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Swim tests: Before or at camp?

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At the summer camp where I formerly staffed and currently volunteer, swim tests were always done on the first day, as part of the camp tour. We often encountered long lines at the pool with multiple troops waiting to take their tests. It was just the way things worked.

 

Before reading a comment in the previous thread just a few minutes ago, it never had occurred to me that troops could do swim tests on their own and just bring the sign-offs to camp. That would certainly save a lot of time from the camp's point of view, and a lot of first-day aggravation from the Scouts' perspective!

 

How many of your summer camps require swim tests to be held at camp? How many of your troops do swim tests before camp? What do you see as the pros and cons of each method?

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Pros: Makes the first-day check in experience much smoother, avoids da feel of group-hazing that swim checks sometimes have for nervous young lads. Recognizes da reality that troops are runnin' water activities all the time based on the swim checks they conduct, so why not use 'em for camp? Also saves yeh if you have storms during check in; yeh don't have to re-arrange program.

 

Cons: Swimmin' in a lake is different than swimmin' in a pool, so a swim check done in a pool might overestimate a lad's ability to handle open water swimmin', especially in places where the lakes are cold. Some folks think scouter volunteers are incapable of tellin' when a lad can swim 100 yards.

 

Personally, I like it when da troops have an option to test before camp for the kids. Never seen it be a real problem. I'm slightly less comfortable with it for da adults, because some fellows overestimate their own ability, rememberin' back when they were a bit younger :). Never seen that be a real problem either, though.

 

Beavah

 

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As a member of camp staff, I love it when troops come in with their swim checks done. It cuts down on the lines, and we for some reason always had a thunder storm on check-in day, so they were good to go.

 

Pros: Cuts downs check-in time for both the troop and staff. Use the swim checks before and after camp for other water activities.

 

 

Cons: Not all pre-camp swim tests are approved for use by the director at camp (make sure if you get it from another camp, the director is certified to approve swim checks). If you do it with the troop, the scouts might get off easier if they can't really swim, the camp staff doesn't have bias and would like to see everyone pass but if they can't swim it's on them.

 

That's all I can think of right now, will post more as I think of them.

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It does seem pretty inefficient to recheck everyone when probably only a small number of boys actually need it at that time.

 

On the other hand, the coordination of paperwork would be pretty timely also, and there would probably be some kid from every troop that wasn't around at the troop's test now you would have to separate them and a buddy from whatever their troop was otherwise doingat that time.

 

My understanding for my son's Jambo troop is that he's supposed to keep his tag from summer camp to take to Jambo with him. So if that works for them why not for the rest of scouting?

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For the Troop I serve, our Troop Lifeguards and I have covered Troop swim tests before camp every year. Course, I am a certified YMCA Lifeguard as well as BSA lifeguard and camp staff at-large so I sign the unit swim-check form.

 

I only had 1 year when the new Aquatic director (who did not know me) and wanted to challenge all units with pre-camp swim tests. This was voiced during the SMs Pre-Summer Camp meeting, even though on the form it allows outside camp certification.

 

Since I do swim checks for several units, the other SMs 2nded my integrity and the Aquatic director eased up.

 

But, we had a Scout join up right before camp, signed up for the swimming MB and missed any opportunity to take the BSA swim test with the Troop. I think our SM took his mom's word he could swim. He was unable to pass any swim test the 1st day of camp and had to settle for instructional swim lessons all week.

 

Get them done before camp. Keep an eye out for those able to pass the requirements for the BSA swim test, but are not ready for swimming MB.

 

 

(This message has been edited by dg98adams)

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Yes! Absolutely! This is a great idea and saves lots of time on Sunday during check in. We have done it for the past two years and will do it again this year. Usually there are 2 or 3 Scouts who miss the pre-camp swim tests we do with the Troop and have to do it at camp. But not having to do the entire Troop gets us to the campsite, unpacked & set up with far less hurry.

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Pre-camp swim checks in a swimming pool and the camp uses a swimming pool? Ok - I can buy that - if it's made clear that any liability issues that might arise out of an incident that could have been prevented if the judgment of the swimming pool staff (and Camp School trained Aquatics Director) had prevailed during a swim test defers to the Unit and not the Council and Camp.

 

Pre-camp swim checks in a swimming pool and the camp uses a good old fashioned lake or river waterfront? Nope - take a new swim test - different conditions entirely. I've seen strong pool swimmers fail lakeside swim tests because of other issues (couldn't see the bottom of the lake, afraid of fish, minor chop to the water). Sure, it takes time, but a well run camp will have strictly scheduled, staggered times for swim tests, with enough scheduled time prior to and after so that the unit isn't rushing about trying to make their rounds, and a well run waterfront staff can run a scheduled unit through in the time alloted. One of the best run camps I saw was one that refused to allow the schedule to be pushed because a unit was late to the waterfront. If you have a 30 minute swim test period and show up with 10 minutes left, sorry - make arrangements for a swim test after all the others are done - potentially the next day (even 6 AM if you have Scouts starting waterfront merit badge work).

 

It also serves to strengthen the Troops knowledge of the abilities of their Scouts. Passing a pool swim test before a canoe trip is fine. Passing that same test on a lake should give the leaders greater confidence in the abilities of the Scouts.

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Interesting, we will need to look into if our camp allows this. My husband is Red Cross swim instructer & Red Cross lifeguard.. He definatly could do the tests, and it would save ALOT of time for check-in.. But, since I have never heard of it at our camp, I am unsure if they would accept it.

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As far as I'm aware, people need to be BSA lifeguards to certify the swim test. I could be wrong (and goodness knows, someone here will correct me if I am - which is a good thing!), but I don't think being Red Cross certified is counted as being BSA certified.

 

But it has been a couple of years since I've looked at this, and the best bet would be to contact the summer camp you are going to and clarify things with them.

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When I first read this, I was sure it was a bad idea.

Then after thinking about it for a minute, I seen that it wasn't such a bad idea, just something that was different than the way we have been doing things.

The camp has a pool, so the lake thing is a non-issue for us.

Only thing is that the water is so darn cold! A lot different than the local pool we use for the Sea Scouts and their swim testing.

I've noticed that I seem to get a cramp in my big toe when I'm swimming in it.

I think this is because of the cold water?

Much as I hate to admit it, I'm not as great a swimmer as I once was.

Years back I could do the mile swim, with little or no bother! Now? I'm not so sure.

Of course I blame the cramp in my big toe!

Ea.

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Our camp gives us the option. We always take it and do the swim tests ahead of time. It's just so much easier logistically. We do it at a pool, and the camp is on a lake, but for determining whether someone can swim 100 meters, the pool works fine.

 

It can be a huge hassle to do the testing at camp.

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Well then, my son and other scouts could do it.. We have a few trained scouts. My son did both, he feels the Red Cross was the hardest, except the last part of the BSA Lifeguard..

 

 

My son took his at a camp other then the normal summer camp for our troop. I think there should have been some adult with extra training overseeing, but it was run all by boys under 21 who were camp counselors. And just BSA Lifeguard trained. The end test was that they pretended to be drowning and it was more then the Red cross practiced drowning.. They basically fought off the rescuer to the point of almost drowning most of them.. Those that did not pass the test failed.. Only my son and one other scout (who had also taken Red Cross b4 BSA), passed that section.. All the other scouts failed.

 

I might be an over protective mother on the issue, but I was not happy when it was relayed to me.. Red Cross taught how to save better, so these two boys were the only ones with the skill to advert the harsh test.

 

Without an adult leader, It just had the sound of a type of hazing..

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pre camp swim tests are definitely the way to go, if the aquatics director allows it. The camp I am associated with has over 800 scouts per week, plus several hundred leaders - so Sunday afternoon at the waterfront gets busy. About half use pre-camp checks some week. Just having the buddy tags filled in alone is a time saver !

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Alright I've found in writing what is needed for a pre-camp swim check. This is taken from the Camp Property Management Book:

 

On supervision: A BSA Aquatics Instructor, BSA Lifeguard, and a 21+ with SSD and SA training.

 

On Pre-Camp Tests: "A local council has various options for deciding what swim classification procedures are acceptable for summer camp.

- Option A (at camp). Aquatics personnel administer the swim classification test at camp.

- Option B (council conducted/council controlled). The council or district arranges...predetermined dates...council approved locations and personnel...

- Option C (at unit level with council-approved testing personnel). Unit arranges swim test using council-approved resource personnel with training as BSA Aquatics Instructor, BSA Cub Aquatics Supervisor, or BSA Lifeguard or those with lifeguard or swimming instructor training from other agencies...

 

Director shall at all times reserve the authority to review or retest all participants to ensure the standards have been maintained."

 

So that's words from the officials...

 

 

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"Director shall at all times reserve the authority to review or retest all participants to ensure the standards have been maintained."

 

This is pretty important. At the end of the day as a director, the well being of the boys in the water is the responsibility of you and your staff. I personally never ran into the problem (all units were encouraged to take the tests at camp) but as long as the tests were conducted by someone with a camp school card. You're average 16 year old BSA lifeguard doesn't have specific enough training to conduct swim tests without the supervision of a director (as they would have in a camp setting).

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