Right now, across the country, BSA youth of all ages are participating in a variety of aquatics activities. After all, it’s hot out there, and getting in the water might be the best way for kids to have fun outdoors.
Here are three things to think about this time of the year, courtesy of my friends on the National Scouts BSA Program Committee and the National Aquatics Subcommittee.
Make sure everyone has taken a swim test
Swim tests can be nerve wracking, especially for brand-new Scouts and young Scouts who have just crossed over from Cub Scouts.
Like everything else, they require practice.
Swimming can be a stressful event for any Scout (or Scouter, for that matter) of any age. The ability to practice or test with leaders the Scout knows and trusts — before arriving at camp or any aquatics outing — can greatly improve their confidence and confirmed skill level.
Make sure everyone’s Annual Health and Medical Record (youth and adults) is up to date. Get clearance for your doctor to participate in the swim test (and other Scouting activities). Then use the Swim Classification Record form to categorize Scouts as non-swimmers, beginners or swimmers.
Maintain an ongoing conversation on safety with the Scouts
Safety should always be on the top of a Scout leader’s mind.
The BSA has compiled two main aquatics-related safety modules to review: Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat. Before any swim or water event, it is important to go over the main points of safety with all Scouts and leaders, no matter their experience level.
These training opportunities can start important conversations with Scouts that may not otherwise happen.
Recommend functional swimwear for Scouts
Swimming and watersports are an incredibly enjoyable part of summer outings for many Scouts. When working with Scouts on their packing lists, make sure to highlight that, above all, their swimwear must be functional and not inhibit their ability to participate in activities.
The National Aquatics Subcommittee’s guidance on swimwear is as follows:
We recommend that swimwear should be comfortable, functional and appropriate for the specific aquatic activity. As always, we remind everyone that Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse state, “Appropriate attire is required for all activities.” Policies should reflect the BSA’s statement and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
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