Lifestyle Opinion

Being a Scout in West Hartford During COVID-19

Ethan Shamshtein. Submitted photo

A member of Troop 163 says that scouting has helped him find new ways to interact during COVID-19, and has also provided new opportunities to give back to the West Hartford community.

Submitted by Ethan Shamshtein, Troop 163 and King Philip Middle School

I am a First Class Scout in Troop 163 in West Hartford. Scouting has provided me with multiple unique experiences, taught me valuable life skills, and generally helped me become a better person. But I specifically would like to share how scouting has helped me during this lockdown.

I’m grateful that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it provided me with new ways to interact with my troop and other scouts, and also proud to be part of an organization giving back to the community.

This pandemic has devastated everyone, but the one thing that brings us comfort is our families.

I have done a couple of online merit badges over the past few months. One of my favorites, and also the one most applicable in the current situation, was “Family Life.” To earn credit for this merit badge, my family and I planted some strawberries, tomatoes, and various other plants in our backyard garden. Planting the plants brought my family closer together, since we worked as a team.

I am also looking forward to the online scout summer camp which will start on July 6 and will be filled with afternoon activities for Connecticut Scouts.

I’ve recently completed an online merit badge “Citizenship in the World,” and am currently working on the “Communication.” I will be doing the “Movie Making” merit badge next which will be offered through another state (Mississippi). Fortunately, Boy Scouts of America is now offering many different merit badge courses online, which provides me with the unique opportunity to interact with scouts and instructors beyond my local troop. Ironically, I wouldn’t have been able to do these new merit badges and interact with other scouts if not for the current situation.

I’m also proud that our Troop 163 was involved in helping out our local community during these challenging times. In mid-April we participated in making face shields to help first responders. I got one box of face shield straps (about 800) done over a period of 1.5 days because it was a very time-sensitive project. It was hard work, but I am glad I was able to help out.

This is why I value my experience being part of Boy Scouts of America.

Ethan Shamshtein
Troop 163 and King Philip Middle School
West Hartford, CT

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