Advancement for Everyone
The first and most important ingredient that can really help is communication with the Scout and his family. Many helpful resources are also available. For example, school teachers and other community group leaders can be a great asset for providing much-needed assistance. Another great resource could be the council’s Special Needs Committee.
There have been many great stories over the years about individuals with disabilities finding creative ways to meet requirements. For example, a Scout who can’t move his hands or arms to tie a knot has learned the steps required for completing the knot. He then can dictate the steps to a friend who can tie it for him. Similarly, other Scouts have used communication through devices to work with other Scouts to complete requirements.
The council and the BSA want to do everything possible to enable Scouts with disabilities to advance in rank and complete merit badges. Especially while upholding and maintaining the high standards of the badges. Every so often there are cases where it is just not possible, however. That is the time to submit a request for alternative requirements or alternative badges.
The Guide to Advancement provides clear instructions on how to request alternative requirements for boys working on the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class. For ranks above First Class, the requirements cannot be modified. However, a Scout can request authorization to complete an alternative merit badge in place of one that just is not possible for him to complete. Again, the GTA is a great resource to help you navigate and understand this process.
It is important to remember that advancement is not meant to be easy for any Scout. That is why only a very small percentage of Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle. Meanwhile, it is equally important to remember that advancement should never get in the way of providing new, meaningful, and fun learning experiences.
More information on meeting advancement requirements is available in the “Advancement News.”
Author: Madison Austin | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council