scouts to give their full attention to the cooking process. If they aren’t sure of what to do it is important that they first problem solve, then discuss the issue with their PL or SPL and as a last resort reach out to a counselor or adult leader.

Cleanup Crew

Here the scouts are in charge of cleaning any leftover food, trash, and dishes. Ideally, this crew has at least two people to carry water buckets. These scouts should start a pot of hot water as soon as they can so they can pour it into the wash line. Cleaning can be a chore done during cooking. Putting up packages and unused utensils as well as throwing away waste as the food is being cooked cuts down on the time cleaning up after the meal. Placing a pot of water on the stove ensures hot water is ready for rinsing dishes by the time people are done eating. There are four buckets in a wash line, and everything but hot water can be prepared ahead of time. The Goober Bucket needs cold water and a scrubby. This bucket is for getting any food residue from the dishes. The Soap Bucket needs warm water, soap, and a scrubby. This is for scrubbing the dishes clean. The Rinse Bucket just has warm water in it and is used to rinse off the soap. Lastly, the Sanitize Bucket has cold water and 2 sanitation tablets. This bucket sanitizes the food from germs. All the scouts should be helping clean the actual dishes and are responsible for cleaning their individual mess kits. The cleanup crew needs to dump all the water into the sump at the end of the cleaning process. To do this they should first dump the Goober Bucket, then dump the Soap Bucket into the Goober Bucket and re-dump that into the sump. Then dump the remaining buckets into each other in order until the Goober Bucket has had all the other bucket’s liquids dumped into it. Then the cleanup crew can set the buckets out to dry.

PATROL COOKING TIPS AND TRICKS

Plan out job assignments for each meal.

Having this set up ahead of time eliminates confusion and anger about who’s doing what. Be clear about what the responsibilities are for each job as well to minimize conflict. It is important to change up the job assignments each meal so each scout can experience different responsibilities and learn different skills.

Work together as a patrol.

Everyone should have a job in the patrol so that the cooking can run smoothly, and the youth can work together as a whole to achieve a common goal. Dividing up tasks gives everyone the opportunity to participate and learn while also not putting the weight of the group’s success on one individual.

Leave any drama at the campfire

Remember you’re here to learn to work well with your patrol. Problem solving and communication are arguably the biggest parts of a successful patrol and knowing when to let something go is essential. A scout doesn’t want to waste all of their cooking time arguing with their patrol about something.  

Cook the right amounts for your patrol.

Leave no trace is an important part of the outdoor code and applies to when you’re cooking too. By making the right amount of food and eating all of it, a patrol can prevent critters from making a home in the campsite and assures each participate is full of nutrients for their busy day of scouting!

CLOSING

Patrol Cooking is a great way for a troop to become closer and it instills valuable life lessons into each scout. If you are interested in signing up for one of our Patrol Cooking sessions you can sign up for either session 1 or 5 here: https://www.denverboyscouts.org/camps/peaceful-valley-scout-ranch/camp-cris-dobbins/

Does your troop have any patrol cooking tips or recipes you would like to try? Leave them in the comments below!

Fourth Generation Eagle Scout Guyton becomes Youngest Eagle in 50 Year Troop History

On October 10, 2021, Tyler Guyton of Evergreen, son of Dr. Brad and Allison Guyton, achieved the unique honor of becoming the youngest Eagle Scout in Troop 888 history while continuing his 90+ year family legacy in scouting.

Tyler and his Troop leadership.

His great grandfather Harold “Pappy” Guyton, his grandfather Thomas “Pappy” Guyton, and his father Dr. Brad Guyton all also received their Eagle Scout rank as young men. Tyler Guyton joined Troop 888 just after his 11th birthday and made an early commitment to achieve his Eagle on the same day as his grandfather August 17, 1956, exactly 65 years later.

He formally completed all requirements and qualified for Eagle Scout on August 17, 2021, just a few weeks before his 14th birthday. By achieving his goal and this rank by that date, he also snagged the added bragging rights of beating his dad to Eagle by three days.

“I am just getting started in scouting. Everything worth having takes work and a village of people to complete. I have a connection with these people that will last a lifetime.”

-Tyler on his journey to Eagle

His Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony was celebrated this past month by 90 fellow scouts, leaders, friends and family members held in the outdoor amphitheater of the Lutheran Church of the Cross. Dinner was Cowboy Casserole, root beer floats, and real time homemade Dutch oven cinnamon apple donuts made by scouts in the troop. Presenters included Emcee Scout Lochlan DaRonco, Brad Guyton (Tyler’s father), the Honorable Robert Wilson (Eagle Scout), Manan Shah (Eagle Scout) and Mitch Goldenberg, Scoutmaster of Troop 888. Mentorship acknowledgments were awarded by Tyler to Mitch Goldenberg, Keith Leswing, Greg Hartman, and Landon Hartman. Some family members in attendance were Tyler’s parents Brad and Allison, his sister Ava, Barbara Guyton (his grandmother), Tyler and Elsa Maas (his Aunt and Uncle), and Kristin Sayre (his Aunt).

Tyler and his family.

During his time Scouting, Tyler has served as troop guide and patrol leader, in addition to other leadership roles. He was also awarded a bronze palm during this ceremony, the first palm awarded in his Scoutmasters tenure. In addition to his certificate and Eagle medal, Guyton was awarded a commemorative engraved axe and a flag that flew over the US Capitol on his 14th birthday this year.

Only four percent of boy scouts ever achieve the rank of Eagle Scout and of those that do make it, it typically takes about six years. To achieve Eagle, a scout must earn 21 merit badges, advance through six prior ranks, and lead a team through a community-based Eagle Scout project.

For his project, Guyton led other scouts in building an outdoor COVID classroom at Evergreen Middle School. Now that he has achieved his personal scouting goal, Guyton plans to continue on in scouting with his fellow scouts at Troop 888 in leading younger scouts and looking outside the troop for other ways to contribute. “I am just getting started in scouting. Everything worth having takes work and a village of people to complete. I have a connection with these people that will last a lifetime.” said Guyton.

Troop 888 is non-denominational scouting troop that welcomes all young people between the ages of 11 and 18 that love to camp, cook, challenge one another, and serve the Evergreen community.

To learn more, please visit bsa888.com Guyton Family: Ava, Brad, Tyler, and Allison Scoutmaster Goldenberg, Leswing, Guyton, and Hartman Brad Guyton, DDS, MBA, MPH | Chief Dental Officer Delta Dental of Colorado and Delta Dental of Virginia UCSDM, Associate Professor CO Email: bguyton@ddpco.com VA Email: brad.guyton@deltadentalva.com Phone: (720) 766-5853

Triple Crown Accomplished by Eagle Scout Braden Johnson

Outdoor adventures are a key part of any Scout’s journey. For local Eagle Scout Braeden Johnson, this summer’s adventures took him from the sands of Sea Base to the rushing waters of the Northern Tier and finally to the awe-inspiring views of Philmont. It’s a summer that represents many of the pinnacle experiences of Scouting.

Eagle Scout Braeden, from Troop 788 in Castle Rock completed a Triple Crown this summer.  The Triple Crown of National High Adventure Award was created in 1995 to both promote the Boy Scouts of America’s national high adventure programs and help identify those Scouts with a thirst for high adventure who may be interested in serving on the staff of Northern Tier High Adventure and other national high adventure bases. Recipients have participated in at least one qualifying high adventure program at three of the BSA’s four national high adventure bases. 

He started with Sea Base in June where he completed the Scuba Dive adventure, at the end of June he went to Northern Tier as part of a Wilderness Voyage where he paddled over 175 miles in 2 weeks.  In July he completed a 9-day trek of 50 miles at Philmont. 

Braedon at Philmont, where he completed a 50 mile trek in 9 days.

He stated that each High Adventure Camp offers something so unique, Northern Tier gives you the best wilderness experience, while Philmont gives you the best Scouting experience.  Sea Base and scuba diving was so much fun he wants to go back when he is 18 and be a Dive Master for Sea Base.

Braedon at Sea Base, completing his Scuba Dive Adventure.

Next year he will complete the Grand Slam with the OA Summit Experience doing an ATV Experience and will stay to do another OA Trail Crew at Summit.  He has ambitions of completing an Order of the Arrow Grand Slam in the next two summers. 

Braedon at Northern Tier, where he paddled 175 miles over the course of 2 weeks with the OA Trail Crew.

He wants to be an ambassador to younger scouts letting them know how different the High Adventure Camps are from Summer Camp.

Way to go, Braeden!

Congratulations to our Class of 2020 Optimist Outstanding Eagle District Award Winners!

The Denver Area Council is also pleased to recognize our nominee to the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.

Our Council had 398 Eagle Scout Service projects in 2020, including the young women in the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts. Below are the projects from across the Council that were selected as Optimist Outstanding Eagle Project District winners, as well as the Council winner of the Donlie P. Smith Award and our Council nominee for the Adams Award! These Eagles have been recognized for their impressive projects, and are only a sampling of the valuable contributions our Council Eagle Scouts contribute to the community.

Council service projects had a total of 64,404 volunteer hours for a value of $1,636,506.00 plus materials.  Way to go, Eagles!

Bob Dickinson, Denver Area Council Board Member

The Donlie P. Smith Award Winner of the Denver Area Council

Cameron N. Swaney, Troop 199, Denver, CO.  Zuma’s Rescue Ranch Constructing the North Pasture Shed and Fence.  This project involved building a 500-foot-long fence to allow horses that had been rescued to have more room to roam.  Also, a shed was built in the North Pasture to help protect the horses in inclement weather. Zuma’s mission is to rescue and provide horses that are in their twilight years to have a respectful ‘retirement’.  The ranch also provides therapy horses for hundreds of mentally challenged people. Cameron’s project involved over 642 hours and raised over $8,100 to complete the project.

The Optimist Club of  Monaco South, Denver Area Council award has been named the Donlie P. Smith Award in recognition of his leadership to recognize Eagle Scouts. This is an Optimist Club award of the Outstanding Eagle Projects District Award winners submitted within the Denver Area Council.

Alpine District

Logan D. Spendlove, Troop 342, Lakewood, CO. Steph’s Memorial Bridge. Logan’s project was rebuilding a 56’ long and 6’ wide bridge over a marshy area in Belmar Park. The bridge was made safe again for pedestrians and was wheelchair accessible. It took over 345 hours to complete and $1,975.00 was raised to accomplish the project.

Black Feather District

Charlotte Beatson, Troop 114G, Littleton, CO. St. Mary Parish Garden Greenhouse. For this project, Charlotte took a shed kit and converted it into a greenhouse with 10 additional windows. The greenhouse was a part of an existing parish and school garden.  The purpose was to allow students to be able to grow plants throughout the year in their outdoor education classes. The garden also serves as a part of the Parish food bank. Over 319 hours and $2,250.00 was raised to get the job done!

Centennial District

Tyler J. Hirsch, Troop 494, Aurora, CO. Antelope Ridge Elementary Stairs. At this school there was a well-travelled hill down to an existing sidewalk and a lot of erosion was making it unsafe and difficult to maneuver especially during rainy times. Tyler was able to terrace the hill and created 17 steps down to the sidewalk. Tyler and his crew put in over 726 hours and raised over $2,120.00 to accomplish the result.

Frontier District

John M. Ryan, Troop 199, Denver, CO. Park Infrastructure Upgrades at Bluff Lake Nature Center: Construction of Benches, Shade Pergola and Educational Kiosk for Park Visitors and Schoolchildren. This project is pretty much described in the title. John was able to assemble a crew of 22 people to help put up two structures and build benches for people to use while visiting the Nature Center located in the Stapleton neighborhood. A total of 562 people hours was needed and $12,275.00 was raised to make this project a success.

John is also this year’s Adams Award nominee from the Denver Area Council! The Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award is intended to recognize valuable service of an exceptional nature by a Scout to a religious institution, a school, a community, or another entity while doing his or her Eagle Scout service project. Congratulations Jack from the Denver Area Council Eagle Scout Recognition Committee!

Three Rivers District

Dylan West. Troop 225, Glenwood Springs, CO. Sopris Elementary School Flagpole Flowerbed and Beautification. This project entailed taking a drab area around the school’s flagpole and made it more appealing by putting in a half circle raised flowerbed. It made the flagpole area be more inviting and hopefully respected.  Over 511 hours were needed to pull this project off along with $1,300.00 raised.

Valley District

John Kahanek, V. Troop 17, Westminster, CO. US National Forest Service Giberson Bay Project. There was a need for a 450-foot buck and rail fence at the parking lot at Giberson Bay, Lake Dillon before this project could be called finished.  In addition, the project involved rehabbing a kiosk as well as 14 ‘social trails’ and creating a 10’ staircase to the beach. All told, 240 hours were put in and over $4,000.00 of in-kind donations were made.

Once again- a huge congratulations to all of our Eagles and award winners!

If you are an Eagle Scout and would like to share your project with the Council, submit a testimonial here!

Inaugural Class of Female Eagles Spotlight: Savannah Letson

Inaugural Female Eagle Scout Savanna Letson.

Inaugural Female Eagle Scout Savannah Letson has QUITE a resume. While she has only been involved in Scouting officially for five years, she has achieved dozens of leadership roles and recognitions. Care to go through her accomplishments? They look a little like this…

Joined Venturing in 2015 and went to Florida Sea Base. Then started her own crew in 2016.

Earned her Venturing Summit award and Ranger award in 2018.

Kodiak Challenge Senior Crew Leader 2018.

Working on her quartermaster award as well, currently an able rank sea scout
Started her own ship in 2019.

Council VOA vice president 2018
NYLT SPL 2019
Area 2 VOA President 2019
Area 2 Sea Scout Boatswain 2020
Member of the first SEAL course graduates for the Whitewater Colorado SEAL
NAYLE Senior Crew Leader 2020
Earned her Wood Badge beads in 2020
Powderhorn staff in 2020

Order of the Arrow Firsts:
First group of female ordeal candidates and members Feb (election) Mar (ordeal) (with Carissa) 2019
First youth female brotherhood class Sept 2019
First Tahosa Lodge female youth to attend NLS
First Tahosa Lodge female ceremonialist
First Tahosa Lodge Grey Wolf chapter chapter chief 2019-2020
First female youth to lead the Lodge Banquet
First Female youth Lodge vice chief of Inductions
Only youth female on the National Leadership Seminar training team nationally, representing Western Region
Also on a western region OA committee designing new ways to engage youth arrowmen to lead!

Want to know where she’s headed next? Check out this interview from December!

After 111 years of Scouting, the Inaugural Class of Female Eagles are here!

Members of the all-female LIttleton BSA Troop 114G.

Today marks the day of recognition for the young ladies across the country who have worked to be members of this trailblazing group. Congratulations are certainly in order for all girls who have reached this goal and earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Only 7% of Scouts reach the rank of Eagle, but the young women of this class are all about exceeding the norm.

Since the Boy Scouts transitioned to Scouts, BSA and started allowing girls into the program, over 30,000 young ladies across the country have joined the ranks. From that 2019 starting point, the women included in the inaugural class have transitioned from Tenderfoot to Second Class, to First Class, to Star and Life Scout, and finally, to the coveted distinction of Eagle Scout. All in a two-year period!

“It takes effort, commitment and grit to become an Eagle Scout,” said Denver Area Council Scout Executive/CEO Chuck Brasfeild. “I’m proud of these trailblazers, this first class of female Eagle Scouts. All of us at Denver Area Council salute the first class of female Eagle Scouts and look forward to the future Eagle Scouts to come over our next 100 years!”

The typical Scout takes several years to begin working from the starting point, Tenderfoot (which is typically at 10 years old), to reach Eagle by the age of 18. However, the opportunity to be members of this initial group has motivated over a dozen girls from the Denver Area Council to expedite their journeys.            

For many of these young women, COVID-19 was a hurdle that simply helped push them on. Several completed projects that were designed to fight the pandemic. Elizabeth Germain was one such Eagle Scout. She raised money and created 500 masks for donation to Volunteers of America. She said she did this to “[help] those most vulnerable and support [her] community.”

Ms. Germain, one of the Inaugural Female Eagles.

For fellow Eagle Leah Jo Maloney, there was no need for a pandemic to live the Scout Oath and help save lives. During a 2019 hike in St. Kits, Leah Jo earned the Medal of Merit for delivering emergency aid to a fellow hiker. During the hike, a woman fell and tore her ACL, in the middle of a jungle trail up a volcano. Jumping to the rescue, Leah Jo put her First Aid Merit Badge skills to use, administering first aid from her packed kit. She says Scouting taught her to “embrace the unexpected” and she “is so grateful to be a part of it.” Her poise and helpful actions made her the first female recipient of the Medal of Merit.

Ms. Maloney with her Medal of Merit.

As noted by BoyScoutTrail, “The Merit Medal honors Scouts, Venturers and Scouters that have performed an act of meritorious service above and beyond what is normally expected of a youth or adult member of the Boy Scouts of America. This act should demonstrate exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.”

These two young women are only a small representation of the impressive accomplishments this Inaugural Class has contributed to the world and program.

 “Becoming an Eagle Scout represents finishing one chapter of your Scouting journey while beginning another,” Said Mark Truax, chairman of the National Eagle Scout Association’s Denver Chapter. “I am honored and thrilled for this inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. Welcome to the club.”

It is certainly exciting to look forward to how these young ladies, and those who follow in their footsteps, continue to make positive changes in the world as Eagles.

Want to learn more? Check out the local news coverage stories on Inaugural Female Eagles Leah Jo, Charlotte and Cassidy! Also read what the Denver Gazette and and Colorado Politics had to say!

1/20 Update: National Statement on COVID-19

As always, the safety of our Scouts, volunteers, employees and communities is our top priority. 

Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be informed by expertise from agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We expect that everyone in Scouting will follow the guidelines listed below, which are based on the CDC’s guidance. In addition, we have instructed local councils to consult with their local and state health departments, as well as local chartered partners, in order to implement appropriate protocols to help keep members, volunteers, and employees safe.

  • Isolate if you are sick, and do not attend any activity/meeting/event if you, anyone you live with, or anyone you have recently been around feels unwell.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from people who do not live with you. (properly executed Scouting cohorts at council camps may be an exception).
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • Meet outside if you can.
  • Wear a face covering or mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid international travel if possible.
  • Do not attend any activity/meeting/event if you or anyone you live with has been tested for COVID-19 or another illness and do not have the results back yet.

Units should look to their council regarding whether/how to conduct in-person meetings and activities. If in-person gatherings are permitted, be sure to follow all applicable guidelines and use your council’s version of the Pre-Event Medical Screening Checklist before attending.  

We are taking similar steps as a national organization as we continue to evaluate and adapt to the current environment with the best interests of our members, volunteers, and employees in mind. 

Thank you for doing your part to ensure that young people continue to benefit from Scouting while protecting the health and safety of our families, friends, and communities.

Resources:

Pinewood Derby During Covid-19? Yes!

How To Host a Pinewood Derby Event Safely This Year

Pinewood Derby is NOT Cancelled Because of COVID!

Alright, let’s keep it real here. A lot of things have been cancelled, pared down, and/or changed because COVID came and straight up took residence. BUT, I’m here as a bearer of GOOD news! Your Pinewood Derby season can totally still happen – make contactless racing a thing! It’s time to celebrate one of the most iconic Cub Scout activities.

There are a couple of ways to make your Pinewood Derby races happen without a hitch this year, and we will touch on both of them in-detail, so you can pick which way works the best for where you are located.

First and foremost, be sure to again, follow your local government’s rules and regulations, along with CDC guidelines. Those policies will help you in choosing how to run your event and allow you to stay safe AND have a really successful race day!


Host a Virtual Pinewood Derby Event

  1. Choose a virtual platform. Zoom works for pretty much everything and it has been amazing. You can host free meetings for up to 40 minutes, and chances are, someone in your Pack or Den has a paid account that can host if you need longer! You can also look at making this a Facebook Live event, which will give your Pack or Den the opportunity to share your footage with your Facebook community (and not to mention that you will be able to share the video at a later date!). Both of these platforms give people the chance to comment, chat with, and see other participants, which is obviously a huge part of the race day fun – be sure to encourage audience participation!
  2. Pick the race location with care. Be sure to have a set up that is brightly lit and where the camera has a great view of the racetrack. You’ll need a big space, so a garage or basement are good options if you’re in a location that gets cold or has inclement weather, but a park is a good option for locations with warmer temp – just be sure to check your internet connection. (If you are near Denver, there is also a possibility of arranging to stage and run your virtual event from our office).
  3. Have good gear. Use a computer with a newer camera (poll your Scouting families to find the best one!) and for best sound quality, use headphones with a built-in speaker so the host can move around and emcee it up from all areas of the track. To up the quality of experience even more for your Scouts, use multiple cameras – one on the finish line and one taking in the entire track.
  4. Set up strong logistics. Just like you have support with building, set up a strong procedure to help support the race day.
    • Set a specific drop off date with specific times.
    • Create a space for cars to be dropped off with no contact – place out boxes or trays for people to put their cars in and use gloves for all car handling.
    • Next, and you can get as in-depth as you want here – if you want to host a mini check-in as a live event, you can set that up via whichever platform you prefer. If not, then you can simply have the host run through and do the weigh-ins and checks (again, use gloves for added protection when handling cars!).

These are just a few highlights to note while swapping your race day to virtual. For a full how-to on hosting a race, check out this article, or if you are looking for a full-blown checklist, check out this blog, and then adjust as-needed for these COVID times.


Host a Socially Distanced Race Event

Again, please be sure to stay in compliance with COVID-19 regulations, both with your local government and the CDC for safely hosting gatherings. If you are looking for guidance, check out this checklist (all you have to do is remember SAFE!) that you should definitely complete before you move toward an in-person event. This year, instead of pulling together the whole Pack for a Pinewood Derby event, your in-person races may look like one or two Dens getting together to keep the number of people down.

  1. Select your location carefully! Perhaps your local park has an area large enough to accommodate a race with lots of space to distance.
  2. Use cones or markers to set up family pods that are 6 feet apart – this will allow for stress-free watching! I also highly recommend bringing camp chairs to help everyone stay in their watch pods.
  3. Just like with all Pinewood Derby races, logistics are important! Decide ahead of time on how you are managing the drop off of cars:
    • You can address this like the virtual event and have a drop off point for cars, and then one person can handle the cars while wearing gloves.
    • The Cub Scouts could each handle their own cars so that nobody else touches them, taking their own race car through weigh in, placing their car on the racetrack, and then picking their car up when their race is over.

Here’s the thing. As lots of you know, it always takes tight logistics to run a smooth and successful Pinewood Derby race day. This year is no different – with just a few extra precautions added in, you can have the BEST race day!

What other ideas do you have around hosting Pinewood Derby races this year? Drop them in the comments below and participate in the national conversation by posting your Pinewood Derby pictures on social using the #VirtualPinewoodDerby hashtag!

Denver STEM Scout Gitanjali Rao Named the First TIME Magazine Kid of the Year

Meet Gitanjali

Gracing the cover of the first ever TIME Kid of the Year is young scientist Gitanjali Rao. On the cover, she is sporting Converse shoes, a collection of medals reflecting just a sampling of her scientific successes and a bright white STEM Scouts lab coat. As noted in the dazzling TIME article, the 15-year old beat over 5,000 other nominees for the honor.

She has a wide variety of accomplishments, with innovations in areas ranging from testing water quality to battling opioid addiction. In all of these fields, she uses her process of ‘observe, brainstorm, research, build communicate’ to tackle any given problem. Her gifted mind, backed by an obviously extremely strong work ethic has enabled her to accomplish a sprawling resume that she houses in the form of her personal website.

Beyond working on her anti-cyberbullying app (Kindly), writing a book and a host of other inventions and innovations, Ms. Rao also hosts workshops to educate and inspire other young scientists around the world. She does this because, as noted in her interview with TIME, she says “[Her] goal has really shifted not only from creating my own devices to solve the world’s problems, but inspiring others to do the same as well. Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you. So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it.”

Outside of her school work and person innovation projects noted above, Ms. Rao is a Board Member of the Children’s Kindness Network and a Knowledge Network Partner with Forbes Ignite. She has been honored with the EPA Presidential Youth Award, has been named Discovery Education’s America’s Top Young Scientist and has given several Ted Talks. In addition to these other national-level positions, Ms. Rao was named the STEM Scout of the Year in 2018 after having been a member of STEM Scouts for seven years.

What is STEM Scouts?

As stated in the Mission, “Using experiential activities and interaction with STEM professionals, the goal of the STEM Scouts program is to help young people grow in character and skills as they explore their curiosity about STEM fields. It is hoped that their growing knowledge will translate into the STEM-related careers that are so crucial to our country’s future economy. While the program focuses on future careers in STEM, it is ultimately designed to be challenging, thought-provoking and, most importantly, fun!” STEM Scouts was created nationally seven years ago, with this year being the fifth year of the program in Denver.

We didn’t want to do this program if it wasn’t going to be opened up to both girls and boys, since STEM doesn’t have a gender.

Sarah Barnett, a Scouts BSA District Director who was involved in the initial development of STEM Scouts, “We didn’t want to do this program if it wasn’t going to be opened up to both girls and boys, since STEM doesn’t have a gender.”

That intention has certainly held out for the benefit of Ms. Rao, who has been involved in STEM Scouts for seven years, having been in the initial pilot program. She joined a lab in Tennessee in 2014 and has since moved to the Denver Area Council, where she has been a member of Lab 3003 for four years. As noted above, Scouting saw her honored as the STEM Scout of the Year in 2018.

STEM Scouts labs operate in groups of 10-20 students with at least three leaders per unit. These groups then meet weekly to engage in a variety of standard-backed curricula that provide education and inspiration for the young minds. The lessons – created by STEM educators – focus on participation and achievement to encourage students of all abilities. Additionally, the program provides a variety of leadership opportunities through group work and presentations. In Denver, this program has been continuing even through this difficult school year.

This is the sixth year of Denver’s program. In that time, there have been 66 labs serving over 880 STEM Scouts beyond Ms. Rao. As said by Denver’s STEM Scouts Program Executive Kyle Tons, “We couldn’t be prouder of Gitanjali for her contribution to STEM Scouts and the world. We look forward to all of the future accomplishments this bright young woman will surely achieve.”

Looking to support the STEM Scouts of the Denver Area Council? Donations can be made here. Thank you for your contribution!

Inaugural Potential Class of Female Eagles Spotlight: Elizabeth Germain

This year ushers in our Inaugural Class of Potential Female Eagles at the Denver Area Council! Every Eagle is a point of pride for the Council and we are pleased to announce that approximately two dozen young women are on track to be members of this year’s class! Meet one of these accomplished Scouts: Elizabeth Germain!

As soon as Scouting opened it’s doors to female Scouts, she was ready – helping start a girls troop (Troop 262) on February 1st, 2019. She helped build the troop into a success, and it now has a current roster of 11 active girls!

“We’re the pioneers of scouting. And so, we’re starting and really getting everything up and running. It’ll really help for us to have a close relationship and starting off as the first people of our troop.”

Elizabeth, as quoted in an article by CBS News 4 Denver.

Elizabeth and the troop has fully embraced Scouting, having gone on Troop trips to places like the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Garden of the Gods. Elizabeth and a fellow Scout from the Troop even attended the World Jamboree last year!

Ms. Germain has been involved in Scouting since she was 14 years old. Her family has always been very involved in Scouts BSA and her father is even her Scoutmaster. She has also attended and staffed NYLT, and plans to do so again in 2021.

Ms. Germain at a Recruitment event for her Troop in 2019, making survival bracelets.

Despite the dynamic times of 2020, she had remained focused and set on her Scouting journey. Her Eagle Project even incorporated helping fight the pandemic: she raised money and created 500 masks for donation to Volunteers of America. She said she did this so as to “[help] those most vulnerable and support [her] community.”

“I have also had so much fun throughout my journey, and I am excited for what the future holds with Scouts!”

Elizabeth Germain on the future of Scouting

As she reflects on the opportunity to earn her Eagle, she says “Scouting has helped me in so many ways – such as helping me gain confidence and leadership skills through all my experiences. Scouting has taught me so many life skills and I am so glad I had the opportunity to achieve Eagle.”

Please join the DAC in congratulating Elizabeth on a job well done!