Announcement Module
No announcement yet.

Aquanaut accomodations for special needs kids

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
Conversation Detail Module
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Aquanaut accomodations for special needs kids

    We attended Webelos Resident Camp and I am butting heads with our leader over Aquanaut. My son has Asperger's and is legitimately, genuinely afraid of the water. I am trying to help him by figuring out ways to accomplish this. We are not babying this child. He will have to accomplish his goals. We are not the parents who are "in denial" of our son's special needs. We know all too well and we are finding out as we go along what his anxieties are. It is a learning process. I was trying to talk to his leader and explain this, and see what we could do, and he cut me offend told me I just needed to read the handbook. Over and over. I wasn't ignorant of the requirements, I was trying to help figure out accomodations. My plan now is to talk with the cub master since we seem to be getting no where with the leader. My heart is just breaking for my boy. We are trying.

  • #2
    I can't answer for the cub program, but I have gone through the paperwork to apply for alternate requirements for a kid with a clear physical disability that prevented him from swimming and surviving. I am pretty sure that as a cub, he simply didn't earn aquanaut. For Aspergers, we generally take aquatic instruction slowly. We get other scouts to leave the swimmers area and spend time with the boy in non-swimmers area. Scouting is about overcoming psychological barriers. Generally scouts with this disability don't want special accommodation anymore. It makes their award seem "fake" to them. You will probably be better off telling the boy that his fear of water is preventing him from earning that pin. Then, go on to work on a different award until he tells you he's ready to try swimming again.


    • #3
      Will he get in the pool at all?????

      If not he cannot or should not receive the award...Sorry. their is no accommodation large enough to allow for it.

      So, you need to start to work with him now to correct it. work from the bath tub to the small kiddy pool in the the kiddy pool at the local swim club to a smaller hotel style swimming pool, then to a regular sized pool.

      If he can't or refuses to complete Aquanaut then he doesn't deserve to earn the Arrow of Light.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Basementdweller View Post
        If he can't or refuses to complete Aquanaut then he doesn't deserve to earn the Arrow of Light.
        Uh Basement, since when has Aquanaut ever been required for Arrow of Light? If the kid can't do Aquanaut, no big deal. Earn another badge. I never earned Aquanaut (couldn't swim until 5th-6th grade) and in my day (Webelos from '91-'93) there was no push to earn all 20 pins.

        The fundamental standard of cub scout advancement is "Do your best." That said, I think getting in the water and attempting to complete some of the requirements would be expected to qualify for the badge.


        • #5
          My bad, been a couple of years, I was thinking is was required.....

          Well then as Eagle pointed out, Not earning is no big deal.....let him earn something else from the group.


          • #6
            I suggest contacting your council or district level special needs chairperson or executive. If you are in a small council, help should be available from a larger one. Your local unit leadership is not likely trained in special needs policies. You should have a solid understanding of the accommodations the BSA allows as this issue will likely arise many times in your sons scouting career. From my limited knowledge of the issue the BSA is much more accommodating for physical disabilities than mental, but accommodations are available. Understanding the roadblocks your son may experience will help mitigate any disappointments in the future. Realize his journey will likely be a more difficult one. It is unfortunate you have been subjected to such crass responses from your local leadership and this forum.


            • Basementdweller
              Basementdweller commented
              Editing a comment
              So your good with a lad who refuses to get into the pool receiving Aquanaut because of a "disability".

              Well sorry I am not.....

            • King Ding Dong
              King Ding Dong commented
              Editing a comment
              I did not say that. I suggested the OP contact people with more knowledge of the issues at hand for guidance. Certainly there are professionals with experience with this issue that can provide educated advise.

              I am not well versed in Aspergers but was unaware it is some imaginary "disability".

              Furthermore the OP did not say her son would not get in the water at all. She did indicate he was not able to complete all the requirements. We both know this is not the standard in cub scouts.
              Last edited by King Ding Dong; 07-01-2013, 11:44 AM.

          • #7
            Take heart. My son has Asperger's as well and was in the same place a number of years ago. It took us several years to get him through the process of learning to swim. His Eagle Board of Review is next week, right before we leave for Jamboree. It's my wish that you will have the same success. Thank you for being engaged and being your son's advocate. You are going to find plenty of blowhard idiot leaders in scouting who will refuse to make accommodations because they are super-scouters who know everything. Ignore them. If this leader is as big a jerk as you describe, find a different pack. As has been mentioned Aquanaut isn't required for squat. The Cub Scout Motto is Do Your Best. Keep working at it and finding the parts that work for your son. Scouting has been good for my son even if it hasn't been a great experience for him or us. It's worth the effort but it's far from the only youth program out there that our kids can benefit from attending.


          • #8
            Disability accomodations only apply to the actual rank requirements, or getting a substitute badge for AOL or boy scout ranks. I've never seen disability accomodations for the optional elective portions of ranks/badges/belt loops at the webelos and higher level. Below Webelos trying it is good enough, but when a scout refuses to try, we don't reward that level of non-participation with a badge.

            Since Aquanaut is not required for the Arrow of Light Rank, it's an optional elective within the Webelos program. Instead of doing that badge in the physical skills area, your son can work on a different badge in that area for his AOL.

            Like Boy Scouts, Webelos gives the boys a chance to earn the badges that interest them, with a few of them required for the rank, so we have had boys earn AOL with all sorts of permutations of the 20 badges available. We always have a few boys who never complete Aquanaut because they cannot pass the swim portion. And that's ok. It gives them something to work on, since much of the Aquanaut requirements are virtually the same as the Rank requirements in the trail to 1st Class.

            Note: We view Webelos as sort of a step above Do your best, so we expect the boys to try it and do what they can and they are often surprised at their ability. But if they don't actually do the requirements for a webelos badge, they don't get handed the badge.

            We also view swimming as a very important life skill, so we do hope nobody gives out swim test levels based on how hard you tried to pass the swim test, rather than how well you actually did on the swim test.


            • Basementdweller
              Basementdweller commented
              Editing a comment
              1. Jump into water over your head. Come to
              the surface and swim 100 feet, at least half
              of this using a backstroke.

              either he does it or he doesn't..........

              Swimming isn't an area were Do your Best is good enough......It is a safety thing.....

            • King Ding Dong
              King Ding Dong commented
              Editing a comment
              I didn't make the policy or do I agree with it. I did agree to follow the policies of the BSA. I contacted my district regarding this issue two years ago because I knew a couple of boys could not swim well and was told do your best still applies and if the boy participates in the program he gets the award. The district held a Aquanaut program at a lock in staffed by BSA Lifeguards. If the boys got in the water and tried they passed. They did not conduct the BSA Swim test as an option. All parents were in attendance so they could clearly see their boys struggling to swim.

              I am a Red Cross Life Guard and YMCA certified swimming instructor. In my opinion in most cases a parent has failed if their child cannot swim by 5-7. I also think the requirements for BSA Lifeguard are a bit weak. The BSA swim test is inadequate. The swimming MB is antiquated.

              But this is not King Ding Dong's Scouting Association and the Aquanaut Activity Badge is not a swimming certification any more than Readyman is a first aid certification. (Or the lifesaving MB or First Aid MB for that matter)

            • dedkad
              dedkad commented
              Editing a comment
              I rarely think a single attempt at doing something can be classified as Do Your Best if you don't complete the requirement during that attempt. When there is potential for the boy to complete the requirement exactly as stated if he practices over a few weeks, then I think that's what the boy should do. Giving them a pass on a single attempt is just encouraging this whole mentality of instant gratification that the kids have nowadays. Sometimes you have to work for things. That's what it means to Do Your Best.

          • #9
            Hi Sean's Mom. I'm sorry your son's leader was short with him. My son is to this day "legitimately, genuinely" afraid of the water, more so than anyone else I have ever met. He is a 21 year old Eagle Scout who did not earn his Aquanaut, because he was not willing to swim. He eventually took several sessions of one-on-one lessons and was able to learn to swim well enough to earn his ranks in Boy Scouts, but he definitely hated it and did the bare minimum in that department. 3 years spending 7 weeks living at camp in the summer as a staffer and he never even brought a swimsuit with him. Asperger's has nothing to do with fear of water... if it's a fear he cannot overcome, he can't earn the award. Swimming awards are some that I personally as a Cub and Boy Scout leader am very strict on.... because they *matter*. A passed swim test can mean a ticket to so many activities where he will be in real danger if he does not actually have the skills. Please... there is so much more to Scouts than receiving every award. If your son can't/won't swim... he is not an Aquanaut.


            • #10
              Can we just be clear that passing the BSA swim test is NOT a mandatory requirement for aquanaut. I would argue it should be, but is not.


              • 5yearscouter
                5yearscouter commented
                Editing a comment
                den leader has to approve the achievement is completed, not just parents. So right there you move away from mom and dad signing stuff just because they read it and think that their son must have done it some time at day camp or at school. Involving a 2nd person, non-family in the process is like involving a mb counselor. They get to sign the achievement when they see it as completed. Therefore they tend to expect that swim 100 ft actually means swim 100 ft, not attempt to swim 100 ft but don't make it, not read the requirement to swim 100 ft but never get in the water.

                I define do your best to be actually trying to do your best, not just using do your best as a cop out to not even try. do you define it differently?

              • King Ding Dong
                King Ding Dong commented
                Editing a comment
                No and I never said otherwise.

            • #11
              Yes, they don't have to pass the BSA swimmer test, but they do have to swim.

              the top required 3 parts of the badge all include getting into the water and swimming. [paraphrased requirements below]
              1. swim 100 feet, half as backstroke, 2. back float and survival floats 3. swim 25 ft with a PDF on.
              then choose 3 of the following 5
              4. front surface dive and swim under water 4 strokes, 5. explain water rescue techniques and demondstrate reach and throw.
              6. with an adult onboard show handling of a rowboat (I see this as only being able to occur at council camps due to guide to safe scouting)
              7. pass BSA swimmers test or 8. earn the swimming belt loop (which requires safe swim knowledge, play a game in the water with your den or family and kickboard across the pool 25 ft)

              I do not see how the youth can do 1-3 with a severe fear of the water.
              nor 4, 7 or 8.
              6 would be a bad idea to do if the youth is afraid of water why put him in a boat?
              that leaves 5 as the only one that doesn't require the scout to get into the water.

              That means he's not a swimmer not even a beginning swimmer, so why should he earn the Aquanaut badge. My son couldn't earn it the first time he tried, he couldn't pass the #1 without getting a bloody nose and having to get out of the water.


              • King Ding Dong
                King Ding Dong commented
                Editing a comment
                As I stated above I personally agree with you. It is possible district level staffers do not understand BSA policy and give incorrect guidance.

                As to requirement 6. For Cubs GTTS limits this to council or district events not camps. Most pools with quality programs have a rowboat for use in proper rescue instruction. Even a person who is scared of water should be trained on the proper fitting of a PFD and have experience in the water while wearing one and how to properly enter a rescue craft and handle it.

                I have never asserted the BSA has a quality aquatics program.

            • #12
              KDD Disagree with you comment about BSA aquatics in the strongest terms. I hope that as your son advances in scouting you get the opportunity to meet some of the highly trained and serious aquatics directors and staff.
              I had the pleasure of taking paddle craft safety and water rescue from some very serious and highly trained volunteers. They would not give any scout or adult a pass on less than full compliance with the requirements. I could see that happening with a lifeguard trained at the Y. BSA would love to have all of its Y lifeguards certified using BSA requirements. Hopefully you are aware that the BSA program is far superior to any other certification available.


              • King Ding Dong
                King Ding Dong commented
                Editing a comment
                I am glad to see you have had good experiences with BSA Aquatics staff. I am sure there are many quality people in the program. My recent observations of BSA aquatics staff have not been the same as yours unfortunately.

                I would prefer not to have to type the long list of requirements that we not even touched much less tested on at a recent swimming MB class conducted by an BSA Aquatics Program Director. Blue Cards signed.

                I have reviewed the BSA requirements and see no significant difference from the Red Cross requirements. Furthermor the BSA program requires the use of the Red Cross manual. Can you elaborate on how it is far superior other than buddy board training ?

                I can not speak to Y certified lifeguards, I am Red Cross certified.
                Last edited by King Ding Dong; 07-02-2013, 09:02 PM.

            • #13
              In the interest of camp attendees safety, I would assume that you called the national aquatics director to register your concerns?
              I have attached the requirements for lifeguards interested in crossing over to BSA life guards. i have also attached the link to the Aquatics resource page that will answer your questions regarding the supplemental testing needed by Red Cross and Y lifeguards prior to receiving BSA certification.
              As you have shown an interest in aquatics, perhaps you should volunteer for your council aquatics council.

              3. Crossover Challenge—Anyone who holds current training in American Red Cross
              Lifeguarding, American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguarding, or other lifeguard training
              programs may obtain a BSA Lifeguard completion card by performing requirements 1
              through 26 without attending the standard course sessions. The lifeguard training
              program that issued the training certificate must be recognized by the local or state
              regulatory agency that sets standards for lifeguards at youth camps. The instructor may
              provide a crossover training session to review and update skills and information prior to
              the testing. The applicant may receive credit for requirement 26 if within the past 18
              months he or she has served as a lifeguard, under supervision, or has supervised
              lifeguards, for at least two separate BSA swimming activities for a combined time of two
              hours. Otherwise, due to BSA procedures not implemented at other lifeguarding venues,
              the applicant must accomplish requirement 26.



              • King Ding Dong
                King Ding Dong commented
                Editing a comment
                I think as IH I can be CM just not the COR, if that makes sense. I could be wrong, it all gets confusing. We will work it out, the other PTO co-president could be designated IH if need be. He is a former District EBOR Chairman so he supports a strong program.

                Control of program yes, but can't be a dictator. Volunteers do not have to listen to dictators.

              • Pack18Alex
                Pack18Alex commented
                Editing a comment
                You're right, COR can't be CM, I think maybe not CC either, but not sure. The BSA wants three people in charge. You're right about IH not being listed, but in the spirit of things... having a separate IH and COR when the IH is actually a member of the Pack is a little not in the spirit of the rules... My read on it is that the IH is the person authorized to sign, but since we don't assume they are involved, they can designate someone else as the COR.

                In the spirit of things, I think if the IH is involved in the Unit, the IH should double as the COR, as they don't need an intermediary.

                But technically, IH isn't a Unit member, so doesn't preclude another role.

              • King Ding Dong
                King Ding Dong commented
                Editing a comment
                COR can be CC, but not MC or CM or DL. If a CO has a pack and troop the COR has to be the same person. Gives me a headache.

            • #14
              KDD, I have tried to respond to each of your comments below

              "Thanks for the info, I have previously reviewed it. I have not contacted national, but expressed my extreme displeasure with the Swimming MB to the Camp Director. I suppose he is part of the problem as well and I should take my concerns higher. Thanks for the nudge."
              ​Not sure what position you hold in either unit however anyone who witnesses "health and safety" issues needs to talk to someone about it. It's not really about you but more of a safety concern for all of the scouts at the camp while you were their and those that will attend the rest of the summer.

              "My District much less my Council does not want to have anything to do with you unless you have Woodbadge. I am two months out of ALT/IOLS so Woodbadge will have to wait until at least spring. After I fix the adult participation problem with my pack (no Cubmaster, treasurer, popcorn kernel or trainer). and the sedentary troop program I will look into it further. My hands are pretty full at the moment at the unit level. I am also now PTO President and therefor IH, so at least my decisions stand. "

              I believe in earlier posts you mentioned that you were from some council in the Midwest. My experience is that midwestern districts are always in need of trained volunteers. Our day camp and resident camps had to turn scouts away as we did not have enough staff to meet the demand.
              The wood badge comment is somewhat of a red herring. I have not taken wood badge yet my phone still rings from the district looking for volunteers. What I have taken is a significant amount of training over the years much like other scouters on this forum. I would prefer to have a seasoned trained scouter teaching my own boys rather that someone who meets the minimum requirements of wood badge participation.
              As you take more training in the next several years, you will be noticed and be given ample opportunities to "volunteer".
              Forget about the pack trainer, that would be the last position that I would worry about filling. The same with the Popcorn Kernel. A simple email to the parents letting them know that if you do not have someone to run popcorn, the pack will not have any funds and will shut down. If you still don't get any takers, move on and focus on Boy Scouts. Remember KDD, adult knots do not include crosses.

              Further to your comment on BSA life guard training. Yes, you do need it to serve at a council or district level camp. Our district is always looking for lifeguards to work the camps so this seems like a easy decision to get certified. Paddle craft and Water rescue training will certainly come in handy at your troop or pack outings. You will also be able to give swim tests and open up council pools for your units.

              With all due respect to your PTA position, where is that hour a week coming from and are you sure that they will listen to you there ? LOL


              • #15
                I was blackmailed into attending woodbadge.......Don't go if you don't want too.....

                Other than possibly networking with other scouters, which can be done free at roundtable, I found it a complete waste of time.


                • King Ding Dong
                  King Ding Dong commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Don't worry I have no intention of going unless I decide I need a few days off from family life.