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Joining Brooklyn Scouts: Wallabout & Prospect Park Options

After yesterday’s post, we’re getting lots of emails and interest in the new Wallabout Bay group as we continue to extend the invitation to our wait-listed families and the Prospect Heights/Fort Greene/Clinton Hill communities. We’re also getting questions! Here’s some Q&As that add to the information in the existing emails and blog posts:

When does the new group meet?

Scout meetings take place from 6:15pm to 7:45pm every two weeks (6:15pm to 7:30pm for the Otters). We are tentatively planning for these to be on Wednesday evenings, to avoid conflict with the Prospect Park group meeting on 1st and 3rd Thursdays. However, we are open to other evenings depending on what works for our new leader volunteers.


If I volunteer as a leader, what am I getting myself into?

Leaders plan meetings, weekend activities/trips and camps, and attend to supervise and help Scouts with all activities. Bi-weekly meetings are part of the regular program and include work towards badges and the program for each section.

At the Otter level, leaders guide our youngest Scouts in their work on the badge requirements for their Otter Paws (https://www.bpsa-us.org/pdf/Otter-Leader-Handbook.pdf). Otter leaders also supervise Otters as they play games, sing songs, and work on Good Turns. They also help with crafts and read stories related to the Otter program.

Timberwolf level meetings include work from the Timberwolf program (https://www.bpsa-us.org/pdf/BPSA-US_TW_Handbook.pdf). In fall and spring the meetings are in the park and cover woodcraft and camping skills. In the winter, we do knife skills, woodworking and crafts. In all seasons we do stories and songs and skits. Leaders supervise the Scouts in their work, test for accomplishments around badge work, and encourage Timberwolves to learn and grow towards Pathfinders.

What is the leader time committment?
Commitment for leaders is about 1-2 hours per week, depending on if we have a meeting or not. Off weeks we do planning for in-meeting activities and field trips, but the work is spread out among leaders & parent volunteers so there’s rarely very much for any one person (unless they sign up for it). Most of the meeting planning also takes place in chat on the Slack app or in email so its more accessible and flexible for timing. The only time we might have more than an hour of planning to do is when we’re going to camp and need to plan the weekend.

Here’s what leaders are signing up for:
1st & 3rd weeks of month: meetings (6:15 to 7:30 for Otters, until 7:45 for Timberwolves & Pathfinders)
Off weeks: plan meetings & weekend activities via chat, email, phone
Monthly: weekend activity (hikes, service projects, field trips)
Quarterly: camp weekends – requires additional time for planning in the two weeks before camp

Are leaders required at camp? When do the camps take place?
Leaders are strongly encouraged to be at camp. October, May and June we have group-wide tent camping weekends for everyone. We hold an extra “cold weather” tent camp for Timberwolves and Pathfinders only in April each year. We also take everyone and their families to Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskills for a weekend of winter activity each February…but that is in cabins and most activities are planned by the facility staff.

Can I waitlist or transfer to Prospect Park in 2017 or 2018?
Short answer is…there is no short answer. Right now, we are trying to ramp up Wallabout Bay rather than wait list new Scouts for 5th Prospect Park because we cannot predict whether the Prospect Park group will have space in 2018, nor can we predict how many spaces will be available. Younger siblings from Chipmunks are aging in to fill open spots at almost the same rate as we lose Scouts to other commitments and to aging out. We’re hoping that by 2018 we will see enough Scouts age out or leave for other reasons that we can accept new families again, but because we’re so far over goal numbers now, it’s our priority to decrease numbers 5th Prospect Park and build Wallabout Bay before we resume registration or even wait listing for 5th Prospect Park.

If space does open up in Prospect Park for the 2018-2019 Scouting year, it will be given out based on the volunteer roles parents are willing to take. If you’re willing to sign up as a leader, or in one of our flexible time high priority roles (camp cook/grubmaster, finance, gear management, fundraising lead) you’re much more likely to get one of the few spots in the group. Adults who sign up as leaders for Wallabout Bay for spring 2017 and continue as leaders in the new group for a year will have first choice of spaces available in both groups for 2018

I live in Park Slope/Windsor Terrace/Kensington/Ditmas Park though, and I really can’t make it to Fort Greene. Also, my child is BFF’s with another Prospect Park scout who lives in my neighborhood and who can’t move to Wallabout Bay. Is Wallabout Bay really the only option?
We completely understand wanting to join the Prospect Park group based on location or social connections or both. If there is no way to make Wallabout Bay work for you or your family, we strongly encourage you to consider starting a new B-PSA chapter closer to home. We’d love to have a Ditmas Park sibling group! Future groups starting up will be under our corporate non-profit 501(c)(3) umbrella, and will also share in our insurance coverage (Paperwork is the less fun part of Scouting) We will also provide any and all support possible, including leader training, inclusion in camps, whatever it takes to help get new groups off the ground. We started 5th Brooklyn in 2012 with five parents meeting at coffee shops, and now have 18 leaders across four sections serving over 50 families. We’ll help you grow your group too!

Got more questions? We’ll keep growing this post to answer them. Email Jillian Tate, Group Scoutmaster, at groupscoutmaster (at) 5thbrooklynscouts.org

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