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As we look towards 2021, we’ve been reflecting on all the challenges and changes the past year has brought us. From cancelled Scouting activities, online merit badges, to virtual pack, den, and troop meetings, the COVID-19 pandemic this year has tested our limits and reaffirmed our values 

Fortunately, Scouts in the Shenandoah Area Council have taken on these challenges and done what they do best — stepping up to help those in need. Whether it be an Eagle Scout service project or making masks for essential workers, our Scouts have truly lived up to the words of the Scout Oath: “To help other people at all times.”

These words are from Eric Artz the CEO of REI, however the same can be said of us. "For all its many hardships, 2020 has also been a year of profound clarity, focus and learning. We’re a community built around a shared love of the outdoors, and this year reminded us time and again of what matters most. We have inspired, welcomed and helped enable more people, many for the first time, to enjoy the benefits of a walk around the neighborhood, a bike ride, a paddle or a night beneath the stars. And, thanks to all of you, this is a part of the legacy of 2020."

2020 has been a challenging year for the Shenandoah Area Council. Revenue streams (camp/activities) are down 97%. Fundraising is down 22%. Membership is down 50% in our younger programs but only 35% in the older youth programs. Staffing is down 33%. 

I say all this not to paint a bleak picture of COVID-19’s effect on us as a council, but to rightfully say 2020 has stung us. However, as Scouts we persevere! We are proud of our tradition of “being prepared.”  

Scouts jumped in this past year helping out where needed, providing food with Scouting for Food. Virtual badges, virtual campouts and really diving into alternative means of delivering a program and uniting our youth when they couldn’t be together. We have had hundreds of merit badges earned. Nearly 100 young men have become Eagle Scouts.  

Starting in January we will have several young women join the ranks of Eagle Scouts! Scouting is a rock in times of trouble for our country. Yes Covid has stung us but I believe that our best times are ahead of us! Our youth deserve the best we as parents and leaders can give them, both fiscally, character wise, and in leadership. 

Let us look at 2020 in hindsight and say that we had some of our finest hours helping others and uniting ourselves during a global pandemic. Thank you for your continued support for the Shenandoah Area Council and the youth of our area. 

— Robert Garrett is Scout Executive for the Shenandoah Area Council (SAC) of the Boy Scouts of America, which supports scouting in Rappahannock County. Visit or phone 540-662-2551 for more information.

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