Special needs scouting program has its day in the sun

Monday, May 17, 2004

Adventure Day 2004, held recently at Cape County Park South, was themed "1904 World's Fair: Louisiana Exposition." A special day for special needs kids, the annual event celebrated the Greater St. Louis Area Council Classroom Scouting Program open to boys and girls 8 to 18. About 190 students from 12 schools in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois attended.

Volunteer Donna Ryan of Jackson watched as boys and girls walked across a monkey bridge at the pioneering station. Similar to those used by Lewis and Clark, the primitive bridge was a challenge to cross and children received assistance from adult Boy Scout representatives Bill Crowell and Bob Francis.

"Kids that think they can't do it try it and find out they can." Ryan said. "They get so happy when they're successful."

Special Needs Scouting began in 1994 in Southeast Missouri and in 1998 in Southern Illinois. It has been successful since 1986 in the St. Louis area, where it is sponsored by the Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scout and Girl Scout councils.

Cathie Lundry, Greater St. Louis Area Council director of Special Needs Scouting, said their mission is to teach character building and life skills to kids with disabilities.

"Belonging to classroom scouting gives them an opportunity to belong to something larger," Lundry said.

Back in time

Adventure Day attractions brought visiting students and teachers in sync with the time period. The 1904 World's Fair celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. A hi-wheeler bicycle pedaled all over the Adventure Day site drawing noticeable attention. Other attractions welcomed exploration including a trolley car, a 1904 World's Fair tasting booth and a teepee. Volunteers were dressed in period costume. Students were immersed in the era with quill pens and journals to write in just as Lewis and Clark did on their adventures.

Mary Paterson and her students from North County School traveled 60 miles to attend Adventure Day for the second consecutive year.

Keelboats made from plastic ice cream containers, a straw and a sail were instrumental in the friendly competition between students as the makeshift boats, powered by students' hot air, raced through house gutters atop sawhorses.

At the cottonwood tree dugout canoe display students learned about the transportation used by Lewis and Clark while they were prompted by questions and demonstrations of how primitive tools were used to construct the canoe.

Just as world Olympic games were played at the 1904 World's Fair, students participated in long jump, shot put and discus throwing.

Participating Scouts received an Adventure Day badge and are provided with membership pins, Girl Scout and Boy Scout badge sashes and additional badges throughout the year. For more information on the Special Needs Scouting Program, contact Beverly Hahs at 335-3346.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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