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I was talking with some friends last night and one recounted a story of a near drowning on a Girl Scout outing.  I am sharing this only to emphasize why the BSA's (is that still the right abbreviation?)  Safe Swim Defense guidelines are important and useful.

Girl Scout overnighter at a campground, note, not a scout camp

Most parents not on trip

Pool with no lifeguards

No one really supervising

No swim test

Do you see where this is going?

My friend who is a lifeguard and swim instructor decided to rent a cabin at the campground and take the rest of her family.  Her daughter in GSUSA tent camped with her troop.  My friend was hanging out and drinking / relaxing.  My friend was not in charge of this trip, not the leader, not the planner, just a parent who decided to come along for the ride. 

She was a little inebriated and talking to another adult when she noticed "grabby hands" in the pool and went over to tell the girls it's not safe, when she saw the terror in the girls' eyes.  About 4 kids in the fray.  One not a strong swimmer, pulling on the other kids.

My friend tried a reach but could not reach, entered the pool, holding one side of the pool, grabbed two kids and got them out of the pool, the other adult helped pull the two girls out of the pool.

I was kind of shocked hearing how this event was (not) planned, knowing at least some of the conditions for a BSA safe swim area.

I am thankful for BSA's safety rules.

Note -- Parents should ask questions about swimming safety, lifeguards and conditions on outings.  Leaders, don't roll your eyes at that one.  

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I believe GSUSA policy still requires a lifeguard for swimming outings.  This wouldn't be much different if a Boy Scout unit decided to ignore BSA policy either.  Do they allow adults to become inebriated on their outings?  I would think that might go against policy also, but maybe not for GSUSA. 

However, I am glad that it all worked out and the girl was saved from drowning.  

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8 hours ago, shortridge said:

Interesting ... Alcohol ... Just says not in presence of the scouts.  So adult leaders could have beer or heavy liquor in their tent or away from the scouts.  So "slightly inebriated" may be valid.  

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Each council sets its own policies.   Of the two councils nearest me:  one prohibits alcohol at all girl scout events.   The other permits alcohol at adult-only events (think wine-and-cheese fundraiser). 

On 8/12/2018 at 6:59 AM, WisconsinMomma said:

My friend who is a lifeguard and swim instructor decided to rent a cabin at the campground and take the rest of her family.  Her daughter in GSUSA tent camped with her troop

So this mom supposedly wasn't actually part of the girl scout troop campout.    Not such a great way to get around the rules.

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It sounds like they were lucky your friend was there, "a little inebriated" or not.  Of course, if her rescue attempt had been unsuccessful, and it became known that she was "a little inebriated," she would currently be going through a nightmare on several levels.  If the GSUSA policy seems a little lax as to drinking "in secret," well, guess what, the current version of the BSA policy on alcohol is no better.  It was a good policy until they re-worded it into a big nothing.

Edited by NJCubScouter
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3 hours ago, Treflienne said:

So this mom supposedly wasn't actually part of the girl scout troop campout.    Not such a great way to get around the rules.

I don't agree...  If this woman was not on the trip in an official capacity with the troop (i.e. leader, driver, merit badge counselor, etc) then she was not trying to "get around the rules".  It was a campground open to the public... no different than if I went camping and fishing one weekend at the local lake and at the same time my son's troop had an event there as well.  

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GSUSA has a very similar swimming policy to BSUSA

regardless of BS or GS policy wasn't followed in that case


this is GSUSA swim policy

Safety Activity Checkpoints Identify lifeguard(s). When using a staffed public facility, lifeguards will be provided. At beaches or waterfronts, make sure a lifeguard will be on duty. For swimming on your own, you’ll need to recruit a lifeguard. Ask your council for suggestions. At least one lifeguard (certified in American Red Cross Lifeguard Training) and one watcher are present at all times. Additional lifeguards and watchers may be needed; see the table below. Exception for lake, rivers, streams: At least one lifeguard (certified in American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguard course or the equivalent) is present for every 10 swimmers, plus one watcher. Exception for pools:  For swimming activities in public pools, hotel and cruise-ship pools, and backyard pools, the lifeguards are at least 16 years old and have American Red Cross Lifeguard Training certification or the equivalent.  When girls are wading in water more than knee-deep, an adult with American Red Cross Basic Water Rescue certification or with documented experience according to your council’s guidelines, as outlined in Volunteer Essentials.  Identify watchers. One adult watcher is needed for every ten swimmers. This person assists the group by watching for possible emergencies. Lifeguards and watchers are stationed at separate posts. They stay out of the water, except in emergencies. American Red Cross (ARC) Basic Water Rescue, YMCA Aquatics Safety Assistant, or similar training is the preferred preparation.  Alternately, the lifeguard may be able to give watchers an orientation. Again, check with your council in advance. Swimming Lifeguards and Watchers Ratios Number of Swimmers Lifeguards Watchers 1–10 1 adult (see exception for pools above) 1* 11–25 1 adult (see exception for pools above) 2* 26–35 2 persons, at least 1 is an adult; others may be 16 years of age or older. 3* 36–50 2 persons, at least 1 is an adult; others may be 16 years of age or older. 4* 
Clearly identify swimming abilities. These could be indicated, for example, with different colored wristbands to signify beginners, intermediate, and advanced swimmers. Swim tests can be conducted in advance, or on the day of swimming. The pool operator or lifeguard may determine the type of swim test, based on the skills needed. Some examples: • In pools, the lifeguard can ask each participant to enter the water slowly, stay close to the edge of the pool, swim from one end to the other, and then float for 30 seconds. • In lakes, the lifeguard can ask each participant to jump into the water, swim for 50 yards, then float or tread water for one minute. • In surf, the swimming test should be held in advance. The lifeguard asks each participant to jump into water over her head, swim 100 yards using a combination of freestyle and elementary backstroke, and then tread water for two minutes. 
Ensure swimming site safety. Ensure that: • A posting indicates water quality passes local health department tests and sanitation standards.  • Shallow areas are marked “No Diving.” • Diving areas are separate from other swim areas. • Chlorine levels are tested and maintained. Water should be clear. • The area around the pool is free of clutter. • No electrical appliances are anywhere near the pool. • The swimming area should be free from dangerous marine life and clearly marked. • No sharp, rocked, or heavily shelled beach waters should be chosen, if possible. • At water parks, do not dive or run. Most water park injuries are from slips and falls.  • Participants should know their physical limits. Observe a water ride before going on. Use extra care on water slides.   • Monitor time in the water. How long should participants swim? Swimmers’ ability, weather conditions, and water temperature should be considered. Often, 30-minute time periods are plenty.  • Swim only during daylight or in well-lit pools. • Diving is prohibited in waters of unknown depth or conditions. For all diving, the required water depth extends 10 feet on each side of the board or jumping point. If tides, drought, or other forces affect the water depth, it is checked each time before diving is permitted. Girls do not dive off the side of the board. Safety Gear   • Ask the pool operator or lifeguard what’s available: • Reaching pole, rescue tube, backboard, ring buoy, throw bag with line (typically 30 feet) • For open water, a paddle board, rescue can, kayak, or other rescue gear  • Goggles, swim cap, and/or nose and ear plugs for girls who need them 
These checkpoints should be reviewed with the vendor, facility, or your council as appropriate.


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