Physical or intellectual challenges won't be an impediment to becoming a Boy Scout, if the Barnegat Township American Legion and the Jersey Shore Council-Boy Scouts of America are successful in a joint effort to start a special needs troop.

The troop would be for young men between the developmental ages of 10 and 18, and would meet at the Barnegat American Legion.

Boy Scouts District Friendship Executive Wayne Holmes, of Barnegat, said chronological age doesn't matter, only developmental age. Holmes became an Eagle Scout in 2005 and has a college degree in art education

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"It would be open to anybody with any disability or handicap," he said, including those on the Autism spectrum, with intellectual or developmental disabilities, people in wheelchairs or with other physical disabilities.

"We would design a program around the needs of the families that express interest," Holmes, 24, said, adding it would be based on the traditional Boy Scout program.

"We'd work a lot on Scouting skills, things like fire building, safety, life skills, cooking and how to take care of yourself," Holmes said. "We'd take the traditional program any troop runs and make it work for these Scouts."

The program would not preclude boys with special needs from joining or remaining with other scout troops.

There was a special needs Boy Scout troop about a decade ago, Holmes said. But it disbanded a few years ago.

As there are two special needs Cub Scout packs, one in Toms River and one in Jackson, it was clear there was still a need for a similar Boy Scout offering.

A Scout master who ran the troop years ago, and whose son was involved, may return as adviser, Holmes said.

Members can come from any geographic range, as long as families are willing to travel. Meetings would be once or twice monthly in Barnegat.

"We need at least six kids," Holmes said, "and more would be fine."

He said two families have expressed an interest so far, and another area Boy Scout troop, Troop 26 in Barnegat, has offered to attend, help run the meetings and facilitate the program.

The troop would be chartered by the Barnegat American Legion. "They chartered the last special needs troop, and their members have an interest in making it work," Holmes said.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


If you go

Informational meeting and registration night, 6 p.m. Tuesday, at the Barnegat America Legion, 499 N. Main St., Barnegat.Call Wayne Holmes at 732-349-1037 ext. 13 for information.


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