While people may be tightening their belts amid COVID-19 economic restrictions, Carpinteria Boy Scout Troop 50 has found that there’s still demand for Christmas trees this holiday season.
Since the weekend after Thanksgiving, the troop has been selling four varieties of Christmas trees at a lot in the field behind Saint Joseph Catholic Church, at 1532 Linden Ave., to raise money for its scouting activities this coming year. Assistant scoutmaster John Thomas said that the troop has already broken even and called the first day of the sale “phenomenal.”
“We’re selling through them quite quickly,” he remarked.
According to assistant scoutmaster Eric Ehlers, the Christmas tree sale is Troop 50’s “one fundraiser of the year.” The troop doesn’t have a particular fiscal goal it wants to hit, but it wants to raise enough money so the scouts’ families don’t have to pay for any of the activities.
Scouting events for the next year include campouts and the troop’s yearly summer camp, during which the boys work to earn merit badges. At the beginning of the year, Troop 50 planned on attending a summer camp in Oregon, but COVID-19 ultimately prevented that from happening. Next summer, the troop will attend summer camp at Camp Cherry Valley on Catalina Island.
Troop 50 has also just received approval to go to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico during the summer of 2022.
Following the COVID-19 shutdowns in March, Troop 50 started conducting virtual meetings on Zoom, during which the scouts worked on merit badges. In an interview with Mr. Ehlers’ 12-year-old son Jake Ehlers, he said that he and his fellow scouts are working on merit badges required for scouting’s highest rank, Eagle Scout, and have just finished the requirements for the personal management merit badge.
When the News-Press stopped by the lot on Wednesday, Jake was wrangling trees and loading them into customers’ cars.
After a few months, the troop moved to holding outdoor in-person meetings with smaller groups of people and precautions such as social distancing and mask wearing.
“We’re limited in the activities that we can do, but we’re still meeting and a lot of what we’re doing is planning for the future,” Mr. Ehlers said.
Troop 50 acquired around 700 trees to sell, a deliberately smaller quantity than in past years due to concern that the economic impacts of the pandemic had impacted local residents’ finances to the point that they wouldn’t want a tree. However, when the News-Press spoke to Mr. Ehlers on Wednesday, he said half of the lot’s trees had already been sold and that they probably should have gotten more.
“We should have kept what we usually purchase or bought more, actually,” he said. “Because what we’re seeing is a lot of people looking forward to celebrating Christmas this year more than ever, and we’ve been selling quite a few trees.”
Mr. Thomas concurred, “It may have been better to get a few more.”
The trees Troop 50 is selling come in four different varieties: Douglas fir, Noble fir, Nordmann fir, and Turkish fir. Trees are priced according to their size and variety, with Douglas fir being the least expensive and Turkish the most expensive.
Troop 50’s Christmas tree lot is located at 1532 Linden Ave. in Carpinteria. Trees will be sold between 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and between 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on weekends.