Aquatics Supervision

When I went to Summer Camp this year at LaNoChe, I took part in one of their Scouter education programs and recertified  in Aquatics Supervision: Swimming & Water Rescue and Paddle Craft Safety.  I have held both of those certifications as well as the BSA Lifeguard cert for the last three years and they were all expiring.

When I arrived at the class they gave me the option to test out for the re-cert, take the class again or assist in the class and attempt to move forward as an instructor to bring the program to our District.  Of course I opted for the latter.  While I had no doubt that I could pass the opt out test (most of the questions are common sensical or based on Safety Afloat / Safe Swim Defense) , as I don’t serve as a lifeguard in my day to day life, I wanted to at least sit another class again as a refresher.  Not sure if I’ll get around to actually instructing the class for the district, but I’m willing and if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll be prepared.

This training is pretty important down here in Florida, as there is water everywhere and Aquatics activities are always a favorite.  Each of the two modules are designed to last about 8 hours, so the hardest part is finding the time to attend.

I did get into some verbal sparring about interpretation with one of the instructors.  In the Guide to Safe Scouting it is recommended that every unit have an adult trained in Aquatics Supervision to assist in planning and conducting Aquatics activities.    It doesn’t say that you have to have one.  Granted in Safe Swim Defense, under Response Personnel, the supervisor of the activity has to conform the event to the standards found in Aquatics Supervision,  but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to hold a current certification.  The same reference to Aquatics Supervision training can be found in all of the other BSA Aquatics activities, from paddle craft to Scuba and Snorkeling to water skiing.  I know it seems like I’m trying to make too fine of a distinction, when it probably is best to have certified people out for those activities, but the sticking point was really when he maintained that you should be certified to give the 2nd and 1st Class swim tests for rank.  I can’t imagine how much this could hold up a unit’s program waiting around for summer camp every year to do swim tests.  On a side note I should mention that our council camp only accepts prior swim tests conducted by certified supervisors, but that is a matter of prerogative not National Policy for local units.

Regardless of who is right in that argument, I think we’d all agree that the best route is to have as many currently trained adults as possible in a unit that actively seeks out aquatic adventures.

For more information about Aquatics Supervision, check out’s page: Aquatics Resorces

It has everything but the really expensive manual.  (The link in the blog is the 2009 version of the manual)


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