SHORT HILLS, NJ — Over 110 boys and girls are members of two Scouts BSA programs located at St. Rose of Lima Church in Short Hills. The youth yearn for outdoor programs that stir their imagination and interest.  But what happens when outdoor programs are suspended, does the Troop activities cease to continue, especially during a pandemic?  Well not for Troop 17 (boys) and 19 (girls), as they reacted to the public health outbreak early on. 

The Troop leadership team recognized the developing public health situation and cancelled in-person meetings/activities and switched to an online platform, prior to school and governmental closings. “Although we couldn’t foresee fully this looming situation, we took quick action to ensure the safety of our membership. Naturally some disagreed with our quick decision, but in hindsight, I’m glad we were prepared to make that tough call and rapidly identified a virtual solution.”, said James McKenna, Chartered Organization Representative. 

“As the aims of Scouting are character development, citizenship, personal fitness and leadership, the Troop leadership anticipated that these skills were going to be tested; therefore, to jump ahead of the curve, Dr. Claire Boccia-Liang, Director of Women's Heart Health for Atlantic Health Systems, graciously volunteered to teach the critical principles of the Public Health merit badge to our Scouts.” said Troop 19 Scoutmaster Daniel Cannon.

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In addition to being a Public Health merit badge counselor, Dr. Boccia-Liang, serves on the Troop 19 committee, and has 4 children in the St. Rose of Lima Scouting programs - 3 sons (Gabe, Nate, and Alex) in Troop 17 and  daughter (Cecilia) in Troop 19. 

Dr. Boccia-Liang specifically covered the precautionary measures necessary to control the spread of disease, especially COVID-19. 

  • Hand wash with soap and water or hand sanitizer for 20 seconds and sing “Happy Birthday,” to time yourself.
  • Stay home as much as you can.
  • When outdoors, remain 6 feet from one another.
  • Avoid touching your eyes and face.  When you do, wash your hands again.
  • Try to video chat with the ones you love to stay connect and to avoid “cabin fever!”
  • Remember there will be happier times ahead!  This is not forever, just do your best day to day.

"I didn't realize how something so easy like washing your hands could be so important to keep other people from getting sick.", said 10 year old Scout Caroline Desoe from Troop 19. “The presentation was very informative consider what is going on right now.”; said Troop 19 Star Scout Katie Cannon.

“The Public Health merit badge was particularly important to us at a time when we collectively practice social distancing without social isolation.  Our public health is a form of social justice that each and every one of us is practicing as a way of “doing a good turn.”  I think Scouting has prepared us to be leaders during this difficult time because of its focus on caring for our communities.  I am very proud of our Scouts’ engagement and hard work.”, said Dr. Boccia-Liang.”

Dr. Claire Boccia-Liang is one of many medical professional in our community serving our nation in the fight against COVID-19. “At this time we know the tremendous efforts and sacrifices of every medical professional, caregiver and health care employee. The untold stories of their heroic work make it possible for us to hope for healing and good health. God bless each of them and their families.“, said Rev. Msgr. Robert Harahan, Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church.