aquatics-safety

This summer, make safety on the water your top priority

Most of my best memories from summer camp involved the water.

Where else but Camp Cherokee’s epic waterfront could I swim, canoe with my friends, or sit on a massive airbag called “the blob” and get propelled 15 feet into the air?

At camp or not, summer isn’t summer without water activities. But with great fun comes great responsibility, and that’s where you come in.

The BSA, a champion of aquatics safety for more than 80 years, knows that the use of Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat guidelines will prevent water-related tragedies.

But like any of the BSA’s safety rules, they’re worthless if you don’t know them.

So before you take your next trip on the water, heed these reminders:

Safe Swim Defense

Before a BSA group may engage in swimming activities of any kind, a minimum of one adult leader must complete Safe Swim Defense training (MyScouting login required), have a commitment card (No. 34243) with them, and agree to use the eight defenses in this plan:

  1. Qualified Supervision
  2. Personal Health Review
  3. Safe Area
  4. Response Personnel (Lifeguards)
  5. Lookout
  6. Ability Groups
  7. Buddy System
  8. Discipline

Find out more about these eight defenses at the Safe Swim Defense page.

Safety Afloat

Safety Afloat has been developed to promote boating and boating safety and to set standards for safe unit activity afloat.

Before a BSA group may engage in an excursion, expedition, or trip on the water (canoe, raft, sailboat, motorboat, rowboat, floating in an inner tube, or other craft), adult leaders for such activity must complete Safety Afloat Training (MyScouting login required), No. 34159, have a commitment card, No. 34242, with them, and be dedicated to full compliance with all nine points of Safety Afloat:

  1. Qualified Supervision
  2. Personal Health Review
  3. Swimming Ability
  4. Life Jackets
  5. Buddy System
  6. Skill Proficiency
  7. Planning
  8. Equipment
  9. Discipline
Find more at the Safety Afloat page.

What do you think?

What are your tips for keeping Scouts safe on the water? Leave your thoughts below.


Photo by Flickr user stevejb68

3 thoughts on “This summer, make safety on the water your top priority

  1. Hi Bryan! Thanks so much for writing about water safety and Aquatic fun through scouting! Excellent article and resources. I have been a Circle Ten Aquatics Director for 5 years. I absolutely love the aquatic program through scouting and agree that following the Guidelines in Safe Swim and Safety Afloat does work to keep everyone safe… if the leaders of the unit and supervisors of the event fully understand what those guidelines mean and how they apply to the scouting program. After receiving training at National Camp School, I found it very difficult to walk into any aquatics event without spotting possible violations where an accident or injury could happen….. and not just in scouting ! Wave pools have become a nightmare! People underestimate the power and danger of water. I strongly encourage any Scout Leader that is taking a unit on an aquatics event of any kind to become a BSA lifeguard, so that they can understand how those guidelines and policies apply to their event. That qualified supervisor is not just a representative of BSA. They are 100% personally responsible for everyone in their care ( including grandparents and siblings ) Under the qualifications of a qualified supervisor, it clearly states that they must be mature and willing to accept responsibility of those in their care. In addition, any scouting event that includes boats, canoes or kayaks MUST follow the guidelines on Page 4 of the Health and Safety Guide. Its very important that all leaders, scouts and parents know how to handle their watercraft in the event of emergency. Un-swamping a canoe on a fast moving river is not only not too much fun, but it is dangerous and difficult… especially when you have younger scouts that have not hit that growth spurt. I suggest that you take your unit to camp wisdom and practice in the pool. There are 2 or 3 canoes there for that purpose. Plus, it is so much fun to let them play pirate and swamp each other… they learn naturally how to handle a canoe, swamp and un-swamp, so they can get they other team! Training doesnt have to be a boring thing we have to do. I like to make it fun. People learn better if they are having fun! Swamped canoe races is fun and makes an impact on the brain that they can be safe and float in a canoe even in a dangerous situation. The guide to safe scouting is full of wonderful information, but it is a lot to understand and remember. Turn the rules into a game and suddenly… we have skills! Skills that could save a life. For any Scout or Scouter who needs help understanding the application of the aquatics portion of the guide to safe scouting, feel free to contact me any time.

    Your friend in Scouting!
    Tracey Tousley LMT MTI
    Circle Ten Aquatics Director 2007-2012
    469-279-5850

  2. Pingback: New York OA Trader | Today’s Links June 25, 2012

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