Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Though many activities have been suspended with the development of the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, pandemic, many Fort Leavenworth residents, groups and clubs are finding ways to communicate using social media and other technology.
Pam Schmidt threw a virtual party for her son Isaac’s 11th birthday March 18 via Facebook Live.
“He was pretty crushed on his birthday because we had big plans to go to the opening of the Gordon Ramsay steakhouse because he loves to cook. That’s his passion, so he was very down in the dumps,” Schmidt said. “We were trying to come up with ideas to make the day better, and I got this idea to do the Facebook Live thing, so that way his friends could at least watch.”
During the Facebook Live video, Isaac opened his presents and his family sang him “Happy Birthday” before he cut into his chef hat-shaped red velvet cake.
“I liked (the virtual party),” Isaac said. “I got an iPhone 11.”
Pam Schmidt said she is so happy that this kind of technology exists.
“Both of my kids have been able to FaceTime with friends, they’ve been able to use the Kids’ Messenger app to talk back and forth to friends, and so it has been very helpful I think,” she said. “I can’t even imagine if this would have happened when I was a kid because we didn’t have these kinds of technological devices and applications, so we would have really felt isolated.”
Fort Leavenworth Scouts BSA troops have been using online videoconferencing and other virtual mediums for their weekly meetings on Monday evenings. “Scouting doesn’t ever stop and certainly won’t for this. I think it is important to stay connected with the troop for a sense of normalcy as well as the opportunity to continue interaction and socialize with their peers,” said Troop 166 Scoutmaster Sarah Groefsema. “Scout meetings are something that we look forward to and now, more than ever, it is a bright spot in our week.”
Troop 66 Scoutmaster David Grindle agreed.
“During times of social changes, especially with the current situation, it is important for kids to have something that remains consistent,” Grindle said. “It is part of the core values of Scouting where we serve the community through service and being good citizens in our community. …Even with the social distancing rules, we can work together as a team for our program and for our community.”
Groefsema said they are also planning activities along with connecting for their weekly meetings.
“We have family campouts for people to do in their own backyards, 30day Scout skill challenges, merit badges, and the entire Fort Leavenworth Scouts BSA community is encouraging movement by doing the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. PALA is a challenge that encourages activity five days a week for six weeks,” Groefsema said. “All of things can contribute to helping these Scouts be healthy and happy during this time of uncertainty and extreme changes to their daily routines.”
Angie Chapman and her children, Tiger Cub Ivy Nestler, Troop 166 Scout Carey Nestler and Troop 66 Scout Liam Nestler, were one of the families who participated in the backyard campout March 27-28.
“It is nice to know that we can still do an activity and it can still be counted on their Scout journey,” Chapman said. “It’s nice to know that they’re still active in their group.”
Protestant Women of the Chapel have continued their weekly meetings and Bible studies via Facebook and online videoconferencing.
“We, as a board, feel it is extremely important to keep ladies connected within the Bible study groups that they started in this semester. We want ladies to feel connected to each other not only as a means to keep some continuity, but also for support,” said Julie Keller, PWOC president. “Our main focus is to keep them in the Word of God and encourage them not to stop that. We also want to encourage ladies and point them to verses that will bring peace in uncertain times. God has a plan in all this, and we want them focusing on him and not the unknowns.”
Every Tuesday at 9 a.m., Keller goes live on the PWOC Fort Leavenworth Facebook page to share announcements, encouraging words and to pray. Then, the individual studies break out into their groups via online videoconferencing. The first meeting was March 24.
“There were some challenges we had to navigate around, but it worked really well,” said Amy Parsons, leader of the “The Sermon on the Mount” by Jen Wilkin study. “It is amazing that we have this technology … and I think people are going to handle this a lot better than if they were locked in their houses unable to connect to anyone.
“Personally, I feel it’s important to stay connected, especially with the anxiety levels and the fear around everything that’s going on. I think it is important to cling to your faith, and I think our regular Bible studies and keeping to our routine helps people stay grounded in that faith,” she said. “In Matthew 6:33, (Jesus) says, ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough to worry about on its own.’ It is so much about fear and anxiety and that’s so timely. … Here we are amidst all this going on across the globe, and we can plug into scripture and find peace and rest in that Jesus is truth that we don’t need to be afraid.”