National Committee member Roger Tate has produced a series of “Perspectives” on advancement that will appear in this and upcoming copies of Abilities Digest.
The mission of the BSA is to prepare young people to make ethical choices throughout their lifetime. Advancement is one of several methods for promoting the mission. There are many wonderful Scouts who never become Eagle Scouts (author included). However, many of us that focus our attention on Scouts with special needs want to see these Scouts advance, by any means necessary. Such a viewpoint does not always mesh with the mission, aims or traditions of the BSA. While we are advocates for our Scouts, the purpose of this column is to help Scouters and parents of Scouts with special needs/disabilities better understand other leaders who are advancement specialists and vice versa. This allows us to focus our advocacy in ways that truly benefit the Scout and fulfill the promise of Scouting for the Scout. Don’t let the method become the mission.
District and council volunteers who look over nominations for the Torch of Gold or Woods Services Award may learn of Scouters who don’t receive these awards, but deserve recognition for their service. These Scouters may qualify for the Special Needs Scouting Service Award (SNSSA), an earned recognition. It may be presented to adults, volunteer or professional, who show outstanding service and leadership to Scouts with disabilities.
Last summer, Scouter Angela Glunt participated in the Philmont training course DIVERSEability and DisABILITY. Here are her experiences in adapting the COPE Challenge for people with disabiilities.
Our class was approached by the COPE team and asked if we would be willing to participate in the COPE Course in order to help develop strategies for assisting Scouts with special needs. The goal was to show the struggles a Scout with special needs might encounter during the event.
Our group was very excited for the opportunity to engage in this adventure. We split our class in half. One group took the Lower Course and the other took the Upper Course. Each group member exhibited the characteristics of a different disability. By helping the staff, as if aiding a Scout with special needs, they were able to gain knowledge through the hands-on experience.
The Torch of Gold is a council award given annually to an adult Scouter for dedicated work for youth, particularly Scouts, with disabilities. It is not an award that is earned by simply fulfilling specific requirements. It is given in recognition for service in multiple areas for many years. The nominee should show a level of dedication and service comparable to a Scouter receiving the Silver Beaver Award, but for service specifically in the area of working with Scouts with disabilities.
A Scouter must be recommended to his or her council by another individual. Although there are specific criteria for this award, each council should have its own selection procedure. The nomination form can be found at scouting.org/filestore/pdf/512-495.pdf
The Woods Services Award is given to one Scouter per year nationally for exceptional service and leadership. The nominee should have served Scouts with disabilities in several capacities at the unit, district, council, or national levels of the Boy Scouts of America. The nominee for this prestigious award must have served Scouts with disabilities for at least three years strictly as a volunteer. This is a BSA award sponsored by the Woods Services Foundation in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, in memory of Luther W. Lord. The recipient receives a plaque from the Woods Foundation and may wear the BSA community service square knot.
Here is Volume 5, Number 4 of Abilities Digest. Highlights include:
- Adapting Activities: DisAbility adaptations for the COPE Challenge and course experience at the Philmont Training Center.
- Adapting Advancement: Perspectives on advancement as a method, not a mission, and on achievable challenges.
- Recognizing Abilities: Every council may present a Torch of Gold Award annually; Nominations for the 2019 Woods Services Award are due December 31; Earning the Special Needs Scouting Service Award.
The Seabase conference has been canceled for January 2019.
Come and join us in the beautiful Florida Keys to learn how to work with Scouts with disabilities. We are offering the volunteer training conference Diverseability and DisAbilitiy – How to Apply Proper Methods in Scouting with Special Needs
When: January 13-19, 2019
Where: Florida Seabase
It’s a great place to be in January!
This conference is for Scouters, professionals, and parents that have a passion for helping Scouts with disAbilities become involved in all that Scouting has to offer.