|The bottom line is that boys can and should be able to enjoy the benefits of the Scouting program. If their experience is hindered by situations beyond their control, they should seriously consider joining as a Lone Scout. The BSA has made efforts to make their program widely available and adaptable to many situations, whether that is by choice of religion, financial situation, or disabilities. It is within this latter situation that the program is most flexible, even to the point of adapting the rank and award requirements to the individual boy's abilities. The substance of the program requirements cannot be changed, but the application can be modified.
Even though this is a great adaptable program, there will be some that will leave Scouting for various reasons. Some may have learning disorders. Some may have ADHD and their self-esteem has been shot full of holes by teachers, leaders, and boys alike. Some may have other problems that adversely affect social situations. For those who can stick with the program regardless of these reasons, I wholeheartedly congratulate them! For those that cannot, go to your local BSA Council office and talk with a District Executive or some other employee that is familiar with Lone Scouting. Becoming a Lone Scout gets boys like these into a one-on-one relationship with their parent or another responsible adult. This mentoring relationship can be very beneficial in these situations.
There are a few situations that you may encounter when speaking to some Council representatives. One is that most will not be very knowledgeable about this part of Scouting. Since the Lone Scouting program is seldom used, it does not generate much revenue and consequently will not factor highly on a Scouting executive's list of priorities. Everything you can find out before going to your local Council office is time well spent avoiding the consequenses of ignorance and prejudice. Take time to explore this site and the links to other sites. Absolutely contact the Lone Scout Foundation (click here to request info). They are your best source of support and they even have a museum dedicated to Lone Scouts.
Another situation is that they will ask if your son is close to any Scouting unit (pack or troop). They may use this to convince you that he cannot join as a Lone Scout if he meets this criteria. As in every organization, there are varying opinions and interpretations on options like Lone Scouting. There is, however, a final answer and it can be found on at least one of the web sites listed below.
Keep in mind why you went there in the first place... to put your son in a situation that is beneficial to him. Some may actually insist that being in a troop is what is best for your son. Their intention is admirable because the "patrol method" is an excellent means for boys to learn valuable lessons. Your son can also get this as a Lone Scout. Being a Lone Scout does not mean being alone. Substitutions are made for the patrol with their family, school, church, or with other Lone Scouts. Lone Scouts have some of the best support anywhere with the people in the Lone Scout Foundation and from the other Lone Scouts and their Counselors. Always keep in mind who knows your son's situation better and more intimately.
The Scouting program is an excellent program that teaches duty to God and country, increases awareness of the need to help other people, and instill moral, ethical, and spiritual values in the Lone Scout's consciousness and life. When all is considered, the Scouting program is without doubt the best program for young boys which has ever been devised and takes a back seat only to the Lone Scout's religious instruction. It can change lives for the better, but it can only do this if the boy is participating in the program. If he does not join or leaves shortly after joining, then what has been accomplished? Absolutely nothing. For those who see a boy getting ready to drop out of Scouts, please put a plug in for him to try Lone Scouts. He will have complete access to all resources that Scouting has to offer, a "cool" magazine (Boy's Life) to read, and a friendship with an adult interested in his well-being that will hopefully change his life for the better!