Oops! I Touched a Nerve (Swimming)
Jay Thal (jay.thal@TCS.WAP.ORG)
Sun, 21 Sep 1997 09:53:22 EST
We'll my posting on 2nd and 1st Class Swimming Requirements elictied
some private as well as Scouts-L response both supportive and negative. So,
let me explain further, which I've been told I should have done.
After reading the thread on swimming for several days, I thought it
useful to suggest that we shouldn't be slaves to narrow policy interpretations
which could get in the way of a Scout's advancement.
Some people's "specific gravity" model that of rocks; some have
psychological inhabitions; others (as one person noted) were prevented from
achieving Eagle because a lack of a limb prevented one "necessary" merit badge.
I deal with boys with disabilities. I submit that all of you should
too. Scouting POLICY at "A Scoutmaster's Guide to Working With Scouts With
Disabilities", Pub. #33056 suggests that individual advancement plans can be
developed for any Scout with defineable and understood disabilities, from
Tenderfoot through Eagle. As noted by others, a fine-print footnote to the 2nd
and 1st Class requirements even calls for waiving the swimming requirement in
Incidently, when I said that I work with Scouts with disabilities that
doesn't mean in a special troop, but a Troop that does high adventure and does
all mainstream activities.
Physicality should not be the sole linchpin to the Scouting experience.
All boys are Eagle candidates, though most will not complete that journey.
But, completion of that journey should be a matter of their choice, and
persistence. The least we can do is to remove barriers or find alternative
pathways. If a boy cannot articulate he can write his responses. If he cannot
write he can dictate to a tape recorder. If he cannot walk he can map (orient)
his journey and do it in a car (its in the handbook), or he can bike or trike
the distance. All I was calling for was reasonable flexibility and
Alternative approaches, creatively developed, can lead to earned
successes, not unearned gifts. We should be about keeping boys involved so
that they will develop into productive and moral citizens - regardless of their
physical or mental gifts. Whatever you think of a PFD it is also a metaphor
for other creative approaches.
I'm going onto Nomail status after this message for three weeks. My
wife and I are going on our 30th honeymoon to Turkey. But I'll be happy to
read any responses or the continuation of this thread (or one on disabilities),
so please don't forget to attach my personal mailbox address
<firstname.lastname@example.org> to such messages.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City