Scouts-L Mail Archive for October of 1998: Challenged Scouts
Thu, 29 Oct 1998 08:07:34 -0600
About 4 years ago, while I was the acting SM for our troop at summer
camp. We took about 25 boys and 3 adults to our Council's camp. On the
Tuesday before camp, we loaded and checked equipment when the SM
came by and dropped off the roster. His next statement came as a
surprise. "The new scout, XXXXXXX, was going to camp. He's the one in
the wheel chair."
It turns out that he had Juvenile Arthritis and was confined to the chair.
I figured that a parent would go to help out. I was wrong. It was going to
be a free week off for them. The troop even paid his fees.
The camp is a semi-wilderness place. Every bump we hit gave the kid
pain. He wet his sleeping bag every night because he would not get up
and I found this out on the next to last day. We had to dress him. Take
him to the bathroom. Get his food for him. The whole works. Holding him
up in the shower. Pushing the wheel chair down the gravel roads. He did
not have a good time despite our best efforts.
The boys did a great job and I made sure a couple of them earned the
Handicap Awarenees badge for their work. I was very proud of them for
their work and him for enduring the pain.
My problem was that I was not prepared to spend the whole week with
one when there were 24 others to keep an eye on. The sneaky way the
kid was added to the roster and the fact that not a single member of his
family went or even told us what to expect or to do. They came by
Saturday morning after the camp, got him and his chair, his equipment out
of their car and sped away.
One of our camps is handicap ready, but the other is more wilderness
and not as handicap ready. It was a tough week for the whole troop at
I don't think that this was the proper way for the boy to go to camp and
whether our camp was the right place for him in the first place. I don't think
that we as leaders should have to be put into a position like this. If I had
known what the week was going to be like, I would have said something,
but it was a surprise. Even though the boys and us leaders did learn about
the problems that the kid had to endure, was a week at scout camp the
To say that the leaders that resigned because of the Tourette problem
are wrong is wrong. We have an obligation to all the boys and should not
be tied to taking care of the one and not the many. I applaud his father for
stepping up and taking the SM position. I also applaud all those that stayed
in the troop. This is America and we have the Right to choose who we
hang with and this includes scouting. It may not be right to leave a troop
because it contains a boy with a disability (my kid has really bad Dyslexia),
but it is your Right if you feel the need.
I learned at that camp to check the roster early and question everything. I
would have rather been doing swim checks, teaching scout skills, and an
occasional nap. You know, real SM type stuff. Ha! Ha!
What happened to the boy in the wheel chair you ask? He left scouting
right after camp because his parents didn't want to drive him to the
meetings. What happened to the boys in the troop that went to that camp?
All most half earned the Eagle. Me? I'm still here and still doing scout stuff.