Scouts with special needs.

Advancement for Members With Special Needs

Youth with physical disabilities and youth and adults with developmental or cognitive challenges are welcome in the Boy Scouts of America. As outlined in this section, various accommodations exist to facilitate advancement. These youth do not need to join a special unit oriented to serving members with disabilities, although those exist and may be beneficial in some cases. The severity of disability will indicate how members should be registered. See “Registering Qualified Members Beyond Age of Eligibility,”

When knowledgeable parents or volunteers are able to provide assistance and oversight, most anyone can be a member. While leaders should be enthusiastic about helping those with special needs, they should also recognize the demands that will be placed on their patience, understanding, and skill in working on advancement.

Advancement Flexibility Allowed (see the Guide for Advancement)

  • Advancement for Cub Scouts With Special Needs
  • Advancement for Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts With Special Needs
  • Using Alternative Requirements
  • How to Apply for Alternative Requirements
  • Alternative Merit Badges for Eagle Scout Rank
  • Approval for Special Needs Eagle Candidates Over Age 18


  • Advancement for Venturers and Sea Scouts With Special Needs
  • Working Toward Boy Scout Advancement
  • Working Toward Venturing Awards
  • Working Toward Sea Scout Ranks


Registering Qualified Members Beyond Age of Eligibility

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: age 11 or older for a Cub Scout, 18 or older as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout, or 21 or older as a Venturer or Sea Scout. How to Register a Member Beyond Age of Eligibility

To register a person who will remain as a youth member beyond the age of eligibility, the following documents must be assembled and submitted to the local council. The Request for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility, No. 512-935, found in the appendix and at www., should be used in this process.

    1. A letter from a parent or guardian describing the disability and its severity and permanence, and petitioning the council for approval of registration beyond the age of eligibility.
    2. A completed youth membership application or proof of current membership.
    3. A completed and signed AnnualBSA Health and Medical Record form (parts A and C), online at
    4. A signed statement from a qualified health professional attesting to the nature of the disability, its severity, and permanent limitations connected with it. For physical disabilities, this must be a licensed physician; for developmental or cognitive issues, a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, or as appropriate, a neurologist or other medical professional in a specialty related to the disability.
    5. A letter from the unit leader advocating and supporting the registration.
    6. Other supporting documentation, such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), treatment summaries, etc., which are optional, but can make a difference in the decision.

Awards Woods Services Award

This annual award has been established to recognize volunteers who have performed exceptional service and leadership in the field of Scouts with disabilities. Nominations must be submitted by December 31. The council nomination form for the Woods Services Award can be found at One person is selected each spring for national recognition. He or she must be currently registered and have three or more years of volunteer service in any capacity related to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, or Venturers with disabilities. Torch of Gold Certificate

The Torch of Gold certificate, No. 33733, awarded by local councils, provides recognition to individuals who, over an extended period of time, have provided exceptional service to Scouting youth with special needs and disabilities. National approval is not involved.