#hearLDSwomen: My Special Needs Son Isn’t Allowed on Scout Camp Outs
Once I was a Den leader and had 13 boys. At the time we didn’t ever have 2 deep leadership, so it was me all alone. The Cub handbook said Dens should never be more than 7-8. I kept begging the bishop to call another Den leader and he just laughed and said I could HANDLE IT. So I did. I sent a letter to all the parents that the Den was being divided into 2 Dens, and a new Den leader would be called. I put the bishop’s son in the Den with no leader. Bishop was pretty pissed. “What??? You told me I could HANDLE IT, so I did!!” They called a new leader in a week!
– Jennifer Briggs West
In my last two wards, almost all the announcements relative to Scouts or Young Men are made during priesthood meeting, so all the moms who have sons but not active husbands (some single mothers, some married women with less active husbands) have no clue what’s going on unless a friend with an active husband clues us in. Our frequent requests for more communication have fallen on deaf ears for the most part. Now we have our own network- if one of us finds something out, we try to tell the others.
I have a son who has ADHD who turned 12 last year. I have been very upfront with his leaders about his issues. When it came time for Scout Camp, they first told me he would be welcome to go, then a couple of weeks later they came to my house to express their concerns about him. They said he could go to camp if his dad could come with him. I told them his dad didn’t have enough vacation days to be able to go, but I was available and could bring my own tent. They weren’t keen on that idea, so that son has never been on a Scout camp out.
I was called as scout committee chair. I loathe scouts, but I accepted and put hours and hours into fixing their non-existent record keeping system and planning Courts of Honor. The Scout Master kept doing things without telling me or doing things that were supposed to be my job. When I brought it up he said “but then I’d have to talk to you and give you the stuff and it is easier to do it myself.” I decided I wouldn’t complain about having less work. Then I was asked to plan an Eagle Scout Court of Honor. I was told they wanted it big to motivate the younger scouts. I planned it over the course of 6 months, to be held when the Scout returned from being an exchange student in Europe. I had arranged for the mayor to attend, received letters of commendation from the current President, Senators, NASA, Mike Rowe, etc. Then I heard someone talking about a Court of Honor that occurred. I asked the Scout Master and he said “oh, [the Scout] came home to visit so I just decided to have his Court of Honor last week.” I emailed the bishop and cc’d the Scout Master and said that there was clearly no reason for me to hold this calling as all of my efforts were wasted and I was cut out of all scouting communication and planning. I asked to be given a different calling where I could actually accomplish something. The response I got was “you can’t be involved in the meetings or planning because we talk about scouts in Priesthood Executive Committee meeting and you can’t attend that. Also, we won’t be releasing you because you have more you need to learn.” They left me in the calling for another year until I refused to sign off on a kid’s board of review for the swimming merit badge (which is required for Eagle scouts) after the Scout Master bragged that the kid couldn’t swim to save his life so he “just walked along the edge of the pool and pulled the kid by the arm for 50 meters so he could pass this off.” They immediately released me…and called my husband.
Pro Tip: Do what you can to make sure all youth and women are informed and included in activities. Give women the resources and information they need to perform their callings, and respect their time and their work.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)