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Alternate swim requirements for 2nd & 1st Class

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Appreciate any help or suggestions I can get here.


Background: I have a Scout who, due to a problem during very early childhood, is physically unable to use his right arm as more than an anchor (no grip with his fingers at all), and whose right leg also has control issues. These are both permanent conditions. The boy has been a Scout for a year and a half now and is slowly being allowed to take part in more activities (his parents are really, really protective of him). Not being allowed to participate has held him back more than any physical problems, and he made Tenderfoot just last night.


Despite his issues (on top of his physical problems, he reads on only a 1st grade level and has some memory problems, although when he's with his friends you'd never know he had any mental issues), this kid is a beast. While he certainly did not like moving slower than his friends or taking more time than he friends, he earned Tenderfoot without needing a single alternate requirement. We're talking struggles with one armed pushups and pull-ups and working out how to do two half hitches and the taut-line hitch one handed despite being unable to tie his own shoes (try doing it one handed sometime, its really hard).


Looking ahead to 2nd and 1st Class and taking what I've seen of the kid, my only major concerns are the swim tests. I had a meeting with the Scout and his mom at the end of the meeting, and he has never had any sort of formal swim lessons. Why would he? "Normal" strokes wouldn't work for him, he can't cup his hand or rotate his right arm to propel himself, and his right leg would have issues with the kicking motions. Despite this, the kid is all about trying to swim. This is where I could use the help.


2nd Class - 8b.Demonstrate your ability to jump feetfirst into water over your head in depth, level off and swim 25 feet on the surface, stop, turn sharply, resume swimming, then return to your starting place.


No where in there do I see where it says any specific stroke needs to be used while swimming. You could doggie paddle and complete the requirement as stated. Does anyone see anything different there? Would we have to apply for an alternate requirement?


1st Class: 9b.Successfully complete the BSA swimmer test.


BSA Swimmer Test:

Jump feet first into water over the head, level off, and begin swimming.

Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: side, breast, trudgen, or crawl. Swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke.

The 100 yards must be completed without stops and must include at least one sharp turn.

Rest by floatingLong enough to demonstrate ability to rest when exhausted.


This one is a bit trickier, we can try to teach one of these strokes (side stroke?). What about a resting backstroke? I would think that he'd end up going in circles. Any ideas on how to complete this requirement? Any ideas for potential alternate requirements that we could come up with?


Also, time to get one of my older Scouts to learn the one handed bowline so that they can teach it for 1st Class...


Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.

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check this out, you will need Council Advancement Committee permission




but then again, it shouln't be too hard to do either. Have suggestions on how you would change the requirments and include them in your write-up(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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Rather than try to figure out how to get this boy swimming on your own, I suggest the family pops for swim lessons on their own. A specialist in working with the disabled, or a physical therapist, might already know of swimming techniques that would work for him.


Actually, since it seems he has some use of his limbs, swimming might be great physical therapy for his right side.

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Thanks OldGreyEagle. I have my contact at council for that committee who walked me through the various steps of getting alternate requirements approved (he is my favorite person at either district or council level, and he goes above and beyond the call of duty to help out). I haven't had to use the process yet, as the Scout made it through all of the Tenderfoot requirements without needing any alternate requirements, a big boost to his self-esteem (his real self-esteem, not the fake "feel-good" type).


My issue is that I'm not sure what an appropriate alternate requirement would be if he can't manage the swimming. While it would be too much to hope for a physical therapist to lurk here, I'm hoping someone who may have dealt with similar issues might have suggestions for alternates, or even alternates that their troop has used.


Scoutnut ~ That's an idea. I work in a school, so I can ask the occupational therapist if she knows of any places next time I see her.

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A Scout who is unable to complete any or all of the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank because he is physically or mentally disabled may complete alternative requirements if the following criteria are met:


1.The physical or mental disability must be of a permanent rather than a temporary nature.

2.A clear and concise medical statement concerning the Scout's disabilities must be submitted by a physician licensed to practice medicine. In the alternative, an evaluation statement certified by an educational administrator may be submitted. The medical statement must state the doctor's opinion that the Scout cannot complete the requirement(s) because of a permanent disability.

3.The Scout, his parents, or leaders must submit to the council advancement committee, a written request that the Scout be allowed to complete alternative requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank. The request must explain the suggested alternate requirements in sufficient detail so as to allow the advancement committee to make a decision. The request must also include the medical statement required in paragraph two above. The written request for alternate requirements must be submitted to and approved by the local council prior to completing alternate requirements.

4.The Scout must complete as many of the regular requirements as his ability permits before applying for alternate requirements.

5.The alternate requirements must be of such a nature that they are as demanding of effort as the regular requirements.

6.When alternate requirements involve physical activity, they must be approved by the physician.

7.The unit leader and any board of review must explain that to attain Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank a candidate is expected to do his best in developing himself to the limit of his resources.

8.The written request must be approved by the council advancement committee, utilizing the expertise of professional persons involved in Scouting for disabled youth. The decision of the council advancement committee should be recorded and delivered to the Scout and his leader.

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One handed/arm swimming is doable, difficult but doable. Had an ex girlfriend who was paralyzeied onthe left side. She prefered the backstroke, but could do a side stroke if needed.


that said,I say use the Advancement policies so he can continue to advance BUT get this scout swimming. it is an im,portant lifeskill that may save his life.

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What I feel is the big kicker in the process is #4 "The Scout must complete as many of the regular requirements as his ability permits before applying for alternate requirements."


Before he can even apply of alternate requirements, he has to do all that he can do as written, and this would probably mean applying twice, once for second class and then again for first class. You would only need to apply once if he completes all other second class and first class requirements, and then works on the swimming requirements for each.

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I cover the aquatic skills for the Troop I serve. I am also a YMCA/BSA lifeguard and have taught Scouts of different levels to swim.


I also am an amputee (no left leg). Butterfly is the most difficult, but since that competitive rather than Scouter, it's not an issue.


If the Scout can float, side stroke and resting backstroke (arms in the water) and backstroke (arm rotating out of the water) is doable. I can also do a "1-arm/1-leg" forward crawl stroke. It's not pretty, but definitely stronger than dog paddle. Why, I also have some nerve damage in my left arm and sometimes I let it rest a lap or 2.


Anyway the big thing here is getting the Scout to the water, getting him to float and going from there. Who knows, with the right skill-adjustments he may not need any alternates.

(This message has been edited by dg98adams)

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Actually Side stroke is considered a forward power stroke. So it is acceptable for it to be used for 75 yards.



On a side note, anyone know the difference between the Side Stroke and the Lifesaving Stroke? I do just curios how many others do?

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At least your 250# "victim" floated. My 250+# victim during training was the head wrestling coach at a local HS, was solid muscle, and sunk like a rock. If I remember correctly, he had to do some sculling with his arms to stay afloat.

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That passive 250# "victim" I towed during my 1st guard class back years ago when I turned 16 was one of the Y's power lifters. A floater would not be a good description. :)


When I served as a costal life guard in Florida a couple years later, towing the drunk college kids thru the surf made me wish I was back there. :)


Now running thru the life guarding sessions with my "don't go anywhere without my float tube", even the weakest Scout swimmer can manage it.



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