Scouts and Scouters serve their communities, nation and world. The BSA offers special awards for certain accomplishments and extraordinary service — one such award is the Woods Services Award.
This award is presented through a cooperation with the BSA and the Woods Services Foundation. Through this partnership, one deserving adult volunteer is nominated and selected through a small committee of previous award recipients.
In 1978, about 60,000 youth with special needs were in Scouting. Leaders at Woods Services, a health management and advocacy center for children and adults with disabilities, established the Woods Services Award in honor of Luther Wellington Lord, a Scouter and a residential supervisor at the Langhorne, Pa. center for more than 23 years.
Lord started and oversaw three packs, three troops and three Explorer posts at the Woods Services’ schools. In the March-April 1976 issue of Scouting, it was reported Lord had recruited more than 240 youth — or 55% of the schools’ population — to sign up for Scouting. Lord said in that issue that for those who want to serve youth with special needs, “patience, love and understanding are absolute musts.”
Ever since the award’s inception in 1978 — two years after Lord’s death — it has been given to one adult leader every year for leading and serving Scouts with special needs for at least three years.
This year’s awardee
Richard W. Gambrill Jr., of White Marsh, Md., was bestowed the Woods Services Award this year. He has served Scouts with special needs in the Baltimore Area Council since 2004, founding both Pack 117 and Troop 117 for Scouts with special needs. He is still the Scoutmaster for Troop 117. Two years ago, he founded Venturing Crew 117.
Since 2010, he’s been a member of the Baltimore Area Council Special Needs Scouting Committee and serves on a council advancement sub-committee responsible for special needs reviews. For the past five years, Gambrill has taught “How to Advance your Special Needs Scout” at the council’s University of Scouting. He’s also served on the disAbilities Awareness Challenge staff at National Scout Jamborees in 2013 and 2017. You can read more about the challenge here.
More resources, awards
Gambrill has also been honored with the Torch of Gold Award by his council. While the Woods Services Award is a national award, presented as a plaque, the Torch of Gold Award is a council-level certificate given to Scouters who work with Scouts with special needs. The Special Needs Scouting Service Award is also a council-level award; however, this is an award that deserving Scouting volunteers earn through completion of detailed requirements.
If you want to learn how to better help Scouts with special needs, check out the articles below:
- BSA Guide to Advancement: Advancement for Members with Special Needs
- Abilities Digest
- Scouting magazine: How to help with special needs advancement
- Scouting magazine: How to help youth with special needs get the most out of Scouting
- Scouting magazine: Why language is important when leading Scouts with special needs
- Scouting magazine: Tips for working with Scouts with special needs or disabilities
- Cubcast: Scouts with Special Needs
- Scoutcast: Scouts with Special Needs