KALISPELL, Montana (CNN Newsource) — A father in Montana didn’t want his autistic son left out of the Boy Scouts, so he created his own troop, one specifically for kids with special needs.
“Troop 1950 started last fall,” said Northwest Montana Boy Scouts District Executive Matt Covey. “One of our district leaders, Keith McAtee, who’s the current Scout Master of the troop, he has a nonverbal autistic son, who, he never thought it was possible for his son Aidan to be in scouting.”
And now it is possible for those like Aidan.
Covey said McAtee started this group, dedicated to kids with special needs, with boys ranging in disability from non-verbal autism to ADHD.
“We wanted to form a troop where kids can work at their own pace with no problems,” Covey said.
And Billy King, assistant scout leader of Troop 1950, said that’s exactly what he does.
“It’s kind of challenging, but it’s a lot of fun because I get to work on each boy one on one,” King said. “You know, it’s… we learned flag ceremony last Monday and they learned to tie a square knot. And I got to work with each one of the boys personally.”
Covey said various adjustments are made for those with differing disabilities.
“You know, if you’re swimming merit badge is required for Eagle Scout,” Covey said. “If you’re, say, in a wheelchair, you’re not going to be able to earn the swimming merit badge. And so, they might change some of those swimming requirements to make a presentation to your troop on aquatic safety.”
And King says how meaningful working with this troop is.
“I have got a cousin who’s got MS and autism, and I got a granddaughter who’s very… she has autism, so it’s very rewarding to me,” he said.
Covey said if the troop has more interest, he will look into creating a troop specifically for girls with disabilities.