Youth Members With Special Needs

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Special Needs

The official source for the information shown in this article or section is:
Guide To Advancement, 2011 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #N/A)

Discussion Forum


Advancement for Youth Members With Special Needs

(Quoted from: Advancement Policies #33088, p. 39)

The following are the guidelines for membership and advancement in Scouting for persons having disabilities or other special needs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides the following definition of an individual with a disability:

"An individual is considered to have a 'disability' if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (e.g.,...seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working), has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

"An individual with epilepsy, paralysis, HIV infection, AIDS, a substantial hearing or visual impairment, mental retardation, or a specific learning disability, is covered, but an individual with a minor, nonchronic condition of short duration, such as a sprain, broken limb, or the flu would not be covered by the ADA.

"The ADA definition protects individuals with a record of a disability and would cover, for example, a person who has recovered from cancer or mental illness.

"And the ADA protects individuals who are regarded as having a substantially limiting impairment, even though they may not have such an impairment. For example . . . a qualified individual with a severe facial disfigurement is protected from being denied employment because an employer feared the 'negative reactions' of customers or co-workers."

The Department of Education identifies a severely handicapped child as one who, because of the intensity of his physical, mental, or emotional problems, or a combination of such problems, needs education, social, psychological, and medical services beyond those that have been offered by traditional regular and special educational programs, in order to maximize his full potential for useful and meaningful participation in society and for self-fulfillment. Such children include those classified as seriously emotionally disturbed or profoundly and severely mentally retarded, and those with two or more serious handicapping conditions, such as the mentally retarded blind, and the cerebral-palsied deaf.


(Quoted from: Advancement Policies #33088, p. 40)

"The chartered organizations using Scouting determine, with approval of appropriate medical authorities, whether a youth member is qualified to register (based on the above definitions) beyond the normal registration age. The unit leader's signature on the youth application, No. 28-406, which includes all programs for Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing, or on the unit’s charter renewal application certifies the approval of the chartered organization for the person to register. The local council must approve these registrations on an individual basis.

"The medical condition of all candidates for membership beyond the normal registration age must be certified by a physician licensed to practice medicine, or an evaluation statement must be certified by an educational administrator. Use the Personal Health and Medical Record Form. Any corrective measures, restrictions, limitations, or abnormalities must be noted. In the case of mentally retarded or emotionally disturbed candidates for membership, their condition must be certified by a statement signed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. Current health, medical, or certification records of all youth members beyond the normal registration age who have disabilities are to be retained in the unit file at the council service center.

"These procedures should be followed whether the member has been previously registered or is registering for the first time.

Advancement for Cub Scouts with Disabilities

Advancement for Cub Scouts with Disabilities
(Quoted from: Advancement Policies #33088, p. 40)

"The advancement program is so flexible that, with guidance, most youth can do the skills. It might take longer for a disabled boy to earn his awards, but he will appreciate them more by knowing he has made the effort. The standard for every boy is "Has he done his best?"

"A Cub Scout who is physically disabled may be given permission by the Cubmaster and pack committee to substitute electives for achievement requirements that are beyond his abilities. It is best to include parents in this process of determining substitutions since they are most familiar with their son’s abilities.

"Immediate recognition of advancement is even more important for youth with disabilities. The Tiger Cub and Cub Scout Immediate Recognition Kits, the den doodle, and the Den Advancement Chart all help provide immediate recognition in den meetings as achievements and electives are completed. Remember that a month seems like a long time to a boy and that completing requirements for a badge might seem like forever to him. Be sure to give him periodic recognition at pack meetings when he earns a badge.

"While leaders must be enthusiastic about helping youngsters with disabilities, they must at the same time fully recognize the special demands that will be made on their patience, understanding, and skill in teaching advancement requirements.

Advancement for Boy Scouts with Disabilities

Advancement for Boy Scouts with Disabilities
(Quoted from: Advancement Policies #33088, p. 40)

"All current rank requirements for an advancement award (ranks, merit badges, or Eagle Palms) must actually be met by the candidate. There are no substitutions or alternatives permitted except those which are specifically stated in the requirements as set forth in the current official literature of the Boy Scouts of America. Requests can be made for alternate rank requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class using the information outlined in this chapter. No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or to subtract from, any advancement requirements. The Scout is expected to meet the requirements as stated - no more and no less. Furthermore, he is to do exactly what is stated. If it says, "show or demonstrate," that is what he must do. Just telling about it isn't enough. The same thing holds true for such words as "make," "list," "in the field," and "collect, identify, and label."

Advancement for Venturers With Disabilities

Advancement for Venturers with Disabilities
(Quoted from: Advancement Policies #33088, p. 41)

"Venturing also features an advancement program. To provide a pathway to many different experiences, five Venturing Bronze awards are available, one each for the five emphases—Arts and Hobbies, Outdoor, Sports, Sea Scouting, and Religious Life. The Bronze awards are designed to give a young person experiences from many different paths. A youth can also earn the Venturing Gold Award. The Gold Award program requires outstanding performance in a broad spectrum of activities: citizenship, leadership, service to others, community/family, outdoor experience, and total fitness. It was developed to challenge and motivate young people over an extended period of time.

"The highest Venturing award is the Silver Award. The Silver Award requires proficiency in emergency preparedness, participation in ethics in action, and completion of the Venturing Leadership Skills Course. Gold and Silver awards also require a crew review that includes Venturers and adults.

"There are three advanced levels of recognition that Venturers can earn. The Ranger Award identifies a Venturer who is highly skilled in a variety of outdoor skills, trained in outdoor safety, and ready to lead or assist others. The Quest Award piques the interest of that Venturer who has motivation to address healthy living among Americans as well as promote fitness for all for life.

"The TRUST Award is for Venturers to learn more about themselves, their communities, and their religion and culture, as well as those of others. Working on this award, the Venturer will be required to share what they learn with others.

"In Sea Scouting, the advancement track is from Apprentice to Ordinary to Able. The Quartermaster Award is the highest rank in Sea Scouting. Some Venturers who have been in Boy Scouts may wish to earn the Eagle Scout rank. If they have reached at least First Class rank in a troop, Venturers can work toward Eagle by meeting the requirements as defined in the Boy Scout handbook.

"For more information, see the Venturing Leader Manual and the Sea Scout Manual. They are both a wealth of how-to information and program ideas. They also include a dictionary-like reference guide of Venturing and Sea Scout terms, policies, awards, and program features.

Alternate Requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Ranks

See: Alternate Requirements for the First Three Ranks

Alternate Merit Badges for the Eagle Scout Rank

See: Eagle Scout Rank - Alternate Requirements


(Quoted from: Advancement Policies #33088, p. 42)

Certification must be given by the appropriate local council committee responsible for advancement that each Eagle Scout candidate over the age of 18 and Venturing award candidate over the age of 21 has met the requirements as stated in the current official literature of the Boy Scouts of America. (A representative of the council advancement committee must be a member of the Eagle board of review.)

The council committee responsible for advancement must then secure approval of the council executive board. The Scout executive must attach a letter to the application indicating that the executive board has approved the application.

The candidate's application for the award must be made on the Eagle Scout Rank Application or Quartermaster Award Application and recorded on the Advancement Report form.

In the application of these policies for Scouts with special needs, reasonable accommodation in the performance of requirements may be made. These may include things such as the extension of time, adaptation of facilities, or the use of equipment or necessary devices consistent with the known physical or mental limitations of the handicapped individual. It is urged that common sense be employed.

Woods Services Award

Woods Services Award
This annual award was established to recognize volunteers who have performed exceptional service and leadership in the field of Scouts with disabilities. Nomination forms are sent annually to councils every September with a December 31 deadline. One person is selected each spring for national recognition.
Advancement Policies #33088, p. 43

Torch of Gold Certificate

Torch of Gold Certificate
This is for local council use in recognizing adults for outstanding service to youth with disabilities. Order No. 33733.
Advancement Policies #33088, p. 43

See also

Cub Scouts - Boy Scouts - Venturers
Scoutmaster Conference - Active - Scout Spirit - Eagle Project -

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