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  • Not quite at "alternate requirements"

    Sorry for the length in advance!
    We are a new Troop of two years. We have 7 scouts who all made 1st Class first year and that included 23 nights of camping and numerous miles of backpacking, which is our main activity. We have just crossed over 8 new scouts. During our first meeting I noticed one new scout having trouble concentrating and writing things down. (ie spelling) I spoke with his webelos ldr who described him as "a little slow." Myself and the 2 ASM''s discussed this and decided that we were just going to take the extra effort to ensure he stayed w/ the group. Then came our first camping trip. This particular scout could not walk 50 yards without falling WAY behind the group. We offered him encouragement to keep up and he would repeatedly ask how much further. These were not hikes mind you but walking to various activities. This lasted all weekend. Now I have serious concerns about whether we can provide enough both academic AND physical help to keep him even close to the other boys. I know he doesn''t neccessarily have to advance with the other boys but w/ our troop activities being camping and backpacking how do we include him w/o it being to the detrement of the activity and the other scouts? He has no physical problems that would cause him to have THAT much trouble walking. Mom is the only parent and other than dropping him off is never seen. I''ve read the requirements for the "alternate" but I really don''t feel he will qualify. Any options for us?? Any help would be appreciated.

  • #2
    The first thing I want to tell is great job, keep up the effort, don''t let up the praise and encouragement! I give you the Scout salute in honor of your efforts.

    Second, alternate requirements as far as I know this is left up to the discretion of the Troop Committee. I would personally say don''t make this decision easily, if the Scout really can''t meet the same requirements for mental or physical reasons then the committee needs to come up with something equally tough (at his level) for him to do. On the flip side if you believe he can do it, then work really really hard and help him through it.

    Third, have you talked to the mom and the Scout separately to see if maybe there is an emotional reason, a fear (not like fear of the dark, but a real phobia), etc that may be causing the problem(s).

    Anyway this is all I can think of for the moment. I hope my wacky 2 cents was of some help.

    Scott Robertson


    • #3
      I wouldn''t be so much concerned about advancement as I would be that you might dumb down your activities to meet the lower physical capabilities of this one scout. You seem like a gung ho active troop. I''d have a meeting with the scout and his mom to explain the type of physical demands typical of one of your campouts. If he can''t or won''t put out the effort, perhaps he would be a better fit in a more docile car camping troop. I just can''t see how you can meet his needs without lots of parental support.


      • #4
        Alternate requirement must be appoved by the Council Advancement Committee. The troop commitee has no authority any longer, it changed several years ago


        • #5
          Thanks nldscout I most have missed or forgot about that one.

          Scott Robertson


          • #6
            Thanks for the input guys. I have not discussed the issue with his mother yet. I have spoke with his webelos leader and found out that the scout is involved in some LD classwork. He couldn''t really comment on any physical impairments because they didn''t really go hiking. We have decided to wait until out next campout which will include a 1 mile introduction hike. We have planned to place this scout in the front of the group to see how he does when "not allowed" to be the last one and then fall behind. We will then plan to talk with the scout and mom if the problem remains.


            • #7
              Yah, I''d first advise yeh relax and let the boy proceed at his own pace. If the physical or mental willingness to hike continues to be a problem, identify the trips where there''s a reasonable short cut/bail out option for him, and maybe let mom know that the other trips won''t work.

              You''ve found da baseline, now yeh gotta look at whether he''s able to make any progress. If he is an you can accommodate it, let him continue to progress at his own pace. He doesn''t have to stay with his age group. In fact, expecting him to may not be fair or may be too much pressure. Love him for who he is and how he grows.

              As advice, though, I wouldn''t put him at the front of da group. Best to have someone he can follow who can set a reasonable pace. Put him #2 or #3. Or split off a "scenic pace" from da "fast pace" group. Goal is to make him feel a part of things, eh? And encourage him to push himself a bit, without runnin'' over his emotional limits.



              • #8
                We have "regular hikes" and "speed hikes". My younger son is always the last in line. He can do full hikes (10 milers), it just takes him longer. Our troop hikes at the pace of the slowest hiker (him), and our first really long one, his slow pace made it miserable for some of the faster kids. So we opt him out of the speed hikes. He doesn''t seem to have a problem with it, since he''s included on the others. When he''s older and past his growth spurt, I expect he''ll be able to hike with the faster boys.

                Is he the only Scout that falls behind? You could always designate the hikes and trips at different levels - whether rank, age, or speed. It doesn''t always have to be the whole troop going. Just make sure there are SOME that he''s able to do.


                • #9
                  No, this scout is the only one who is having an issue. I have also noticed that when he walks (we had an event today) he doesn''t walk so much as he "shuffles." As much as I hate to say it, (I really do!) but it is almost like he is too lazy to pick his feet up! We are going to monitor him closely on our next campout, which will include an introductory hike and see what happens. This will be his first with a pack. If it is an issue then we will speak with the scout and his mother about some alternatives.


                  • #10
                    I''m a fast hiker. Usually the fastest in the crowd and it can be painful being held back by a really slow hiker. Having to restrict my natural gait isn''t pleasant. So I''m usually forced to wait, hike to the pack, wait, hike to the pack, wait....

                    At Philmont, one of the scouts was really slow. We tried putting him in the lead, and it just made the entire crew miserable. We tried different spots in the line and he would always percolate to the rear by us advisers. So I got to watch him for hours on end and his hiking technique. I finally came to me that he was walking on his toes and not extending his gait. V8 moment. Started to coach him to extend, place his heel, roll to his toes, repeat. I know this sounds crazy, but I was teaching him how to walk. His gait improved and he was able to keep up with the other scouts. He was less tired. Of course, he would constantly slip back to his old gait, but a quick reminder would correct it again.


                    • #11
                      It is not uncommon for individuals with congnitive disabilites to have gross/fine motor issues as well. It may not be that this Scout is "too lazy" to pick up his feet - he may not have the coordination to do so. What does he do with his hands? Do they hang at his sides or does he move them in rhythm with his feet? How does he do with knots or kitchen utensils? If his deficits are consistent across many motor areas, you''re seeing a feature of his disability, not a lack of motivation. He may be *really* excited about being included with the other boys and doing his best.

                      Do the other boys in the troop use a Scout stave or hiking poles? This may be a piece of adaptive equipment that might help him put a rhythm in his stride. He would have to swing the poles/staff ahead of him and then "catch up" with his feet. Alternately, you may have to teach him a mental cadence to help him keep the pace. Singing as you hike might do this - either a very rhythmic song, or an actual group cadence.

                      Talking to the Scout may not yield the information you need to help him, but you can try. Kids this age don''t have the skills to self-advocate for the adaptations they need. A conversation with mom is probably the best way to find out the scope of his needs.

                      Does your council have a special needs Scouting committee? They may be able to provide some guidance or suggestions for program adaptations.


                      • #12
                        Keep in mind that alternate requirements require the statement of a qualified medical health-care provider as to the permanent nature of the disability.

                        I usually, I think, am on the youth''s side in matters similar to this, but are we sure its not just a case of a couch potato being asked to move his buns for the first time in his life? Not being a health-care provider, I can''t say, but this sounds like a lot of territory need to be covered before alternate requirements are written. We applaud scouts who struggle for 3 years to pass a swimming test, shouldnt we be thinking the same way for walking?

                        Then again, it may be real,


                        • #13
                          Just to follow up on OGE''s last comment, it may be "real" either way - the young man could be lazy/couch potato who just isn''t in shape and used to any physical exertion, OR it could be a manifestation of motor control issues. Or both. The result, either way, is that he struggles on hikes. The question is, is he capable of overcoming this, or is this something he really cannot develop an ability to deal with?

                          I haven''t seen a whole lot of really out of shape and obese boy scouts (we''re talking youth here!). But the problem does seem a little more prevalent around here for cub scouts. Maybe they select out by the time we get to the troop level, I don''t know. But if they''ve never been physically active in their lives, then hiking is going to be a real challenge for some of them, both physically and perhaps also mentally! It is hard to keep doing something when it is uncomfortable (using unfamiliar muscles) and you''re not real good at it - so I hope that this young man will be encouraged for his perseverance, and challenged at a level he can cope with (mentally too).


                          • #14
                            I''ve got a novel idea - let the boys decide what they want to do! If the boys want to continue hiking at a brisk pace they will need to determine how best to do this.

                            This summer we had a trek at Double H. I had the dubious honor of being the oldest and shortest participant. The youngest boy, almost 15, is almost six feet tall. Well, I could match the boys stride for stride but after about ten minutes or so I found that I was trailing them by about 50 ft or so. I also happened to notice that that the "order" of the hikers was almost always by height (more accurately, inseam or leg length). The crew had to decide how to handle this. Granted this wasn''t really a big problem. We didn''t have "shufflers" or laggards, we just had different strides.

                            From what Eagle15 posted, I don''t think that is the only problem with his group. In our troop, I have some very big kids, for their age, who while only 11 or 12 years old are in the 5''9" to 6'' range. They don''t walk, they lumber along. It is like they have not quite adapted to their new "size" just yet. Many of the first year Scouts (10 & 11 year olds) are really not physically mature enough, especially with a predominently sedentary lifestyle, to hike very far yet alone backpack. I remember taking my son and his friend on the 2nd Class required 5 mile hike just months after they crossed over intothe troop. Well, just like puppy dogs, they darted about on the trail full of energy. At about the three mile mark, they claimed exhaustion and wanted to turn back. Well, I said, it is three miles that way or two mile forward. So we trudged along and of course once finished with the five miles their energy miraculouly came back.

                            So the Scout in Eagle15''s post may shuffle along due to physical changes, fatigue, boredom, or who knows what (or in all likelyhood, a combination of all three) but it is best to let the boys try and handle this situation (with guidance). They may surprise us.


                            • #15
                              It sounds as if this kid has an emotional issue and his pace gives him power he feels he otherwise lacks. I am guessing mom probably doesn't help this issue as she doesn't understand or accept it herself. The kid needs to have some scout successes he has earned and get attention for acheiving, not attention for failing. He needs to equate attention with positive effort. Encouragement should be very limited as unlimited encouragement only rewards underachievement.

                              An example could be two people assigned to accompany the kid on a hike and stay at the kid's pace letting the troop move on. The escorts will stay a few paces ahead and pay little overt attention to their charge except when he keeps pace or asks questions. If he slows or stops, simply slow or stop and wait but make no issue of it. Simply stay ahead of him. Cut the encouragement and substitute instruction and small talk. They escorts will need to know their mission is the kid, NOT the hike. Learning about hiking will help him feel part of the group and not an exception. The escorts may need to have overnight capability as it may take such an adventure to bring the kid into the group. For the most part, the kid must do the work himself including any overnight trail stops and discomfort that may bring. The escort should sympathize with the problems but not fix non-medical issues. The escorts will have earned true leadership reward they wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to earn.

                              When faced with slow paced scouts, I found my hiking stick could be an excellent tow bar. Simply have the slow scout hang on and pull them along. At first, the stick seems easier for them as it propels them along but as their pace improves, they find holding on to be more trouble than its worth. They don't need attention for being slow, they need to feel part of the group. The stick attaches them to the group.

                              Look at a troop hike as a chain. It is limited by its weakenst link. Don't over stress that weakest link as it will break every time.