Re: Disability? Or not?
Zacharias Petrou (drzack@EROLS.COM)
Wed, 10 Jun 1998 13:00:24 -0700
Any BSA group engaging in swimming activities must follow the Safe Swim
Defense guidelines as published in the Aquatics Safety chapter of the
"Guide to Safe Scouting". The Safe Swim Defense plan comprises eight
defenses: (1) Qualified Supervision, (2) Physical Fitness, (3)Safe Area,
(4) Lifeguards on Duty, (5) Lookout, (6) Ability Groups, (7) Buddy
System, and (8) Discipline.
BSA envisions three swimming Ability Groups: nonswimmers, beginners, and
swimmers. Swimming tests, which should be renewed each year, are used to
classify each Scout's swimming ability. For both the BSA's "swimmer" and
"beginner" classifications, the tests require the Scout to begin by
jumping feetfirst into water over the head in depth. For the BSA's
"nonswimmer" classification, no such requirement is imposed.
Furthermore, in order to permit acquatics activities for Scouts in all
three swimming classifications, BSA regulations provide for specific Safe
Areas, which vary by depth, for each of the ability groups. The
"nonswimmer" area is limited to a maximum of 3.5 feet, the "beginner"
area extends from shallow water to just over the head, and the "swimmer"
area extends to deep water not more than 12 feet. These areas should be
clearly marked off. In addition, each Scout should be paired with
another in the same ability group. BSA also urges additional precautions
for Scouts with physical disabilities.
In the above context, all Scouts can benefit from and enjoy
aquatics activities. n addition, advancement in Scouting is in no way
restricted by a Scout's inability, for whatever reason, to qualify for
the "swimmer" or "beginner" classification. Furthermore, BSA has
provided alternatives for the Swimming and Lifesaving merit badges for
I would mention that all swimming or boating activity must be supervised
by an adult leader who is trained in and committed to compliance with the
eight points of BSA Safe Swim Defense or with the nine points of BSA
Safety Afloat, respectively. Combined training culminating in the
issuance of Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat committment cards is
available through the diffeerent Councils and BSA summer camping
Dr. Zacharias Petrou
City Island, New York
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City