Embracing Difference (Long)
Rodger Morris (rlm@SUNED1.NSWSES.NAVY.MIL)
Mon, 19 Sep 1994 11:40:21 PDT
>... Much of what we are talking about can be applied to
>being considerate toward scouters with disabilities, dietetic
>To open it up to other voices, I would like to ask the list:
>What has your district or council done to acommodate religious, physical,
>dietetic, or other differences while planning events and schedules?
I wasn't sure if the thrust of my posting was misunderstood. Communication
via the written word is always open to misinterpretation, even when the
subject under discussion is not potentially emotionally loaded. My
misinterpretation of the thrust of Gina's posting about being sensitive to
the customs and needs of others is a good case in point.
In my council at summer camp, we ask for advance notification of any dietary
restrictions or religious requirements. We are trying to make the campsites
and the central camp buildings accessible to wheelchair bound individuals.
We allow units to come in on Saturday night if traveling on Sunday is
proscribed. We allow units to leave on Friday evening if travel home would
encroach on their Sabbath.
Insofar as I know, we have never been asked to provide a kosher kitchen. If
we are asked, I know we'll do everything we can to make it happen.
At our Scout-O-Rama, one of the most popular events to try is the
"Handi-Capable Obstacle Course", wherein the Cubs and Scouts can try the
course as individuals and patrols. As patrols, every Scout or Cub gets to
try out a different physical handicap and to work together to get everybody
in the group successfully through the obstacle course. When they complete
the course, they are reminded that they can take off the handicap and walk
away from it, but that they should also take away with them how it feels to
be physically handicapped.
When I was an Assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 23 sponsored by the Naval
Training Center at Great Lakes, Illinois, we had a Scout come into the Troop
who had had a stroke that paralyzed his right side. Our Scoutmaster was a
Chief Hospital Corpsman. We conducted some training with the Scouts before
he entered wherein we had them untie their shoelaces and try to put on their
shoes and ties their shoelaces one-handed. We also had them show up at this
meeting wearing swimsuits or gym shorts, so they could try to put on their
trousers, zip them up, and button them one-handed. We also had them try to
put on their shirts and button them one-handed.
The general reaction of the Scouts was: "I just can't do it!! It's too
tough." When they learned that our prospective Scout had mastered doing
these things and more, they were impressed. We also shared with them his
fear that he would not be accepted as a member of our Troop because of his
handicap (BTW, this was back in 1978), and we asked them to be supportive.
The Scouts unanimously rallied around him. They devised games where he could
compete on even terms, and they rejoiced in using him and his wheelchair in
racing around the marching hall in which we met. We got another couple of
wheelchairs on loan from the Naval Training Center Hospital and had
patrol-based Roman chariot races, with Scouts in each patrol as "horses"
pulling the "Chariots" around by ropes tied onto the wheelchairs as fast as
the horses could gallop. The marching hall was big enough that seven laps
around its perimeter was a mile. His mother was horrified when her son's
"chariot" almost tipped over, but the boy thought it was great fun!! Mother
restrained herself after she realized that he wasn't getting hurt in the races.
Troop 23 detoured around some of the rough areas when we went on hikes, but
we found there were historical trail medals for hikes on back lanes and we
went out and did some of these and had great fun doing them. Without our new
Scout, we probably never would have tried them.
I was transferred out a few months later and I never found out what happened
to our handi-capable Scout. Having him in my Troop was an experience that
taught me much about human caring, compassion and courage.
Yours in Scouting,
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City