54-year-old Boy Scout Derek Connell (C) talks with his Scoutmasters Richard (L) and Claudia Coleman (R) about Troop 409, a troop for scouts with special needs.
Richard Coleman (RC): Derek, I joined your troop in 1987. I had two daughters so in a way this was a night out with the boys.
Claudia Coleman (CC): I wanted to be part of the group, too, and I became an Assistant Scout Master to Troop 409.
Derek Connell (DC): I been doing scoutin for almost twenty-six years and it’s hard to believe that our troop’s lasted that long.
RC: Our group, since we’re registered as a special needs group, we have no age limit. So that’s why Derek, when he was about thirty-four, was able to make Eagle. And you were my first Eagle, correct?
Why did you stay in the Boy Scouts all these years?
DC: Because, because everybody needs my help. Because some of em are a little slow and some of em can’t read and write.
RC: Now these guys all work together, it’s little things like that that keeps em together. You remember Randy? He’s on his little wheelchair.
We took him to summer camp with us. Since we’re in the panhandle of Florida, there’s a lot of soft sand and trying to manuever a wheelchair around is kinda hard. And this is how resourceful these scouts are. They came up with an idea that if they harness themselves to the wheelchair, Randy could sit back there and yell mush
(DC & CC laugh)
It was like a dogsled. They would drag him around camp like this.
Uhh…So we’re the Can Do Troop. I try not to pay attention to what their problems are. Cuz when I’ve got em, they’re all Scouts.
CC: We are so proud of this troop. It has become a huge part of our life.
RC: How would you describe Derek? (laughs)
RC: And you’re our troop historian aren’t ya?
DC: Yeah. Um-hm.
CC: I just like to thank Derek for all the help and all the encouragement you give the new scouts in the troop, Derek.
DC: You’re welcome.
CC: And I told your mom that you carry the spirit of Troop 409 in your heart. And I mean this from the bottom of my heart. And some of the other scouts feel the same way, but they can’t express themselves like you can.
DC: Thank you.
CC: Thank you, Derek.