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Scouting & Special Needs

Button Swap Its, Pairings selected by Quinnlin

So, a little while back I wrote a piece about our experience with Girl and Boy Scouts and we’re passing a milestone soon. It was a year ago that it was so clear to me that she was in the wrong troop. It was the Sunday of Camporee weekend and they traditionally have this Swap It thing, where all the kids run out to the middle of the grass and happily and hurriedly swap little handmade trinkets on pins. They attach them to their vests, or hats or sashes. It’s very cute.

Last year Quinnlin didn’t do it. She stood aside because I didn’t know she hadn’t completed any trinkets to swap during the couple of extra meetings where we’d been told they were working on them together. She wasn’t able to retain that it was something she needed to complete in order to be in the Swap Its extravaganza and so, she handled it pretty well and watch all the other girls. One of her troop members gave her 1 to swap.

She did handle it well. In fact, I was really proud of her and how she stood there and watched her friends, didn’t pout or whine and she seemed interested in looking at the Swap Its the other girls had received. I didn’t handle it as well. I was heartbroken for her, my girl who always tries her best, gives it her all, works hard to try to keep up with her peers. I hated, hated seeing her left out and I swore I’d deal with the situation to either change things within her troop or find another troop that was a better fit.

It turned out great, actually. Better than I could have imagined. She was welcomed into a truly inclusive troop she’d been a member of when she was a Daisy (starter Girl Scouts) and she has blossomed among those girls. She doesn’t feel stressed out because she’s trying to keep up, she doesn’t feel bullied like she did from a few members of her other troop, and she can be somewhat of a leader because there are girls with all kinds of cognitive and physical abilities and Quinnlin feels helpful and special and protected. The most important feeling she has is that she doesn’t feel vulnerable any longer.

Quinnlin has experienced some Girl Scouts activities that her new troop hasn’t and she feels special that she might be able to help some of her new friends as they experience some of these things for the first time. The other day someone asked her if she was selling Girl Scout cookies this year and without hesitation she replied, “No, my troop doesn’t do that because our troop has a lot of girls with disabilities and it is too hard for us.”

So, she is embracing, at least in this troop, the differences that make all of the girls unique. Maybe this will help her with her stuggles of feeling different in her everyday world, too.

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