Accessing Accommodations in Scouts BSA

Special Needs Accommodations in Scouts BSA

Serving Scouts with Disabilities

It wasn’t too long ago that those with disabilities were actively excluded from life of mainstream society.  If they didn’t automatically look, think, act or speak like everyone else, they were often shunned. If they were given similar opportunities, they were segregated away from others. Accommodations for special needs Scouts were rare.

Fortunately, thanks to some fiercely passionate parents and other advocates, things have changed.  Those who are physically, intellectually, and neurologically different are now encouraged to participate alongside everyone else in school, sports, band, and other social clubs.

Likewise, Boy Scouts of America encourages its units to welcome youth of all abilities into their troops.

But the journey to full inclusion and rank achievement is not always clear and easy for those with disabilities.

 

Feeling Included

In the past many troops did not feel they had the adequate resources to properly accommodate some potential members.

The issue today is not necessarily the lack of accommodations provided by BSA, but the lack of awareness that they exist, both by troop leadership and parents of special needs Scouts.

Another potential problem could be the lack of willingness of the troop leadership, its members and/or the Scouts parents to push for assistance despite knowing help exists.

It’s for all of these reasons, both past and present, that the Boy Scouts of America created the National Disability Awareness Committee for Special Needs Scouts. It’s mission is to to help all youth who joins its ranks for feel welcomed and included.

Yes, there are some troops that are specifically designed for special-needs Scouts only.  But the organization would argue that those scouts are best served in regular patrols. Everyone benefits by including those with differences.

I heartily agree. That is why my autistic daughter has joined a regular inaugural girls BSA troop.

 

All in the Family

My husband is a Boy Scout “lifer”.  He earned his Eagle Scout rank and received the Vigil Honor of Order of the Arrow. He worked at a few Scout camps and now serves as a troop Scoutmaster and Wood Badge staff.  To say he’s deeply committed to Scouts is an understatement.

 

 

My son also earned his Eagle Scout.  Like his sister he also has autism.  But he started right at age 11 and had a lot of support from leadership. We did not request any special needs accommodations as we felt he was progressing through the ranks well-enough.

My daughter entered Scouts at age 15.  She has greater difficulty understanding auditory information and memorizing the Scout Oath and Law. Due to these conditions, we are seeking accommodations that will enable her to progress at her own comfortable pace and in her learning style.

 

 

I became an Assistant Scoutmaster both to help her and other leaders best serve her. Because our entire family is so involved in Scouts, we are heavily networked to people who will help my daughter succeed.

Despite her challenges, we are committed to helping her forge her own path in Scout as far as she is willing to go. I believe firmly in the power of Scouting to build solid life skills and self-confidence, as we have witnessed with her brother.

(Read my article HERE on why I believe Scouts is the one of the best organizations for those on the spectrum.)

 

A Special Needs Parent’s Role in Scouts

I understand many parents won’t involve themselves at this level, and that’s okay.

But to ensure the success of a youth in Scouts, it’s vital that the parent be a vigilant advocate for his/her child’s entire Scouting lifetime.  

To help me better understand how Scouts BSA accommodates special needs families, not only for myself but other families, I reached out to Julie Hadley.  She is the Disabilities Awareness Committee Chair for our council (Hoosier Trails).

I consider Julie a special education expert not only in Scouts but personally and professionally as well.  She is mom of three, all of whom had a range of educational challenges.  She has also served as a special education teacher since 2007. As she put it, “I have been on both sides of the table for IEP meetings. The good, the bad, and the ugly.”

I asked Julie a range of questions related to special needs accommodations in Scouting programs. I believe her answers will help any new Scout and Scouting parent start off on the right foot.

 

Scouts BSA Accommodations Q & A

1. How do parents go about asking for accommodations with their own scout troop?

Parents need to talk to the scoutmaster and troop leadership as soon as their child joins a troop or pack. The way things have been in recent history, parents are not asking for accommodations until almost time for the youth to age-out. Parents are talking to the scoutmaster a month or a few weeks before the youth turns 18, when they see that he is not going to make Eagle (Scout).

 

2. What kinds of accommodations can they ask for?

This absolutely depends on the needs of the scout. What accommodations do they receive at school?  No two scouts are the same, so accommodations are absolutely individualized. My guidance is that parents talk to the scoutmaster and discuss what accommodations the school is using.*

*Side note: Later on, the parents and scout leaders will work on formulating the right accommodations using the Individual Scout Advancement Plan ( BSA-ISP-form.pdf (51 downloads) ).  Bring along your child’s IEP to help figure out the right accommodations with troop leadership.

 

3. How can scouts with disabilities get an extension on the age-requirement to achieve the Eagle Scout rank?

There is a common confusion: an “extension” is not what special needs scouts need.

Special needs Scouts need to complete the form REQUEST FOR REGISTRATION BEYOND THE AGE OF ELIGIBILITY. That registration stays with the council and we approve it as a committee.

Extensions are specific for only extra time and are approved by National. They are difficult to get and the youth has to have some life changing event that they have had no control over. National does not approve many of these.

 

4. How might a special needs parent role be different from a non-special needs parent role in a scout troop?

Special needs parents know all too well that their child is going to need extra support. Like every parent, we volunteer to support what our children get involved with.

Possible roles for special needs parents include: educating troop leaders on what their child needs and educating other youth on those special needs. I have seen parents jump in with both feet and become part of troop leadership.

 

5. What should the leadership of a troop do to ensure full inclusion of the special needs child into a regular troop?

Start with open honest conversations with the parents, asking some of the tough questions. Learn about the disability, and learn what the youth needs or doesn’t need. Troop leadership needs to know what parent expectations are. Troop leadership needs to ask the youth what they want to accomplish in scouts.

 

6. Is training providing for troop leadership to better understand the special needs of their scouts? Who does that training and how do they go about asking for it?

University of Scouting offers special needs training.  University of Scouting happens at various times of the year in our neighboring councils. Classes are taught by volunteers with a lot of experience in that area.

 Training Expo in our council hold special needs classes that are taught every year on various topics. Training Expo occurs every February and class topics are suggested by individuals who volunteer to teach the class.

Troop Leadership and parents are free to contact me and I will help with educating leadership or directing them to someone in their area that have a lot of experience.

Training is always a hot topic when everyone is a volunteer.

 

7. What should be considered when joining a special needs troop (if available)? Is there a link to find them in someone’s local area?

When joining a special needs troop or forming a special needs troop, figure out the primary goal for your child. What experiences do you want for your child?

The best way to find out if we have special needs troops is to call council.

 

8. What are the ways the family of a special needs child can advocate for him/her beyond the troop level?

That’s an interesting question that I’ve never been asked. The best answer I have is to contact our committee and work with the committee.*

*Side note: Those on a Council Disability Committee can serve as an intermediary between the special needs scout and his/her family and troop leadership if a problem arises.  The committee member can assess the situation from all sides including the Scout’s, helping everyone come to a resolution. Sometimes that resolution can be positive if a plan-of-action is put into place long before he/she ages out. But if the Request for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility form was not completed, the process can be much harder.

Sometimes if troop leadership is not willing or able to accommodate the requests of the special needs Scout, often he or she moves on to another troop and/or is not able to achieve the highest rank desired.

 

9. Is there a troop assessment instrument to measure how inclusive a troop is of a special needs scout?

There is, not to my knowledge, an assessment like this. This would be interesting and something that would have to be re-evaluated with every change in leadership. For some troops that happens every couple of years…and some troops it is MANY years between changes.

 

10. Where can special needs families go to get more resources to help meet their needs?

There are several special needs and scouts webpages. National (Scouts BSA) has resources listed. There are special needs trainings with the national committee at Philmont (New Mexico) every summer.

 

How to Access this Important Accommodation

The most important lesson is that it’s best to file the REQUEST FOR REGISTRATION BEYOND THE AGE OF ELIGIBILITY form as soon as a special-needs Scout joins a troop.  For my daughter, I plan to do this very soon.

To get the process started, be sure to follow these steps:

1. Contact your council’s disability committee to start the paperwork: registration-beyond-the-age-of-eligibility-1.pdf (37 downloads)

2. Schedule a meeting with parents, Scoutmaster, committee member and Scout.

3. Parents and Scoutmaster(s) work together to complete the paperwork.

4. Submit the paperwork to the committee member.

5. Decision will be made by the committee to accept the form.

 

Rely on the expertise and guidance of those in the Disability Committee of your council throughout the years your child will be in Scouts.  They represent the best of Scouting because they are committed to making sure your special needs Scout has the opportunity to grow and achieve great things among those who care.

 

For more information, visit the Disabilities Awareness page on the Scouts BSA website.

For disability assistance with the Hoosier Trails Council, visit their Facebook page “Hoosier Trails-Disability Awareness”.

 

Autism Preparations for Scout Camp

Autism Preparations for Scout Camp

NOTE: Our summer camp experience has been with Boy Scouts of America.  Many of these tips could also apply to autistic youth in other scouting groups, such as Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls or Trail Life USA.

 

Autism Preparations for Scout Camp

Those with autism often need special assistance to get ready for a week of Scout camp.  In this article you will learn about the important autism preparations for Scout camp.

 

I did my best to help my autistic daughter prepare for her first scout camp experience. We used the BSA Scouts packing list.  We asked questions about the camp.  We relied on my Scoutmaster husband for advice.

 

It was only a few months since our inaugural troop for girls was founded in the newly structured Scouts BSA (formerly known as Boy Scouts).  So, we didn’t have much preparation for attending camp besides learning some basic first aid skills and discussing what we should pack.

 

Luckily, we have two Scout leaders who have prepared their own sons for Scout camp for many years.  It was a blessing that they knew their way around camp, the daily schedule, and merit badge requirements.

 

My autistic son did very well at camp as a Scout and now works there in the kitchen. I was reassured that my autistic daughter would be fine.  Since she has different challenges, I thought it best to take extra measures to help her and the staff know the accommodations she needs.

 

Autism Preparations for Scout Camp

The first thing a Scout learns is the motto: “Be Prepared”.  That’s exactly the mentality required for a week at summer camp.

 

Here are important autism preparations for Scout camp:

 

Before Camp

 

Choose activities your youth is familiar and/or has a very keen interest in doing (STEM, Scoutcraft, aquatics, shooting sports, etc.). When engaged in an activity for which he or she has a passion or skill, this will alleviate some concerns about being in a new and strange environment.  My daughter is very familiar with archery and chose to do that with the other girls in the troop.  She ended up with the highest score in the class, of which she is extremely proud.  She will now associate summer camp as a fun and positive experience and want to go again next year.

 

Consider staying at least one night (preferably the first) with your child. This is especially important for the first year of attending summer camp. I was able to figure out with what exactly my daughter needed help and to guide her to different activity locations.  If your child has never been away from home for an overnight, then I encourage you to stay during the week. If you can’t sleep overnight, ask about Day passes so you can check in a time or two during the week.

 

Prepare an “Accommodations Card”.  I created a short list of accommodations for my daughter so camp staff could communicate with her and meet her needs appropriately. I laminated the printed cards and handed them out to each person with whom she had regular contact.  They were grateful to know to best help when she was frustrated.

Here is a template I made—you can alter it to fit your child’s needs:  Scout-Camp-Accommodations-TEMPLATE.pdf (59 downloads)

 

Let troop leaders know how your child handles frustration. Help them know the difference between an anxiety attack, a meltdown and willful disobedience.  Create a “meltdown plan” (for safety reasons for self and others) for troop leaders—write it down on a card and laminate.   If you will not be with your child at camp, establish a communication plan. For example, many camps have very limited WiFi service. Ask troop leaders when and by what method is best to communicate if there is an issue at camp.

 

Create a picture schedule and/or social story of the camp routines. Get the camp map and your child’s scheduled activities the week before.  Go over this routine a few times with your child before leaving for camp.

 

Complete the merit badge worksheets for the activities your child will actually do at camp.  It will be helpful to do these at least a week or two before camp. That way he/she can recall the information that is heard in the class itself and be able to answer some of the questions. If a class is heavy lecture (like First Aid), bring along a tape recorder; have a notepad to take notes (ask a peer to take notes is he/she can’t); or perhaps follow along in the Scout book.

 

Autism Preparations for Scout CampGet ready for the swim test!  For any aquatic activity, every scout needs to perform a swim test.  Even if he/she has achieved “Blue Swimmer” status already, the camp requires each camper and adult leader to demonstrate proficiency—every year!  This is where your child may have issues.  I strongly urge you to practice the stroke and lap requirements in a lake before camp.  (If going to a lake is out of the question, practice in a pool.) If your child is too overwhelmed with swimming in a lake and refuses to perform the swim test, then she/he cannot do any of the aquatic merit badges (kayaking, canoeing, etc.).  If that’s the case, another merit badge or open activity can be chosen. Create a social story about what it’s like and what to do for the swim-test.

 

Make sure the shoes and boots your child wears are very comfortable.  Wear them in before going (especially try to hike in them over rough terrain for at least an hour).  Have back-up shoes that are waterproof.  Water-shoes are fine to walk around in, but if it’s raining all day, your feet will stay pruny ALL DAY.  Not good.

 

Did I mention there is LOTS of walking at camp?  I mean, miles per day!  And with a semi-heavy day bag on your child’s back all day.  If you can prepare with a few hiking excursions or walking exercise, the better off.  Bring electrolyte drinks and water to prevent leg cramps and dehydration.

 

Make the camp aware of any medical, dietary or sensory issues on the application. When you get there, alert the kitchen staff to food intolerances. Reserve an appointment with a physician as soon as your child is registered for camp.  Be sure to pack the necessary medications and sensory items.  If your child needs medicine for anxiety, ask if the troop leader can keep and administer those meds right in camp instead of at the nurse’s station. If you keep food at the camp, be sure to seal it up tight!  The mice had a feeding frenzy on our snack food while we slept.

 

Don’t forget a sensory kit!  If your child has ANY sensitivity to noise, bring those noise-cancelling headphones!  The loudest setting was the dining hall.  These staffers love to pump up the volume with their songs and skits and table-thumping. It gets everyone enthused but the noise—even for me—was almost unbearable.  Bring any other sensory-calming item if necessary (like a weighted blanket for nighttime sleeping).

 

 

During Camp

 

Have a designated peer helper (“buddy”) who is kind and conscientious. If they are in the same merit badge classes together, have them walk to and from those class together.  They can even share a tent and help your child get a day-bag ready. Ask one of the scout leaders to assist in getting your child to a class if no one else in their troop goes.

 

 

Walk through the camp areas on the day of arrival with all scouts. Follow the route the week’s schedule, starting with the first activity, then the second, etc.  Have your child follow along with the picture schedule and map you made beforehand.

 

Help your child prepare a day-bag.  Create a picture schedule of all items that should go into it. Your child should have a small first aid kit, notetaking pads and pencil, swim gear, sunscreen, bug spray, a flashlight, and possibly merit badge worksheets to work on while at camp. Ask your scoutmaster or assistant to help check the day-bag every day to make sure all necessary items are included.

 

Show the Accommodations cards to every activity counselor.  Explain to them how your child may react to unfamiliar requests, events or settings (no prior approval needed). Have a troop leader do this if you cannot.

 

Some challenges we encountered

 

With the rain and thunder they moved the kayaking class to the indoor dining hall. My daughter did fine with the transition.

 

When the sun came out, our leader suggested doing the swim tests at the lake. My daughter has been lake swimming before but freaked her out because she wasn’t expecting a test.  It took her 30 minutes to put her suit on and come down to the beach. She needed time to transition and accept this inevitability.  After much persuasion she managed to get in the water and achieve “blue swimmer” in order to complete her kayaking merit badge.

 

Hence, this is the reason I stress practicing the swim test in a lake or making a social story before coming to camp!

 

Another problem was her boots.  While she never complained about them at home, she never had to walk in them for several miles, either!  By the end of the first day, I was trading boots with her because she had blisters forming.

 

I highly recommend doing some preliminary hiking or walking in camp boots or waterproof shoes at home before wearing them at camp.  Or bring along enough extra shoes that are comfortable.

 

 

Some positive highlights

 

My daughter loved the Pioneer Rendezvous.  It was an after-dinner event with Native American flute playing (which my daughter got to try), kettle corn and root beer, leather-making and iron-branding, rifle demonstrations, atlatl throwing and just enjoying the company of others.

 

Take advantage of the optional fun activities in the evening. This will make the homesickness less and the willingness to stick it out at camp stronger.

 

I am very pleased that this camp goes above-and-beyond to make an unforgettable experience.  Honestly, I wished—momentarily—that I was young again.  I suppose I’ll settle for being an Assistant Scoutmaster…

 

The staffers were not only extremely accommodating but inclusive of my daughter.  They welcome all kids with open-arms and are excited to have them be in Scouts…which is why I believe Scouts is so fantastic for youth on the spectrum.

 

Keep in mind that those with autism need special preparation for the Scout camp experience.  With the right mindset and preparation, a Scout camp experience will not only be loads of fun but will help your autistic youth grow in self-confidence and self-reliance.

 

Why Scouts BSA is Terrific for Autistic Youth

Why Scouts BSA is Terrific for Autistic Youth

Why Scouts BSA is Terrific for Autistic Youth

Because we are a Scouting family, I know exactly why Scouts BSA is terrific for autistic youth.  Both of my autistic teens are very involved in Scouts.

I can attest to the amazing progress in my kids that comes with belonging to Scouts BSA.

“Adventure is out there!”

That’s one of my favorite movie quotes from the very cool movie “UP!”  I just love Russell.  He has an infectious enthusiasm for the Scouting way of life.  He is also my husband’s character avatar (who happens to be a BSA troop scoutmaster). No, seriously. My husband looked exactly like Russell when he was a kid.

When my autistic son turned 11, my husband couldn’t wait to introduce him to Scouts.  Camping expeditions, learning knots, campfire cooking, canoe trips, patrol leadership…where else can a young teen do all this and MORE than in Scouts?

Maybe you think…Ok, I get that it’s beneficial for many teen boys and girls.  But why should my autistic child get involved?  Won’t it be another peer-group that will keep my child at arm’s length?

I get it. I had the same fears. Having the social-communication challenges that often come with autism don’t make the road to travel the life stages very easy.

But being involved in Scouts can!  Now that my son is an Eagle Scout, I can share why I believe Scouting is terrific—and actually a better alternative to traditional therapy—for those on the spectrum.

 

Relax in calm settings on Scout outings.

 

The Benefits of Scouts BSA for Those with Autism

Scouts BSA provides that “safe”, natural, inclusive group environment with one’s peers and adult mentors.  In Scouts an autistic youth can develop appropriate skills in social-communication, executive-functioning, confident leadership, self-help, and self-advocacy.

All through FUN ADVENTURES, of course!

In other words, the benefits for a teen with autism to become a Scout are beyond measure!

1. It has a supportive environment for those needing a place to feel included.

No other group-oriented environment provides the same level of long-term, consistent support like Scouts (starting at Kindergarten with Cub Scouts).

Sports and band are only for a few seasons. Church youth groups and high school classes have a single-minded focus.

Therapy environments feel forced and unnatural.  Parents have enough of their plate at home…plus they can’t be their teen’s only role-model if they want him or her to develop independence skills.

A good Scout troop will be…

…Kind and respectful to every person.

Any peer Scout who antagonizes or discourages those on the spectrum would never be tolerated. Ask what protocols have been implemented to not only prevent bullying but to encourage positive interaction among peers.

.…Accommodating to individual needs.

The troops should encourage each person to progress through the ranks at his/her own pace while still giving them challenges to master in order to gain self-confidence. Ask if the troop leadership has been trained to recognize and support those with cognitive-sensory differences.

They should also be willing to meet with parents and discuss how the IEP or other assessment can be used to effectively develop a good plan of achievement for the individual Scout.

Read my article about accessing special needs accommodations in Scouts BSA.

…Building trust by meeting on a consistent basis.

My family’s Scouts BSA troop meets once a week all year for ages 11-18.  They have campouts or other events at least once a month. Obviously, good trusting relationships can be built in such an environment.

If your child would like to join at a young age, get involved in a Cub Pack (ages 5-11). Venturing Crews are high-adventure troops for young men and women ages 14-21.

 

Spend a week at Scout camp doing fun activities!

 

2. The scouting experience provides “free therapy”.

No other environment provides a place to learn therapeutic skills like Scouts BSA…without paying for expensive sessions!

Let me break that down by the 3 main “diagnostic traits” associated with autism:

Social-communication:

Scouts learn to communicate their needs to each other in order to accomplish tasks. For example, a patrol must talk and work together to solve a problem or master a challenge, like setting up a tent campsite or making a campfire recipe.

Most of the troop activities are interactive, so an autistic child will gain valuable social and communication skills. Very few (if any) therapy settings provide this level of interactive group learning to develop good social and communication skills.

Executive-Functioning:

By earning merit badges and ranks, Scouts learn to set short- and long-term achievement goals. With the help of adult leaders, they develop discipline to see those goals fulfilled.

Specific merit badges teach time management, cooking, self-care and hygiene, safety and first aid, awareness of the community, swim skills, and many, many more valuable life skills…everything that leads to greater independence, a strong work-ethic, and compassion for others.

Behavioral therapists may spend months working on ONE particular skill set, while Scouts provides the opportunities to enhance executive-functioning skills in a real-world, demonstrable setting.

Scouting also provides a setting that no office setting can possibly achieve. It allows them to also translate life skills into the real world.  That is why Scouts BSA is terrific for autistic youth

Sensory:

The world of Scouts is a tactile world. There is a lot of hands-on activities to satisfy those who are sensory-seekers as well as those who need to develop fine and gross motor skills.

Some autistic Scouts enjoy the task of tying knots while others like the visual-spatial challenge of orienteering (which is using a compass to find hidden locations).

Being in a natural, calming environment during camp-outs is tremendously beneficial for those prone to sensory overload from other environments (especially without the distractions of electronics).

 

3. An autistic individual can learn valuable job skills.

Scouts is the perfect environment to develop both “hard” and “soft” job skills.

  • Marketing and sales? The troop sells popcorn, pizzas and snack food at festivals.

 

  • Face-to-face customer service?  The troop provides dinner fundraisers, serving guests with a smile. They also do many face-to-face community-service projects, such as collecting scrap metal and other “good neighbor” duties.

 

  • Leadership skills? They can serve in various roles, such as Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, and Quartermaster. Some are election-based and others volunteer-based.

 

  • Public speaking? Each scout learns to speak in front of the whole troops and parents during the Court of Honor ceremonies as they discuss what they learned earning their merit badges and rank advancements.

 

  • Interview skills? They promote themselves by explaining the reasons they should be elected to certain leadership positions within the troop.

 

  • Actual employment? Scouts have the opportunity to work at their local Scout camps.  My son worked as kitchen staff last summer and will again this year because they want him back so badly.  The camp director has a brother with autism and he was extremely helpful in getting my son acclimated to his job.  This was also a great opportunity to live away from home during the week to gain independent living skills. He came back a very confident, hard-working and conscientious young man.

 

Working towards the Citizenship in the Community merit badge

4. It provides many opportunities for family bonding.

Scouts provides a wonderful avenue to developing a stronger bond with one’s teenager. This is another reason why Scouts BSA is terrific for autistic youth.

Teens who work alongside or at least witness their parents or other family members supporting them in their own interests and hobbies develop a greater relationship with them.

Here are reasons why parents are  highly encouraged to be involved in their son or daughter’s troop:

 

Scouts see their parents as a model to emulate.

When a scout sees his or her parent modeling the “Scout Motto” with others in his troop, he or she gains a deeper appreciation and respect for them. As the teen Scout matures, so does his/her family member in a leadership capacity.

Scouts work with their parents to achieve their rank advancements and merit badges.

Often a scout must complete many of the tasks required to earn badges at home.  For example, a family member can take the scout to witness a town hall meeting or help develop a food budget and menu list for the next camp-out.

Scouts work and have fun alongside their family.

Many parents and their scouts enjoy the time they spend at the weekend camp-outs together.  My husband and son loved to develop tasty meals together for campfire cooking.  Without the interference of the computer, phone or social media, they can spend quality one-on-one or group time together building memories.

 

Explore nature during fun Scouting expeditions

5. It offers a variety of thrilling adventure trips.

Scouts is unique from many other organizations—if your child loves adventure, then Scouts BSA provides! Not only does it have many council-based “reservations” (or camps) with a plethora of outdoor and indoor activities, but it also has several “high-adventure” camps throughout the country.

They also participate in many guided educational or nature-based excursions. Some even go on hiking expeditions in other countries. These are sure to boost your teen’s self-confidence!

Summer Camps:

Troops have the option to stay a week at their own council’s camp or they can go to another state. For most years our troop stayed close to home at more local camps. They were able to earn several merit badges during their time, learn valuable skills, and gain confidence being away from home.

Indian lore, photography, kayaking, swimming, cooking, movie-making, scuba-diving, and archery are just a few of the many things a scout can do at camp.

This year our troop is going to Medicine Mountain Camp in South Dakota to explore Mt. Rushmore and other surrounding sites.

Check out my article on helpful tips on getting your special needs youth ready for summer camp.

 

Guided Adventures:

Does your teen love space? Perhaps your troop can go to Space Camp for a week in Huntsville, Alabama.

Would your teen enjoy roughing it in a peaceful setting, canoeing and fishing? Then a guided tour of Holding a baby alligator during a Sea Base, Florida Keys expeditionBoundary Waters in Minnesota is the ticket.

Does your teen dream about sailing in the Caribbean? Sea Base in the Florida Keys is a Scouts BSA High-Adventure Camp that allows scouts to stay overnight on a 40-foot, multi-cabin sailboat and learn sailing skills for the week. Our troop did this, visited an alligator farm and rode a high-speed airboat through the Everglades. My son absolutely loved this experience! (And now wants to move to Florida…)

These adventurous excursions continue to grow in number each year, allowing more scouts to explore more places in the great outdoors and gain world-perspective.

 

Valuable Life Skills Learned in Scouts BSA

I truly believe that, more than any therapy or other organization, the scouting experience has shaped my autistic son into a confident young man with a valuable set of skills to lead him into a positive direction into adulthood.

He has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, one of the proudest moments in our family’s lives.

Now that Boys Scouts of America has been changed to Scouts BSA, teen girls can join troops and earn the same merit badges and ranks as the boys.

My 15-year-old autistic daughter just joined the inaugural female troop that is affiliated with my husband’s and son’s troop.

I am very excited that now teen girls get the same opportunities to experience these benefits of Scouting!

Reach high and dream big in Scouts BSA!

Being a scout will give your child the opportunities to reach high and dream big! This is, I believe, why Scouts BSA is terrific for autistic youth.

If “adventure is out there”, you will certainly find it in Scouts BSA!

 

For more information about Scouts BSA, visit the official website.