Scouts with Disabilities



"Scouting helps by giving Scouts with disabilities an opportunity to prove to themselves and to others that they can do things- and difficult things too- for themselves."

Lord Baden-Powell

The Heart of America Council, Scouts with Disabilities Committee is committed to making Scouting accessible and enjoyable to all boys and Venture age girls regardless of their abilities.

Since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has included fully participating members with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. The BSA's policy is to treat members with disabilities as much like other members as possible. It has been traditional however, to make some accommodations in advancement if absolutely necessary. By adapting the environment and/or our instruction methods, most Scouts with disabilities can be successful in Scouting.

The basic premise of Scouting for youth with disabilities is full participation. Youth with disabilities can be treated and respected like every other member of their unit. They want to participate like other youth- and Scouting provides that opportunity.

An individual is considered to have a "disability" if she or he:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities- seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working,
  • has a record of such an impairment, or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.

There are many resources available to parents and leaders of Scouts with disabilities and special needs. Contact the SWD committee if you need help with:

  • Registering a special needs child in Scouting
  • Finding or starting a special needs Scout unit
  • Adapting rank or other requirements to accommodate a special needs Scout
  • Filing Eagle Scout Alternate merit badge form with the council
  • Identifying camping opportunities for special needs Scouts
  • Developing an Individual Scouting Plan for a special needs Scout
  • Conducting Scouts with Disabilities and special needs training for your group
  • Assistance with the Disabilities Awareness merit badge
  • General support for families and units with special needs Scouts
  • Nominating someone for the Torch of Gold Award
  • Nominating someone for the Woods Services Award
  • Scouts With Disabilities Committee Meetings
  • May Meeting changed to May 27
  • Meetings are held the 4th Wednesday of every month (except as noted) at the Pizza Ranch, 4660 Bass Pro Drive, Independence, MO 64055, at 6:30 p.m.

Congratulations to Karen Jones!

The Woods Services Award is a national award for individuals who provide exceptional service and leadership to Scouts with disabilities. Scouting is a program for everybody – no matter their ability. Adult leaders who provide the environment, encouragement and availability of the Scouting program to youth who have a disability are truly treasured.

One unique individual in the Heart of America Council has stepped up to provide that access to youth of all abilities. Karen Jones was just named as the recipient of this year’s Woods Service Award.

All of the Heart of America Council congratulate Karen’s award. Her gentle leadership in making sure that every scout she encounters receives the full benefit of the Scouting program is something that we can learn from.

Online Resources

Click here to view/download answers to Frequently Asked questions for Cub Scouts

Click here to view/download answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Boy Scouts

Click here to view/download answers to Frequently Asked questions for Leaders

Additional Resources

Teaching Knots to Scouts with Disabilities

Application for Alternative Merit Badges

Open House - September 13, 2105

Scout to First Class Template

Special Event Care Plan for STEM

Scouting Spirit Contract

Environmental Science Requirements

Personal Management Merit Badge Requirements


Heart of America Council

Karen Jones
Scouts with Disabilities Committee Chair
(816) 223-8036