Brian Davis (brian@SETON.COR.GOV)
Wed, 21 Sep 1994 13:17:21 -0700
->Personally I cannot see why there should not be alternatives for the
->swimming requirement, not just on medical grounds.
I think it's important to understand the spirit of the requirement here -
that a Scout should know how to swim, to ensure his own safety, as well
as others. In including the requirement in the advancement guidelines,
the BSA is promoting swimming skills in its membership. Hopefully,
as a result of this requirement, fewer boys will drown than would have
had the requirement not existed. Beyond that, water sports and swimming
activities make up a big part of many Scouting activities. For example,
canoe trips, swimming parties, summer camp swimming and waterfronts,
sailboating, motorboating, etc. Scouts must be able to swim in most of these
activities, or have their participation severely limited by their lack of
swim skills. By relaxing or ignoring the requirement that a scout be able to
swim, we would, in reality, be excluding them from a significant part of our
program, as well as missing an opportunity to make them safer at *all*
moments in their lives when they will come in contact with water.
->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 ...
If cycling were as integral a part of our program as swimming is, I
suspect we would indeed require scouts to show some form of proficiency
at it. Rightly so. That the swimming requirement does protect individuals
later in life is likely not the reason for its existence. More likely, the
program people that included the requirement originally recognized that
scouts would often be placed in water-related activities as part of the
program, and thus included the requirement as a means of ensuring the safety
of the boys while in the water, and extending the fullest part of water
activities to all the boys following the program.
->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 ?
Because, the program does involve swimming skills. By definition, boys
who cannot swim *must* seek special dispensation, regardless of the
advancement requirements. Is a boy who, as a result of his inability to
swim, is limited to the "baby end" of the pool, not being given special
dispensation? How does the boy feel who is limited thus? Physical therapists
will tell you that lack of coordination is the result either lack of practice,
muscular injury, disease, or congenital defect. The last three are covered
by the medical exemption. These boys would not be able to participate in
any water program scouts or no. The first, is the point of the requirement.
In effect, the advancement requirement says: "Know how, or learn how." Make
->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.
Forgetting the issue of advancement, isn't that exactly how the program
works now? Advancement is not an end unto itself. Rather, it provides
the yardstick of a boys progress through the program. Swimming, *is* a
part of the program. If a boy is physically prevented, by some handicap,
in participating in some aspect of the program, then yes, we need to revise
and accomodate. On the other hand, a boy who simply decides not to
participate, for whatever reason, should not expect to achieve the same
level as the boys who do. When we make such exceptions, we invalidate
the advancement of the boys who did work to achieve. We as scout leaders
must never forget that we reward effort, not ability.
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