Ian Ford (ianford@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Wed, 21 Sep 1994 07:13:22 +100
Personally I cannot see why there should not be alternatives for the
swimming requirement, not just on medical grounds. You say if a Scout
drowns what then ? Firstly, as far as BSA is concerned there is a
mandatory swim test before undertaking water activities - if a kid can't
swim then he is serverely restricted on what water activities he can do
as a Scout. As for " real life " - the extension of the logic is that
every Scout should have to pass a cycling proficiency test because he
might just be tempted to ride a bike and get knocked over by a truck.
And so on ...
I cannot swim very well - in BSA terms I'm a beginner. That was why at
Summer Camp I have been Archery Directory , First Year Program Director
and lately Camp Commissioner, and left the waterfront and aquatics to
those suitably qualified. Likewise, I'm not sure I'd want the aquatics
staff running the archery range. You do what you are qualified by
experience and training to do.
I used to be with a British Air Scout troop - swimming was not a skill
that was particularly relevant to our specialisation ! Had it been a Sea
Scout troop I would probably have had more of a problem.
We need to recognise that kids are individuals. Not everyone has the
co-ordinationn etc. necessary to be a swimmer. Fortunately if I had
been a BSA scout I would have been able to claim my asthma as a medical
exemption. But some kids do not have an obvious disability, and in any
case why should they have to seek special dispensation ?
I would see no problem with having say swimming or physical fitness or
some similar requirement as options , on the clear understanding that the
non-swimmers were debarred from water activities, and the <expectation>
was that <most> kids would choose the swimming option.
If the kid has a genuine problem , despite his best efforts, training
etc. I would feel inclined to say that this kid probably has some sort of
defect in motor skills, " poor co-ordination " or whatever was necessary to
grant an exemption.
Our aim is to produce citizens who are physically strong , mentally awake
and morally straight - and I cannot see how an inability to swim negates
any of those.
Ian N Ford
ASM T401, American School in London
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City