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Advice on alternate rank requirements

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Hello everyone I need you help. I have a scout in my unit with MS who is not able to swim, ride a bike or hike far. He just earned Tenderfoot and wants to keep going. I know that we can recommend to our council alternative requirements for him. He will be unable to complete the swimming requirements for rank. I feel that there should be something already out there and that we should not need to reinvent the wheel for this. Anyone have an ideas or advice? I really need to help this boy right away.

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Your Council has a special needs operating committee. Ask your DE for their phone number. 

Hundreds of Scouts, in many Councils, have faced this challenge. Your need is to tap into the knowledge and make what’s unknown to you, known!

Good hunting. 

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Also reach out and get to know your district advancement committee and your council advancement committee.  There are many ready and willing to help.  

They will be accountable to BSA Guide To Advancement. 


The applicable sections are 

      How to Apply for Alternative Requirements

      Alternative Merit Badges for Eagle Scout Rank

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I have reached out to our council and they said we need to come up with our own alternative requirements and then submit them for approval. I have also tried reaching out to the head of the Special Needs Committee but do not get results. The head of the committee is a doctor who is very busy and doesnt reply well. I was also wrong about his diagnosis, he has Muscular Dystrophy.

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I had to re-read GTA  Read it. 

Your scout needs to be first class before submitting the form for alternative Eagle requirements.  But after the national crisis, you should be able to get this signed off. 

A common replacement idea is something that overlaps in some way.  Physical for physical.  Or topic area for topic area.  Similar learning and effort opportunity.  

For example ... 

  • Swimming has been replaced in the past with archery (by some scouts) and by other merit badges (depending on scout and situation)
  • Maybe hiking requirements could be replaced with a forestry merit badge? 

I swear I read it somewhere, but the badge should be approved as a replacement before starting the badge.  I'd have to find that requirement though.

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My apologies.  Apply GTA  There is a paragraph that says ...

"Simple modifications very close to existing requirements need not be approved. A Scout in a wheelchair, for example, may meet the Second Class requirement for hiking by “wheeling” to a place of interest. Allowing more time and permitting special aids are also ways leaders can help Scouts with disabilities make progress. Modifications, however, must provide a very similar challenge and learning experience."

MD is serious and permanent.  MD affects muscles and we want to be considerate of it similar to considerate of a scout in a wheel chair.  

So ... I think you have latitude to apply common sense reasoning.  Is there something your troop leaders can do that is appropriately challenging and providing a learning experience that is similar to the rank requirements but within the scout's ability.  For rank requirements (non-MB), I'd focus on the scout and how you can give him the best experience and also challenge and provide a meaningful learning experience.  

Instead of swimming laps and treading water, could you introduce him to pool and making him comfortable in the water?  Maybe teach him how flippers work.  That could be useful to him in the long term future.  Could you introduce him to safety and other similar topics?  For a scout who does not have MD, swimming is challenging but not overly difficult.  Find something related and similar that would be appropriate for this scout. 

Instead of hiking requirements, you could attend a state/national park training program.  Maybe there is something online the scout could do now that is similar?  Maybe something that helps promote a love of nature.   Ideally, you can still get him on a trail to a simple vista look-out that is a short walk without overly taxing muscles.  

We had a scout with MD in our troop for seven years.  Wonderful kid.  Walked with his friends but avoided overly taxing his muscles that would do permanent damage.  He earned Eagle.  Great young man.  

For Eagle MBs ... you will eventually need to get special approval. 

Edited by fred8033
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