Scouting can be Life Changing for Families with Special Needs

This post was submitted by Kelli Munkel, a mother of two Cub Scouts in Pack 1429 chartered to Alpharetta Presbyterian Church in Alpharetta, GA.

The munkel familyMy son Braxton is 9 years old and in the 4th Grade.  He lives in Alpharetta, GA and is a WEBELOS in Pack 1429.  Like most 9 year old boys, he loves Lego, video games and all things outside. Unlike most 9 year old boys, he was born with Spina Bifida. Diagnosed at birth, Braxton has endured many corrective surgeries and procedures to help with his quality of life.  Although he is able to walk, he isn’t able to run like his peers and can tire easily given how he has to walk (using very different muscles than most of us).

As his mom, I can remember that moment after one of his surgeries when he was just a baby and resigning to the fact that he may not be able to participate in activities like other kids.  As crushing as that was at the time, his father and I chose to have hope in what was in store for him.  I think for any parent, but especially a special needs parent, there is a delicate balance between fiercely wanting to protect your child and not wanting to restrict them in any way.  My husband, Brett, and I decided early on that as he got older we would investigate and pursue other activities that he could not only participate in but thrive in!

When Braxton was in first grade, we attended our first Scout meeting after seeing our local Pack set-up at our elementary school orientation.  We really had no expectations going into our first event but just hoped that Braxton would feel that he had a place in Scouts…we wanted him to belong. He loved the idea of being with friends, being creative and investigating the great outdoors.  We loved the message that Scouts had and were very encouraged to teach him to grow into a young man adhering to the Scout Law. He loved it from the start has developed great friendships that continue to flourish.

Being involved in Scouts has not only been great for him, but has been amazing for our entire family.  My husband, Brett, has been a leader from the start and it has been a great way for them to have quality time together. I have found myself volunteering for many events as it is always fun to do things as a family. Braxton also has a 7 year old brother, Wyatt, that joined 2 years ago as well as a 4 year old sister, Landry who we look forward to enrolling in a few years!

To any family considering Scouts, especially those with special needs, I highly encourage you to check it out! The way Pack 1429 has embraced Braxton has been life changing, not only for him but for us too. We have been blessed with amazing leaders, who have literally carried him on their backs to make sure he is included in all activities (and hiking with an extra 75 lbs can’t be easy). We have seen his confidence grow as he has been nurtured and encouraged by so many people and have had great experiences through Scouts including weekend camping trips, a trip to NASA Space Camp, Braves baseball games and fun summer camps.

We love Scouts and look forward to what the future holds for our family in Scouting!

Kelli Munkel regularly blogs about her family’s experiences, including their time in Scouting, at