Gifted And Physically disabled Scouts


GAPS, Occoneechee Council, aims to improve the quality of scouting experiences for all scouts with disAbilities while utilizing the guiding principles of the Scout Oath and Law.


The vision of GAPS, Occoneechee Council, is to be a committed resource for scouts, scouting families, volunteers and staff to support reaching maximum potential.


The mission of Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The GAPS committee’s purpose is to provide resources, guidance, and training as tools to help adult leaders support inclusion of all scouting families AND to offer support to Occoneechee staff in identifying needs in order to prevent crisis. GAPS recognizes that trained volunteer leaders are enthusiastic about supporting scouts with disAbilities. They understand the demands put on their patience and time yet remain compassionate in accommodations for rank advancement. GAPS strives towards building self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment to enable successful outcomes for everyone in Scouting.

Email:  [email protected]

Kenna McIntire
Program Director
Camp Office: (910) 948-2382
Cell: (919) 665-9619
Renee Seese

Professional Advisers

Highlander District Britt Flather, RN [email protected]
Eric Ruhstorfer, LPN
Renee Seese, Advancement Intervention Services
Dogwood District Rodney Dinkins, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
Melanie Jacobs, Occupational Therapy Services
LaFayette District Sean Brost, Advancement Intervention Services
Black River District Leigh J. Mack, MD, PhD, FAPCR, CPI [email protected]

District Representatives

Awahili District OPEN
Black River District Timothy Gillespie
Crosswinds District Greg McGrew
Dogwood District Allison Fulcher, Melanie Jacobs
Highlander District Mindy Jones-Secary
Impeesa District Jeff Price
LaFayette District Sean Brost

Valeria Ivery – Disability Awareness Merit Badge Counselor

Mawat District OPEN
Neuse River District Jen Hiemenz
Shakori District OPEN


Find Us on Facebook:    facebook

** Note: This page links to external websites that are not hosted or under the control of the Occoneechee Council.  Content may or may not continue to be appropriate for this subject matter. Sites not operated by an official BSA entity may not accurately reflect current policy.

Newly Published/Updated

General Resources

Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge

Special Need Resource

Autism Resources


Support Resources

How do I get involved?

GAPS is always in need of volunteers!

  1. District Representatives
  2. Disability Awareness Merit Badge Counselors
  3. Professional Advisors


At the District level, a leader, parent or adult mentor may volunteer to serve in a broader role as a coordinator of district-wide special needs activities. District Abilities Awareness Representatives serve a liaison role between the Council GAPS Committee and the units in their local district.

Roles and Responsibilities of the District Abilities Awareness Representative:
Key to supporting a network of Scouters with diverse experiences & common interests to support the Occoneechee GAPS (Gifred And Physically disabled Scouting) events and outdoor activities inside & outside the District & Council.

  • Promote inclusion of Scouts within all units of your district
  • Provides guidance and resources (to volunteers and professionals)
  • Identifies, recruits & supports training of qualified volunteers
  • Supports Unit/District/Council events
  • Promotes attendance of volunteers and staff at training opportunities (with specific special needs/Disabilities awareness training separately or as part of a position-specific training)
  • Provide support for program activities, advancement, camping, training and Roundtables
  • Ensures that the needs of youth with special needs and disabilities are considered in all aspects of Council actions.
GAPS District Representative Application

As a GAPS designated Accessible Unit, we recognize that trained volunteer leaders are enthusiastic about supporting scouts with disAbilities. We understand our Unit may face unique challenges and demands yet promise to remain compassionate in supporting both accommodations for rank advancement, and towards building self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment to enable successful outcomes for everyone involved in our program.

We welcome Scouts with all abilities and their families by:

  • Providing an inclusive and understanding atmosphere together in Scouting.
  • Helping and assisting each Scout family attain (reach) their goals in scouting.
  • Providing an opportunity for the Scout to advance through the program.
  • Raising abilities awareness in all youth, adults, and our community.

Roles and Responsibilities of  Accessible Units:

  1. Committee Chair / Unit Leader (CM, SM, CA) make a commitment to welcome and work with Scouts of all abilities.
  2. Conduct an annual Facilities Checklist and discuss results at the unit leader meeting.
  3. Have a safe area for Scouts with sensory challenges to go to when they feel overwhelmed.
  4. Conduct an annual Abilities Awareness Night for youth in the unit.
  5. Fill out and update the annual special needs survey.
  6. Commitment to at least one abilities awareness presentation for leaders and parents per year.

Unit Listing

Unit Program Features District City Point of Contact Join
Pack 713 All-Accessible Highlander Tri-County area of Spout Springs Eric Ruhstorfer Join
Pack 942 All-Accessible plus Deaf & Hard of Hearing Dogwood Sanford Melanie Jacobs Join

1. Who is GAPS?!?

Occoneechee Council GAPS is 1 of only 60 BSA Council Disability Awareness Committees nationwide! We fall under Programs and consist of an OC Staff Advisor, Committee Chair & Vice Chair, District Representatives & Professional Advisors.

District Representatives keep us present at Roundtables and can step in for training and/or grassroots support. Lastly, a unique role we utilize is inviting Scouters to serve as a Professional Advisor. Our Professional Advisors consist of Doctors, Nurses, Special Educators, Early Interventionist and Therapist of all backgrounds to ensure we have a POC for unique needs we may encounter.

You can find your local POC by looking under the tab CONTACTS

2. What services does GAPS provide?

Excellent question! Our committee is always growing and transitioning so it depends on the talents of our committee members and advisors. We have been able to breakdown our efforts to 4 areas of greatest needs.

Awareness: Providing specialized training to support recognition of disabilities that impact youth, as well as leadership.

Connections: Develop relationships with youth, parents, leaders, units and council staff to increase membership and support 100% retention of Scouts with disabilities.

Mediation: Help to resolve issues by providing guidance to effectively mediate solutions.

Resources: Provide opportunities to build a network of resources for Scouts, families, unit leaders and council staff.

Are we missing something? Let us know! We are always transitioning and improving our efforts to best serve YOU!

3. How do I find out more about GAPS?

There are two ways to stay in touch with GAPS. Visit our council website at


Follow our FB page! Special Needs Scouting, Occoneechee Council, BSA

4. Do you have any Events coming up?

Well, of course! We have 4 focus areas for GAPS events.

Adult training:

✅UoS: We will have GAPS courses for the THIRD year at OC’s University of Scouting in November. Be on the lookout for course announcements!
✅Commissioner College: We enjoyed 2019’s CC and look forward to next year!
✅Round Tables: GAPS enjoys coming and speaking at Round Tables! Reach out and let us know when we can come speak at your district.
✅ Unit training: Have a specific need? We are more than willing to provide one on one support for your Unit.

Scout Disability Awareness:
We will have our DISABILITY AWARENESS MB clinic this August! Looking forward to an awesome opportunity to develop a new generation of Youth Advocates!
We also provide unit training on request.

We have an Aware & Care program for our cubs. Perfect for pack meetings. Contact us to schedule your unit!

Community events:
You will often see our orange banner and GAPS Scouters at community events. We tend to pop out of thin air! Do you know of a community event we should be a part of? Let us know!

5. I’ve always wanted to go to Philmont. Do they have any conferences for Disability Awareness.

YES! They sure do! You and the entire family (from 2 months old and up) should absolutely consider attending Learning To Serve Scouts With Special Needs conference. Let the kids go have a blast in the children’s program and hang out with Scouters wanting to improve their knowledge on how best to serve their units!

Learning To Serve Scouts With Special Needs

6. My Scout has a Disability. Does that mean they get an extension to earn Eagle?

Great question! There are many resources available to your family. Let’s discuss the top three.

Registering Qualified Members Beyond Age of Eligibility:

Youth and adults who are developmentally disabled, or youth with severe physical challenges, may be considered for registration beyond the age of eligibility for their program.
A disability, to qualify an individual for registration beyond the age of eligibility, must be permanent and so severe that it precludes advancement even at a rate significantly slower than considered normal.

✅Note that registration beyond the age of eligibility is intended as a permanent arrangement to allow ongoing participation as a youth member in the Scouting program. This is different from a “time extension”.

Application for Alternative Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges:

Scouts who have a physical or mental disability may achieve the Eagle Scout rank by qualifying for alternative merit badges. This does not apply to individual requirements for merit badges. Merit badges are awarded only when all requirements are met as stated.
The physical or mental disability must be of a permanent rather than of a temporary nature (or a disability expected to last more than two years or beyond the 18th birthday).


Interactive Map