Starting back in August 2020, Scout Emily C completed her Eagle Project this past weekend. Despite a number of Covid-related delays and setbacks (including having to send a bunch of Troop scouts and family members home who turned up to help!) the beneficiary – Our City Forest – now has a spanking new, eco-friendly plant pot solar sterilizer!
OCF wanted more sterlizer capacity, and an upgrade to the old unit. Emily focused on building a more robust design and on adding additional heat-absorbing features like the plastic under the lid and matt black paint in and out.
Emily started adventures with the Troop in 2015, doing her first 50-miler in the Hi-Sierra in 2016 when she was 10. The inaugural Patrol Leader for our female youth, Emily is now working on the rest of the badges she needs to complete her Eagle rank.
Right. We can’t hike together as a Troop with the current viral situ, so in a masterful stroke of program leadership, the Troop is instead using the Santa Clara County PixNParks 2021 challenge to encourage each troop family to get out.
Once per month, we set a particular park challenge, and during that weekend we are all encouraged to (separately) head to the location and grab a pic of ourselves there (and on the way).
We always really enjoy hosting Webelos (incoming Cub Scouts) as they explore troops in the area they may like to join. Normally, we roll-out our standard round of skill stations: knives, campstoves, first aid – to much fun and enjoyment.
Of course, this time our Patrol Leaders had to re-tool for an online approach – and they did a great job, with interactive presentations, quizzes, demonstrations and stories. It’s not quite as good as getting up close to that big knife for the first time, but still fun!
Turnout was high with about 7 Webelos and some of their family members joining.
Yes, we’re scouting from home again, but that doesn’t stop the crack squad of scouts that form the Troop 260 Patrol Leaders’ Council coming together.
To help scouts advance during this restricted time, we are doing a “focus” badge each month (Pets for January) as well as continuing with our online rank advancement process. For some scouts and adult Merit Badge Counsellors – meeting to review requirements online is actually preferable!
We also have kahoot quizes, self-made instruction videos and other projects on the menu.
With the Covid situation in Santa Clara County regressing, and a number of scouts keen to rack-up overnight activity nights for rank advancement, the Patrol Leaders’ Council scheduled another backyard campout in December
The weather wasn’t too cold – but it did rain the next morning! Not a problem for all the expertly pitched tents from T260 🙂
(noting that for team Davis, who were mid-way through a back-yard renovation, this did result in an unexpected mud bath on the way to preparing the morning cup of tea)
Well done Troop in keeping your experience fresh – we are all looking forward to real adventures as soon as possible.
Times might be tough for our Troop and Scouts right now, given the restrictions around our usual outdoor program. However, in true spirit, that didn’t stop our most recent Eagle Scout – Weston S. – from arranging his Court of Honor: virtually!
A great way to close of a year of adaption and ‘firsts’
Weston arranged this all in only a couple of weeks, and we had over 30 groups / people joining. We all missed the food and in-person get-together, but were very pleased to help Weston close-out his scouting achievements.
With County guidelines allowing some level of distanced but in-person activities, we were able to hold our annual Junior Leadership Training at the scout hall. This was the first time most of us had been back at the hall since March and it was nice to be around some familiar facilities.
Naturally, we were all masked-up, distanced sitting and during the activities and there was gobs of hand sanitizer flowing around!
Our Scoutmaster drive a full 3 hour program of meeting planning, Scouts and Troop organization, roles and responsibilities review, and a focus on the upcoming Troop elections. This was all peppered with some fun 🙂 – including 2 quizzes, and a pioneering (poles and lashings) leadership game.
[backdated post / published Jan 2021 for a Sept 2020 activity]
Back in September 2020, Jimmy H. took the chance of what turned out to be a short respite between Coronavirus waves to execute his Eagle project.
Jimmy was keen to have an environmental impact, and worked to create four receptacles for used fishing line to be placed at a local park. These had to be built to a standard design and quality and then firmly installed.
By splitting the work up into smaller groups, working outside, and ensuring masks were worn, Jimmy was able to ensure public health guidelines were followed while still delivering this community project. Nice work!
We have been doing well for a couple of months having scouts share skills through presentations, or discussion, on our weekly virtual meetings. I wanted to go further and experiment with a live-stream of a demo: this would give an experience closer to that or a regular, in-person, Troop meeting.
This post covers the technical setup and experience in streaming a scout meeting live – it may be of interest or use to some!
Hardware and software required
All the hardware components I had at home as part of working-from-home or general home tech.
Laptop: MacBook Pro
Cameras: 2 x logitech webcams (one a B910, one a C920)
Camera mounts: 1 x old tripod from 1990, and 1 x wooden post with duct tape
Mic / Speaker: Bose Revolve
Software used was as follows
OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) – this is free, open source, and in wide use by the streaming community
Google Meet – but this approach should for Zoom, Skype, Teams, other web meeting tools as long as they can accept a webcam input
Virtual Webcam plugin for OBS – this is critical, and enables the OBS output to appear as a “webcam” on your computer
Physically setup your cameras as you wish, plugin them in, and make sure they are recongised by your laptop. Then install your flavour of OBS (in my case, the experimental pkg that included the virtual cam tool for MacOS).
Install the virtual cam plugin tool, or check that it is active under Tools > Start VirtualCam. At this point, i fired up meet.google.com and checked I could see “OBS Camera” as a video input option. If you can’t – restart Chrome, or your mac and try again.
For sound, I wanted to use a mic close to the presenter and the webcam mikes would have a lot of noise. So I bluetooth paired my Bose Revolve to the laptop and simply set the speaker and mic in meet.google.com to use this source.
At this point, you are into the realm of OBS setup – and definitely watch a few YouTube intro guides on OBS: I kept it super simple with a “scene” for each camera (one wide angle and one close-up) and using the Studio mixer to cut between the two as required,
Results and lessons learned
The scariest thing was installing the un-signed pkg with the experimental inclusion of the virtualcam plugin for MacOS. I also turned of OBS auto-updates to stop the build breaking. I hope the main branch of OBS for MacOS gets this capability soon – it appears to be in progress in github.
It was fun to do, and I felt the combination of having the close-up and wide camera angles, and the quality mic / speaker near the presenter allowed for a much more natural Troop skill share. You can watch below!
Thanks to Mary B for some help updating the Troop roster (public version with redacted personal info available here and linked from the home page) we have a fresh set of stats about the Troop
We have 37 scouts that are registered or in the process of registering. This does include a few that are inactive but still formally a part of the Troop.
We can see a spread of ranks below. A good number of Lifers stacking up to work through final Eagle requirements and projects, and a good number of new scouts (and some less active scouts) that are starting their journey.
As we run an integrated Troop to the extent we can, it’s also interesting to look at the gender split. Note that we record gender as provider by the scout on their form which currently only allows for male-female choice. We have 10 female scouts, or 27% of the Troop.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop a question below or get in contact.