So far in part one we laid the foundational starting points and then in the last blog we explored the questions a caregiver should take into consideration when making the choice between a traditional unit and a more specialized unit for their son or daughter.
In this blog we will see that for units that are specialized, it doesn’t equal exclusion or in any way make these units any less worthy; in fact they may be a better model for a scouting unit to lead to full integration.
Laying the Foundation - Part 1
Should my scout be in a separate unit? Part 2
Separation does not mean Exclusion -
Separation can lead to integration -
How typical units can help bridge the gap -
How can typical units can be more inclusive -
To start, we need to define what Separation means and what Exclusion means.
Separation = the act or process of separating : the state of being separated
Exclusion = the state of being excluded
Our family had moved from San Jose, CA to Vancouver, WA in the summer of 2007 and at the beginning of our son’s 3rd grade, we got our oldest son into a Cub Scout Pack that was based out of the local school. My experience in California the prior year was as an assistant Den Leader to a den and pack that was brand new. At that time, I was extremely green = not much scouting under my belt at all at that point. I moved into the new Pack in Vancouver as one of two assistant den leaders of a pack of 12 boys. A month into the new scouting year (at that point only 1 meeting had taken place), the Den Leader had to step down and the den was broken into two dens. The other experienced den leader took all the established boys and I took my son and all of the new scouts. I was a deer in the headlights to say the best.
It was a very rocky start, I really had nothing except a copy of my son’s Bear Book and a pat on back. I did see the other den leaders at least twice a month at Committee Meetings and Pack Meetings but they all had their own agendas and dens to manage and with the exception of Pack business, we never talked about how to make a better den or unit, never saw the Cubmaster at any of our meetings and I did not even know what a Unit Commissioner was until two months ago. I was told I would do fine and could do what I wanted. Like a baby chick, I was kicked out of the nest from a 100 foot tree. I did flap my wings and that first year I barely missed bouncing off the pavement and becoming road kill.
Units that have unique abilities will allow some to experience all what the scouting movement has to offer. For those units that are designated special needs units, having a unit that is separate does not mean that they should exclude the scouts from activities that typical units participate in. In many cases these units, although they may have some modifications have a great chance to help foster a tremendous amount of growth in each scout.
For the younger scouts, it’s good to try and do the same things a typical unit would but with modification that puts the youth first and doesn’t let the disabilities define them. For example, in Cub Scout Pack 2, a Sensory-Friendly pack that I volunteer with here in Vancouver, we use picture schedules, have a sensory room, have shorter meetings and more structured activities but we still give the boys a rich scouting experience.