Re: Need Advice on 'Special' Scout
Ian N Ford (ianford@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Sun, 18 May 1997 20:18:49 +0100
I often wonder why it is that we read so many posts about " discipline
problems " on this list.
As you know, I live in UK where the rate of diagnosis for AD/HD is about
1:2000 compared with 1:20 in USA. I am sure that in <clinical> terms
kids are being underdiagnosed. I also believe that there is a risk that
in USA kids are being labeled as " problems " and subject to a self-fulfilling
>From reading this list, a lot of leaders seem to regard " advancement "
as a goal rather than a means. I read that some adults seem to regard " Scout
Spirit " as something that can be measured as an accumulation of points.
Having read Steven's post, what is a better epitome of Scouting values -
a kid who is struggling to care for his family in the face of his own
disability, or one who checks off points by turning up to activities and
not causing problems.
When I started as a Leader 25 years ago somebody said that we have two
types of kids ... kids who Scouting needs, and kids who need Scouting. We
need the " good " kids who are the young leaders, Eagle Scouts, Queens'
Scouts or whatever, and who are positive role models. There are also
kids who need Scouting, for whom the program meets needs that cannot be
met elsewhere ... kids who may have dysfunctional families, problems with
school or whatever. Often we are successful, and those unpromising kids
who need Scouting <become> those who Scouting needs.
I am thinking of one kid who a few years was inattentive, disruptive and
generally " difficult " ... that same kid is now a few months away from
Eagle Scout, will be on camp staff, participated in JLT and may well be a
counselor on our next JLT course. He comes from a supportive family, and
would probably have turned out OK in any cse, but I hope that his contact
with Scouting has helped.
Then there is Steve 1, who was in a British troop several years ago. He was
always difficult, and on the way back from Summer Camp by train he got
into the first class section and threw all the light bulbs out of the
window as we went through a tunnel. The PLC decided to suspend him for
two weeks, but when the troop re-started after the break we discovered
that he had gone to a boarding school for kids with emotional and
behavioural problems. His mother said how much he had got out of Scouting
and thanked us for putting up with him for so long.
Then there's another kid, Steve 2, who was in the Cubs. He was
a nice kid, but suddenly stopped attending just before his tenth birthday.
I met him by chance a few years later, and he told me the story. It
appears that one weekend he went to an outdoor swimming pool, and saw a
coin purse apparently unattended and took it. He was seen by the owner
and was later charged with theft. He was so embarrassed that he chose to
resign from Cubs, which he enjoyed, because he felt that he had let
himself and the Pack down. He said that this self-imposed " punishment "
meant more than the caution imposed by the court, and he never offended
again. He probably has kids of his own by now.
Then there is Steve 3, a Venture Scout who was going through a crisis at
home, getting in with some dubious company and having some quite serious
academic problems. He was geeting help for some psychiatric problems
whilst he was in the unit, and in fact he also ended up going away to
boarding school. He was in conflict with parents, school, the neighbours,
social services ... the Venture Scout Leaders were a couple with teenage
kids of their own, and they and I were the only adults with whom Steve
related without conflict. He was only with us for about six months and he
was not an easy kid to work with.
I think that in different ways all these kids represent success stories.
They didn't achieve significant ranks or honours, they were not kids that
I would choose to put on recruiting posters ... but I think that they did
benefit from their contact with Scouting at significant times in their lives.
If I have been able to have any influence for the good on these kids, and
the other few hundred it has been my priviledge to work with over the last
25 years, it is partly due to Ron and Gladys Swaisland who ran the 38th
Woolwich Cub Pack in the 60s. They took a clumsy hyperactive kid and
helped him to develop self-esteem and got him hooked on this Scouting thing.
When I get frustrated I think of them and the other adults who trusted in me,
and other ADD kids like me. I was one of those kids who needed Scouting ...
hopefully now I am repaying that debt by giving the next generation of
kids the support and encouragement which I had ...
Special Needs adviser, Greeenwich Distyrict Scout Council, London UK
Trainer, Channel District, Transatlantic Council BSA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City