Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Swimming
Thu, 4 Feb 1999 09:56:27 -0500
I guess I'm running a day behind in responding to Scouts-L messages
because I'm in Digest mode.
The argument has, most recently, been raised by NeilL (which he claims
that he no longer ascribes to) that there are/were:
>> tangible, non substitutible skills which a Scout of a particular level should
> be able to perform. If water skills or a water rescue are needed, it doesn't
> matter if a particular boy can run the mile in 3 minutes 30 seconds or can run
> 100 miles while carrying a pack; he either can swim or he can't perform.
But I would remind y'all that the messages imbeded in First Aid are:
assess the situation; don't create two victims (yourself included) when
there is but one; and in Lifesaving - "Throw, Row, Go". So it is wrong
to say that one can't perform if you can't swim. The "Go" is as a last
BSA requirements recognize that not being able to swim doesn't prevent
one from attaining Water Skiing; Whitewater; Small Boat Sailing;
Canoeing; and Rowing Merit Badges (all of which require use of a PFD) -
the last three of which are the preferred platform to Swimming to save a
life on water.
NeilL went on to write (so I'm confused) that:
> > I guess I would come down on the side of requiring boys who are physically
> > able to swim to do so to advance. This is not "penalizing" the boy for not
> > being able to swim. NOT RECEIVING A SCOUT ADVANCEMENT IS NOT A PENALTY. NOT
> > GETTING THE EAGLE IS NOT A PENALTY.
A "physically able" boy may not be "mentally/emotionally" able.
I have, in some areas, views which differ sharply with Irving, TX. But
unless you folks are prepared to add (not ADD) requirements (Swimming as
Mandatory) that BSA does not have you must accept that Swimming MB is
but one of a cluster of three required MBs (the other two being Cycling
MB and Hiking MB) that are considered equally challenging. There are
many varied paths along the Trail.
NeilL went on to say, and here I am in total agreement, that:
> If he were extremely shy and had a fear of talking to strangers,
> possibly because of a stutter, would we waive the merit badge program because
> it involves dealing with strangers who are merit badge counselors.
> Having said this, forcing a boy who has a severe fear of water to swim is
> child abuse.
We started out talking about a phobia (fear of water) which
debilitates. We should not force a situation which NeilL aptly compares
to child abuse. BSA recognizes this in National Advancement Policies
and Procedures, #33088A, at pages 20 & 21.
The boy who stutters, because of either a physical or emotional
impediment may feel threatened/embarassed standing and speaking in front
of others. That is why BSA suggests seven MBs, that it considers
equally challenging, to the "required" Communications MB. see BSA Form
NeilL goes on to write:
> But drowning is even worse. And preparing a boy to face his
> fears is a great service, and I have to believe that thoughtful swimming
> instruction done by experts can help address this kind of thing.
> But I would also feel strongly obligated to do everything possible to help
> this boy overcome his fear of water and I would not be surprised if it took a
> long time.
Absolutely! However, accept and consider that this may be a long-term
effort. In the meantime I would submit that our duty is to guide the
boy around obstacles rather than strew the path with our own
NeilL also says:
> The Eagle is only one part of the Boy Scout advancement program,...
(and this ties to his comments some paragraphs back}
It is their personal growth that counts. I would submit that we should
consider every boy an Eagle CANDIDATE from the get-go. It is not that I
believe in winking at requirements, or giving something not earned, or
that every Scout will achieve Eagle rank. But it is my thought that
only THAT Scout's actions should hold him back in time, not conditions
beyond his control or the mindsets and impediments of others. I'd also
submit that what I've written above does not conflict with the eight
Methods of Scouting.
Eagle, Class of 1954