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Liz

How does BSA define "swimming"?

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Where is the line between "playing with water" and "swimming" for the BSA? Obviously playing in a sprinkler or with water balloons is not swimming, and obviously getting into water that might be above some scouts' heads is swimming, but where exactly is the line that is drawn between "splashing" and "swimming"? Anything with standing water? Water that's more than 18 inches? Or...?

I'm trying to plan an Webelos outing and the park the kids want to go has a shallow stream with a beach which is a popular "splash in the hot sun" spot but it's not deep enough for a lifeguard to be necessary *in my opinion* although it's certainly necessary to have water watchers. I haven't taken the Safe Swim Defense course yet (it's on my list!) but I know the gist of marking off the swim area and swim levels, etc.. I'm just not sure whether any of that is really necessary if the water is still, clear, and super duper shallow - way too shallow to actually swim in, even for my tiny 4 year old. It's really just a large natural wading pool. The biggest hurdle I have is finding a qualified lifeguard and I'm wondering whether that's going to be necessary for BSA rules.

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H @Liz,

i found this in the Guide to Safe Scouting:

Quote

Safe Swim Defense applies to other nonswimming activities whenever participants enter water over knee deep or when submersion is likely, for example, when fording a stream, seining for bait, or constructing a bridge as a pioneering project.

 

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Safe swim defense says ... Safe Swim Defense applies to other nonswimming activities whenever participants enter water over knee deep or when submersion is likely, for example, when fording a stream, seining for bait, or constructing a bridge as a pioneering project

https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/gss02/

Key point ... can the scouts drown?  It can happen in moving water over knee deep depending on flow and rocks.  

Take the training.  It's online at scouting.org and easy to do. 

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Thank you! Yes, I'm going to take the training, I just haven't had time yet. Today was my last day of work for the school year though so I'll probably get it done this weekend. 

So knee deep for the shortest Scout is the benchmark. Perfect. I will go out on a personal recognizance mission and check for myself what the deepest part of the splashing area is. The water, while definitely not stagnant, is flowing so gently in that area that it's more pool-like than stream-like. 

I realize that kids can drown in very shallow water so I won't be lax about assigning water watching duty to responsible leaders; but hiring an actual lifeguard to watch our kids wade in a splash area is a little much. 

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2 minutes ago, Liz said:

I realize that kids can drown in very shallow water so I won't be lax about assigning water watching duty to responsible leaders; but hiring an actual lifeguard to watch our kids wade in a splash area is a little much. 

There is always a "common sense" facet too.  We need to follow BSA's rules, but that doesn't mean we check our brains out at the door.  The key point is will the kids be safe and BSA's rules exist because adults differ on what "safe" means.  

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46 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

We need to follow BSA's rules, but that doesn't mean we check our brains out at the door.  

Well said.

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Yeah, common sense tells me that if an adult can literally run to a child and pick it up out of the water, without needing any swimming skills whatsoever, a lifeguard is unnecessary when you've got at least 3 or 4 adults who are certified in CPR present and you can assign one or more of them to have eyes trained on the kids at all times. 

But at the same time I want to follow all of BSA's applicable rules. We do have other Safe Swim Defense trained leaders, and I will be too before we go, I was just getting impatient at not being able to find the info in the G2SS. I appreciate those that found it for me. :) 

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Liz, thank you for being conscientious and wanting to do the right thing.  Sounds like you got good advice and you will have a safe outing.  If you have a chance to go to summer camp and are a good swimmer, I highly recommend taking the BSA Lifeguard course (which I used to teach).  It is a fun, but valuable way to pass the week, and I guarantee you will sleep well at night!  Scout on!

 

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I'm a passable swimmer. I'm not sure I'd be able to pass the Lifeguard course but what can it hurt to try? Last year at Cub camp they had the waterfront closed :( but I may have a chance to go with a Scouts BSA Troop this summer (we're just getting our paperwork gathered for a female troop!) so why not give it a whirl? 

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Just took the BSA SSD course. :) 
It looks like the "rescuer" is allowed to be an adult or older youth who has earned the Lifesaving Merit Badge. Is that correct? 
In this situation, if the water area is a little deeper than just knee high, but still appropriate for non-swimmers (or we can section off an area that is) and I bring one of my young adult kids who earned the Lifesaving Merit Badge when they were youth, am I correct that this would satisfy the requirements (in addition to 2 SSD and CPR trained adults as lookouts)? 
Or should I just make sure if any part of the water is more than knee-deep we section off a wading area and don't let the kids past it? 

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You may want to also look into the Swim and Water Rescue course...it goes over the practical application of Safe Swim Defense as well as in-water rescue practice.  Good course, geared toward adults who are supervising aquatic activities.

And you are correct, SSD says "response personnel," not "lifeguards".  So, that does not require a certified lifeguard, but someone with the knowledge/ability to rescue a swimmer who gets in trouble in the conditions of that particular swim.  So, it could be an older scout or young adult who has Lifesaving MB if that was appropriate for the conditions.

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Good. I'm glad I was interpreting that correctly. 

I'll go ahead of time to make sure the conditions of the splash area are the same as they were last time I visited (there can be seasonal differences) but I feel confident with a team of rescue/lookout adults with the type of water activity we are planning. 

I work extensively with Safe Kids USA and have a very cautious view of water activities in general. I won't be taking unnecessary risks; I just want to ensure the kids are also able to have fun. 

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Posted (edited)

I’d say designate a “lifeguard” from your of our safe swim adults (or ask BSA Lifeguard from a Boy Scout Troop), but remember to be in the water the boys need to have a buddy and the “LG” should call buddy checks every 5 minutes. The buddies should stay together, this is not only the rules but good practice for the future when they attend BSA Resident Camp as Boy Scouts 

i know the rules are strict but the G2SS is to be taken seriously 

Edited by chief027

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if you have any questions ask council for approval and get it in writing

everything is fine until something goes wrong,, 

when something goes wrong, being in violation of policy is not a position you want to be in.

as per gtss, safe swim defense applies to waters over knee deep

 

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