Cub Scouts and Beyond: Protect Yourself from Viral Breakouts

Updates to the Original Post Regarding Coronavirus

March 16, 2020
We are officially experiencing a national COVID-19 epidemic and just about everyone I know is out of school and practicing social distancing. While we are confined to our homes and feeling like our schedules and, well, entire lives are completely at a stand-still, there are still ways to stay active and find some balance to this new normal.

A SCOUT IS KIND! It’s been amazing to see that the sneers of judgement against people wearing gloves and face masks in public are far out numbered by the acts of kindness. This has been a tremendous reminder that you simply don’t know the life of the person you’re judging. There are countless immuno-compromised and vulnerable people in our communities, and their loved one’s life literally depend on specific safety measures. There’s an epidemic of callousness that we’ve been suffering through for a long time, brought to the surface by this virus. But, like Fred Rodgers said, “look for the helpers.” Be a helper. Find ways to lend a hand where you can, even if it’s just an encouraging smile to a mom who’s out doing her best to protect her sick child, a son taking measures to keep his elderly parents healthy, the healthcare worker who knows the public depends on them. Be kind. Practice kindness like everything depends on it, because it does.

A SCOUT IS LOYAL! It’s easy to sink into a routine of lounging around and enjoying this time at home like it’s an extension of spring break. It isn’t! With schools out for an indefinite period of time, kids are going to start that downward slide that will make it tough to get back into the swing of things when schools reopen and everything rumbles back to life. Stay on top of their education and, yes, their Scouting. There are a lot of online resources that, in an enormity of kindness and generosity, are being offered for free at this difficult time. I’ve made two recent blog posts that maintain a running list of free online resources to help our students and Scouts stay on task.

These are geared toward Scout advancement, but as we all know, Scouting adventures are perfect for EVERY child. Please feel free to use all of the resources, downloads, and suggestions on both posts as you see fit.

It’s my sincere hope that everyone stays healthy and happy! We’ll get through this together. 🙂

Original Blog Post

January 29, 2020
In my professional life, I’ve worn a lot of hats. Newsletter and intranet designer, web developer, IT administrator, HR assistant, project manager, event planner, trainer, and even business continuity and disaster recovery manager.

My business continuity and disaster recovery duties were varied and, if I’m totally honest, my years managing the continuity of a local community bank were some of my favorite. I got to create some wild disaster scenarios and work with my colleagues on finding ways to keep the bank open. It seemed that, year after year, our scenarios became a reality, including the one where a paint truck rolls over through the intersection outside of our corporate headquarters, causing power outages and system downtime that made it difficult for our customers to access their accounts. It totally happened within days of the exercises and we were, gratefully, completely prepared to handle it.

Each year, I trained employees on how to prevent the spread of bacterial and viral infections, which is no small feat when you’re handling cash that’s been touched / sneezed on / etc. A pandemic is oftentimes more disastrous to an organization than, say, a total meltdown in the server room.

What I learned over the years helped me to keep my family healthy in the height of school-wide illness outbreaks, and I’ve used my training to keep my Scouts healthy and happy year-round. As of January, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is working to stave off the Novel Coronavirus, a horrendous respiratory virus originating from the Wuhan Province, China. What’s most alarming about this particular flu-like virus is that it’s easily spread from person to person and those infected with the virus might not show symptoms for weeks. It’s absolutely essential that we’re all carefully and thoughtfully working to prevent the spread of this and other viruses like the seasonal flu and RSV (and bacteria).

Prevention: Do Your Best

First, let’s talk about prevention. I am an advocate for the flu shot and other vaccines. Aside from wanting to do everything I can to protect my loved ones and myself from all the gross and potentially deadly viruses out there, and I truly believe in building up a healthy immune system. I want my kids going out into this world with armor! I type that knowing, specifically, that the flu shot doesn’t come with a 100% guarantee it will stave off the flu, but it’s an opportunity to do your best. It’s not just MY children I’m trying to protect. We know and love a lot of people with weak or nearly non-existent immune systems, and since we enjoy venturing out into society, I feel it’s my responsibility to also protect the babies, elderly, and immunocompromised that live among us. Not a soapbox, just a personal opinion.

Another step in preventing the spread of deadly viruses is to listen to your own body. Are you showing symptoms of the flu or other virus? Do you have a fever? That’s not the time to be a warrior. It doesn’t impress your boss that you push through illness to show up in the office, and your colleagues are not even remotely happy to see you. Instead, go see your doctor and stay home. Parents, I know it’s tough to call in when your child is sick, and that oftentimes our sick days are few. If your child is showing symptoms of illness, if they have a fever, please keep them home. Classrooms and Cub Scout meeting rooms are tight little spots and germs spread very quickly among when you’re sharing pencils, giving high fives, and coughing all over your peers. Your cubical neighbor and their desk mate might have a newborn or at home, or they might be responsible for the care of a parent with cancer. That fever might pass for you in a few days but it might be deadly for someone else.

Scouters in particular, it’s a good idea to hold off on the Scout handshake for a little while. In the corporate world, one of the first rules of dealing with a potential pandemic is to cut out the handshakes. Per the CDC, most viruses are spread by unwashed hands! Kids have spent their day touching absolutely everything they can get their hands on, and chances are they aren’t washing up the way they should. Maybe elbow bumps through spring?

Now’s the time to stay hydrated, eat healthy foods, take your vitamins, get plenty of sleep, and avoid sick people or places where they might be. Don’t be too proud to use the disinfecting wipes on your shopping carts or to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket!

Make A Sick Kit

It might seem like overkill, but a sick kit could help prevent the spread of viruses at the height of flu season. I like to have a small kit of virus-blasting go-to’s that I can use to clean up the house and/or Cub Scout meeting place.

In my business continuity role, I created plastic totes with lids that housed items like rubber gloves, face masks, disinfectant, disposable thermometers, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and more. I have a small bin of sick kit items and first aid supplies that I keep on hand in the event that a Scout, parent, or sibling attends a meeting and brings a bug along.

I am utterly obsessed with the Sterlite 12 Gallon Latch and Carry totes at Target. These are what I use for patrol totes as mentioned in my post, Scouting: Introducing Webelos to the Patrol Method. They’re the perfect size for your sick kit and first aid items, plus they’re easy to carry and compact enough that you might be able to store it at your meeting location.

I stock the sick kit with:

Using the Scouting Program to Teach Cleanliness

The eleventh point of the Scout Law is “clean,” and because it’s considered to be one of the twelve most important character points, the program works hard to encourage cleanliness. There are a couple of opportunities to teach proper hand-washing and germ busting in Cub Scouts while earning some bling for your uniform:

  • Tiger Bites – explain the importance of hand washing before a meal and clean-up after a meal. Show how you would do each.
  • Germs Alive (Wolf) – wash your hands while singing the “germ song.” Play Germ Magnet with your den or your family – wash your hands afterward. Conduct the sneeze demonstration.

The Germs Alive adventure is a favorite of mine. We really did this one up and it left a pretty tremendous impression on our Scouts… I even laminated the meme below and posted it at every meeting all year long to drive home the importance of covering our mouths when we sneeze.

We also made adorable watercolor blow art germs with googly eyes and talked about how easy it is to spread these cute little buggers. This is a great gathering activity for any rank, Lions to Webelos.

Teach your kids the Germ Song to the tune of Happy Birthday to help them remember how long they need to wash with soap and water.

Germ Song

No dirty paws for me,
No dirty paws for me,
A Wolf Scout is clean,
No dirty paws for me.

Clean paws keep me strong,
Clean paws keep me strong,
A Wolf Scout is smart,
Clean paws keep me strong!

Stay Informed

The CDC’s website is truly your first and best resource for keeping tabs on the flu virus and other viral outbreaks. Here are a few of my favorite features:

Already Sick?

First of all, I am so sorry and I hope you get better right away. PLEASE call your doctor and make an appointment if you have any of the following flu symptoms:

  • fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • vomiting and diarrhea

The flu test is uncomfortable but fast, and the sooner you find out you’re sick, the sooner you can get well and the less likely you are to spread the virus. Listen to your doctor and get the rest you need to recover, and don’t go back to work or school before you’ve recovered and are no longer contagious.

If you live alone or are a single parent and are too sick to pick-up that chicken soup you desperately need, use your Amazon Prime membership for good and download the Prime Now app. Depending on where you live*, you could have food delivered to your door without having to interact with another human being… this is also great for introverts like me who just want their popsicles without having to be social. You can also try out Prime Video and keep yourself entertained while you surf that couch.

Don’t have Prime? No problem. You can try Amazon Prime FREE for 30-days through Look Wider Still and get all the benefits of a full membership.

Use Your Common Sense

You can’t always avoid coming into contact with contagious viruses or bacteria, it’s what happens when we go out and live our lives. But you can protect yourself and your family from getting ill or prolonging an illness by taking good care and arming yourself with common sense. Wash your hands, drink plenty of water, get some rest, avoid places where people are sick, stay home if you are sick, and stay up-to-date on where outbreaks are occurring. I wish all of you well this flu season!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising.

* Prime Now is available from morning to night, seven days a week. Currently available in select areas including:
– Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Berkeley, Boston, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas & Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles & Orange County, Manhattan, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis & St. Paul, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, Richmond, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle & Eastside, Tampa, Virginia Beach, and Washington, DC Metro

Published by Look Wider Still

Rebekah is the mother of two wonderful sons, Michael and Nathan. She and her husband, Mike, married in 2002 and have built their family on a foundation of adventure. Between geocaching, camping, hiking, cooking, and loving their Irish Terrier, Bentley, the family has a long and happy career in Scouting. With Eagles on all sides, the boys are both experienced Scouters, Mike has extensive den leadership and Pack Committee experience under his belt, and Rebekah has served as den leader and Cubmaster for Pack 521 out of Mechanicsville, Virginia.

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