Safe Swim Defense & Safty Afloat programs
Fri, 6 Apr 1990 16:44:00 MST
I have some questions about BSA policies for aquatic activities
that I seem to be having some trouble getting "CORRECT" answer for.
If there is someone out there who has been to National Camping
School and had the policy spelled out or knows who I can contact
at the National level to get a "STRAIGHT" answer on these questions
I would appreciate it.
First Background: I am a WSI (Water Safety Instructor-Red Cross)
and I have Red Cross Lifesaving (which at one time was a
requirement for WSI, but no long is required, in fact is no longer
being taught). I frequently teach aquatic merit badges, Safety
Afloat and Safe Swim Defense. One of the questions that is
frequently asked is what good is the safety afloat or safe swim
defense if we do not have someone who has Red Cross Lifesaving and
BSA Lifeguard? This requirement seems to be spelled out in both
the Safety Afloat and Safe Swim Defense. At first these questions
caught me off guard, being a WSI, I was never faced with this
dilemma. Now they bother me because in different councils I have
seen them interpreted different ways and in my current council,
straight answers do not exist. (i.e. no one really knows.)
I had always thought that a leader trained in Safe Swim Defense
could take his scouts swimming even if no one had the Red Cross
Lifesaving or Boy Scout Lifeguard. I have even seen this
implemented this way at Boy Scout Summer Camps. The Safe Swim
Defense was the training for the leader. The original intent of
safe swim defense was to allow the scouts to go swimming at the
National Jamboree in Irvine (South of Los Angeles) many years ago.
It was designed as a plan the scoutmaster could follow so he could
take his scouts swimming safely, even if a formal waterfront with
lifeguards was not available. This was a frequent occurrence in
those days and even now for groups that go Back Packing in the
So does anyone know, does someone in the group have to have Red
Cross Lifesaving or Boy Scout Lifeguard?
Also, now that Red Cross Lifesaving is no longer being taught, do
they have to have the Red Cross Lifeguarding course (Which is
designed for Professional Lifeguards) or will the Emergency Water
Safety Course be sufficient? The Emergency Water Safety Course is
similar to Lifesaving Merit Badge.
Last, does any one know, if any one at National knows about the
changes the Red Cross made in their aquatics programs last year?
Since the Red Cross is generally more "up-to-date" than the Boy
Scouts in matters like this, I would hope that they follow the lead
of the Red-Cross in their training. They will also have to up-date
their literature since it makes references to the Red Cross
programs. Does any one know who I would write to about this?
Any knowledgeable comments on this are appreciated. As far as
opinions on this goes, I have been given plenty of those and would
prefer not to get into a philosophical debate. As in Dragnet, I
am mostly interested in the FACTS, just the FACTS!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City