TWIN TIERS, NY (WETM) – Five Rivers Council, Boy Scouts of America (the Twin Tiers council) saw a 40% decrease in membership in the past year. But, that might turn back around, with reports of boy scout camps being at capacity this summer, and local troops busy with an active traveling schedule.
The pandemic hindered the troops’ abilities to hold their normal activities that are usually based around group activities and camping. COVID guidelines were too restrictive to allow them to camp as a troop.
In efforts to retain their members, troops would hold virtual events. But Scott Terrey, Assistant Scout Master says it was clear that scouts did not like it.
“Most of them were on school zoom calls all day, the last thing they wanted to do was be on another one at night,” Terrey said about his troop Big Flats Troop 87.
National membership numbers for Boy Scouts of America have declined as well and are partially attributed to social trends of the organization shrinking in their ranks for decades. This attributed to Boy Scouts losing their possibly losing their popularity to other activities such as sports. But Brad Bodoh, Chief Executive of Five Rivers Council, says that this is not the case in the Twin Tiers.
“It was the pandemic,” Bodoh says, fully attributing the decrease in membership in the Twin Tiers to the pandemic. “Previous to the pandemic we had been growing three to five percent per year,” he reported.
As COVID restrictions have loosened local boy scout organizations are making a comeback. Five Rivers Council hosts a camp at Camp Gorton, which Bodoh reports that the camp is at capacity for the summer.
“Registration numbers [for this summer] are back to pre-pandemic levels,” says Bodoh.
Individual troops are also engaged in events as well. Scott Terrey and Troop 87, have a number of trips planned for this summer including a summer camp in the Adirondacks, and a sailing trip in the Florida Keys.
How did boy scouts in the Twin Tiers bounce back so fast? Terrey says some of it can be credited to social media and word of mouth. But he also said having an active schedule with events that scouts will want to participate in.
Bodoh puts it simply. and says that family’s are just ready for activities again.