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Cub Scouts Take Polar Plunge

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The BSA has advancement based on a scouts abilities in the water when dressed. There is no BSA safety violation in jumping into the water with a any shirt on, not even a uniform shirt.


There simply is no rule regarding this.


What the Youth Protection Policies and the BSA Guide to Safe Scouting says about appropriate attire is unrelated to to this event. It is not a rule about swimming it is a rule about personal behaviour. Which is why it appears in a list titled "Barriers to Abuse" and is not in the Safe Swim Defense section.


Please site a BSA SAfety regulation saying the scouts were were dressed improperly....there is none.


Now did they violate a uniform regulation since this was a fundraiser? Possibly, but unless you know whether or not the council gave them permoission you do not know for sure.


As far as one of the Scouts not liking it, that is not evidence of a safety violation. You could give them a pizza for lunch and have a scout not like it or even get sick from it, that does not constitute a safety policy violation.


There is no BSA safety violation that can be seen in the video or that is evidenced in the story.


I agree you entitled to your belief. But your "belief" has nothing to do with what the BSA safety policies actual are, and beliefs are not always correct. A child can believe that there are monsters in the closet. That does not make them right. While I accept that their fear is real, I also have to be honest with them and tell them that there really are no monsters.


You may not like this activity and so you feel that it is against BSA safety policies, when the fact is, based on the evidence in the video, there were no safety violations shown at this particualr event.


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First state a policy that says he can't. The problem here is that you do not like the activity so you assume that the BSA has rules against it. Look at the list of prohibited activities. Do you see Polar Bear Swimming on the list?


As long as the BSA safe swim defense policies are followed and the program is run in accordance with BSA safety regulations there is no prohibition on this activity.


The video and news story gave no evidence of safety violations and in fact showed some of the required safety regulations in use.


Your personal dislike for the activity is causing you to imagine BSA safety policies that simply do not exist.


It is no different than when folks imagine that Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts can't use power tools, when the only prohibition is on chain saws and log splitters. Somehow, some leaders , based probably on their own discomfort with tools, extend that rule to cover all power tools.


For some reason, some folks want to make the BSA policies far more restrictive than what they are.







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I personally think that the CS were too young, and there were risks that the leaders took and may not have been aware of. I've had to assist in rescuing another lifeguard when a group of us did the "polar bear" plunge at work one winter. The water was only in the 40s, it was in New Orleans so it was the coldest we could get, and when one of us jumped in , she went into shock and passed out. the first and only time we were allowed a "polar bear" plunge.

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"there were risks that the leaders took and may not have been aware of."


Once again, you are guessing. You are assuming facts for which you have no evidence. You do do not know what the Leaders and parents discussed or anything that happened in the background or outside of the camera's view.


The only thing you know is what is visible in the video and it does not show any BSA violations nor is the event prohibited by the BSA regardless of your personal feelings.


The questions was not "do you approve?", it was "What BSA safety violations are shown?", there are none.



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From a Life Guarding perspective,

I can see where a Guard at such an event might prefer "plungers" to wear either a tight fitting top or no top at all - to avoid any possible infringement on their movement as their "supposedly - my supposition" cotton t-shirts became wet and stuck to their body. In addition to the other hazards of taking an extremely cold plunge into water, thus causing possible compounding of problems with the plunger performing self-rescue or avoiding the necessity for it altogether.

Especially as some Cub Scouts start with VERY over-sized T-shirts to avoid purchasing the next size up as they grow.


I would be very unhappy with any group whose leaders chose to ignore the directions of my Guards or myself at any pool I was in charge of. What I can't figure out is why/how they weren't asked to leave. BUT,...

I don't think there is a "Scouting" violation here with regard to the G2SS, but I would hope that Scouts and their leaders could follow the rules set by other organizations when participating in "their" events. That would be in keeping with both Scout Spirit and promoting Scouting as a Responsible activity. IMHO.

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As a native Californian living where folks get out down parka's when the temp dips below 50 (like today) I think it depends on your lifestyle.


I would never trust my son or my den to do this. We are Wolves. And they are So Cal babies.


But my husband lived in Minneapolis a number of years and I have relatives in Minnesota and I think kids there are more accustomed to the cold than we are.


And one of my New Year's resolutions is to think about things a bit more than just reacting as again we are in a suburb of a large metro area so what we think is normal or outside of it may not be to others.


I am even watching "the Mormons" on PBS to try and figure that deal out.

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Tour permit = council approval. As for the rest, a polar plunge is not a "swim". I'm not passing judgement on whether it should or should not be done as a Scouting unit. What gets me is that this is far more "risky" than many of the forbidden activities.


I don't agree.  Polar bear swimming under such controlled conditions isn't dangerous to anybody who doesn't have a heart condition.  It's not nearly as dangerous as climbing or whitewater rafting. 

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I'll admit to not having watched the video, but IMHO unless under taken in fairly controlled conditions - an established Pool,possibly a boat ramp that has been roped off, anywhere with clear water to the bottom and NO ice cover this is a potentially highly hazardous activity to the swimmers AND the guards.


Regional understandings of the concept of Polar Bear plunges may be different but the majority of those I have witnessed(not supervised by me) take place a lakes with soft bottoms - murky water, in air temps as low as 15 deg F and never higher then about 40 deg F and in at least one notable instance ice cover that was chopped through to create the "Plunge hole". A swimmer requiring assistance, or worse having gone unconscious underwater might require a line search or more just to locate them. Line searches can add a LOT of additional time to a rescue and quickly become recovery actions rather than rescues under most live conditions when they are attempted.

Not to mention that if the Guards do have to enter the water they then don't get to work on warming up but must immediately transition into whatever level of support is required by the swimmer until EMT's arrive. Thus increasing their possible exposure in hypothermic conditions.


Line searches done properly aren't fun in the summer camp pool during summer - I'd hate to imagine one in the conditions I described above.


I restate that when Scout use another groups event or venue the should DEFINITELY follow, at the minimum, the rules set by the event organizer.


I have no issue with PB Plunges as a concept, just like Rock climbing, but follow the rules of the sport/venue/event organizer at least. Scout Spirit should have kept those Scouts out of Unit T-shirts - how many violations of the Scout Law are there just from wearing them instead of following the event organizers directions? I see seven.(This message has been edited by Gunny2862)

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Gunny, you really need to view the video, you have made some totally unsupported comments about an event that you admit you have no information on even though a video is available to you.


Also you have yet to identify a single BSA policy that violated.

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Bob White,

HI! :)


Hey, I made no attempt to use any material to support my input, Clearly stated it was In My Humble Opinion (IMHO), and used qualified language throughout, in addition to granting that I had not seen the specific video in question. And to this point didn't specifically bring up my qualifications as a Lifeguard and Lifeguard Instructor - which should lend some small weight to my overall opinion in this water sports related area. Also left out that I have not only viewed but participated in these things before. (To date not in a supervisory position).


But fire away at the appropriateness of participating in an event, being given a set of guidelines by the event staff, i.e. not to wear those t-shirts, and violating those guidelines. Where does the Scout Law, Oath and/or Spirit support THAT? And that has been the primary focus of my comments in this thread. All else has been in support of that idea.

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Nothing in the story says they violated any rules of the event. Had the operators of the event felt that the scouts were unsafe then they had the authority, the opportunity, and the responsibility to simply say that they could not participate. It is obvious that that was not done.


That is not relevant however since the accusation on this forum was that they violated BSA policies. When in fact, if you take the time to look at a very short video, you will not see any BSA policies being violated. In fact you will only see some being adhered to.


Your background as a lifeguard though admirable is irrelevant, as you do not need to be a lifegurd to know or identify elements of safe swim defense and other BSA safety policies.


You will however need an understanding of the event, which you will only get if you watch the brief viseo.


You can make a comparicon between what you see and what the BSA policies are and you will notice that there is no evidence of any policy transgressions.


Convincing the event operators of letting the scouts keep their shirts on is neither a Safety violation or a violation of any point of the Scout Law.





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You know, I was not going to reply to all this bickering but:


For your information:


From an article in a local newspaper, the Scouts, families, and leaders did this on their own time. It was NOT a Pack or Scouting event. It was a local community event. The Scouts were trying to do a Good Turn (for their leader who has cancer), which is something we as leaders try to teach our Scouts to do. There was no reason to file a tour permit or follow any Scouting rules. The only thing that had anything to do with any Scouting rules is that maybe they should not have been wearing their uniforms. But you know, the boys were proud to be a Scout, and proud to be doing a good turn for their leader, and they wanted people to know it.


To tell the truth, I am ashamed of the way some of you have taken an event like this, which has gone on for decades in Minnesota and other areas, across all age groups, and turned it into something to bicker about, even though you did not know all the background information. The people who stage this event know what they are doing, and if they felt these boys should not have been doing it I am sure they would have put a stop to it.


Now get a life and do something constructive for Scouting, will you?


By the way, write what you will, but I will not respond to anything else. These kids and leaders did a good thing and I, for one, am not going to take anything away from that.

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Ive seen so many postings that seem to feel that all these boys need to be treated as bunch of Faberge Eggs. Doing a daring thing for a good cause builds character too. I agree 100% with BW. There is nothing being violated. Wearing the uniform shows that this is a group of daring, robust & healthy Cubs and not a bunch of wall flowers eating paste. Hope Dar is OK.

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