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Coronavirus In Allegheny County: Boy Scouts And Girl Scouts Shift To Online Instruction Amid Pandemic

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It is not just students who have been forced to learn differently at school.

Scouting organizations must adapt the way they teach in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Boy Scout law talks about how scouts are to be obedient, trustworthy, brave, and kind.

Those are four of their 12 key character traits.

However, it doesn't say anything about being ready for a pandemic. Don't worry, they say they are prepared for that, too.

"Our packs and troops aren't meeting right now, but let me tell you, they are still having program," says Sharon Moulds the Scout executive & CEO of the Laurel Highlands Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Like many organizations, the Boy Scouts had to pivot.

The groups are now using a new online tool that allows troop leaders to track the progress of merit badges as scouts work from home.

But Moulds adds they are still hard at work in their hometowns.

"Community service is happening, too. We have got a virtual food drive campaign going on," Moulds said.

Scouts from Troop 17 in Allison Park have been hard at work on that – even though they can't do it during their regular Tuesday evening meetings.

"Each of the scouts did it at home with their parents safely," says Bill Miller, one of the volunteer leaders of Troop 17. "Then we just came together, keeping our six feet distance and we are able to provide this food for the men at (the YMCA Shelter on the North Side)."

Miller's son Alex is one of the Boy Scouts in the troop.

"We filled up two whole cars with bag lunches for guys who needed it," Alex Miller said.

There are more than 130 different merit badges a Boy Scout can earn. They wear them on their sashes with pride. Now older scouts are helping younger scouts earn those badges – but they are doing it online.

Aidan McKern has been a Boy Scout as long as he can remember.

He produced a video that shows the younger Boy Scouts some of the safety rules they need to know when it comes to handling axes and saws at a campsite.

He made the video in his backyard.

It shows the younger Boy Scouts how a rope is tied to trees in the area to make sure no one wanders into the ax yard.

The Girl Scouts are also going online.

Stefanie Marshall of the Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania explains how the group is using Facebook Live to do what is called "Virtual Patch programs" during the stay-at-home orders statewide.

"Virtual Patch programs is just another level to let girls experience Girl Scouts, and to bring a little bit of normalcy to their life right now," explains Marshall.

Samantha McGuigan and her twin sister conducted a recent virtual presentation doing three different science experiments. While the curriculum is designed for Girl Scouts, it is open to non-members as well.

This week, the sisters taught a virtual science class doing experiments. One involved milk, food coloring and Q-Tips dipped in dish soap.

Marshall has been amazed by how many people have been tuning in to watch and not just people from western Pennsylvania.

"We have had girls tuning in from California, Kansas, New Jersey, and the Maryland area, so it is just really fun to watch girls be able to connect to each other and a larger sisterhood."

One other change for the Girl Scouts this spring. There are no more in-person cookie sales. That has moved online as well.

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