For more than four decades, the BSA and the Woods Services Foundation have honored Scouters for their exceptional service for Scouts with special needs. It’s called the Woods Services Award, one of the BSA’s special awards for certain accomplishments and service.
The partnership with Woods Services, a health management and advocacy center for children and adults with disabilities, created the 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.
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 awardees
Deb Reidmiller, an active volunteer in the Patriots’ Path Council for more than 10 years, has developed, managed and helped every one of her council’s special needs events since 2015. She has also served as a First Aid and Disabilities Awareness merit badge counselor, and council special needs advancement chair.
Reidmiller has also been on her council’s advancement committee and on the national special needs and disabilities committee, serving both as a member and as the education and training chair. She has served as an EMT at summer camp while guiding Scouts with special needs through any difficulties they encountered. She has been a member of the faculty at the Philmont Training Center and at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
Warren Wenner is retired from a career as a professional Scouter. He has worked with Scouts with special needs since the 1980s. At each council where he worked, he also served as a volunteer with special needs Scouts, making sure all youth were included in the Scouting programs.
He has served as special needs liaison on many committees, and is currently the chair of the national special needs and disabilities committee.
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