Every Thursday night, members of Laurel Cub Scout Pack 602 gather in their individual dens around lanterns or under the parking lot lights of Emmanuel United Methodist Church to hold their weekly meeting. Before the coronavirus pandemic, they would have met inside the church to work on badges, discuss camping trips, organize food drives and other various activities. Now, they meet outside, wear masks and practice social distancing.
“Being outside is a big part of our program,” Cub Master James Roberts said. “We do Zoom meetings. As long as the weather allows it, we’ll meet outside.”
On March 4, a brisk wind and cold temperatures could not dampen the excitement the members of the Den 5 Arrow of Light Scouts had as they explained the community service project they completed earlier in the week as a requirement for the Arrow of Light award, Cub Scouts’ highest rank.
“We helped the hungry and the homeless,” said Killian Cornett, 10. “We made care packages with blankets, deodorant, toothbrushes.”
The fleece blankets, according to Iggy Cornwell-Shiel, 11, were made by placing two pieces of fabric on top of each other and then cutting the sides into strips. The strips were then tied into knots, securing the two pieces of fabric together. One side of each blanket was left untied, creating an opening that could be filled by the owner.
All of the personal care items — including shampoo, toothbrushes, hand and feet warmers, toothpaste, masks, socks and dried fruit packets — were collected through donations by the members of Den 5: Killian, Iggy, Christian Ottman, 10, Douglas Weston, 10, Shabbir Abdu, 10, and Julia Roth, 10, of Den 6 Arrow of Light. The Cub Scouts then created individual packages that they delivered to Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services Inc. on March 1.
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“We wanted to do this because of the pandemic,” said Kathryn Ottman, Den 5 leader. “Shelters do not have personal care products. We wanted to do something to make sure ... people were doing what they could to be clean.”
Laurel Cub Scout Pack 602, including the members of Den 5, is also collecting nonperishable food items for LARS on Saturday as part of Scouting for Food, an annual food drive held by Boy Scouts of America.
“We are so grateful to Pack 602 for their ongoing support of those in need here in Laurel!” Laura Wellford, development and communications manager for Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services, wrote in an email. “From organizing the annual Scouting for Food drive to making these creative care packages, these young leaders are truly making a difference in their community.”
It has been a challenge, Ottman said of organizing activities for the den and pack during COVID-19, and the group has gotten creative. Instead of pack hikes, the Scouts design monthly themed hikes to do with their families. This month, the hike has a St. Patrick’s Day theme with a prize at the finish. A past hike was created in recognition of Laurel’s 150th anniversary. Den 5 members painted rocks that they placed in front of historic landmarks along the 4- to 5-mile hike through Laurel’s Old Town section down its Main Street.
“We missed out on many of the 150th anniversary events,” Ottman said. “It helped make people remember the history of Laurel.”
For the five members of Den 5 and for Julia Roth, of Den 6, this is their last year of Cub Scouts before bridging into a Boy Scouts of America troop. They hope to all earn the Arrow of Light badge before bridging and will continue to do community service projects.
“Some people might not get what they need to survive. Donations go to the homeless and hungry,” Killian said. “Another part is picking up trash and keeping our environment clean.”