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
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
Last week we filled out surveys from the Boy Scouts of America about proposed “membership standards” changes that would lift the official ban on gay scouts and adults. With my active volunteer work in scouting and my gay daughter and daughter-in-law, I’m in the middle of it. Towelroad (self-described as “a site with homosexual tendencies”) has posted an accurate copy of the questions I was asked, more or less (the scenarios were renumbered). Towelroad doesn’t comment on the survey, but lets it speak for itself.
[Update 3/19/13 – Slate published a piece claiming that the survey is biased towards changing the policy. The Dallas Voice, a GLBT publication, has also published a copy of the survey.]
And yes, the survey may be the epitome of political incorrectness. But this is what change looks like if you’re going to carry on conversations instead of just shouting at each other.
Continue reading What change might look like
Centers for Disease Control – Atlanta, GA
July 22, 2012; 13:41EDT
UPDATE JULY 2012: Small animals manifesting “Zombie like” characteristics are rumored to have been sighted in the Upper Midwest, and appear to be slowly spreading throughout the Illinois and Iowa, mainly centering on river areas. No people have been impacted by this situation. US Health Officials have been capturing sick looking animals and, other than an occasional infection, nothing in particular has been noted.
Continue reading Alert for the Fall Eagle River Camporee