How Scouting Changed My Family’s Life
When Zac was nine months old, we noticed he behaved differently than most children his age. By the time he was six-years-old Zac was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. We knew we had to give him the resources to help him grow and live a successful, independent life.
As our family reflects this April during Autism Awareness Month, we are reminded of all the people and organizations that have helped Zac flourish over the years. The Boy Scouts of America Grand Canyon Council was one that made a huge impact on Zac’s life.
When Zac was young, some friends of ours had just enrolled their son in Cub Scouts and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Zac to socialize with other kids his age. There were certainly growing pains for Zac, as he was easily overwhelmed by the frenzied nature of other children, he did not like when other kids wouldn’t listen to directions and he wasn’t a huge fan of the outdoor activities.
We thought the Cub Scouts may have been a bust. But over time, we started to see Zac’s behaviors and mindset changing. He learned to control his anger towards triggering situations and started to genuinely enjoy the activities in the program.
Zac wanted to stay in the scouts, so that is exactly what we did. Now, 13 years later, Zac is a proud member of Boy Scouts Grand Canyon Council Troop 17 and has over 94 merit badges on his sash. This is the second most merit badges earned in his entire troop. He even earned 26 of these badges during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Not only did he earn badges throughout the pandemic, but he helped the rest of his troop earn badges in a safe manner as well. Zac taught other scouts critical skills like first aid and weather safety to help them earn their badges.
This is not the first time Zac has held leadership roles within the scouts. He was the Den Chief of fourth and fifth grade scouts, was the Assistant Patrol Leader and Patrol Leader of his patrol, and is now a troop instructor and Order of the Arrow Brotherhood member.
When we first enrolled Zac into the scouts, I would have never dreamed of him taking on so many leadership roles, earning so many badges and truly enjoying the program.
We have seen him bloom into such an incredible young man and we owe much of his success to scouting. Throughout the years he has learned invaluable skills while building his confidence and social skills.
Zac just finished his Eagle Scout Project and far surpassed his set goal. Eagle Scout is the highest rank and honor a scout can achieve. The goal of this project was to collect school supplies for the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center’s preschool. Zac was able to collect hundreds of items and an additional $1,000 to be donated to the school. Our whole family was so grateful for the community’s contribution to Zac’s drive and it meant so much to see Zac giving back to an organization that has helped us over the years.
We are so proud of Zac and so grateful for the experience we have had in the Boy Scouts Grand Canyon Council. These skills were crucial for Zac’s development.
I want all parents to know that Scouts BSA can make a huge impact on your son or daughter and your family. Even if your child needs additional support, the Grand Canyon Council will work with your family to help give them the best experience.
The Boy Scouts gave Zac a safe space to learn and grow for over 13 years. He plans to stay active in the scouts for many more years to come.
For anyone interested in participating in the Boy Scouts visit grandcanyonbsa.org or if you suspect someone you love may have autism spectrum disorder check out the resources at autismcenter.org.
Author: Sheryl Houle
Featured in Ahwatukee FootHill News