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Engineer61

Hmmm...anti-kudos.

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Oak,

Thanks for the update. Guess I need to redo SA with the new info. That is IF the new info is up there. When I took it in Aug/Sept, SA was the same online course that I did 2 adn 4 years ago.

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Upon reflection, I think they need to add " or a youth with a national lifeguard certification."

 

I know of some adults who can pass the swim test, but couldn't handle a rescue, and I know many a youth who could handle the rescue since they were trained 'guards.

 

Then again I'm an old fogey who remembers when BSA Lifeguard WAS the hardest program in the USA, and not just an imitation ARC program.

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Twocub...I think you missed the relationships.

 

Scout is step-son my current wife's son. My son is not involved in Scouting, however, my Ex has been known to try 1+1=fish (as my daughter puts it). And tr to equate occurrences with my step-son as somehow an example as to how I might be endangering my son. Twisted...I agree...but that's how the legal system can be played.

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1) Did he pass the swimmer's test prior to canoeing? If no then

 

I believe he has, however, I have witnessed his swimming ability in my own pool for several years, and it is minimal at best...and certainly not demonstrated under a crisis situation. If he could tread water for 3 minutes in a swimsuit only, I'd be amazed.

 

1b) Was he in a canoe with a certified lifeguard?

 

I have no idea, the credentials of the adults are all unknown to me, doubt if my wife does either.

 

As for PFD's. They are a must have and a so what at the same time. PFD's are known to fail. I don't know what type they were, etc.

 

He apparently did not have a full change of clothes, so he returned to town in wet jeans...fortunately he had left his coat the vehicle, so that was dry.

 

In the end, the Scouting mantra considers me wrong. Eh, I guess that just means I don't sleep on those weekends he's on outings....which has been the case for a couple years now.

 

Sucks to be me.

(This message has been edited by Engineer61)

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So you don't know whether the boy was paired with someone who could have ensured his safety, yet you assume that he might have drowned, anyway. You know, people who can swim can still drown in a puddle if the conditions align just right. So I understand that there is always concern when on the water.

 

But let's look carefully at this situation: he's in a canoe with an adult. The adult may have lifeguard certification (you aren't sure, didn't ask). There are other canoes with additional scouts nearby. The boy is wearing a PFD. Could he still drown? Yes. Is it probable? No.

 

At the end of the day you need to make your own risk calculations. And it is clear that you have a somewhat complicated family situation to take into account, which may alter your calculations and bias you toward a more conservative assessment. That is your right.

 

I don't think your expectations of the troop are reasonable though. They cannot possibly plan for every family's complicated marital or post-marital situation. If they make the program so incredibly safe that no boy is ever threatened with so much as a paper cut (which, to me, is more along the lines of what you would like), then no boy would want to be part of that program, either.

 

Troops have a responsibility to be open about the nature of their program. Parents have a responsibility to evaluate the program and make decisions based on their family needs. That includes parents evaluating whether or not they trust the judgment of troop leaders, because events on the ground will sometimes result in minor modifications of the initial plan (as happened in this case you describe). Also, leaders will sometimes have access to new info, or more info, than the parents have (as also may be the case here). Judgment is important.

 

If you do not agree with the program, and/or if you do not trust the leadership of the program then either get involved, get trained, and become leadership yourself, or remove the boy. There must be other troops in the area, maybe one with which you would be more comfortable. Does your wife's ex require that the boy be in THIS troop?

 

Bottom line: your risk assessment is your own business, but because you, yourself, admit to a very conservative bias given your family situation, your assessment is unlikely to be the same as that of many others in the troop. The whole troop shouldn't be expected to cater to the lowest common denominator.

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"He apparently did not have a full change of clothes, so he returned to town in wet jeans...fortunately he had left his coat the vehicle, so that was dry."

 

Whose responsibility is is to pack dry clothes for an activity on the water? The SM or your stepson?

 

Now, IMHO, as jeans are totally inappropriate for an aquatic activity, especially one in cold weather, the SM should have put the kibosh on that from the start. A young Scout accustomed to wearing jeans everywhere may not have known better. They are heavy when wet and dry very slowly, making them a double threat in cold water.

 

But even the greenest of greenhorns should know to pack an extra outfit when there's the potential to get wet. It's the whole Scout motto thing - the one that goes "Be Prepared."

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In refernce to PFDs and if memory serves,you are correct in that there is a "failure rate" with PFDs. But is extremely low, and if you look at the details of the incident, other factors are involved: i.e. alcohol, being knocked unconscious, etc. So I wouldn't worry about that too much. Sorry I cannot state a source, it was something I picked up in a water safety course over 10 years ago.

 

Also some other info that may make you feel less concerned.

 

Swimming MB and all the boating MBs have the following requirements, or very similar ones:

 

1.Discuss the prevention and treatment for health concerns that could occur while swimming, including hypothermia, dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, muscle cramps, hyperventilation, spinal injury, stings and bites, and cuts and scrapes.

2.Do the following:

a.Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person. Explain how to recognize such conditions

b.Demonstrate proper technique for performing CPR using a training device approved by your counselor.

 

Canoeing MB has this skill:

6.With a companion, wearing the proper PFD and appropriately dressed for the weather and water conditions, use a properly equipped canoe to demonstrate the following:

f.Capsize the canoe and demonstrate how staying with a capsized canoe will support both paddlers.

g.Swim, tow, or push a swamped canoe 50 feet to shallow water. In the shallow water, empty the swamped canoe and reenter it.

h.In deep water, rescue a swamped canoe and its paddlers by emptying the swamped canoe and helping the paddlers safely reenter their boat without capsizing.

 

And while the lake wasn't whitewater, if any one has that MB it has the following:

11.Explain and demonstrate:

a.Self-rescue and procedures when capsized in moving water, including a wet exit if necessary

b.Safe rescue of others in various whitewater situations situations using a throw rope.

c.Portaging - when and how to do it.

d.The whitewater buddy system using at least three persons and three craft.

 

Now IMHO, this one requirement makes the Lifesaving MB more important than ANY, again stressing ANY, lifeguard certification.

 

9.Perform the following nonequipment rescues for a conscious practice subject 30 feet from shore.

 

As a former lifeguard instructor, there are times when you need to make a rescue, and make it fast, when you do not have any equipment, or if the equipment breaks (and equipment breaking is very rare if the stuff is maintained). I do not like it that ARC, YMCA, and now BSA Lifeguard, do not teach how to make rescues without equipment.

 

In a nutshell your son is safe in the water.

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Yah, anyone ever seen that old Sylvester Stallone movie "Cliffhanger?". In da opening sequence, a climbing harness spontaneously self-destructs. 1/4 inch aluminum buckles bend and snap, every scrap of webbing pulls apart... all under the static weight of a 110 lb woman. It's hysterically ridiculous, but it does advance the plot.

 

That's what I imagine here every time Engineer61 talks about failing PFDs, eh? Some demonically possessed self-destructing life jacket, like a scene out of Final Destination 6. It's hysterically ridiculous, but it does advance the plot he wants to create.

 

A properly fit PFD that is at all well maintained will function perfectly fine in da conditions described, and provide a healthy amount of insulation from the cold to boot. When PFDs "fail" it's places like Class IV+ whitewater river hydraulics, where there's enough force of river current to rip the PFD off. That ain't goin' to happen in a few riffles on a lake.

 

Beavah

 

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An intersting aside on CLIFFHANGER. When I went to NCS for COPE, we were told not to believe CLIFFHANGER in reference to the Blue Water Climbing Gear used in the movie. We were told that Blue Water sued the production company b/c they did lose some business after that movie. Whether it's true or not, I don't know, maybe another scouting urban legend.

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E61,

 

I am a little nervous the times I am not out with my boys -- especially the youngest who has had asthma his whole life. (Oldest is in college -- takes the girlfriend on wilderness outings with the youth fellowship, so now I'm nervous for her, too!)

 

That's why I said understanding the SM's "risk equation" is so important. Unfortunately, that involves time around campfires getting to know the man (and his assistants). You may get answers of why he did what he did at a committee meeting or some other venue, but the tone may be different.

 

How my parents could drum up the courage to just trust me to my SM, I'll never know. (Of course being the youngest child, they were battle-hardened.)

 

One of our dads did make a serious bonehead move on a hike a while back. The boys were furious at him. When he reviewed it with me I replied, "Well, at least it's not me they're mad at for once." A seasoned adult leader should be used to a little humble pie. If you're able to approach him in a friendly tone, he should be able to talk to you about the incident: what went wrong, what went right, and what he would do differently.

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Lisabob made a comment that I thought it important to address...

 

"But let's look carefully at this situation: he's in a canoe with an adult."

 

Uhh, no, there was no adult in the canoe, according to my step-son, just him an another boy. Was there supposed to have been?

 

======

 

Lisabob also suggested...

 

"If you do not agree with the program, and/or if you do not trust the leadership of the program then either get involved, get trained, and become leadership yourself, or remove the boy."

 

For me to get involved would be hypocritical for several reasons and since I have zero Scouting experience, I doubt I would be taken seriously anyway. Further, since I really have no interest in the outdoor activities that are the core of Scouting, it would be a miserable adventure. (I am content to drive to the Grand Canyon and look at it...I have no need to hike it.)

 

I cannot remove my step-son...as I have said many times, it is not my decision, I just get to worry about it.

 

======

 

Fortunately, the school year is about over, step-son will leave Scouting for the summer when he goes back to visit his Dad, so I won't have to worry much about it.

 

Kinda ironic really, his Grandfather, Father and two Uncle's and Cousin are all Eagles but after they Eagle'd, they did nothing else. They all want step-son to Eagle because is looks good on paper.

 

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E61:

 

If he hasn't been classified as a Swimmer, he would had to have been in the canoe with an "an adult who is trained as a lifeguard or a lifesaver by a recognized agency," under the Safety Afloat rules.

 

The Swimmer test is this:

 

Jump feetfirst into water over your head. Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating. This qualification test should be renewed annually.

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yeah, this is an area that gets abused.

 

they should be tested in the activity's conditions. a swim test in a pool is not the same as a 1500 acre lake with water temperature in the 40s.

 

but do you make everyone take the test in the cold water?

 

if his description is correct then this trip should have been limited to strong swimmers.

 

they could have gone to a lower altitude lake with water on the 60s and air temp in the 80s and avoided the issues.

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"I cannot remove my step-son...as I have said many times, it is not my decision, I just get to worry about it. "

 

And if you continued to read what I wrote, you may have found that I suggested you look at other troops in the area. I understand you don't seem to like scouting and it makes you nervous, and you don't really feel like being involved in it, anyway. But if you have a problem with this particular troop - you and your wife just don't trust the leadership's judgment (and that is certainly what it sounds like) - then find a different troop! Most areas have at least a couple. Does your wife's ex require that the boy be in scouts, or that the boy be in THIS troop?

 

As for your experience level, where do you think most people begin at? You don't need to be an expert to go a few times (on some of the more basic camp outs, no high adventure stuff) and get a better feel for the leaders who are donating their time to your step-son every camp out. If it is important enough for you that you know and understand and can trust these people (or not), then you can live with sleeping in a tent for a couple nights.

 

On the other hand, if all you want to do is complain, and you aren't willing to take any steps that might alleviate your concerns? Well, that's your right too, I suppose.

 

 

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Lbob,

 

Do us all a favor and don't try to recruit E61. I'll happily live with a dad's second guessing and anxieties, but not his misery! If he'll drop us off at the edge of a canyon and be there waiting somewhat patiently for when we come back, I'll take it! I'm fine if adults who weren't there jump on my case for adjusting hike plans at the last minute. Every now and then the armchair quarterbacks are right.

 

E61 - No. An adult isn't required to be in each canoe. I usually keep the adults together. (My experience is they are the ones more likely to roll their boats!) If two boys are struggling, I may have one swap with an adult boat until they get their strokes down.

 

But, each canoe should have a buddy boat. And who's in which boat should be accounted for pretty tightly.

 

Sounds like the best thing you could do for the boy is keep him in the program, but let him know that you're not sweating the advancement stuff (just his safety)! When he's back in town, offer to drive his patrol to a ball game or something.

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