How Scouts with disabilities can have the best summer ever (and how you can help make it happen)

Riding horses at Philmont

Working with Scouts who have disabilities or special needs often requires two simple things: support and accommodation.

And accommodating Scouts so they can achieve their goals and become stronger citizens? That’s at the heart of Scouting’s mission. The proof is in Philmont’s course and trek offerings this summer.

Both the Zia Experience and the Adaptive Special Needs Conference will take centerstage at the iconic New Mexico high-adventure base June 25 through July 1.

Let’s break down what each experience offers and why they’re occurring at the same time.

The Zia Experience

Whom is it for?

Scouts with disabilities or who have special needs are invited to Philmont for personalized adventures with encouraging, supportive leaders. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to join their Scouts as well.

“We are hoping to give all Scouts the opportunity to have a high-adventure experience at the Philmont Scout Reservation no matter their challenges,” explained Brent Worley, who is the incoming chair for the BSA’s Special Needs and Disabilities Committee. This committee will be onsite to support the event.

See what traveling to New Mexico for this life-changing adventure looks like in the video below.

Here’s where you can register for the Zia Experience:

Adaptive Special Needs Conference

Whom is it for?

Philmont will welcome volunteers and professional Scouters to learn how to make every aspect of Scouting (especially outdoor and camping adventures) accessible to Scouts with disabilities and special needs.

Adults who attend will also train up on the latest adaptive programs like horsemanship, COPE and hiking.

The conference will cover some of the most important parts of trekking with Scouts who need accommodations:

  • dietary and medication safety
  • program and facilities management
  • adaptive equipment
  • advancement
  • program development for serving special needs Scouts

Leaders and professionals can register for the Adaptive Special Needs Conference by heading to the Philmont Training Center page.

Why do both events span June 25 to July 1?

“The reason they happen at the same time is it’s always better for people at a conference to learn by example,” explained Chris Werhane, who worked at Philmont for 9 years in his Scout years. Now, Werhane has dedicated his career to adaptive sports and recreation. He’s also a member of the BSA’s Special Needs and Disabilities Committee.

“We bring out those leaders for the Adaptive conference, and they get to witness and take part in the programming at the Zia Experience,” he continued.

For more information, visit the Philmont Training Center page, and check out our post on what the Philmont Training Center can offer your whole family this summer.

About Gina Circelli 52 Articles
Gina Circelli is the senior digital editor for Scout Life. She loves sharing news about Scouts who shake up pop culture or contribute to their communities in big ways.