Green Bar Bill's Patrol Corner—Use the Safe Swim Defense plan

“Come on in. The water’s fine!” Soon, Scouts everywhere will hear that call as they head for pools and waterfronts to cool off, enjoying one of summer’s favorite activities—swimming.

Every Scout should be a swimmer. It’s an important skill that provides basic survival and rescue methods, fun, and exercise. If you have patrols with boys who can’t swim, now is a good time for them to learn.

Aquatic staffs at Boy Scout summer camps are specially trained to teach swimming. Other sources of instruction include lifeguards at neighborhood pools, the YMCA, and local chapters of the American Red Cross.

Whenever Scouts swim, the BSA’s Safe Swim Defense plan must be followed. A new training video, “Safe Swim Defense—It Works!” (No. AV-09V029), is available for units to borrow from local Scout council service centers. The tape can be shown during a meeting so Scouts can review the plan’s eight points:

  • Qualified supervision—all swimming must be supervised by an adult 21 years of age or older.
  • Physical fitness—have a complete health history from a physician, parent, or legal guardian.
  • Safe swim area—check waterfront areas for rocks, stumps, deep holes, and currents. Mark the area into three swimming groups.
  • Lifeguards on duty—have one lifeguard for every 10 swimmers.
  • Lookout—station a lookout where he can see and hear everything in all areas.
  • Ability groups—divide boys into the following: nonswimmers, beginners, swimmers.
  • Buddy system—pair every boy with another in the same ability group.
  • Discipline—follow all directions and rules of the adult supervisor to ensure a safe swim.Have fun this summer and remember to swim safely. Oh, and don’t forget, “Last one in is a rotten egg.”

    —Scott Daniels

    Troop program ideas and methods for improving patrol teamwork, adapted from material by the late William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt or from other sources, appear periodically in this column.

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