Alexandria, VA – Cub Scout Pack 888 provides boys and girls the opportunity to learn, serve and have fun with a variety of activities. However, like many youth organizations in the current pandemic, the Pack has had to change course to continue providing safe and fun traditions and experiences for the scouts, within social distancing and safety guidelines set forth by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). One of those traditions is the Pack’s annual summer service project.
Each year the Pack completes a multi-day/hour project where scouts come together to create, build or provide a service or need in the local community. Past projects include landscaping native plants at the Mount Vernon Governmental Center, and building flower beds for a produce garden to be used in food preparation for Hollin Meadows Elementary School students.
This year’s project was held in conjunction with the Fairfax County Park Authority and their Invasive Management Area (IMA) program to remove a variety of invasive plants from Hollin Meadows Park. Spearheaded by IMA coordinator, Tim Resch, and Sara Holtz with the National Capital Area Council (NCAC), scouts removed English and ground-ivy, Japanese stilt grass, Bush and Oriental honeysuckle, and Japanese holly. A total of 33 Pack 888 scouts and 16 local Boy Scout troop scouts joined parents and siblings for a total of 99 participants contributing more than 223 service hours combined in all three days of the project.
Measures and modifications were implemented to ensure the safety and security for all participating scouts. Masks were required at all times, and volunteers were separated into families and small groups to make keeping distance easier.
Scouts shared their experience following the event.
- Rosie Edwards, a Webelo scout, said: “I liked how we were doing a really big favor to nature and the trees by cutting all the vines.”
- Arrow of Light Scout Carson Latimer enjoyed working together with friends he hadn’t seen in a while, “It felt good to do something that was helping the Earth, and it was great seeing my friends that I didn’t get to see very often this summer.”
“The service projects are an important part of our commitment to giving back to our local community, and it helps keep our Pack connected during the summer months,” said Pack Cubmaster Tom Scala. “This summer it was especially meaningful – both to partner with FCPA and also because for many of our scouts, this was the first time they had seen each other or even participated in any group activity in several months.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Pack 888 has continued to operate, providing scouts virtual opportunities to gather. Each den held their monthly meetings virtually with activities or discussions that can easily be done at home or require a few household items for a craft or project.
More recently and with continued compliance with BSA guidelines, scouts were able to participate in outdoor activities in smaller groups with their Dens – hikes, nature walks, etc. – led by den leaders and with at least one parent participating with their scout.
Pack 888 now comprises 70 scouts divided into 12 dens, ranging from kindergarten Lions, Tigers, Wolves, Bears, Webelos and Arrow of Light scouts, ranging in age from Kindergarten to 5th grade.
“We’re continuing to find ways to give our scouts opportunities to practice their scouting skills, earn patches to advance their ranks, learn and grow in new ways, and of course to have fun – while ensuring safe ways for them to do that,” Scala said.
Contributing Writer: Chrissy Kopple