How to Manage Communications with Members and Parents in the lead up to Summer Camps 2020? Best practices from Belgium
The suspension of Scout activities and the uncertainty, which has for a long time ruled over summer camps, has forced us to be creative in the way we communicate. To reply to the numerous questions, the Federation of Baden-Powell Scouts of Belgium organised organized for the first time in its history a Facebook live with its members.
Like various Scout associations around the world, Les Scouts have been confronted by multiple requests from its members (leaders, district commissioners, Scouts and parents) in recent weeks. The crisis situation linked to Covid-19 has in effect raised many questions especially regarding summer camps.
To respond in the best way possible to the questions and worries, our priority has been, and still is, to make the information accessible to as many people as possible. Thus, as soon as we received the health protocol regarding the youth sector in Belgium (and thus not only the Scout movement), we decided to popularise it and to translate it into Scout terms. Then we packaged it into a handbook of 36 pages intended for our 12,000 leaders to support them in the organisation of their camps. This document compiles all the rules that should be respected during camps and has been adapted to meet the realities faced by our NSA.
Given the very short delay between the release of the health protocol by the authorities and the beginning of camps, we haven’t waited for the publication of our handbook, which required a certain number of hours of work, to communicate to our members. We have jumped in at the deep end and have decided to respond to their questions virtually by hosting a Facebook live session. In a one hour session, our president responded to the questions that our members posed as comments.
This video can still be viewed on our Facebook page, however we have also transcribed all the answers to the questions to a FAQ document which became accessible on our website the following day. This FAQ is regularly updated according to the questions that we are receiving and the evolving situation.
Even though the parents of Scouts are not our usual primary communication target, we have nevertheless taken care to equip our leaders and units so that they can reply to them easily. In particular we have provided them with draft letters, as well as answers to give to parents that may contact them with questions, regardless of whether or not the summer camps take place.
Our website has also been adapted: a Covid section has been set up according to the needs of the website users (leaders, units, parents and the media) so that everyone can easily find the information they are looking for.
We have received many requests, particularly via email, telephone or comments on social media. The availability of members of our national team as much as permanent staff , has been strengthened so as to provide an adequate and fast response to these demands.
Finally, we have benefited from a wide media coverage concerning first and foremost the pursuit of Scout activities remotely, and, then, the authorisation to organise camps. Even if we are not on the initiative of each of these contacts with the media, it is important to note that the fact that we are contacted at the announcement of each new measure shows that we are seen as a key player in the youth movement sector. These multiple requests have allowed us to pass on a reassuring message to the general public, whether it be in relation to parents, town leaders or fellow citizens who may see Scout camps set up nearby their homes this summer.
An orginal version of this article in French can be found here.
French-English translation credit: Ciara Beatty, Ireland