Severe behavior takes many forms, from physical violence to seizures to unexpected, uninterruptible slumber. We adapt our activities to reduce the risk and impact, but we can’t always predict such incidents. How can we give young people the Scouting experience when they are subject to severe and unpredictable behavior?
For example, a Star Scout with a sleeping disorder wants to take part in National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), a week-long experience for Scouts and Venturers. The training is run by a volunteer group of adults and youth. The Scout might – or might not – suffer from a sleeping episode. Should he attend despite the risk? Would an episode put him at risk? How would an episode affect his course participation? Would an episode interfere with the course or its participants?
This question – and possible answers – apply to many other advanced Scouting activities.
A typical troop has Scouts across the spectrum of behavior and maturity. About one in eight of these Scouts may have a special need or disability that calls for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) at school. When we accommodate the latter, we help more typical but less mature Scouts as well. Accommodations often fall into five categories: Timing, Scheduling, Setting, Presentation, and Response. We examine these below.
Be sure to accommodate Scouts when completing advancement requirements. While written requirements must be followed to the letter, accommodations may be used where appropriate. For example, a list might not need to be a written list, and the Scout might not be the one actually writing things down.
Reprinted from the Spring 2017 Abilities Digest
Contributed by a camp staff alum
Communication and teamwork are the key ingredients to a great summer camp experience for Scouts with special needs.
It’s been 30 years since I last worked on summer camp staff, but some of the most vivid memories I have are working with the Scouts and leaders of Troop 191 from the Widener Memorial School in Philadelphia. This troop of amazing men with various disabilities; both young and old, joined us for our first week of camp each season and it was as meaningful an experience for the staff as it was for the campers.