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.
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.