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BSA Lifeguard Examination

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Hi eaglecout4029,

it entails:

1) a Practical Application which is usually either done during the course and taken into account and scored as the course progresses OR a separate event where all the skills you have been taught during the course are displayed in one final event.

2) a Written Multiple Choice Final that is usually on the last day of the course after the practical application portion.


The questions are directly from the course materials and it should be an easy test IF your Lifeguard Counselor has covered all of the material he should have, AND you paid attention.


Does that answer your question?

Edit: Good resource Eagle69!(This message has been edited by Gunny2862)

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Any word on whether there has been an agreement made between the Red Cross and BSA on cross recognizing lifeguard certifications?

#1 son is getting his ARC lifeguard next month to work at the community pool this summer. Would be nice if he could also do boy scout lifeguard stuff too.

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Back when I was a lifeguard isntructor for YMCA, there was no reciprocity agreement. This was when YMCA still taught the "hand to hand combat" stuff :) To the best of my knowledge, both ARC and YMCA took out a bunch of the releases, and the double drowning info that BSA still practices. Plus BSA still requires knowledge of row boats and canoes, again to the best of my knowledge.


Gern if son is ARC lifeguard, a good portion of BSA will be review. But there is alot more to BSA Lifeguard. Heck I saw a few kids fail BSA lifeguard that I would trust over people who passed YMCA lifeguard. BSA is the toughest program of the three.

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It's all in the Instructor as to how good the course is.


If you only want a Pool Guard you want the ARC certificate. If you want someone who can do more (open Beach, Waterfront, Float Trip, etc.) you want the BSA cert.


Both have their points. I'd prefer to see a Guard with any cert, or both, work a shift or two before I hired anyone.


The BSA guard from my troop who trained the same time I did my Counselor training, is someone I'd let watch my back, or my own kid. He does a great job.


BSA and Red Cross ARE moving closer but it's almost totally by the BSA adding more Pool requirements to their training. No reciprocity that I'm aware of as of yet.


Personally, I like having some of the "In Water Hand to Hand", some combative drowners will take you out if you let them. As always, some instructors do go a little overboard though, it's not a karate course.

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The ARC course seems to be the Gold standard that most every aquatic operation recognizes. Country clubs, YMCAs, public community pools, waterparks all require ARC certification. Nobody but BSA camps accept BSA Lifeguard. If the goal is to get a job outside of summer camp, seems ARC is the only thing going. It would be nice if there were some reciprocal agreement. If we are going to go through the effort to get a cert, its gonna be ARC.


I got my ARC certification back in the late 70s. We had combat training. Actually used it on a few saves. Those little kids can be stronger than you might think. Now it seems they rely on those red pool toys to do the hard work. Oh well. I haven't guarded for 25 years and I don't look so good in a speedo anymore.

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Actually YMCA will not accept ARC lifeguard certification, at least when I was teaching. While ARC is the more commonly accepted course, it's becasue they are offered more. But IME most places recognize either one.


YMCA did do a few things differently. It's kinda of funny b/c when I started teaching YMCA they used the vicegrip then changed to in place lock, i.e. arms lockign the head into position. ARC Went from the inplace lock to vicegrip, basically both organizations reveresed their positons on spinal injuries.


Yep both ARC and YMCA did away with the hand to hand, BSA still keeps it. That's why I'ld let a few BSA 'rejects" protect me than some folks i've seen certified via YMCA, or ARC for that matter.


Also in reference to BSA certification, 1) there are some places that do accept BSA Lifeguard. Mostly camps and lakes faciltiies.

2) If you can pass BSA Lifeguard, the other courses are a piece of cake.

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Here's the bottom line: If you're doing a pool, and your major tool is a buoyancy belt/float, a pole, or a rope, then ARC is for you.


ARC PREMISE: No one does open water swimming anymore.


If you're doing open water, and your major tools include GOING to the rescue, the BSA LG is for you.


BSA PREMISE: We swim in open water still


Gern, to be honest, have any young person who wants to work the pool do both.

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I think it's a chicken and the egg plus exposure to litigious action thing.


The best way to protect yourself as an organization is to have the most widely recognized Certification as your standard. The largest organization is the ARC. Thus the most training, thus the most widely recognized, thus the most demand, ... the circle continues.


There's no incentive for ARC to create/accept reciprocity with BSA for Lifeguard certifications unless we are going to pay them a fee. And even BSA/ARC reciprocity sets up ARC as the standard, continuing the circle above...

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The issue is why do both. ARC is gonna cost me $220 and 6 days of my son's life. Why do the BSA two weekends too?

This would be akin to BSA offering Wilderness First Aid, but allowing ARC WFA for high adventure. Sure you could wiz through BSA WFA after taking ARC WFA or vise versa, but why would you do it and lose another weekend?

IMHO, BSA should accept ARC lifeguard as equivilent and perhaps require additional training for open water or lake front. Just like most beach organizations do.

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In my very humble and not long term experience with that, the NCS trained BSA Water Sports Director/ Lifeguard Counselor who did our training DID take ARC certification for equivalency on the academics where it applied and then taught that individual the remainder of the course.

Still had to do practical application on all of the skills however, which I believe should be required to get the other organizations certificate. YMMV.


Would you really want YOUR name coming up when that Lifeguard misses the save and they look into who trained him, if you hadn't observed his doing all of the practical skills and spent enough time to judge that they had the character to BE guards? As a Lifeguard Counselor I think that is in it's own right a large part of the course.


I may be incorrect, I haven't taken the ARC course, I'm not sure how you could give equivalency for ARC to BSA without additional training. It would appear to me that you could give equivalency for BSA to ARC. Just show the newly certified ARC guard how to do the pre-shift water quality testing.(This message has been edited by Gunny2862)

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I haven't taken BSA LG. And my ARC LG was 30 years ago and long expired.

But looking at the hours required, ARC is 40 hours. BSA LG is two weekends. If they do 10 hours a day, it would seem to be equivilant not in excess of ARC. Sure curriculums will differ and emphasis on particular topics will vary. But to flat out say that ARC falls well below the standards of BSA is a bit hard to swallow.


Anywhoo. We are land locked and the only jobs for lifeguards are in waterparks and pools. No need for beach/open water here. I'm comfortable with him getting ARC and skip working at BSA summer camp.

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Uh, who is doing it in two weekends, unless they're doing 4, 10 hour days they might need to re-read the BSA Lifeguard documents. And I'd hate to teach it that way. Question, how will they get their Guarding time in doing it that way, is there a concurrent swim event they can guard?


Like I said earlier, the quality of the Instructor can make or break the certification for either Cert..


As to the inequivalency, we've already established that widely divergent topics are covered, ARC guards don't do Safety Afloat and aren't typically concerned with actual Buddy Checks, no longer do Combatives, but some of that is specific to things Troops do, or that BSA thinks Guard Might need to know. BSA guards don't do Pool water chemical evaluations - Pool Directors do. So why would ARC/BSA teach those skills if they don't utilize them?


I believe ARC guards might put in more lap time, but also think the BSA is the more through course. If you can't already swim well you shouldn't be doing either certification, apparently, BSA thinks the same way and cuts out the "swimming" time.


Edit: If his goal is working and getting paid, ARC is the right choice. Most BSA camps do pay but it's a shorter season and not on a par for pay.(This message has been edited by Gunny2862)

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