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Attended another Eagle Court of Honor today. This Court Of Honor was the last scout from the den where I was the den leader.

The six that came over from the den, three of them now are Eagle Scouts. Two quit scouts, One of them moved away, I wondering if he made Eagle? I know he was staying in scouts.

The Court of Honor was once again very nice. His Grandmother thanked me after the cermony, I said it was my pleasure and it was. The Scout today lost his dad when he was a Wolf Cub.

He still is feeling the loss. His mother called me this evening and thanked me and said I was one of the few that could get that sly little smile out of him. Which I was able to do at the Court of Honor today.

What a ride so far!

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Congratulations to the Eagle and to you for helping him along his trail.


We had a great weekend here as well. Spent Friday afternoon until Saturday night at an OA Ordeal at Camp Fife, WA. WE had a unusually small group of candidates but most of the list of tasks were completed much to all of our surprise. If any of ya'll are attending Camp School there next week the adult project was to replace a post and rails on the east balcony of Curtis Gilbert Lodge. Enjoy it! Myself and an ASM from my troop went with our Troop's latest Eagle Scout who underwent his Brotherhood. He was asked on Friday to be the mighty Chief for the Ordeal and considing his lack of prep time did an outstanding job!

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Program-wise it has been a tough Spring. Extended cold temperatures and rain has delayed us from getting boats prepared and in the water. Last year we were sailing by mid-March, this year we are still not in the water yet with the bigger boats.


Advancement wise 3 of the sailors have finished their Eagle Rank this year with two more working on their project write ups, and two others finishing their Girl Scout Gold Awards.


Then we have a scout and leader going to Sea Base and a Scout and Leader heading to Philmont. Along with some other special activities...if we can get the rain to stop for a few days.



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I attended what could be one of my last Eagle courts of honor this weekend.


Today, my autistic son will be 18 and although I have kept him in scouts all this time, I can't say it has really been all that positive. My son did not make Eagle and yes, he could continue as a special case but the reality is, he could have made Eagle if scouting had given him a chance. Instead, he was different. In the last two years, unless I specifically asked, he got no help from anyone. I sould not have to ask! Prior to that, there were at least some boys who would work with him but they moved on and are no longer in the troop. I have concluded the adult leaders would prefer to ignor him and that was made quite easy as my son never did anything to get their attention like fighting, destroying property, bullying, etc. My son did serve as an example for scouts and thr troop of how scouts are inclusive of those with special needs but that is hardley an accurate portrail of reality. To some extent, I can forgive the troop adults, they are part time volunteers and the roudy scouts get all their attention. Not once though was my son ever asked to participate in a flag ceremony, skit, etc. Leadership made sure eevry other boy participated. On hikes, my son tends to migrate to the front and stands around with pack on impatient to get going when others are taking a break. He has been described as an unstoppable tank by exhausted boys hiking with him. He had taken the camping merit badge twice at summer camp and probably has more camping hours than any other scout in the troop. He still doesn't have his camping merit badge because the various concilors over the years have neglected to include his paperwork. Through the years, adults who have promised to follow though moved on and their replacements don't have paperwork and say he needs to repeat the work yet again. Eventually, he turns 18 and has little to show for his efforts. You can bet their kids got their camping merit badges. Was i wrong to ask that others sign off on his work? One of my favorite merit badges passed out to scouts is the disabilities merit badge. I like to think of it as the draw a wheel chair, get a badge routine. As a special olympics coach with an autistic son, you would think my input into this badge might be of interest. Nope. At round table, if you want to hear silence quieter than the most remote camp site, mention the opportunities available for volunteers to help at special olympics.


Before I am labeled as a griping parent who should have volunteered, I have been a scout leader since before my autistic son was a tiger. As his older brother was joining tigers, some other parents asked me to be their leader because they said I would be a good role model. I have also been involved in other youth organizations as well. I could not skip going to summer camp if my son wanted to go because the other adults don't know what to do. Uh how about learning? Nope. Odd how my autistic son didn't get into fights, damage property, disrupt ceremonies, etc. but he is too much trouble and not worth bothering when it came to recognizing his efforts. Most of my trips to summer camp resulted in property being stolen from me. I recovered most including a watch and camp chairs but never did get the digital camera. The items I recovered were found by me in the possession of camp employees taken during required activities such as OA tap out and swimming tests.


Back when my autistic son had an older brother in the troop and there were some scouts who cared, my son was elected to OA...twice. Even though warned how to treat my son, his tap out frightened him almost into running away and hiding. I chose not to subject him to ordeal so no arrow sash. The silence was no problem as my son rarely talks but verbal abuse won't cut it.


The reason I say this will likely be my last eagle court of honor is the last of the few scouts who have done anything with my son have moved on. He is alone and different and that is not what scouting is about. As a special olympics coach, I talk with a many parents about their kids and the various programs out there. I wish I could be more positive about scouting but after a while, hope fades and reality sets in. It took years but I know better now. I look back on my involvement in scouting and wonder if in the balance of it all, even considering the thanks I get from young adults who had been scouts I led, if it was even worth it.


My purpose is that maybe there is some hope to crack the ivory tower BSA puts itself in. The program may not be what your ego tells you it is. Special needs troops only serve to keep those different boys out of sight and out of mind. Service is not just building park benches and collecting canned food, it can be lending yourself to others. Scouting fails this test of courage.


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I am sorry to hear of your sons disappointment. I do not think you are a crabby parent just someone who wants the most for his son.


I do however think it is a misplacenment of anger to blame an entire program for the inaction of some local volunteers in your community. There are over a million other scouting volunteers who never had the opportunity to know or help your son, and to assume that they they have never helped anyone like your son in their own communitiy is extremely unfair and untrue.


I hope your sone learned some positive skills and values that will benefit him him entire life, and I hope that for your own well being you are able to eventuially put your disappointment into perspective when it comes to the rest of the the scouting program.(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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[i created a new username so I could talk about this freely]


AhoyDave, I am very unhappy to hear your long, negative experience with your son. It's very upsetting to many people on these forums, I am sure. But, I am not sure that it represents a general bias or programmatic fault with the BSA in general. It sounds to me like you just got stuck with a whole bunch of jerks (I would probably use a stronger word starting with "a" and ending with "oles" in person).


I have two specific examples which make me think that it's not as bad everywhere:


1) In my wood badge patrol, one of our members was quite challenged. He had experienced a lot of tough things in life, mental and physical problems, and clearly had a lot of socialization issues. He laughs at inappropriate times, tells jokes too loud, and really doesn't have much feeling for social clues.


But, he was the first one in our patrol to get his beads, and the rest of our patrol has ensured that he had a good experience. In fact, everyone involved in the entire wood badge course from SM and SPL through all the other wood badgers made sure he was welcomed, accepted, and had a good time. He tested peoples' patience some, but I think it helped us bond.


In the non-inclusive BSA world you describe I don't think that this would have happened.


2) I am a CM for a medium-size pack, in a moderately affluent area, with a bunch of kids that have reasonably severe problems. There are at least 8 or more that are "classified" and a few that are not mainstreamed. They constantly test our leaders' patience. I know the den leaders sometimes want to pull out their hair. We sometimes say to each other "How did we ever end up with this bunch of kids?" But, we get it done, make sure the kids have a good time, and the kids (mostly) advance with the appropriate level of assistance and support from Akela. Of course Cubs is much different, and we can lean on the parent, but we welcome all the kids.


I have empathy for the many postings on these forums about kids that are too disruptive to keep in the pack easily. I only have mild disruption problems, and our technique is to tell the parent that they need to pay more attention, which has actually worked, so far. It's worse on the campouts; it seems the parents have a harder time keeping track of the kids for that long, and the kids tend to get wilder. A kid who doesn't listen to anyone and who doesn't pick up social cues can be dangerous when running through a campsite with a burning marshmallow on the end of a pointed stick...


So, AhoyDave, I have no doubt that you've had a really bad experience. It may be that this kind of thing is quite widespread, but I thought you should know that it isn't universal, and I really haven't seen the BSA do anything that seems to encourage that bad behavior.




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I ask myself whether I should bring up my disappointment and as a service to scouting, I decided I should. I pretty much determined the disappointments were systemic, not unique. In the many situations where there are success stories, there is always someone going beyond or even tossing the program to do it. On the other hand, I don't agree that I have crossed paths with over a decade of jerks in scouting. The problem stems from an arrogance about the program itself often confused with "tradition". If its not in the tradition, its not part of the program. Its easy to ignore the kid that will not ask and easy to forget the kid who is not a behavior problem. If they are both, say autistic without other issues, they fall in the crack. Not just a few times but most of their scouting career. The only way such kids succeed is if someone else is their champion. I have continually been torn between fighting for my son's recognition and being the leader for other scouts. Being your own son's full time champion just doesn't seem fair to other kids. An autistic kid will not possess these "leadership" skills to succeed in scouting. That is the nature of this disability.


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As a scout leader I am sure you understand the advancement policies that the same for every EVERY scout and scouter that the scout must complete the requirement as wriiten.


You also must know that if the scout has a permanent physical condition that does not allow him to accomplish a requiirement that you can obtain an exception from the national advancement committee. All it requires is a physicians letter explaining the nature of the condition and the requirements that are effected.


NAd that there is also advancement options for scouts with mental challenges.


What more would you want the BSA to do?





(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Hi AhoyDave.


Here are some changes I would like to see, I would be interested in your take.


Make scout advancement and leadership tracks separate again (as they used to be!). It's great that scouting teaching leadership skills but not all scouts will be or can be leaders. This can be particularly hard for autistic scouts who have difficulty staying on task and making eye contact, but it can also be hard for neuro-typicals too. "But Leaderhip Development is a method of Scouting", yeah so is Uniform and uniforms are optional.


As you note, require that a parent of a special need scout be a registered "one scout" leader who is only responsible to deliver the program to his scout. He or she will not have other special need scouts dumped on them, similarly, other leaders will not have special needs scouts dumped on them WITHOUT that "one scout" parent leader being present. Also "one scout" leaders will not be part of a leader headcount for two-deep leadership etc. It is definitely true, that a special needs scout needs a "champion" in Scouting just as he needs an "advocate" in the school system.


The disabled do not need to be reminded at every advancement turn that they are disabled; most join scouting in the hope NOT to be reminded. At present, the scout has to submit a request for alternate requirements to the Council Advancement committee at every rank step when most unit leaders can handle the matter without compromising advancement integrity.


Patrol competitions are a big challenge. At a Klondike Derby, we had a PL in tears. He wanted to win, but his patrol spent their energies keeping a special needs scout from wandering off. What can be done here? Does Special Olympics handling of competitive team events have some advice here?


Disabilities Merit Badge needs a rewrite - no Talk, no Discuss, no Googling, no Observing...DO! Learn by working with disabled, e.g., Work with a special needs scout to advance a rank, Volunteer with ..., raise service dogs,...


I wish I could counter your experiences with some success stories of my own but I cannot, not yet anyway.


If you had it to do over, how would you have better spent your time to meet your son's needs?


Thank you for your candor and your service to Scouting. I encourage you to write more on the subject as God knows the uninformed certainly do. I hope your son finds happiness as he makes his place in the world.


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Thanks for the responses. Bob, your response is stereotypical of the problem. Autism is not physical nor retardation. Its an inability to process stimulus manifested by poor communication and social skills. Examples of autistic people include Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. Bill Gates has a milder form in the Aspergers range of autism. Trying to make them fit some mold requiring the use of faculties they don't have is like requiring paraplegics to hike. The only thing they need is to be included in a way that is appropriate to who they are.


Don't shout at someone who cannot process the sound. Try putting a trash can over your head and have someone pound it with a hammer and write on the outside the instructions the troop is supposed to do while you are inside. It doesn't make sense does it? The person inside will not get the instructions he can't see and the noise will be painful. Also, don't forget an autistic kid. With their disability, its literally painful for them to seek help just like being in a trash can getting hammered as everyone else can read the instructions on the outside and move ahead. In short, true disability awareness should mean understanding the nature of the disability to accommodate it.


The scouting program has as much trouble listening as an autistic kid. The only time autism is like retardation and other mental disabilities is the susceptibility to acting out of fear. A stereotypical type A person will push harder on those who fall behind but consider if the person falling behind doesn't understand what he is being told and why. He may even fear abandonment. Most are very visual. Explain it with gestures and a soft voice. It really is that simple. It usually doesn't take long to learn there is nothing to fear.


So Bob, are you saying every boy should be some cookie cutter copy? Einstein's and Edison's teachers argued they should be institutionalized and trained for simple tasks since they were obviously not smart enough to follow the program. In both cases, their parents didn't accept that. Traditions are like a security blanket for a toddler. It feels secure to hide behind but one must leave security behind to grow.



Special Olympics was formed as a result of a horrible but "traditional" treatment of a member of a famous and powerful family. "Unacceptable" behavior was treated by lobotomy often leaving the patient severely retarded. Many thousands of volunteers now provide a venue for mentally challenged people to excel and challenge themselves. The sporting events need volunteers year around but I see very few scouts. SO is not the only organization doing this service. When my autistic son was much younger, he was in a special needs gymnastics program. A little girl, who could not use her legs, "competed" and like virtually every participant, was to be awarded a medal. A couple of adults came to lift her on the medal stand but she would have nothing of it. She fought their efforts repeatedly until they let her painfully climb the stand. There was not a dry eye in the place. Heroism comes in many forms. BSA does a disservice to scouts separating them from these "different" kids.


I don't completely agree with special leaders for special needs kids. That is too much separation. Training should emphasize the weakest links and understanding instead of how to zip natural leaders to eagle. Perhaps there should be more of a dual track. Many kids see the popularity contest that troop elections often are and choose to quit scouts. I really havent seen cars gas and girls being the cause for dropping out as much as the lack of support. Adults who are either parents of the popular scouts or simply enamored by charisma seem to prefer that the less popular scouts stay out of the way. A dual track would need to be structured to make defeating its purpose difficult. My older son effectively followed this track as he always lost these popularity contests but obtained his eagle despite the artificial roadblocks. The real world after high school often turns on the popular kids while those who learned to overcome become the success stories. This is born out by comparisons. Many of the troop leaders failed in college even in relatively easy liberal arts programs. I sometimes see them selling clothing retail and driving a fork lift. My son, barely a C student in high school is now an honor roll engineering student in ROTC, training to be an officer upon graduation while holding down a part time job with NASA. He did this without the promised letters of recommendation from the adult troop leaders that were never written.



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