New Guidelines for Cub Scout Aquatics: Freedom!

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From the Council Training Committee meeting this week comes this news:

AQUATICS

Contrary to past BSA program design, all Cub Scouts — not just Webelos — may participate in paddle sports as a pack or den; previously, they could only do so at district or council events. And, of course, Cub Scouts may continue to participate in swimming as a pack or den activity.

The Cub Scouting team worked with the Aquatics and Health and Safety committees to relax the council- or district-only requirements for paddle sports. But as adult leaders, you still must make sure that the points of Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat are incorporated, including training and staying within the BSA’s aquatics framework.

The new Cub Scout program includes one aquatics-related adventure for each rank, but you’ll notice they’re all elective, not required. That means Cub Scouts who aren’t interested in water activities are fine to stay on dry land.

Safe Swim Defense: Any time you take Scouts swimming, even if you’re going to a council event or local pool where lifeguards are present, you still need leaders trained in Safe Swim Defense.

  • You can take Safe Swim Defense online at scouting.org. (Click My Dashboard, then Training.)
  • You always need at least one leader trained in Safe Swim Defense — even if you’re somewhere that provides lifeguards.
  • When lifeguards are notpresent, you need additional rescue personnel trained in Safe Swim Defense.
  • Swim tests are not optional. A key part of BSA aquatics is knowing one’s limits.
  • Safe Swim Defense training is good for two years.

Safety Afloat: You are permitted to take Cub Scouts boating as a pack or den. (Previously you could only go boating with your Cub Scouts at district or council events.) But any time you take Cub Scouts boating, you need at least one leader with Safety Afloat training taken within the previous two years. At least one adult leader must be trained in first aid and CPR as well.

  • You can take Safety Afloat training online at scouting.org. (Click My Dashboard, then Training.)
  • For Cub Scout boating activities, the ratio of trained adults, staff members or guides to participants must be at least one to five. (For Boy Scouts, it’s one to 10.)
  • Cub Scouts must know how to swim to try paddle sports.
  • All participants must wear properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Any swimming done in conjunction with the activity afloat should operate using Safe Swim Defense.

(Scuba: Cub Scouts aren’t permitted to do scuba.)

PLEAS NOTE: Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts may complete requirements in a family, den, pack, school, or community environment. Tiger Cubs must work with their parents or adult partners. Parents and partners do not earn loops or pins.

For more information, always look to the Guide to Safe Scouting. The online aquatics section is here.

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