The Denver Autism Wheel

Cub Scout Camp

Posted on: July 30, 2010

In one of the traditional rites of passage, my Cub Scouts went to summer camp with Karl and his brother Will this year. As a mom, I look at it as an opportunity for a boy to spend some time with his dad, doing the stuff boys need to do: building things, hiking, pitching a tent, learning to use a BB-gun safely. Aside from earning belt loops and other accessories I will dutifully attach to their uniforms, it’s also a great way to get some role modeling done. And there’s this basic human thing: boys need to spend time with their dads, doing “man things,” without Mom around. Sometimes, that’s hard to take, but IMHO, there are lessons boys can only learn from their dads—how to grow up and be a responsible, compassionate man, for instance.

And OMG did they come back with stories and accomplishments! Both of them. Well, technically, all 4 of them. I was impressed with both boys. Luke was just starting as a Scout (he’ll be a Wolf this year) and hadn’t really participated in any Scouting activities as more than a spectator. He actually internalized things like how to handle a BB-gun safely. He went swimming in a lake, rowed a row boat, hiked, built a miniature covered wagon, all sorts of stuff. Then there was Chris. He’s been in Scouting for a year now and is a first level Webelos. He’s been through everything it takes to be a Bear, so he had some experience, but there are some things that autism makes more difficult. Archery, for instance. I was surprised and excited to hear that, not only had he tried putting the arrow to the bow, but he’d actually hit a bulls-eye! And this is the kid who doesn’t like to tie his shoe because he doesn’t like the feeling of pulling the laces tight! He carried a pack. He went hiking and swimming. He participated in the flag ceremony.

And both of them got to see something spectacular: Karl and Will working together as men and brothers. What great modeling for young brothers! I’m very happy they all got that opportunity.

And I’m glad we got involved in Scouting. It’s a safe place for Chris to reach out to other kids with a common interest. They have various projects during the year, including the Pinewood Derby, which encourage creativity and fine motor skills as well as engineering and analysis, coordination and balance, teamwork with Dad, many of the skills auties need additional practice to feel comfortable attempting. It gets him out of the house and out of his head and into activities which will help him grow as a person.

Scouting also teaches him skills which might save his life. He’s learning about household fire safety, how not to get lost in the woods (and what to do if it happens anyway), how not to drown in deep water, how to treat strange people and animals, how to get exercise and eat healthy foods. We teach these things at home as well, of course, but it’s nice to have them reinforced with a group of peers. Makes it easier to practice safe and healthy habits if the kids you see regularly do it, too 😉

When Kate sent me this post for my thoughts…I just had to jump in.  Ian joined Cub Scouts at the very end of last school year.  So this was our first school year with Ian in a Den, going to meetings; building his rocket for space derby, earning his patches for bowling, compass and reading a map. 

Ian and Scott went to Camp this summer too.  Ian came back with so many stories – stories I never expected to hear when we got the Diagnosis. 

Stories of throwing tomahawks, using slingshots, shooting bb guns, and using a bow and arrow.   He was willing to try all those things.  Our son, for whom half the time trying something physical is a case study in how many different ways can you try and influence your child. 

He got to do it, just him and his Dad. 

When they got home, the first thing Ian said (he hadn’t even stepped one foot out of truck) was:  “Mom, Mom!!  I climbed a firewatch tower!! There were 58 steps up to the top!   You could see forever Mom!  It was awesome!!!”

The lights in his eyes.  The excitement that still shows on his face two weeks later was worth every moment they were at camp.  I look forward to next year.

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2 Responses to "Cub Scout Camp"

I’ve often thought about having my son (autistic) try cub scouts. Not sure I can get my husband interested… lol 🙂 But I was wondering how the cub scouts react to special needs? Are they tolerant and supportive to a kid who’s “different”?

Being different has never been an issue with the Cub Scout troops we’ve been in (we’ve been in 2 BTW). They’ve been inclusive and engaging. They want the kids to learn and feel confident. The atmosphere at scouting activities is one of encouragement and cooperation (not competition) so it naturally invites the kids who tend to gravitate away from competitive activities. Even the kids who are very shy or introverted are given opportunities to lead group activities. The Cub Scout motto: “Always do your best” is indicative of what we’ve found to be standard operating procedure.

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