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SMT376Richmond KY

Alternate Swimming Requirement for First Class

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Here's some info on phobias from the American Psychiatric Association:

http://www.psych.org/public_info/phobias.cfm

 

This suggests a couple of things--first, if you encounter a boy who has a strong fear like this, it may make sense for him to seek treatment for it. According to the APA, treatment is often succussful, and the fear can be overcome.

Also, whether the phobia is a disability or not depends on how much it interferes with a person's ability to perform the functions of life (as with any disability). I think if a person has a fear of water that does not respond to treatment and that prevents him from being able to swim, that is a disability that should deserve a waiver.

A final point--a diagnosed phobia is not a moral failing or a personal weakness--it is a mental disorder. The person with a phobia knows there is no real danger, but can't help the reaction.

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SM376,

In rereading the original post you stated he passed second class requirements. So if he did that why would you ask for a waiver athis point. He just passed 2nd class, why the rush to seek the easy way out. I would say the youth needs to work on swimming for a lot longer before I would ask for a waiver. Whats the rush?

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Little more information and an update.

This lad struggled to swim the 25 ft for second class took about an hour to get him across the pool in 2003. We have been working on this off and on now for two years. He didn't report to swim class at SC last year on multiple days when I checked attendance. Several ASM's have made arrangements with the boy and his mom to meet at the local Y and "work" with the lad. I have scheduled several additional swims myself and he just can't get it. I feel for the lad he is getting discourage seeing all his pals pass him by for advancement. He has completed all the other requirements for FC and even the MB's for Star and half for Life. Unfortunately if he can't get past the swim test he will never attain these higher ranks.

 

Last night at our meeting our district unit commissioner told the boy that he would be happy to work with him 1:1 as myself and two other ASM's have worked with this lad over the past year since SC.

He is trying his best but as soon as the water hits his face he starts to freak out and I'm afraid if we push the issue more than we have by holding him and easing him in he's going to drown! He can't go past the edge of the pool more than a foot without holding onto the edge or the rope. When he manages to pull himself to the shallow end he starts to walk on the bottom. I really think he has aquaphobia that as I told his mom needs to be looked into further if she chooses. She thinks we are holding her son back and we have told her we can not add or detract from the requirements that all the boys are and have passed this same test. That's one reason I wanted her at the pool side this weekend. Not easy and not fun for this lad. Thanks for all the advice. Our Committee is going to contact the council to see what needs to be done for this lad.

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This may cause some debate, but what if the scout wore a full face mask, passed the first class test and then never went near water again? I am not saying count the swim test as making him a swimmer, but count it as completing the rank requirement. If he wants to go on a troop "water" event he has to pass the swimmers test like everybody else.

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This doesn't sound like a mental disability. It sounds like a fear that he needs to overcome. I don't feel an exception should be made to the requirements in this case. If it takes him an hour to pass the swimming requirement for 1st Class, so be it.

 

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I am very new to Boy Scouts (my son has just crossed over), but I would like to add my experience here. I more than feal for this scout, I have the same problem. I am fine in the water until I get above mid-chest. When taking a shower, I face away from the water and it never hits my face because if it does I start to panic (and I know nothing is going to happen to me in the shower). A face mask has never helped and neither have swim lessons. There are times when I cross a bridge (especially during a storm) that I wonder (worry) what would happen to my kids if we somehow ended up in the water.

 

It is my hope and prayer that my son will overcome his fear of water, but that is not something everyone can do. If he doesn't overcome he will probably quit scouts.

 

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Fear is a terrible thing...my mother was terrified of water and as a small child so was I...my mothers fear had 'transfered'. I did love to fish however...it was a passion.

 

Fishing with an uncle and cousin one hot summer day, my cousin put down his pole and slid over the side into the water...Uncle Bob told me several times I could join little Bobby but I just kept fishing...next trip same thing...then my uncle asked the big one...could I swim? After some squirmming, I admitted that Mom didn't like water and I didn't either...

 

Well old Bob was not much of a modern kinda guy and he set down his rod, finished his last sip of Gunther and unceremonially tossed my butt into the river...Not enlightened, not PC and not acceptable in todays genteel world. But I came up sputtering and he instucted me from the side of the boat until I was dog paddling after him. He then pulled me in got Bobby and rowed to the shore and gave me my first swimming lesson...I actually got pretty good over the years but I NEVER really liked to swim...

 

But swimming is so important to scouting we owe it to our children to help them overcome fears and learn to swim...both my boys were enrolled in swimming classes while they were in diapers and they got regular advanced swimming classes every year. It is amazing how much more we can do by being comfortable around the water..

 

As a Boy Scout (Star by this time), I got to witness the terrifing effect of someones fear of the water...at a summer pool party one of my mother's brothers pushed her off the side of the pool (as a joke). My mother screamed and went straight down in nine feet of water...went to the bottom like a rock and just laid there...arms and legs motionless...

 

In to the water I went and dragged her out...she was spitting mad when we got her out of the water...but in the water her body had simply shut down; she could not move...I knew she was afraid but I had never seen such a total shut down before, it was unbelievable.

 

Many pools offer water fear classes some have private lessons led by Red Cross trainers...help these folks as much as possible overcome this fear...it opens so much of life...so much of scouting...

 

Ps. married a lady who swims with her face totally out of the water...very funny looking method...kick a little water in her face and she looses her timing and sinks...she hates bridges also...strange world, huh.

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I agree with Hunt on this. OGE, I am reminded of another similar thread in which the hot debate was whether or not a nose clip should be allowed during the test. A full mask? Covering eyes, nose, AND mouth? Brace yourself.

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I've been a swimming counselor at a summer camp for the last two years. I teach thousands of kids each summer, and I've taught many that were deathly afraid of water. I would work with the kid, and not look for alternative solutions. Start slow, and move upward. I've spent three hours before just trying to get one kid to get near the water.

As for the mask, during the swim tests many kids use them. Many adults, too, for that matter. It's either something they're used to using or a mask can sometimes provide scouts with a feeling of protection.

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Fear can be disabling. I know a man who is so scared of dogs that if one comes up to him he actually faints and has a mild seizure. It takes him about 2 hours to recover. So don't discount fear as a disability.

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I don't believe alternative requirements for second class are available if the scout's phobia doesn't result from a permanent mental or physical disability. Seems like this case is a phobia that possibly could be overcome by sensitivity training with a therapist or psychologist. Since scouting basically adopts disability definitions under the ADA, you need to look to the ADA definitions. If the phobia results from a permanent mental or physical disability (and a doctor certifies it), the scout might have a chance with the council advancement committee. But it doesn't sound likely based on facts provided even though the phobia is impairing the scout's abilities.

 

That being said, there might be an opportunity for a waiver of the swimming requirement. You need to check current requirements.

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SMT376, I think I might be able to give you some ideas based on what you said. I've been on the pool staff of a boy scout camp for 6 summers now, teaching everything from swim lessons to Lifesaving MB, it's safe to say I've seen this kind of thing more than once. But a few questions to clarify...

 

1. You mentioned that he barely passed the second class req's. By this do you mean that he was in the water, swimming (or something close to it) for about 25m? if this is the case I know a whole lot of tricks to convincing the kid that the rest is nothing compared to what they've just accomplished.

 

2. Is his aversion to water go to an extreme, or is it an aversion to the deep end? Will he stand in the shallow?

 

get back to me and I might be able to give some help. (private message or on this post, it matters not :-D) A lot of this kind of thing can usually be dealt with by tricking the kid into doing what they think they can't do (without them realizing that their doing it) it requires a bit of sneakyness on your part, but it's more fun than it is work :-D

 

-Curtis H

Asst Aqua Dir. of MANY years,

Camp Frank Rand, NM

 

 

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