The Verdugo Hills Council has established an advisory committee for Scouts with disabilities and special needs. This committee:
- acts as an advocate for these Scouts, their families and their leaders;
- works closely with the Council Advancement Committee on meeting the National Council’s alternate requirements policy;
- provides guidance to packs and troops in developing alternate advancement requirements for their Scouts;
- helps Scouts develop an Individualized Scouting Advancement Plan;
- works with the Camping Committee to ensure accessible camp facilities;
- serves as a resource to assist packs and troops with parent-leader conferences;
- provides guidance to the use of relevant BSA resources, like the Scouts With Disabilities and Special Needs fact sheet; and
- identifies other community resources to assist with Scouting for youth with disabilities.
Commitment from BSA’s National Council. Since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has had fully participating members with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. James E. West, the first Chief Scout Executive, was a person with a disability. Although most of the BSA’s efforts have been directed at keeping such boys in the mainstream of Scouting, it has also recognized the special needs of those with severe disabilities.
The basic premise of Scouting for youth with disabilities and special needs is that they want most to participate like other youth, and Scouting gives them that opportunity. Much of the program for Scouts with disabilities and special needs is directed at (1) helping unit leaders develop an awareness of the capabilities of youth with disabilities and the resources within and outside of Scouting, and (2) encouraging the inclusion of Scouts with disabilities and special needs in Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Varsity Scout teams, Venturing crews, and Sea Scout ships.
The BSA’s advancement policy treats members with disabilities and special needs as much like other members as possible, but the council may make some accommodations in advancement requirements, if necessary. The BSA rules and guidelines for alternate requirements are available from this Council Advisory Committee, and the Council Advancement Committee approves these applications.
For more information about how to provide the best Scouting experience for Scouts with disabilities and special needs, their families, and their Scout leaders, or to offer resources and assistance, email Armineh (Abbey) Hacobian, Chair, Council Advisory Committee for Scouts with Disabilities and Special Needs, email@example.com or 818-563-4122.