Reprinted from the Spring 2017 Abilities Digest
Today’s Cub Scouts have a whole range of opportunities. New rank advancements offer Cub Scouts different opportunities to excel. Cub Scouts also have numerous camping opportunities. In years past, a pack might go camping once a year, if at all. Today, Cub camping takes place all year long. There are often district or council events for Cub Scout and Webelos camping or advancement, as well as den and pack opportunities.
Cub Scouts with disabilities can pose a challenge in both advancement and camping. Members with physical disabilities face special camping challenges and may rely on special equipment like wheel chairs, braces, hearing aids, and so on. This also affects advancement when a Cub Scout’s disability interferes with the requirements for a badge or award. Parents and pack leaders can work together to overcome these obstacles.
First of all, parents and guardians must be involved. A leader cannot be expected to know everything about every Scout or every disability. The parent/guardian needs to tell the leader what the Scout can do and cannot do. Dis-cussing these issues beforehand improves the experience for everyone.
Cub Scouts can always advance. If a he can’t complete a requirement as written, adult leaders may create alterna-tive requirements that the he can achieve. These alternative requirements must be challenging to the boy and not appear as if the he has received a free pass. The requirement and achievement must always reflect the Cub Scout motto, “Do your best.”
Leaders must develop and approve the alternative requirements before the Cub works on them. The alternative requirements are reviewed and approved by the pack. Here is a typical process:
- A leader discovers that a Cub Scout’s disability warrants alternative requirements.
- One or more leaders develop these requirements.
- The parents and Cubmaster review and approve the alternative requirements.
The pack committee reviews and approves the alternative requirements.
The Cub Scout completes the alternative requirements and advances.
The den leader must decide how the Cub Scout’s disability and accommodations will be discussed within the den. While den leaders must never share private medical information, the boys in the den often benefit from being kept in the loop. This gives the den leaders the opportunity to discuss what disabilities might be and how they might affect one’s life.
Camping has always been the cornerstone of Scouting and a Scout with a disability will likewise enjoy the fun. Keep in mind that activities may need adjustment to include everyone. Leaders often achieve this if they “think outside the box.” Some activities, however, cannot be adapted for particular disabilities. This calls for alternate activities or advancement opportunities. Keep “Youth Protection” policies in mind when planning for these cases.
One of the new elective adventures Webelos is “Aware and Care”. Completing This adventure can help the Webelos understand what it is like to have a disability. And a Scout with a disability can use his disability to aid his fellow Webelos to understand what he goes through on a daily basis.
The biggest thrill any Scout gets is when he receives his advancement tokens and awards. The smile on his face is worth the challenge. When leaders do their best to help them advance, all Scouts will see the finest we all have to offer each other.