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smaster101

1st Class Swimm requirement

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The situation with one of my 12 1/2 year old scouts is that he can't seem to pass the BSA swim test required to make 1st class rank. Summer camp just ended and he went several times during the week to benefit swim, but still couldn't pass - not even close. So what do I do? Keep him at 2nd Class forever? I suggested to him that he have his parents sign him up for swim classes, but I don't have a lot of control over this, other than denying him advancement. Suggestions?

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Lord Baden-Powell felt swimming was an essential skill for a scout. Being a confident swimmer with respect for the water but no fear of it is empowering for a Scout, and not incidentally might save his life or someone else's near him someday. Assuming no physical disability, I think you need to try your best to impress on the parents how essential this skill is for their son, and offer whatever information or support you can come up with to help the boy meet this requirement. I think speaking to the parents directly might be warranted, although I don't usually like to take the boy out of the loop, but this is pretty important and they might not be aware that his skills are as weak as they are. He might look fine playing in a backyard pool. If he's very out of condition, that could be the problem but if he looks pretty ok and keeps up on hikes, it's probably a stroke efficiency issue that might be easily corrected by a competent instructor.

 

Do you have any other scouts in similar straits? A month of aquatics emphasis might be just the ticket for all of them, not to mention being tons of fun.

 

My own son is not much of an athlete, to understate the case, and having had severe asthma virtually his entire life he did not start out as an enthusiastic swimmer (when you know what it is like to suffocate and not be able to empty your lungs to take a deep breath, anything requiring holding your breath just doesn't sound smart). He was probably 9 or 10 before he was a deep-water swimmer at all, far later than his older brother or younger sister. But after working hard on strokes at camp for a week, he managed that swimmer test at age 11. We just got back from camp and he was only a few feet behind me in our swim check - he's 14 now and still not much of an athlete, but he made that test just fine. It is do-able.

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Would you promote him out of the goodness of your heart? Is that fair to the boys that passed the test?

 

You're not denying him advancement because he hasn't met the requirements. If he had met the requirements and you didn't promote him then you could say that you are denying him.

 

Even if he doesn't advance, there's no reason that he can't enjoy scouting. We're too advancement happy today. Advancement, advancement, advancement. Learning? That's secondary.

 

 

 

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Like was mentioned before, if he doesn't have a physical handicap that prevents him from swimming, then he should do the requirement in order to advance. If he is passed without actually doing the requirements, then he is actually just getting a rank and not really advancing.

 

Struggling to pass that swim requirement may be the toughest thing the kid has ever had to do. It could also be the most rewarding. About ten years ago, we had a Scout that was very used to giving up very easy and was scared of the water. It took him all summer (he even lived on a lake) to pass the second class requirement. However, once he did, it gave him a shot in the arm and he didn't take long to get the first class requirement.

 

That Scout didn't make it beyond first class, but he later said that passing the swimming requirement was a real turning point for him. I've had other Scouts say similar things about different requirements that were really tough for them.

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I have a similar problem with one of my 12 years old scouts excpet that he refuses to do any of the swim requirements and has for over a year. He is still a tenderfoot.

 

He says he doesn't like the water and isnt' going to do it.

 

When I ask him about his plan for advancement though, he tells me he wants to make eagle by the time he is 15 or 16. Then I ask him how he plans to get beyond tenderfoot when he refuses to do the swimming requirements. He doesn't have an answer. I feel he thinks that I will eventually cave in and advance him with or without the requiremnts complete.

 

Boy is he wrong! (his grandmother is prominant on the troop committee, but he doesn;t know that she agrees with me.)

 

I tell him that after he does the second and first class requirements, that he doesn't have to swim again if he didn't want to, but so far, he hasn't bought into the fact that he needs to do this.

 

He doesn't claim to be terrified of the water, just that he doesn't know how and has no interest in learning.

 

I realize this may be the toughest thing he has ever had to do. I feel he too has been allowed to give up easily and quickly (or just not try in the first place.)

 

Any suggestions for this scout?

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I find this thread interesting because my son is one of those who just doesn't want to do it. He can swim enough to play in the pool, but nothing more. I tried to get him to sign up for swimming instruction at summer camp and he refused. In the first year program they were to do some swimming last week. He says they never went near the pool. I haven't verified this yet with the adults.

 

Since he just turned 11, I am not pushing it yet. But at some point he has to understand he must do it to advance. Until he is ready to do that, I feel my hands are tied. I think he will be like Scoutmaster424's scout and think that if he holds out long enough someone will just sign him off.

 

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I have lived in a river community all my life. My siblings and I were required by our parents to learn to swim at an early age and had to at least pass what the Red Cross called advanced swimming. I learned to swim when I was 4 or 5. And spent my summers at the swimming pool or in the river. I can't remember ever not being able to swim and can not imagine anyone not wanting to, or at least not learning enough to be able to save themselve. Found out later that it was because dads brither had drowned in 1946.

 

I had no experience with people who wouldn't swim or were classified as TOW (Terrified of Water) until I was about 15 and saw a woman burn to death on the back of a cabin cruiser because she wouldn't go into the water. Not even with rescuers there waiting to help her the minute she jumped. Then later I had a young boy in a swim class I was helping with that was TOW. After 2 years, he would stand in the shallow water without holding on to anyone or anything, but still wouldn't put his face in the water. It was still a big achievement for the boy. You could see the terror in his eyes but also the elation that he had taken this small step.

 

The scout in my unit is not like that though. He will get in the water, play around, doesn't need anyone close by, he just won't try to swim.

 

His grandmother has enrolled him in lessons at the YMCA (Troop swims 1st and 3rd Mondays here, but he refuses to come). ALl we can hope is that he will overcome his hardheadedness and do it!

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While advancement is important to the Scouts, but should not be the most important part of the program. The goals of the BSA are: character devolpment, citizenship training, physical and mental fintess.

The emphasis a lot of troops place on advancement concerns me, as I see boys struggling with being pushed harder than they can. While the Scouts should be encouraged to strech, the leaders need to keep the best for the Scout in mind as they plan the goals with Scouts in the SMC.

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Unless there is an extinuating circumstance (physical or mental handicap to name a couple) then the scout must complete the requirement in order to advance.

 

Not advancing doesn't mean automaticaly mean a diminished scouting experience.

 

All you can do is encourage the scout and maybe give him a little extra help to learn how to swim. Suggesting to the parents that they enroll him in swimming classes is a good suggestion too.

 

Just this year we had a third year scout finally pass the swim test and swimming merit badge at camp. This happened thanks to three years of hard work on the scouts part and a little personal help from the aquatics staff.

 

If the scout has not fullfilled the requirements then the leaders are not the ones denying anything.

 

Here is a true anecdote for learning to swim.

 

My dad was in the Navy. When I was a Scout our troop was chartered to Mayport Naval Station, Mayport, Florida. We performed a flag ceremony at a WW2 sailors reunion for the USS Forrestal. Remember the aircraft carrier that took a kamakazi to the flight deck and had that horrible fire during WW2? A lot of sailors jumped from the deck to save themselves from being burned to death.

 

Apparently the vast majority of the sailors in the war learned to swim while in Scouts and would not have learned to swim unless they had been scouts. Many of those same sailors who lived by jumping were in attendance that day and the first question they asked us scouts was "Did you boys pass the swimming requirement yet? If not you'd better work at it cause it saved our lives."

 

Learn to swim.

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Yes, I agree that the advancement process cannot be circumvented without good reason(and approval).

 

I haven't placed any unnecessary emphasis on requirements nor do I push the scout any more that I feel I should. If a boy doesn't want to advance and is having a good time, then maybe I have done my job. But when a boy says he wants to advance, but then refuses to fulfill certain requirements to meet his goals, all I can do is as I have stated, point out his dilema to him, and maybe a suggestion on how to overcome it and then allow him do as he sees fit. I can't recommend a variation on a requirement just because a boy doesn't want to do it. There must be a compelling reason, a physical or emotional problem that prevents him from completing the task (being classified as TOW might be enough).

 

The new boys taking the first year campers program at summer camp can be tenderfoots in a months, depending on their level of participation in the troop activities (we have one new boy who is competitive and a real go-getter).

 

This happening may be benefit the advancement of those who are more competitive, but may prove detrimental to others.

 

Regardless of being in scouts or not. I feel every person should learn to swim at least enough to save thier own life if the need should arise.(This message has been edited by scoutmaster424)

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I urge any leader or parent with a "reluctant" swimmer to discuss private swimming lessons with the Scout's parents/guardian. Here's why. In my experience, Scouts who refuse to attempt the swim requirements do not do so because they don't want to pass the tests or advance -- it's because they're petrified of failing in front of their friends.

 

Let's face it, we usually do these things in group settings with lots of witnesses. Couple that with the fact that most Scouts who are at this point in Scouting are 10 or 11 years old and already feel inferior to older more experienced Scouts, and it's only natural that they'll shy away from the tests if they're not strong swimmers. Think about it: why would a boy join Scouting, knowing it has an outdoors emphasis, and enthusiastically participate in everything...except the swimming?

 

The 2C and 1C swim tests are not difficult, and with a little private instruction, without the pressure and the onlookers, I think almost any boy can successfully pass them. Good luck.

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I loudly second KoreaScout's take on this. It does seem very likely to be related to anxiety and fear of failure, and the private lesson, personal support approach sounds like a very good one. Speaking as a parent of an E.D. kid who was Tenderfoot for 2 years because he couldn't bring himself to complete the 30 day physical test in public, reassurance is key.

 

 

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Then again, my friends, there is such a thing as personal readiness. I confess that I did not learn to swim until I was 12. No particular reason, I was just happy using a life jacket if ever I went deep. And I lived on a lake! I have two children who were not enthused about learning to swim. One was TOW due to an accident when she was two. She also doesn't ever do anything new unless she is convinced of the benefits of doing so. When she was, she became a super swimmer. My son, like others mentioned, was not interested in swimming at all, refused swim lessons - even private ones. I gave up trying to get him to go. When he was 10, he asked for the lessons and has since finished all the levels Red Cross offers, except lifesaving. (He has to wait until he's old enough). I have no idea what really triggered any of us, but when we were ready we did learn to swim.

 

I can only suggest that if scouts remain stubborn about the swimming requirement that their SMs hold the line, while offering the boys (and their parents)encouragement and moral support. Good luck!

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Several years ago it was much easier to pass the simming requirements. Swimming MB was also easier, but now the scouts are becoming better swimmers. I can relate to boys having a hard time learning to swim, at 16 I had many merit badges but I could not swim. There was no way around it, Eagle Scouts swim. After many months of lessions at the Y, I could do it even Lifesaving (after another year of pratice) seemed easy.

 

First encourage the scout to take lesssions. Secound if you have any BSA Lifeguards in your troop, appoint them instructors and assign them to teach this boy how to swim. Finally offer encouragement but don't let him quit.

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Everyone here has good points and ideas. I agree with most everything said here. But one thing, the fear of failing because of the group activity. We do a lot of things as a group. This particular boy has no problem doing other things and failing in front of the group. These boys are his friends and most of the time offer encouragement. But it brings up another thought. Maybe there is an underlying thing about water that none of us (including his grandmother) have detected and the boy won't admit to or even realizes himself. All he knows is that he doesn't like the water. One thing I think might help, is that if his grandmother would bring him to the swimming activities at the YMCA so that he can see the other boys swimming and having fun and to allow the peer thing to work for him. She just lets him stay home. We have even had committee meetings at the Y on that night, and she doesn't even come to those because he doesn't want to come there for the swimming.

 

So, its got to be something with the water (coupled with being spoiled).

 

I wish I could figure this one out!

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