Scoutmaster finds refreshingly analog way to reach out to her Scouts

Left: Scoutmaster Elaine Mitchell (left) and her troop in January 2020. Right: A handmade card from Mitchell to her Scouts.
Left: Scoutmaster Elaine Mitchell (left) and her troop in January 2020. Right: A handmade card Mitchell sent to her Scouts this month.

A text feels impersonal. An email can get lost in spam.

But a handmade card with a personal message? That bit of extra effort makes the recipient feel special.

With that thought in mind, a Scoutmaster in the North Florida Council mailed handcrafted letters to each member of her troop, telling them that she’s thinking of them during this difficult time for us all.

“I thought it would be nice for the girls and their families to receive a personalized letter,” says Elaine Mitchell, Scoutmaster of Troop 291 of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. “With so much technology, we forget to write letters, which is more sentimental and personal than sending an email.”

Plus, Mitchell says, children of Scouting age don’t get a ton of actual physical mail. Receiving something addressed to them is a rare treat. (I remember from my own childhood how exciting it was to receive a letter or the latest copy of Boys’ Life in our family mailbox. Some things never change.)

Troop 291 continues to meet virtually via Zoom. While Mitchell and her fellow leaders watch, the Scouts lead games, learn new skills and break out into smaller groups for patrol time.

“Just like actual meetings, I’m only heard at the end — for my Scoutmaster’s minute,” she says. “It’s great to see the Scouts plan, lead and succeed during these difficult times.”

But even as they’re staying connected online, Mitchell felt it was important to support her Scouts in an offline way.

Closeup of the card

How she did it

Buying premade cards is certainly appropriate — it’s the thought that counts — but Mitchell chose to make her own.

She used a BSA stamp to emboss the front of the notecards with the iconic fleur-de-lis. Inside, she stamped “Thinking of You” and wrote “Keep on Scouting!”

In a nod to her love of all things Disney, Mitchell added a Mickey Mouse thumbs-up inside the card. But this was no two-dimensional image.

To make it pop out, she cut a paperclip and coiled it around a pencil to form a spring. She used hot glue to attach the thumbs-up to the spring and the spring to the card.

She made 19 of these: 18 for the Scouts and their families and another for her committee chairman.

“We’re just trying to keep ourselves busy while we have some free time,” Mitchell says.

Speaking of, Mitchell has been spending some of that free time making decorations for a future Eagle Scout court of honor. Once one (or more!) of the young women in her troop completes the requirements for Eagle, Mitchell wants to be ready.

She made table signs (“Reserved for Eagle Family”), turned recycled jars into centerpieces, and used leftover paint stirrers to make signs representing the BSA and Order of the Arrow. When it’s time for a court of honor next year, she’ll be prepared.

“I want it to be super special,” Mitchell says. “We’re making history.”

Troop 291 in January 2020.
Mitchell made this sign (seen back and front) out of paint stirrers.
Mitchell reused jars to make these centerpieces.
About Bryan Wendell 3032 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.