Our Focus

Shomer Shabbat Contingent to the National Scout Jamboree:

For the 1960 National Jamboree, Scout Councils organized Shomer Shabbat troops. While this infrastructure disappeared over the next 25 years, over the ensuing 30+ years (all seven Jamborees since 1985) leaders of Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting have created a ‘Shomer Shabbat Contingent’ serving over 500 BSA Scouts, coming from 56 different Scout Councils, in 28 different states, and from Ontario and Québec, Canada; as well as Israel and the U.K. Typically gathering two to three troops (80-to-120 people) including fractional troops, no qualifiedShomer Shabbat Scout is turned away.

This proud tradition continues for the 2017 Jamboree with a 22-day program, July 9–30, being planned and implemented by Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting.

Shomer Shabbat Contingent to the National Jamboree Camperships:
Shomer Shabbat Scouting will help eliminate a financial barrier for Shomer Shabbat Scouts to attend the 2017 Jamboree through two programs:

  • Fundraising for Camperships
  • Money-Earning Projects for Scouts to earn a portion of their costs:
Clearing-house for Shomer Shabbat Scouting Information:

As of Spring/Summer 2016, the website ShomerShabbatScouting.org is focused on ‘The Shomer Shabbat Contingent’ to the 2017 National Scout Jamboree, but it is envisioned to expand into a one-stop-shop for Shomer Shabbat Scouting information.

Guidance on addressing Shabbat & YomTov schedule conflicts:
Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ has a number of Scout Leaders with decades of Shomer Shabbat Scouting experience to consult on schedule conflict issues such as:

  • District and Council Meetings and Activities
    e.g. District Roundtable, Pinewood Derby, Camporee, Merit Badge University
  • Youth Training
    e.g. One-day Den Chief or Patrol Leader Training
  • Adult Training
    e.g. IOLS (Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills)
Guidance on addressing Shabbat issues while camping:
Here, again, these issues are nuanced, and difficult to resolve with prepared answers on paper or on a website. For Shomer Shabbat camping from the beaches of Cape Cod or California, to above 10,000 feet in the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico; from Arizona deserts to winter camping in Maine in 3+ feet of snow with temperatures of 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit — and all points in between, ‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ has a number of Scout Leaders with decades of experience to consult on all of the issues involved.
Week-long Training with Shomer Shabbat accommodations:
  • NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training) For over 30 years, in almost every summer, one to three Shomer Shabbat patrols of Scouts have been integrated within a standard NYLT program. While Scouts from MA to FL and out to CA have participated, ‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ can help facilitate this more formally on a regional level.
  • Wood Badge (National Adult Leadership Training) When offered over s series of weekends, this training is completely inaccessible to Shomer Shabbat Scouters. ‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ will help facilitate periodic week-long offerings of this training with accommodations for Shabbat, Kashrut, and Tefila, that will allow Shomer Shabbat Scouters to participate.
Shomer Shabbat Scout Summer Camp:
With enough adult support, Shomer Shabbat Troops can run a week-long summer camp at most any Scout camp in America. ‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ developed such a program at Monmouth Council’s Forestburg Scout Reservation (FSR) in NY. During the first two weeks in July, hundreds of Shomer Shabbat Scouts and Scouters —coming by Troop or as individuals— experience a superb Scout camp with kosher food in the camp dining hall and a 40’×40’ Synagogue Tent under the leadership of a Wood Badge trained orthodox rabbi. ‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ can help facilitate similar programs around the nation.
Order of the Arrow (OA):
With enough adult support, a Shomer Shabbat Scout can have a non-Sabbath OA Ordeal and Induction in his home Council. The OA Guide for Officers and Advisers, though, offers the ‘page 23 exception’ allowing “Sabbath-observant Jewish Scouts … to be inducted by another lodge.” ‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ thus organizes an OA experience for Shomer ShabbatScouts—both as participants and members of the Ceremony Team at FSR.
Annual Regional Gatherings:
A Kinus or Conclave, run by a Jewish Committee on Scouting (JCoS) or an individual unit, gathers Jewish Scouts from a variety of units for Scouting fun, advancement, and fellowship. Leaders of a Shomer Shabbat unit need to be involved in planning and executing such a program. The environment into which they bring their youth must include the observance of the four requirements mentioned above, at the standard to which these youth aspire. Members of ‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ are involved in running such programs in NJ and CA in the spring and in MA in the winter, and can help facilitate similar programs elsewhere in the nation.
High Adventure Treks:
Different Shomer Shabbat units organize such treks on a regular basis and often open them to Scouts from other units. Typically at least a week-long, these have included:
  • Philmont Treks,
  • ‘50 Miler’ hiking treks,
  • 100+ mile canoe or bicycle treks,
  • Equestrian Camp (Horsemanship, Animal Science, & Veterinary Medicine Merit Badges),
  • A horseback trek in the Colorado Rockies,
  • Canoeing and-hiking treks in the Adirondack Mountains,
  • A SCUBA certification program,
  • A Fly Fishing Merit Badge trek,
  • An Oceanography Merit Badge trek off the coast of Massachusetts.
‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ will facilitate such programs every year and will announce the availability of any open spots.
BSA Venturing Crew in Israel:
After a Shomer Shabbat Scout graduates from high school, he typically spends one or two years studying in a yeshiva in Israel before attending college. ‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ thus runs a BSA Venturing Crew in Israel, with qualified leaders, for young adults age 18–21. Attracting BSA Scouts (almost all Eagle Scouts) from across the US and Israel, this allows them to bond — building skills to lead future generations of Shomer Shabbat Scouts.
Rabbinical Resources:<
As much as lay leaders in Shomer Shabbat Scouting have great experience in, and passion for, this program, there is often a need for a rabbinical perspective:
  • Answering specialized halachic questions. e.g. When is tchum on Shabbat a concern and how is it calculated?
  • Serving as a ‘character reference’ for Shomer Shabbat Scouting e.g. Explaining the benefits of Scouting to new communities, other rabbis, and families, who want to know how Shomer Shabbat Scouting can fit into their life.
‘Friends of Shomer Shabbat Scouting’ will maintain a directory of appropriate rabbinical resources across the country — with experience to address these kinds of concerns.