I was recently asked for guidance from a merit badge counselor working with a Scout whose learning abilities are severely affected by Down syndrome. The Scout could master the physical aspects of the badge but struggled with the “discuss” and “explain” requirements.
Here are my thoughts. They are not anyone’s gospel. I’d love to hear what guidelines other people use.
Continue reading Six Thoughts on Merit Badge Requirements and Learning Challenges
A rumor says children with Down syndrome can’t earn the Eagle Scout award.
This is nonsense. See stories about Coleman and Brandt, Adam, Zach and Mike, Elliott, another Zach, Max, Daniel, and a third Zach.
Not every Scout can hike and swim, and not every Scout advances as fast as every other. If a Scout has a bona fide medical condition, like Down Syndrome, the Scout can still take the trail to Eagle.
Some Scouts follow their own, customized trail. Alternate requirements need special approval. Scouts can get time extensions in special circumstances.
Caveat: I’m speaking as someone with a lot of experience with Scouting and special needs, and not in any official capacity within Boy Scouts.
Continue reading How Boys with Down Syndrome Become Eagle Scouts
About 1 in 8 kids these days have a “special need” or “invisible disability” or something else that poses a challenge in traditionally structured situations like school or Scouting. In ages past, a Scout leader could expel or “ease out” a Scout that presented behavior problems or otherwise didn’t “fit.”
It’s important to talk about how we will work with kids in the normal troop environment with special needs. ADHD, autism down syndrome. Leaders need tips on how to handle kids, their parents and medication.
Continue reading Typical Troops, Atypical Scouts
I’m always looking for better ways to understand invisible disabilities with an eye towards helping Scouts and Scouters succeed in the movement. This one is pretty general, but it gives me some food for thought: The Ultimate List of Gifts for Sensory Seekers, from Mama OT’s blog.
I especially like that the second paragraph warns of overstimulation. There’s a tendency to think that if “a little of X” makes things good, then “a lot of X” makes things better. It’s important to know when and when not to indulge.
Here’s the bottom line: If the Scout participates in any type of religious organization, whether it speaks of God or not, there’s no problem.
If the Scout perceives some power, essence, being, or motive force in the universe that could deserve to be called ‘God,’ there should be no problem.
On the other hand, if the Scout or Scout’s family’s personal beliefs forbid referring to any entity as ‘God’ then the Scout could have trouble participating in BSA’s Scouting programs.
Here’s how it works.
Continue reading A Scout’s Required Belief in God
Recently, I spoke to a young adult who avoided attending a funeral. To quote, “The religious stuff creeped me out.”
This is a common reaction from people who haven’t confronted choices of faith, or haven’t resolved them.
Most religious institutions aren’t trying to creep people out. Shouldn’t we minimize or prevent such feelings?
Boy Scouts practically excludes youth brought up outside of religious groups. I don’t think the founders of Scouting wanted to exclude any boys from Boy Scouts. I think we can fix it.
Continue reading Does God scare kids from Scouting?
No, I’m not talking about the ones we tie with ropes. I’m talking about the obscure rectangles shown at left. Adult scout leaders in the BSA receive these knots for training, service, and achievements.
But they’re incomprehensible to most people, even scouting volunteers. I just created an online resource if you’d like to ‘crack the code’ posed by these knots.
Continue reading Learning the Knots