Scuba diving merit badge released

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for your water-loving Boy Scout? Here’s one: the Scuba Diving merit badge pamphlet, hot off the presses.

The merit badge, the first new one in three years, will officially be released on Dec. 1 when it will be available in Scout Shops and online at scoutstuff.org. It’s the result of a newly announced partnership between the BSA and PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Officials at the BSA determined that 84 percent of Scouts were interested in the merit badge, and so it was fast-tracked for adoption.

It’s one of five merit badges being released in the next 12 months. The other four are Inventing (first quarter 2010), Geocaching (second quarter 2010), Scouting Heritage (second quarter 2010), and Robotics (fourth quarter 2010).

But Scuba will arrive first, and so the BSA has established some key facts that Scouters should know about the merit badge:

  • Completing the Scuba Diving merit badge will result in the
    boy achieving an open-water certification, enabling him to dive around the world
    with the appropriate supervision, based on his age.
  • There are two important roles for this merit badge: the
    merit badge counselor and a certified dive instructor. Sometimes this may be the same person, but more likely, the counselor will be an existing BSA adult
    member.
  • The instructor will be one certified by one of a
    number of instructional agencies, but he or she does not have to be a BSA member.
  • Earning the Scuba Diving merit badge is open to all Boy
    Scout-age youth. There are, however, limitations based on age with respect to
    how deep and with whom a boy can dive. These limitations vary by certifying
    organization.
  • Completion of the Swimming merit badge is a requirement of
    the merit badge and must be completed prior to entering into scuba training
    portion of the requirements.
  • Boys with a current open water certification will not have
    to recertify in order to earn the merit badge. They will, however, have to have
    completed the Swimming merit badge, present their certification to the merit
    badge counselor and complete all the other requirements.
  • There are three important pieces of information which must
    be fully reviewed by the merit badge counselor prior to approving any Scout for
    the merit badge: the merit badge requirements, the notes to counselor and the
    scuba policy of the Guide to Safe Scouting.