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ascoutbuddy

lifesaving work

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my son attempted to take the life saving merit badge. Did the 400 yards. waited with the rest of the boys to start next portion when the instructor told him in front of all the boys he failed. Told him he could retry after he rested. He sucked it up, waited. Then the instructor told him he couldn't retry. He was devestated. Mind you there were no lanes by that instructor in the pool and boys sent in the water to do laps. He was close to the wall, ran into it so he "pushed" off and continued the yardage. The other boys did the same thing. When I asked if he could use the only lane to try again he said no because he did not want him near anything. I know it is suppose to be be continueous... He also asked if he could do the strokes in an order that he felt he could do them more fitting to him. He was told no. Do the strokes have to be done in any specific order?

Now his scoutmaster is saying life saving is intended for 3rd or 4th year scouts and his failure is because he's too young (12). I understood it as a scout can WORK on any merit badge at any time. Sometimes the merit badges are work...meaning you may not succeed at first. Because my son excels at things, this is his first failure at a merit badge. I viewed it as a good lesson about perserverance and keep working at it, you can do it and not everything comes easy like the first 46 merit badges.... But they don't want him to try it again. Do I put up a stink?

 

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Yah, hmmmm....

 

Hullo there ascoutbuddy. Welcome to the forums!

 

I reckon one of the hardest things for us folks to do as adults and parents is to step back when our young lads are having some difficulty or another. These days it almost seems expected that parents will plow the road of obstacles for their kids, though it wasn't so very long ago that a boy of age 12 had passed his "coming of age" and was expected to leave home as an apprentice worker in a trade.

 

I can't see why it's your job to put up anything, includin' a stink. :)

 

Your son is a bright fellow, and so I think odds are he can figure it out. As boys move into their adolescent and teen years, what they need most is a safe and supportive "home base" from which they can launch out into the world to try different things, work with different people, challenge themselves and succeed and fail. Those are their challenges and successes and failures, eh? Don't take them away. They're important.

 

Sometimes when there's a Lifesavin' MB class, the MBC has to set things up for the group, and doesn't have the time or ability to do any swim remediation. Might even be that some lad needs Lifesaving for Eagle rank and is runnin' out of time, so that particular group is tryin' to move fast. So while yeh report a few things that I wouldn't consider best practice, I think yeh also have to expect that volunteers don't have infinite time. Often the MB class structure is designed more as testing than as instruction, with an expectation that the boys will work on the learning and practice on their own.

 

So I'd suggest that yeh just be that safe, supportive "home base" for your son, where he knows he's loved and encouraged. Ask him what he's goin' to do, not what you should do. Ask whether he'd like to try a swim team or some other swim activities to build up his skill and stamina perhaps. Age 12 is pretty young for Lifesaving MB without some real strong swimming background /trainin'. That's a good way for him to work on the badge, eh? A Scout Learns, then a scout is tested. Seems like this last test suggested he needed a bit more learnin', and that's just fine.

 

Beavah

 

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He and I were iritated with the counselor but that is all over and he's dissappointed but okay. My problem was with the SM saying he shouldn't try again or not encouraging him to work at it.

Is that the message we want to send the kids if you fail something you don't need to try again. I was proud of him that he stayed to cheer on a friend in the class after he was visible upset. I'm proud that he even wanted to try to do it again same day with the counselor. I am proud of him and I am very dissappointed with the idea of not letting him try again if he humbled himself to his failure wether his fault or the counselors.

I say let the boy do it again! he's learning to overcome failure.

I also realize the "class" setting was intended for testing out of the merit badge and not teaching.

I guess I just want the SM to be encouraging....

Boy that was like therapy getting the words out. Thanks

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In theory a scout should be able to work/test out on all requirements, even if they haven't been able to complete one requirement. Then return to the failed requirement later. I would counsel my son to be aware of that.

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One difference between Life Saving MB and, say, basketry MB: A scout could be merely barely adequate at making a basket and it would not really have that much impact on anyone or anything, except on the scout's own skills (and perhaps, on the recipient of the scout's baskets).

 

On the other hand, a merely barely adequate Life Saver is, quite possibly, not a Life Saver at all. In fact not only might he be unable to save others, but he might endanger his own life in the process because he's not quite as capable as he thinks he is. Honestly, I don't want any kid, but especially my own kid, to get a marginal pass on this merit badge.

 

Now the thing that seems to stick in the craw is the notion that he's not being allowed to retest. OK. Maybe he (or you, or both) are hearing this right and the MB counselor is being kind of hard-nosed about it. On the other hand, maybe he (or you, or both) are hearing this a little differently than intended. I know this happens with my son sometimes - he's a black & white thinker who sometimes believes he's being told things in finite terms, when in fact that's not what's being said at all.

 

Maybe the intent is: "You aren't ready to retest right now. Work on your strength/stroke/skill X some more and let's see in a few months." That's not "you can't do this ever again." That's "you can try this again, but not right now."

 

At any rate, as a parent, I would not be making a fuss. First, it takes ownership of the experience away from your son. Second, it sends a message (unintended, I'm sure) to your son that you think he can't handle this. Third, it diminishes the accomplishment, when he does earn it, possibly both in your son's own eyes ("did I really earn this?") and in the eyes of his peers ("Johnny only got that because his parent complained"). Fourth, no MB Counselor is going to want to work with your son - or you - if they think you're going to do that sort of thing.

 

 

 

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The requirements don't specify a particular order, just that they do at least 50 yards of each stroke.

 

Don't understand about not wanting him to try again. Might not be a bad idea to wait until next summer, though. Personally, I think a scout should do swimming merit badge first summer camp, and lifesaving second. I want as many boys competent in the water as possible. They may be saving me :-)

 

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I'm with the others. If I were running the event, I might do things differently. There are various things here that don't come across great.

 

But I don't think that making a stink about it is going to be in anyone's best interests.

 

The only thing I might recommend, this being from my position as Scoutmaster, is that a parent who passes on some information from his son can provide a useful service. I don't know everything that happens, or how it affects every boy. So, getting some feedback about how some Scout is being really frustrated by some adult, or whatever, can be good info to have. In this case, though, it sounds like the Scoutmaster is already aware of this to some extent in your case.

 

Do you really want to be the guy who "puts up a stink"?

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DLChris,

 

With lifesaving, if you don't pass the prerequisites (one of which is the swim test), you can't go on.

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Don't put up a stink. But encourage your son to either:

 

1. Respectfully tell SM he really wants to try for the badge, and ask him for help finding a different counselor, or

2. Hold on to that partial. Try again (possibly with the same counselor) at the next opportunity.

 

Lifesaving skills come with maturity, and it's a great thing that your son has started. He'll feel a sense of pride when he arrives (even more when he identifies and properly rescues his first tired swimmer).

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perdidochas,

 

You don't say. Well preach on then.

 

I would hope that, yeah, you would be able to swim before you try the lifesaving mb, duh.

 

On the SM side, given the requirements, I would be hesitant to allow anyone under FC take the class anyway.

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It sounds an awful lot like it was at my May 12 SWIM that this happened, and if so, I was the Counselor. The Scout was pulling himself along on the wall, but what caused the cessation was that he was stopping and standing on the bottom at the shallow end. I'm always open to do remedial work. He also kept getting in line to do other requiremants, but the requirements specifically say that the 400 has to be done BEFORE starting requirements 2-15. The reason that I didn't want the Scout to try again in the middle of the pool was that I really didn't think he was a strong swimmer (I'd say it is just a confidence issue,) and I didn't want him to get in trouble out there and need to be rescued. I know the Scoutmaster, and he's concerned that this Scout is racking up Merit Badges right and left, and the Scoutmaster wants the Scout to experience things in greater depth. (Pun) I'm a little miffed at the comment about "Not about instruction." I just expect that a Scout who shows up for Lifesaving Merit Badge won't need to be taught how to swim. In any case. I'm the Counselor, and it's up to me to determine whether a requirement is fulfilled or not. I'm sorry if there are hard feelings, but that's the way it's got to be.

If I'm wrong about it being me, whew, but the principles still all apply.

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as a swimming and lifesaving MBC I pay attention every time the boys are taking their swim tests - when I see that they have the ability to complete either of those badges I let them know. when I see they are struggling I work with them when can to get them ready.

 

my own son will never be able to pass lifesaving MB as he can't surface dive to 10 feet. I have a couple of other boys that have the same issue. I let them know that it is something they need to work on, but that if they can pass the distance it's still a good MB to take to learn how to rescue someone if needed, and how important that can be even if they can't complete all of the requirements.

 

My son's troop has quiet a few boys that have partials with lifesaving and have gone on and comopleted emergency prep. I see it as my job as a coulcilor to encourage all boys who can pass the distance to do their best and try the MB - if they pass awesome, if they don't then look at what you did learn!

 

but if they can't pass the distance then they are on hold until they can. or if they don't know all the strokes then they are on hold until they learn them. it's their job to keep learning and working on making the distance. I'm always willing to help out when it works in my schedule.

 

but one thing I HATE when doing a MB with someone is when the boy or the parent is looking for reasons that I'm doing something wrong. I agree to add no more and accept no less - I expect the boy to the work. I'd rather have a boy come talk to me about things than a parent come up and talk to me (unless of course there are medical reasons/disabilites that make it needed)

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As a former Swimming and Lifesaving MBC, national will no longer allow me to be an MBC since I no longer have my lifeguarding instructor certification, I can tell you that there is a very specific reason why the swim test is so long and is the very first thing you do: the amount of swimming you will be doing will easily triple during the course.

 

If a scout is having problems doing the initial swim test, I also would talk to him about taking the course another time when he has the endurance.

 

As a lifeguard instructor, I've had folks who had problems with the swim test, but were allowed to continue the course by the lead instructor, or my boss. These folks always had challenges during the course, with some folks taking the course 2 times and still not passing, and giving up.

 

IMHO,Lifesaving MB is one of those you MUST keep standards high b/c if a scout believes he has the skills b/c of the MB, and he really doesn't, then you are putting both the rescuer and victim in danger.

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it sounds like the original poster is content with the fail given by the counselor after your theraputic posts. I think their issue was with a SM not be encouraging. Who cares how many merit badges the kid has or hasn't. If he wants to earn them. Let him. Merit badges often introduce a scout to something, they don't make them experts in the field. Who's to say what the scout gets out of it. Lifesaving is no merit badge to "fudge" the results with, I agree. I think what they were saying other scouts did the same thing. But once again the scout accepted his failure in the end. Don't we want kids to perserve? Maybe not that day though. Maybe the counselor who ever it was should have taken him aside and let him down and like you have suggested encourage him to take some more lessons. His age shouldn't matter, I've seen some Mannly looking 12 yr. olds!

Let's get real though I doubt the "class" was about teaching as much as it was about testing.

Who knows only one person the original post was there.

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What happened was:

The Scout was stopping and standing in the shallow end for an unacceptable period of time.I kept telling him not to stop. I also told him not to pull himself along the side of the pool; but the big issue was stopping and standing in the shallow end.

Skunkfeet, I am the counselor who told him that he had not successfully completed the requirement. (1b.) Also, there is no partial becuase no requirements were fulfilled. So, more than the original poster knows what happened.(This message has been edited by Jay K)

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