Jump to content

Water Activities W/O BSA Lifeguard

Recommended Posts

From the Safety Afloat portion of the Guide to Safe Scouting:


All activity afloat must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult age 21 or older who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of the children in his or her care, who is experienced and qualified in the particular watercraft skills and equipment involved in the activity, and who is committed to compliance with the nine points of BSA Safety Afloat. One such supervisor is required for each 10 people, with a minimum of two adults for any one group. At least one supervisor must be age 21 or older, and the remaining supervisors must be age 18 or older. All supervisors must complete BSA Safety Afloat and Safe Swim Defense training and rescue training for the type of watercraft to be used in the activity, and at least one must be trained in CPR. It is strongly recommended that all units have at least one adult or older youth member currently trained as a BSA Lifeguard to assist in the planning and conducting of all activity afloat.


For Cub Scouts: The ratio of adult supervisors to participants is one to five.


From the Safe Swim Defense rules:


1. Qualified Supervision

All swimming activity must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult age 21 or older who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of youth members in his or her care, who is experienced in the water and confident of his or her ability to respond in the event of an emergency, and who is trained in and committed to compliance with the eight points of BSA Safe Swim Defense. (It is strongly recommended that all units have at least one adult or older youth member currently trained as a BSA Lifeguard to assist in the planning and conduct of all swimming activity.)




Link to post
Share on other sites

The direct answer to your question is a qualified, "Yes you can." Having trained life guards on hand is recommended, but not in general required.


Regarding boating and canoeing activities per se, if you have any non swimmer participating then you must have a qualified lifeguard in the boat with that person. The definition of swimmer is someone who has passed the First Class rank requirement for swimming. All boys who may be less than First Class but have the Swimming merit badge would exceed this requirement.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Again with my universal warning. BSA lifeguards, nor BSA Aquatic Directors "are not" quailfied, nor trained" for swift water. If you''re running flat water (Class A, B, or C up to easy 1''s) then that cert, along with the BSA standards of Safety Afloat, and Safe Swim Defense will see you find.


However, if you plan to run anything over Class 1 with low water temps, then I suggest finding a person/s who has the skill to shepard your group....

Link to post
Share on other sites

First, If the unit is participating in a vended activity at a commercial pool where the vendor provides all support services and assumes the risk, then the need for Scout/Scouter BSA Lifeguards is eliminated. You are giving operational control of the unit to the vendor.


Boldface bullet 4 of Safe Swim Defense, and the comments on "pool and surf swimming" do dovetail with each other.


Source: http://www.scouting.org/pubs/gss/gss02.html#d


Watercraft activities: There is no slack, be the unit under total management of a guide firm and its support services, or it be doing the activity on its own. There are mandates to the minimum acceptable numbers of trained adults and youth.


From my experience with my Council, to obtain a watercraft based Tour Permit, you have to concurrently file the Float Plan. This may not be true in other councils.



Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a further question in this regard. I got my BSA lifeguard certification in 2003. It expired in 2006. I have inquired about getting it redone, and get different answers from people in our council.


Do I have to take the entire course over again? We do not seem to have any refresher courses or anything like that. I cannot find anyone to tell me what the actions to ger recertified are. One guy at the council office said I must take the entire thing over again. I took a 12 week course doing 3 hours per night at the high school pool. Or I could do the entire course offered at summer camp. The instructor I had said that if I helped teach basic swimming for him on his aquatics instruction night he would sign a card for me certifying me for one year. Unfortunately this is our troop meeting night, and I cannot dedicate 8 to 10 weeks to the aquatics program right now.


Does the BSA consider me to be a qualified BSA Lifeguard even if my card has expired? I can still do the requirements (mayby I will need some time in a pool to train for the distance swimming now.) But there does not seem to be a mechinism for retesting and recertifying BSA Lifeguards.


Any wisdom out there?




Link to post
Share on other sites

Get a copy of the BSA Lifeguard application:



"Those whose BSA Lifeguard training is current or has expired within the past 12 months can be retrained by demonstrating a current knowledge of and ability to perform the skills necessary to fulfill BSA Lifeguard requirements. It is not necessary to retake the BSA Lifeguard course."


Link to post
Share on other sites



Welcome to the Forums :)


What FScouter said.


That said, I''m in similar circumstance as you. 2003, died 2006. It''s good, FOR THE BOYS, to see you re-take the entire course, if you can afford the time. It''s gives some of the youth reasons to "be better than that old guy."



Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

What if. . .


It is a Cub Scout event and the boys are in row-boats with an adult (their fathers) in a lake inlet?


I''m told the BSA Lifeguard adult is required to be on the premises. I''m also told that a NCS-aquatics trained adult needs to be there. Problem is, there are only two (NCS-trained) in our council. One is away at college and the other is a new mom.


Is the information I received correct? We would like to have this event, but our chances look slim. Perhaps there is someone here who might be willing to do a volunteer trade-off?


Thank you for your help. I apologize if I''m asking anyone to repeat what has already been mentioned.



Link to post
Share on other sites

From The Guide to Safe Scouting:

For Cub Scouts:Canoeing, kayaking, rowing, and rafting for Cub Scouts (including Webelos Scouts) are to be limited to council/district events on flat water ponds or controlled lake areas free of powerboats and sailboats.




Appendix 1, Age-Appropriate Activities, says the same thing.


It''s not boldface, but it has been in the past in the online edition.


Sorry not to give you an it''s OK, but as I read things, it''s beyond the scope of Cubbing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

John -


Thanks for the quick reply and link. As I read it, row-boating is within the scope. We are in a controlled area without power or sail boats and it would be at a district event (held at a BSA camp).


If I read it correctly, we need some Safety Afloat people and not necessarily NCS-trained folks.


Am I reading it correctly?


Thanks again.


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Guide to Safe Scouting addresses unit activities, not district/council activities. A BSA lifeguard and NCS trained adult is not required for a unit activity. But if you are running a council rowboat event for Cubs, you need to refer to the rules for a council level water activity. That may well require a BSA lifeguard and NCS-trained staff.

Link to post
Share on other sites



We''re at the point where I''m going to say you need to talk with your Scout Reservation Ranger or Professional Staff Director. Specific qualifications of lifeguards, specific equippage of your lakefront, specifics of the program are not in the scope of the G2SS. Instead, they are the realm of National Camping Standards.


This is why we pay the Professional Service :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are the first three questions you need to ask:


1) What equipment must my lakefront have to open operations?


2) What are my staffing requirements and acceptable training levels?


3) What equipment inspections must I put my gear through to begin operations?


Since it is a District event (perhaps part of a day camp), indeed National Camp Standards apply. Somebody in your Council is Lakefront Director at your Council resident camp. He''ll be able to give you accurate answers. So should the Reservation Director of your Scout Camp.


If he punts on you, please come back. I may not be Camp School trained, but I know people who are, and who can provide technical assistance to you.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...