Troop 2319 from Unity North Atlanta of Marietta, Georgia has rallied behind their mantra, “Scouting Continues,” through the past two years. Thanks to the foresight, experience, and technological savvy of their unit leaders, Troop 2319 was able to rise to the challenge, thrive, and grow in numbers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Troop leaders realized the most important way for their unit to have success virtually was to keep Scouts engaged. In addition to their regular virtual troop meetings on Mondays, leaders held weekly supplementary zoom meetings specifically designed for Scouts to socialize, play games, and enjoy each other’s company. Scouts were given opportunities to continue earning merit badges through both live and prerecorded online presentations and rank advancements and awards continued to be acknowledged through Zoom meetings and social media posts. Fortunately for the Scouts, Troop 2319 remained steadily active during uncertain times and is now easing back into their normal in-person activities.
Troop 2319’s Keys to Troop Success
Troop 2319’s pandemic success is a product of strong leadership within the unit. The troop currently stands at 70 total Scouts – more than double the number of Scouts they had at their founding in 2018 and they retain 90% or more of their Scouts each year. Leaders from Troop 2319 credit a handful of key tactics in building a strong troop.
It starts by focusing on one of the most important foundational pieces of a cohesive Scouts BSA Troop, the Cub Scouts. Troop leadership has always been active in helping staff prospective Cub Scout packs’ activities and inviting them to attend troop events. In doing so, Cub Scouts have older, model Scouts and an exciting future to look forward to in Scouts BSA.
Based on Troop 2319’s experience, Scouts who do not attend summer camp their first year quickly lose interest and leave the organization and are thus highly encouraged to attend summer camp. All first-year Scouts are signed up to take the swimming and first aid merit badges, and the mountaineering program together to help form a group identity through their shared experiences and create long-lasting friendships.
The unit honors every youth that attains the rank of ‘Scout’ with a ceremony to celebrate their achievement and a custom purple neckerchief to wear with pride. Scouts are encouraged to earn the rank of First Class within 15 months of joining the troop, giving them the chance to be fully trained and understand what it means to be a Scout. Continuing from this point, while volunteering in leadership positions, the goal is to reach the rank of Star by 7th grade and the rank of Life by 8th grade. This gives Scouts the opportunity to spend their high school years focused on working towards earning Eagle Scout, but also have the autonomy to pick and choose the adventures they wish to embark on.
Accomplishments Achieved and Examples Set
Troop 2319 continues to impress with their methods and the results they produce on an annual basis. Within the six months prior to August 31st, 2021, when their latest court of honor was held, a total of 283 merit badges, 70 rank advancements, and 57 other rewards were earned. Three Scouts were inducted into the Order of the Arrow (OA), and four existing OA members completed their Brotherhood Trail. Setting high goals is how Troop 2319 has earned the Journey to Excellence (JTE) Gold every year since its founding in 2018, and has been recognized as an OA Unit of Excellence in 2019 and 2020 – an honor that less than 1% of troops nationally achieve. Much of Troop 2319’s success can be boiled down to a few key principles: lead by example, grow as a cohesive unit, hold each other accountable, celebrate all achievements, and don’t ever forget to have fun!