Gifted And Physically disabled Scouts
GAPS, Occoneechee Council, aims to improve the quality of scouting experiences for all scouts with disAbilities while utilizing the guiding principles of the Scout Oath and Law.
The vision of GAPS, Occoneechee Council, is to be a committed resource for scouts, scouting families, volunteers and staff to support reaching maximum potential.
The mission of Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The GAPS committee’s purpose is to provide resources, guidance, and training as tools to help adult leaders support inclusion of all scouting families AND to offer support to Occoneechee staff in identifying needs in order to prevent crisis. GAPS recognizes that trained volunteer leaders are enthusiastic about supporting scouts with disAbilities. They understand the demands put on their patience and time yet remain compassionate in accommodations for rank advancement. GAPS strives towards building self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment to enable successful outcomes for everyone in Scouting.
|Highlander District||Britt Flather, RN firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Ruhstorfer, LPN
Renee Seese, Advancement Intervention Services
|Dogwood District||Rodney Dinkins, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
Melanie Jacobs, Occupational Therapy Services
|LaFayette District||Sean Brost, Advancement Intervention Services|
|Black River District||Leigh J. Mack, MD, PhD, FAPCR, CPI email@example.com|
|Black River District||Timothy Gillespie|
|Crosswinds District||Greg McGrew|
|Dogwood District||Allison Fulcher, Melanie Jacobs|
|Highlander District||Mindy Jones-Secary|
|Impeesa District||Jeff Price|
|LaFayette District||Sean Brost
Valeria Ivery – Disability Awareness Merit Badge Counselor
|Neuse River District||Jen Hiemenz|
This event has been postponed, per the council’s coronavirus policy. See the Coronavirus update for information. A new date will be published when it is available. Contact the event director with any questions.
2018 End of Year Report
GAPS News bulletin
University of Scouting Flier
- Serving Scouts with Disabilities
- Guide to Advancement
- Introduction to Working with Scouts with Special Needs and Disabilities
- Abilities Digest
- Torch of Gold
- List of Occoneechee GAPS pages
Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge
- Requirements and Resources from official BSA merit badge pamphlet
- Disabilities Merit Badge at US Scouting Service Project
- Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge Workbook (unofficial)
Special Need Resource
- Individual Scout Achievement Plan (also called Individual Scout Advancement Plan)
- Alternate Eagle Scout Merit Badge Requirements
- Request for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility
- Request for alternative rank advancement
- Boys With Autism Can Thrive in Scouting—With Help
- A Guide for Scout leaders of Scouts with ASD
- Helping a Scout With Autism Be Part of a Troop
- Autism and Scout Engagement Strategies
- Discipline and a Scout with Autism – How to do it Effectively
- Wandering and Elopement
- Autism Elopement Alert Form
- Autism and Boy Scouts Website
- ADD ADHD Characteristics and Strategies
- Working with Scouts with disabilities website
- Coping With A Hyperactive Boy Scout At Summer Camp
- Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
How do I get involved?
GAPS is always in need of volunteers!
- District Representatives
- Disability Awareness Merit Badge Counselors
- Professional Advisors
GAPS DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE
At the District level, a leader, parent or adult mentor may volunteer to serve in a broader role as a coordinator of district-wide special needs activities. District Abilities Awareness Representatives serve a liaison role between the Council GAPS Committee and the units in their local district.
Roles and Responsibilities of the District Abilities Awareness Representative:
Key to supporting a network of Scouters with diverse experiences & common interests to support the Occoneechee GAPS (Gifred And Physically disabled Scouting) events and outdoor activities inside & outside the District & Council.
- Promote inclusion of Scouts within all units of your district
- Provides guidance and resources (to volunteers and professionals)
- Identifies, recruits & supports training of qualified volunteers
- Supports Unit/District/Council events
- Promotes attendance of volunteers and staff at training opportunities (with specific special needs/Disabilities awareness training separately or as part of a position-specific training)
- Provide support for program activities, advancement, camping, training and Roundtables
- Ensures that the needs of youth with special needs and disabilities are considered in all aspects of Council actions.
As a GAPS designated Accessible Unit, we recognize that trained volunteer leaders are enthusiastic about supporting scouts with disAbilities. We understand our Unit may face unique challenges and demands yet promise to remain compassionate in supporting both accommodations for rank advancement, and towards building self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment to enable successful outcomes for everyone involved in our program.
We welcome Scouts with all abilities and their families by:
- Providing an inclusive and understanding atmosphere together in Scouting.
- Helping and assisting each Scout family attain (reach) their goals in scouting.
- Providing an opportunity for the Scout to advance through the program.
- Raising abilities awareness in all youth, adults, and our community.
Roles and Responsibilities of Accessible Units:
- Committee Chair / Unit Leader (CM, SM, CA) make a commitment to welcome and work with Scouts of all abilities.
- Conduct an annual Facilities Checklist and discuss results at the unit leader meeting.
- Have a safe area for Scouts with sensory challenges to go to when they feel overwhelmed.
- Conduct an annual Abilities Awareness Night for youth in the unit.
- Fill out and update the annual special needs survey.
- Commitment to at least one abilities awareness presentation for leaders and parents per year.
|Unit||Program Features||District||City||Point of Contact||Join|
|Pack 713||All-Accessible||Highlander||Tri-County area of Spout Springs||Eric Ruhstorfer||Join|
|Pack 942||All-Accessible plus Deaf & Hard of Hearing||Dogwood||Sanford||Melanie Jacobs||Join|
1. Who is GAPS?!?
Occoneechee Council GAPS is 1 of only 60 BSA Council Disability Awareness Committees nationwide! We fall under Programs and consist of an OC Staff Advisor, Committee Chair & Vice Chair, District Representatives & Professional Advisors.
District Representatives keep us present at Roundtables and can step in for training and/or grassroots support. Lastly, a unique role we utilize is inviting Scouters to serve as a Professional Advisor. Our Professional Advisors consist of Doctors, Nurses, Special Educators, Early Interventionist and Therapist of all backgrounds to ensure we have a POC for unique needs we may encounter.
You can find your local POC by looking under the tab CONTACTS
2. What services does GAPS provide?
Excellent question! Our committee is always growing and transitioning so it depends on the talents of our committee members and advisors. We have been able to breakdown our efforts to 4 areas of greatest needs.
Awareness: Providing specialized training to support recognition of disabilities that impact youth, as well as leadership.
Connections: Develop relationships with youth, parents, leaders, units and council staff to increase membership and support 100% retention of Scouts with disabilities.
Mediation: Help to resolve issues by providing guidance to effectively mediate solutions.
Resources: Provide opportunities to build a network of resources for Scouts, families, unit leaders and council staff.
Are we missing something? Let us know! We are always transitioning and improving our efforts to best serve YOU!
3. How do I find out more about GAPS?
There are two ways to stay in touch with GAPS. Visit our council website at https://ocscouts.org/gaps/
Follow our FB page! Special Needs Scouting, Occoneechee Council, BSA
4. Do you have any Events coming up?
Well, of course! We have 4 focus areas for GAPS events.
✅UoS: We will have GAPS courses for the THIRD year at OC’s University of Scouting in November. Be on the lookout for course announcements!
✅Commissioner College: We enjoyed 2019’s CC and look forward to next year!
✅Round Tables: GAPS enjoys coming and speaking at Round Tables! Reach out and let us know when we can come speak at your district.
✅ Unit training: Have a specific need? We are more than willing to provide one on one support for your Unit.
Scout Disability Awareness:
We will have our DISABILITY AWARENESS MB clinic this August! Looking forward to an awesome opportunity to develop a new generation of Youth Advocates!
We also provide unit training on request.
We have an Aware & Care program for our cubs. Perfect for pack meetings. Contact us to schedule your unit!
You will often see our orange banner and GAPS Scouters at community events. We tend to pop out of thin air! Do you know of a community event we should be a part of? Let us know!
5. I’ve always wanted to go to Philmont. Do they have any conferences for Disability Awareness.
YES! They sure do! You and the entire family (from 2 months old and up) should absolutely consider attending Learning To Serve Scouts With Special Needs conference. Let the kids go have a blast in the children’s program and hang out with Scouters wanting to improve their knowledge on how best to serve their units!
6. My Scout has a Disability. Does that mean they get an extension to earn Eagle?
Great question! There are many resources available to your family. Let’s discuss the top three.
Registering Qualified Members Beyond Age of Eligibility: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/512-935_wb.pdf
Youth and adults who are developmentally disabled, or youth with severe physical challenges, may be considered for registration beyond the age of eligibility for their program.
A disability, to qualify an individual for registration beyond the age of eligibility, must be permanent and so severe that it precludes advancement even at a rate significantly slower than considered normal.
✅Note that registration beyond the age of eligibility is intended as a permanent arrangement to allow ongoing participation as a youth member in the Scouting program. This is different from a “time extension”.
Application for Alternative Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/512-730.pdf
Scouts who have a physical or mental disability may achieve the Eagle Scout rank by qualifying for alternative merit badges. This does not apply to individual requirements for merit badges. Merit badges are awarded only when all requirements are met as stated.
The physical or mental disability must be of a permanent rather than of a temporary nature (or a disability expected to last more than two years or beyond the 18th birthday).