Beginning in 2001, every Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill included a one-armed archery activity. At the Fort, it used a special one-handed bow-and-arrow fixture in a quonset hut as part of the disAbilities Awareness Challenge. When the Jamboree moved to the Summit in 2013 there was no enthusiasm for installing the fixture on the archery range. That attitude changed in 2017.
The Torch of Gold is a distinguished award of the Boy Scouts of America to recognize adults for exceptional service and leadership in working with Scouts who have disabilities. Each council may recognize one Scouter per year with the award. Details are listed on the nomination form, available online.
The process takes place entirely within the council. Typically the council’s Disabilities or Special Needs Committee will collect nomination forms and choose a recipient.
The Boy Scouts of America presents the Woods Services Award to one adult each year to recognize exceptional service to Scouts with disabilities. Nominations should be received by the end of this year to be considered for the 2018 award. Each council may submit a single nomination each year. The online application form provides complete instructions.
Scouters from all councils are invited attend a bilingual Wood Badge course couducted in both English and American Sign Language (ASL). The Great Salt Lake Council offers this course July 9-14, 2018, at the Monson Training Lodge. More information can be found at https://www.saltlakescouts.org/woodbadge.
The course uses a modified curriculum to enable and encourage both Deaf and hearing participants to engage with one another in a cooperative and supportive manner, while learning crucial leadership skills. Each leadership concept is presented in both ASL and English and all video presentations are closed captioned. A crew of full time interpreters interpret leadership concepts when presented and to assist in other communication needs between Deaf and hearing participants.
Deaf and hard of hearing Scouts, Scouters and family members present new challenges for many units. Units, districts and councils aren’t legally obligated to provide a sign language interpreter for deaf participants, and often can’t afford a professional, certified interpreter. Yet we want to include everyone in the Scouting experience. We benefit both deaf and hearing participants when we make accommodations. These can range from pre-printed materials and visual aids to American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters.
Scott Hellen, a National Jamboree staffer with limited mobility, shares observations on his Jamboree experience.
We all have preconceived expectations of what our first time on staff at a National Jamboree will be like. I was looking forward to working hundreds of Scouts from around the country and abroad as they came through the Disabilities Awareness Challenge, dAC. I also wanted to meet the adult Scouters that came from various locations and diverse backgrounds to serve as dAC staff. I learned fast that reality does not always meet one’s expectations.
Communication and Creativity are the Keys to Helping Scouts with Special Needs Advance Along the Trail to Eagle
The Advancement program is meant to be challenging for every Scout. Those challenges can become even larger for Scouts with special needs. Since the Guide to Advancement clearly states that all requirements have to be met, communication between the Scout, his parents, unit leaders, and even educators can lead to real success stories.