Meeting Special Needs

We are more alike than we are different.

- Maya Angelou

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

- Stephen Hawking


Scouting and disabilties. Can the two go together? Yes, they can!


The basic premise of Scouting for youth with disabilities and special needs is that they want most to participate like other youth—and Scouting gives them that opportunity. Thus, much of the program for Scouts with disabilities and special needs is directed at (1) helping unit leaders develop an awareness of disabled people among youth without disabilities and (2) encouraging the inclusion of Scouts with disabilities and special needs in all of the Scouting programs.


There are many units, however, composed of members with similar disabilities or special needs—such as an all-blind Boy Scout Troop or an all-deaf Cub Scout Pack—but these members are encouraged to participate in Scouting activities locally along with other youth. Many of these special Scouting units are located in special schools or centers that make the Scouting program part of their curriculum.


Many of the nearly 300 BSA local Councils have established their own advisory committees for youth with disabilities and special needs. These committees develop and coordinate an effective Scouting program for youth with disabilities and special needs, using all available community resources.


Local Councils also are encouraged to provide accessibility in their camps by removing physical barriers so that youth with disabilities and special needs can participate in weekend and summer resident camp experiences. Some local Councils also have professional staff members responsible for the program for members with disabilities.

Not all Councils have Disabilities Awareness Advisory Committees. Gamehaven Council is currently in this situation. We welcome interested parties to volunteer to help grow the Council in this area. Please click HERE to submit your interest.

Further questions or concerns about Scouting with Disabilites should be directed Disabilities Awareness BSA. Volunteers from the National Disabilities Awareness Committee will help provide advice and support.




Additional Suggestions and Resources


Adaptive Options and Ideas for Assisting Scouts With Disabilities. 6 pages. Includes adaptive options, peer and adult supports, how to have a new family joining conference, planning successful outings, conversation starters, and calming tecniques.


Essentials in Serving Scouts With Disabilities. 18 pages. A Powerpoint presentation including partnering with parents, partnering with the Scout, partnering with peers, adaptive approaches, and dealing with conflicts.


Guide to Working With Scouts With Special Needs and Disabilities (2013). 12 pages. A high level summary of guidance from the Boy Scouts of America.


Individual Scout Profile. 3 pages. A form to communicate the Scout's needs to unit leadership. From the Autism Empowerment organization, but could be useful for other disabilities as well.

Lone Scout Friend and Counselor Guidebook. (2015). 24 pages. Lone Scouts is the BSA’s acknowledgment that a normal Scout Troop won’t work with some youth. You could call Lone Scouts the BSA’s original outreach program.

Scouting For Youth With Disabilites Manual (2007). 160 pages. A comprehensive plan for working with Scouts with special needs.

Available Disabilities Training Resources


Abilities Digest Newsletter -( Subscribing to Abilites Digest newsletter: Send a message to, with “SUBSCRIBE” in the subject line. Indicate your name, email address, and Council in the     message text.


Abilities Digest Facebook Page - The OFFICIAL Facebook page for the Boy Scouts of America National Disability Awareness Committee.

Autism and Scouting Facebook Page