By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Northborough Scoutmaster George Brenckle recognized how disappointed his troop has been with all of the long awaited planned activities cancelled due to COVID-19.
“With an inability to meet in person, we certainly did experience a disappointing spring,” he said.” Whitewater rafting and other trips were not possible at this time. We were trying to have our weekly meeting virtually on Zoom rather than meet face to face. This worked out fine for a bit but we still wanted to try something different.”
After reading about a troop in Virginia that virtually met with a troop in Afghanistan, Brenckle’s interest peaked.
“…Scouting is absolutely international in nature and … it exists everywhere,” Brenckle said. “While there are a lot of limitations with holding a virtual meeting, geography is not one of them. We then decided to try and reach out to Scouts in other areas and see if we could make this joint event happen.”
He, along with the members of Troop 1, decided to brainstorm who they could meet with and reach out to.
“The original leads I had were in Columbia and Brazil, which posed an additional language barrier challenge, as well as Ireland and England. The leaders in England, Vicky Barnett and Jessica Harman, responded right away and we both agreed that it would be a fun endeavor,” said Brenckle.
Scouting in England is coed and so for this event, Troop 1 and Troop 823, a female troop led by Scoutmaster Shannon McDonald, came together.
The participating Scouts were asked to wear their uniforms so they could see what Scouts in other countries wear. After a group meeting, the approximately 30 Scouts were broken down into three virtual rooms during which they compared programs and activities.
“Everyone really enjoyed this experience and the first event lasted over two hours,” Brenckle noted. “The Scouts were totally engaged and they are already looking forward to the next get together. We are brainstorming ideas to share more of our culture and history, perhaps with trivia questions about our countries….”
The Scouts from both countries benefitted from the exchange.
“I think the meeting went very well,” said Senior Patrol Leader Colin McDonald. “Not only did we get to learn some cool things about them, but we also got to see the surprising amount of differences between how our Scout troops are run.”