Lakeville, Minn. boy scout with autism headed to World Scouting Jamboree to inspire others

A teen from the metro is taking his scouting experience to a new level. He's headed to an international event to share how joining the Boy Scouts changed his life.

"I camp a lot," says Alden Dettman. "I hike a lot for scouting."

Over the last eight years, Alden Dettman has learned many valuable skills, like how to build a fire. But Alden gets bigger benefits from scouting than earning the latest merit badge or activity patch.

"I've grown a lot from it," he says. "I've learned a lot about safety."

Alden joined the Boy Scouts when he was in first grade as a way to enjoy the great outdoors. But as a child with autism, his mother says working with other scouts has also helped get him out of his comfort zone and build social skills.

While the other kids in his troop have learned to be patient, tolerant, and kind to people who are different from themselves.

"It's a peer group that very accepting and welcoming," his mother Katie Dettman says. "It’s a place that is welcoming. Try risks without a huge failure."

Through scouting, Alden has traveled around the country, exploring caves and snorkeling and sailing in the Florida Keys. Next week, he'll join 45,000 scouts from 150 countries at the World Scouting Jamboree in West Virginia to teach them about his experience with the developmental disorder.

His mom adds, "He's more responsive. More responsible. Really just more pleasant. Just got to learn to be around other people. When you are in tight quarters with other people for a week, you just get better."

The Boy Scouts motto is "be prepared" and Alden says that's what scouting is doing for him -- preparing him to have a better life. "You just get to do stuff that's neat. So thumbs up."

Alden is one of four scouts with autism in Troop 9111 in Lakeville. He leaves for the World Scouting Jamboree on Sunday and will be there for 12 days.