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Swiming Req. not fair?

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Nick, your post is well worded, and puts forward some interesting ideas. However, swimming is a critical outdoor skill. The scouting program brings young men in contact with water, and that poses a concern. "Being prepared" for what might happen when near water is a must!


Swimming is also about facing fears, and overcoming them. Rare is a person who saw water for the first time and confidently jumped in and swam. The core requirements for advancement are also about personal growth, and confidence building.


I struggled with swimming, as a young man, my fears mastering me. My first year at camp I was a "non-swimmer", and as a non-swimmer was required to attend daily swimming lessons. By the end of that first year I could swam, but my fear prevented me from going in water over my head.


When I came back for my second year of camp, and was told to line up in the area I desired to test for, I went to beginner. The aquatics director held me back, and after the testing was done, he moved me down to swimmer, and said "swim", when I froze, he gave me a nudge - right into to pool, lol.


You guessed it, I swam, and my fear was gone. I walked away a very proud and confident scout, and earned my BSA Lifeguard before the summer's end. I think swimming belongs just where it is.


BTW, we need more new ideas, so keep them coming.


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The other Troop I was a member of had a Scout who was afraid of the water. First day at Summer Camp, we couldn't even get him to walk down to the gate at the water front. Next day, we got him in the gate and one of the lifeguards started "working with him." Soon he was up to his knees, the next day up to his chest, by Friday he was swimming. He didn't pass the swim test only because he couldn't bring himself to jump off the dock, but he had made amazing progress from that first day. I don't what the lifeguard said or did, but he sure knew his stuff.


At Georgia Tech, we used to have to pass a swim class in order to graduate that was borderline sadistic. Seems that during WWII, there were many Tech students that joined the Army that couldn't swim, and ended up drowing. The school took action and came up with this crazy course. It involved the different strokes; jumping off the high dive in long pants and l/s shirt, swimming under water for a distance (simulating exiting a burning ship & swimming under burning fuel on surface), inflating shirt & pants; tying your hands behind you and having to drown-proof for 20 minutes, swim length of pool & back, swim side to side under water, swim down and pick up barbell with your teeth from the bottom of the dive well - 13' deep (all with hands tied behind you); do the same thing with your legs tied under you, cross-legged; tie ankles together, hands together, bob up and down for 25 minutes in 8' of water; jump in deep end, do forward roll, then swim to end of olympic-size pool, all while under water - for minimum points. For full points, swim down and back full length while under water; swim down to bottom (6' deep), cup hands over eye brows and exhale air to replace water, creating an air pocket so you can open your eyes and read a word written on the bottom. There was even more to the class that I can't remember. If you passed out under water and had to be revived, you got an A (nobody did in my class). I took it my freshman year, and the class was full of graduationg seniors who had put it off to their last quarter. Those of us who had been in Boy Scouts and earned Swimming MB had a much easier time with the class.

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What made the class even MORE fun was it was taught in the "old" pool (read ancient), where ceiling tiles would fall every now and then.


The class was actually called Drownproofing, described as follows:

From 1936 to 1987, Tech offered a class called Drownproofing, which was required for graduation. The class was developed by Coach Fred Lanoue for the Naval School which was located at Georgia Tech prior to and during WWII. He taught students how to float in water for extended periods of time with ankles and wrists bound, how (unbound) to swim 50 yards (46 meters) underwater, and other water survival skills. At the time it was considered a prime example of the difficulty of Tech's curriculum, and referred to in jest by students as "Drowning 101".


You can read more about it at Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drownproofing

and there is even a Drownproofing page - http://www.drownproofing.com/


A Tech alumni gave the class good reviews, at http://gtalumni.org/Publications/techtopics/sum00/firstperson.html


The whole key to the method was breathing. Once you learned how to properly exhale and then inhale quickly, the rest wasn't too difficult. It does work.

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I think I have mentioned this in past threads on the same subject, but my son is one of those Scouts who was slowed down in his advancement by his inability to swim. He did not pass the swimming test until his third year at summer camp, and finished First Class at the same time (when he was a couple months short of 14.) Somewhere along the way he had passed the Second Class swimming requirement, probably just barely. At the same time, I think there were 2 other Scouts who had similar issues, and they ended up quitting Scouting. (Which I suspect is much more common than the Tenderfoot aging out of the troop with 60 MB's.) In my son's case it was not a fear of water, it was just difficulty with the mechanics of swimming. (Actually I have always had the same problem.) He overcame it simply by "toughing it out", and passed the requirements -- eventually including Swimming MB -- without a lot of room to spare, and without great technique, but he passed them. He still isn't a very good swimmer, but he is an Eagle. He even won the "Polar Bear" swim award in his last year at summer camp -- but that was for being willing to be in the water at the crack of dawn every day, not for showing Olympic form once he was there.


In my son's case, the system worked in the way we all hope it would: He had to pass the requirements to advance, and he had to go "beyond himself" and experience "personal growth" in order to pass the requirements. But I think a distinction needs to be made between someone like my son, who has to overcome some difficulty, and someone who has a medical problem (whether physical or psychiatric) that makes it impossible, or close to impossible.


As for the "permanent" requirement, I really don't think the BSA intended that to mean that if you may be able to overcome the problem at some time during your life, you don't qualify for alternative requirements. We had a Scout in our troop who was given alternative requirements for many requirements and Merit Badges, because he has a serious neurological condition, is wheelchair bound, has very limited use of his hands and arms, and great difficulty speaking. (Very bright, and a good writer, though the actual physical part of the writing is done either by someone helping him, or by machine.) He also needed a few extra months, and he got them, and made Eagle, and now attends a college for students with special needs. Now, is it conceivable that sometime during his lifetime, medical science may progress to the point where he would be able to walk, run, swim and do all the other physical activities that he has never been able to do? Sure. I'd like to think there is some hope of that happening. It is very unlikely, but it is conceivable. That doesn't change the fact that his condition is "permanent." I realize this is an extreme example, but it just illustrates that "permanent" is usually not an absolute, at least as long as you are alive and have some brain function. Without an absolute, there is a line to be drawn, and it is just a question of where you draw the line.

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**warning... slightly off topic......maybe...


Why does it seem like there is a prevailing presumtion that a scout that does not make Eagle has failed? ...Or that the program has failed??


My late Grandfather was a scout in the early 1913-15 range. His father was the scoutmaster of his troop in NYC. (Manhattan I think) Anyway, he was very small for his age and was unable to complete the requirements for the lifesaving MB. My granfather earned the rank of Star scout and went on to be an ASM in that same troop. He was always proud of his involvement in scouting and spoke to me often about it. This was the single greatest thing that motivated me to work hard on my scouting advancement as a boy.


I knew that he always regretted not earning Eagle himself, but he never seemed bitter about the requirements being too tough.


I know that it is not PC, but I just cringe every time I hear about requirements being changed or modified. If the program did not offer a significant challenge, then wouldn't the value be diminished?







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