By Isiah REYES
An informative Q&A about the formation of a new Cub Scout pack that focuses on boys with disabilities will take place at the Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church on June 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The pack is currently in the beginning stages of its formation and has not yet been established. The information meeting one Saturday will help determine whether or not there are enough candidates to start the unit. Everyone is welcome, especially parents who support the formation of this new Cub Scout pack and have a child who is between first grade and sixth grade.
“We don’t know how much interest we have yet and we won’t know until Saturday,” said Bob Fletcher, Foothills district commissioner of the Verdugo Hills Council. “So when folks show up that will help us determine whether or not we’ll have enough young men to form a pack and hopefully a Boy Scout troop.”
Fletcher said there is a need and a desire by families for a unit that caters to young boys who have disabilities, either physical or mental, and have difficulties being in traditional units. Fletcher said that families have to be comfortable enough to step forward and let others know they are interested in helping create this new Cub Scout pack.
Fletcher recalls the time several years ago when he was a Scoutmaster there was a young boy in one of the troops who had some challenges. The boy was in the troop for about a year and then stopped showing up. About a year later, Fletcher went to a Verdugo Hills Council training of scouts with disabilities and he said it broke his heart because he learned he failed the boy because he didn’t have the proper training on how to deal with the issue.
“Some kids need the extra attention,” said Fletcher. “There are certain things we can do within scouting to help facilitate them through the program and have them get a lot of the positives out of it.”
Fletcher has gotten in touch with the pastor at the United Methodist Church and found out that the pastor’s daughter has disabilities and performed in the Special Olympics. Fletcher said they both talked about how nice it would be to have a unit that focused on scouts with disabilities but not one that was exclusively about that. The unit would allow anyone to join, the only difference being that there would be people who have specialized training in dealing with kids who have disabilities.
“Verdugo Hills Council has one of the premier scouts with disabilities programs and trainers of any unit in the country,” said Fletcher. Members from the Verdugo Hills Council will be at the event on Saturday to answer any questions.
Fletcher said that if the Cub Scout pack is formed, all the boys in it will follow the same guidelines as every other Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop. The only difference would be some kids may go a little slower and alternatives would be formed for particular merit badges so that they can meet a requirement that is similar.
“When we talk about scouts with disabilities, it doesn’t mean that we’ll give them a brand new program,” said Fletcher. “They still are required to know first aid and the rank advancements. They are still required to have leadership roles and to do service in the community just like every other Boy Scout but we can provide them with alternate opportunities.”
The boys will still go hiking, camping, earning achievements, playing sports and taking field trips just like every other pack. They will develop their character and learn life skills, which are ultimately what the scouts are all about.
“All are welcome, it’s not just for scouts with disabilities,” said Fletcher. “What we know from the disability community is that an integrated community is healthier for them. Some parents may not feel that way and that’s okay. But this planned pack is not limited to scouts with disabilities. There will be an emphasis with specialized training focused on this Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop.”
The event on June 6 will be at the Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall on 2700 Montrose Ave., Montrose from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.