One of the many things I appreciate about the Scout Motto is the way it demands self-reliance. To “Be Prepared,” one must take personal responsibility. Self-reliance is one of the main values we work to instill in Scouts, and our program is uniquely positioned to help young people practice it in their daily lives. Something that brings me great joy is the way our movement includes young people who have special needs or disabilities. In our organization, every Scout is a Scout first, and a Scout with unique needs second.
In this issue, you will see the incredible story of how the Palmetto Council successfully brought Scouting to a group of children at a local school for the deaf and blind. This story really struck me; throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the important role Scouting can play in the lives of Scouts with special needs. Welcoming young people with various challenges into our movement benefits everyone involved in the Boy Scouts of America.
With reasonable accommodations, all youth can thrive in our programs. In its effort to involve youth with functional needs due to disability, the BSA allows these Scouts to advance using requirements and a pace that most benefit them. But beyond advancement, the way we manage our programs can simultaneously impact the lives of our members with special needs and their non-disabled Scouting peers. By offering opportunities to better understand the needs of others and having all youth participate together, we help young people experience the value of diversity and build an appreciation for one another’s abilities.
Throughout the nation, dedicated volunteers have helped Scouting serve youth from different ethnicities, faiths, abilities and walks of life, just like those from the Palmetto Council. The common values that bind us together are far greater than any differences that exist among us. Our program rests on that universally applicable foundation of character building and leadership development, but it is built with enough options and flexibility that it can be customized to fit so many different circumstances.
As we strive to serve the needs of as many young people and families as possible, I want to thank all of you who make this an inclusive organization. Our program works in so many different situations, for so many unique communities. I can’t wait to see more of these stories in the years to come.
Yours in Scouting,
Chief Scout Executive