Elisabete Correia from Corpo Nacional de Escutas in Portugal has been involved in recently resuming in-person Scouting activities, where she shares the experience they have had as local safety regulations have eased across the country:
Since the beginning of the pandemic, our local group decided to shift our activities online like many others, waiting for the first opportunity to resume in-person activities.
Fortunately, we always took the right actions at the right time in order to keep our Scouts connected. We were aware that it is in times of difficulty that young people need us most.
Following the official protocols, we decided to return to in-person activities and organise two camps in May for our Scouts and Venture Scouts.
Fortunately, our Scouts were always motivated to engage in activities and we received the support from their parents who continue to trust us and our ability to reinvent ourselves in this new "normal". Their support was essential to us, namely in the acquisition of equipment including tents, to ensure everyone’s safety during the camps.
The main challenge was to fully re-adapt all activities to an outdoor context, to avoid gathering as a group in a closed indoor space.
At this moment, we are holding our gatherings outdoors, including meetings, with a focus on more games and adventure, while maintaining social distancing. Implementing a Patrol system was challenging at first, but enforcing masks, social distancing, handwashing and sanitizing shared objects became the norm among the Patrols.
Mealtimes during the camps were also outdoors, where Scouts maintain a safe distance and use individual lunch boxes.
Both camps were held in a Scout Camp called “Campo do Escuteiros Escola de Castelo do Neiva" and were lived under an engaging symbolic framework for each age section.
For us, this pandemic has brought many challenges and some difficulties that we have turned into opportunities. Throughout this, we seized opportunities to offer happy moments to young people during a tough time and managed to return our Scouts together in nature.