The Scouting family has stepped up in a big way to support Puerto Rico. In less than two weeks, Scouts and Scouters have purchased more than $32,000 in patches. Area Director Jim Hans recently visited Puerto Rico to survey the damages to the offices and camp. “Two months post Maria, and the damage is still astounding,” he writes. “Most still don’t have electricity, and while roads have been cleared, debris is everywhere. On my way to camp I drove for three to four miles on a road where every single power pole was laying on the ground It will take months to get things back to normal. “As a sort of reality check for me, I took the staff out to dinner my first night there. After the dinner, one of the staff came up to me to thank me for the dinner. He told me that was the first fresh meat he has eaten in 45 days. “The optimism and can-do attitude of every Puerto Rican I met while there was truly inspiring. Two months of no electricity, running water, air conditioning, hot water, limited food was viewed as a mere inconvenience that they’ll overcome. The executive board is dedicated to rebuilding the council to better than it was and are even working hard to grow their membership this year. “In many towns and villages, Scouting units were among the first organized groups to respond after the storm. ‘To help other people at all times’ took on a life of its own as Scout groups cleared debris, distributed food and water, cooked meals, and helped those who needed it. It was a privilege to witness Scouting values on display island-wide. “Puerto Rico can survive this, but they need the help of us States-side. Fundraising on the island has been put on hold for an undetermined time; our support will be needed during this time to both rebuild what Maria destroyed as well as to allow the council to continue serving the youth that are, as we speak, serving their communities.”

The original post follows. Patches are still for sale.

Scouts help other people at all times, and the Puerto Rico Council needs our help at this time. Concilio de Puerto Rico de los Boy Scouts of America, one of the BSA’s nearly 280 local councils, suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Maria in September. The powerful storm hit the council’s service center as well as the beloved Guajataka Scout Reservation. While most of us won’t be able to make it down to Puerto Rico to help with relief efforts, there is something we can do with a few taps or clicks. In true Scouting fashion, this bit of relief comes in the form of a commemorative patch. The Northeast Region, of which the Puerto Rico Council is a member, has created a set of limited-edition patches. Proceeds from the sale will rebuild Scouting on the island.

Puerto Rico Council’s Guajataka Scout Reservation after Hurricane Maria.

How Hurricane Maria affected Scouting

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico hard, causing damage, flooding and mudslides. Power was knocked out, and fresh water became a commodity. BSA facilities in Puerto Rico were similarly affected. The council office in Guaynabo, just south of the capital of San Juan, was damaged in the storm. The roof and air conditioning system need repairs. Inside the building, water damage is rampant. Fixing everything will take a long time. The council has reopened its office, but it will be many months before they’re back to normal. The beautiful Guajataka Scout Reservation also took a hit. Campsites were flooded with more than 3 feet of water. Trees were toppled, with some covering important roads. The camp has no power and must use generators on an island where diesel fuel is now an expensive commodity. The camp’s buildings were damaged by flooding, and most if not all of the equipment stored in the campsites — bunks, mattresses and more — were damaged. While the council tries to recover, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers in Puerto Rico have stepped up for their fellow Puerto Ricans. You can see photos of their service projects on the council’s Facebook page.

Members of a Puerto Rico Council Venturing crew volunteered their time to help rebuild Guajataka Scout Reservation.

Buy a patch to help

The patch idea was devised in part by the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s service society. The Northeast Region’s OA chief (a youth) and OA chairman (an adult volunteer) worked with the Northeast Region Area 5 Director (a professional) to create the patches. Arrowmen from OA Section NE-5 (of which Puerto Rico’s OA lodge, Logia Yokahú, is a member) helped with the design. Proceeds will help get the Puerto Rico Council back on its feet. The patch comes in three flavors — a blue border for $5, a blue mylar border for $10 and a limited-edition chenille for $25. You can order the patch here by following these steps: 1. Click the blue button marked “Order Here” at the top of the page. 2. On the next page, click “Order Here” again. It will show $0.00, but you’ll actually add patches to your cart in Step 4. 3. Sign in (if you have an existing MyRoster account with the council), or register as a guest by putting in your first name, last name and email address. 4. Order your patches. You may also make an additional donation at the bottom of the page.

A Puerto Rico Council Venturing crew cleans debris at Guajataka Scout Reservation.

What to do with questions

Contact Frank Caccavale by email at frankcacc@yahoo.com.

Puerto Rico Council Cub Scouts participate in a service project.