Advancement Committees Need Special Needs Representation

Eagle projectReprinted from the July-August 2018 edition of Advancement News.

The Guide to Advancement addresses council advancement committee responsibilities in Section 3.0.0.1, and it is always wise to ensure that the committee has someone well versed in special needs awareness issues so that other committee members can properly address them when they arise. Better still, the committee can “be prepared” by having a plan in place that will enable it to address things in a proactive instead of a reactive way.

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Merit Badges and Scouts with Disabilities

Boy Scout Requirements book“Scout Jay has serious vision impairment, but he’s really excited about the Astronomy Merit Badge. Can he earn it?”

Substitute any merit badge for “Astronomy” and you have a common but tricky question. The answer lies in the exact written requirements. Scout Jay must meet the requirements exactly as written, no more and no less. If a disability prevents him from completing the requirements, then Jay must earn a different merit badge.

Modern merit badge requirements are often flexible to benefit Scouts with disabilities. For example, most merit badges don’t explicitly require reading, writing, or speaking. Instead of saying “Write a list of the five most visible planets,” or “Recite a list of the five most visible planets,” the Astronomy requirement simply says “List the five most visible planets.” The form and structure of the list is not part of the requirement.

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Helping Scouts on the Trail to Eagle

Eagle Scout medalCommunication 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.

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Meeting Requirements “With No Exception”

guide to advancement front cover, 2015The following was originally published in the May-June 2017 issue of Advancement News.

“Meet the requirements as they are written, with no exception.”

The quote above from the Guide to Advancement, topic 10.2.2.0, at first glance may sound harsh, restrictive, and could even leave one wondering how a Scout with special needs can meet requirements that sometimes seem too tough. Well, with a little bit of creativity and teamwork, Scouts and leaders have found exceptional ways to complete requirements without exception.

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Cub Activities and Advancement

Cub Scouts singingReprinted 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.

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