During a pandemic, Scouts have had to get creative to continue their adventures and service. Sometimes, the changes transformed their plans into something much greater than they conceived.

John-Aaron Bozanic, an Eagle Scout and current Venturer with Crew 774 in Laguna Woods, Calif., was working on a conservation project when the COVID-19 virus began spreading across the country. His changes turned his project into a worldwide effort.

“It started out as an underwater cleanup off California, but with the COVID outbreak, I modified it to make it feasible for the times,” John-Aaron says. “I have had Scouts from all 50 states and 21 countries participate so far.”

John-Aaron Bozanic

Scouts from all over the world are picking up trash in their communities as part of John-Aaron’s “1 Million Pieces of Trash” project, which counts as a Messengers of Peace Award endeavor. So far, 6,082 participants have collected more than 676,700 pieces of trash, equaling 168,206 pounds and more than 15,100 volunteer hours.

You can help, too

Your Scout can record service hours by participating in John-Aaron’s project. Here’s how to participate:

  1. Pick a place to help clean. Stay out of areas that have been closed by local authorities or high-risk locations, like healthcare facilities or live-in care centers. Stay clear of traffic and high-speed and volume roadways.
  2. Families should travel together; don’t carpool. Maintain 6 feet of separation between each other and wear a mask while in public, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Don’t touch your mask.
  3. Bring trash bags. Use a trash pick-up stick or grabber. Wear gloves and close-toed shoes. Consider wearing two types of gloves: Nitrile for protection of direct contact transmission, and work-type for protection from injury. The type will depend on the nature and location of trash. Do not touch your face or uncovered body parts with the gloves. Avoid wild animals. After collecting trash, properly remove and dispose of your gloves.
  4. Throw trash away in a dumpster or other receptacle that is directly emptied by trash services in your area. Recycle any glass bottles and aluminum cans, if possible.
  5. Bring hand sanitizer with you; use it often — before you put on your gloves and every time you remove them. It’s a good idea to bring extra hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment. Afterwards, wash your hands well — at least 20 seconds with soap and water (about the length of time to recite the Scout Oath).

You can record your Scout’s involvement here to be included in the grand total. Every week, Venturing Crew 774 will share updated tallies on its Instagram page; photos can be shared on the 1,000,000 Pieces of Trash Facebook page.

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