Sugar Grove resident Sean Williams has clocked in countless hours volunteering with Boy Scouts.
As a volunteer for the past 14 years, he has lost count of the exact number of camping trips he has been on, but estimates it to be in “the hundreds.” Although, he has vivid memories of watching the Scouts grow over the years.
All the volunteering is worth it, Williams said, when he sees returning Scouts come and visit the troop.
“Seeing kids you encountered or helped along the way grow into remarkable adults makes it all worth it,” he added.
Recently receiving the highest honor a Boy Scout Council can bestow on a volunteer, the Silver Beaver Award, Williams has served as a driving force in making Scouting opportunities for special needs youth.
“Sean has been extremely active in the special needs area of Scouting,” said Amy Seyller, Boy Scout Three Fires Council District director.
The Silver Beaver Award is given to an individual who has provided exceptional service in scouting and other aspects of the community, she said. The award is given to an individual who is a great asset to the community overall, she added.
“He works tirelessly to promote Scouting to the special needs community,” she added. “He makes sure that Scouting is friendly to youth with special needs.”
Williams began volunteering with Aurora’s Cub Scout Pack 321, Boy Scout Troops 3 and 4, but his involvement and commitment level grew after his son Richard was diagnosed with autism.
“When I first got involved in Scouting, I wasn’t even aware that there was a special needs Scouting program,” he said.
“Special needs and Scouting is one of the best kept secrets in Scouting,” Williams said. “More and more youth with special needs are joining Scouting. There is a place for them.”
Williams stressed that there is an opportunity for special needs youth to grow and develop. The growth in kids who jump out of their comfort zone and develop as individuals is tremendous through Scouting, he added.
According to Williams, Scouting has given his son direction and the opportunity to accomplish things.
“After his diagnosis, Richard used the skills he learned in Scouting to own his autism and work on the challenges he faces,” he said.
Richard earned the Eagle Scout award in 2010. It was the journey there and not the destination that was important, Williams said.
“What Scouts learn along the way to achieving the Eagle award is so much more important than how quickly they get there,” he said.
Williams also started the Special Needs Venturing Crew 88, a group open to both boys and girls ages 13 to 21 to teach life skills to special needs youth. Now Williams’ son serves as president of the group whose members have been diagnosed with ADHD, autism and anxiety disorders.
In addition, Williams also serves as the chairman of the special needs committee for Three Fires Council, which serves Aurora, North Aurora and surrounding communities.
“We provide training to leaders to help the youth, provide programs and opportunities for the youth, and we are also working on raising community awareness on special needs issues,” Williams said.Tags: Sugar Grove