Scouts with DisABILITIES Special Needs
Since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has had fully participating members with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. The first Chief Scout Executive, James E. West, had a disability. While there are troops composed exclusively of Scouts with disabilities, experience has shown that Scouting works best when such boys are mainstreamed—placed in a regular patrol in a regular troop. The best guide to working with Scouts who have disabilities is to use good common sense. It’s obvious that a Scout in a wheelchair may have problems fulfilling a hiking requirement, but it might not be so obvious when it comes to the Scout with a learning disability. Use the resources around you. Begin with the Scout and his parents; seek guidance from them on how best to work with the Scout. Seek help from the Scout’s teacher, doctor, or physical therapist. Each Scout will be different, so no single plan will work for every Scout. If the troop is short on personnel, ask the Scout’s parents to help, or assign one or more skilled older Scouts to be of assistance. It will take patience, but the rewards will be great, for you and for the members of your troop.
There are many resources available to parents and leaders of Scouts with disabilities and special needs on the BSA Disabilities Awareness - Serving Scouts with Disabilites webpage including, guides, manuals and PowerPoint presentations.