This really happened
An 18-year-old assistant Scoutmaster had tested as a “beginner” at summer camp, meaning he could swim but not that well. On a unit outing, the man tried to swim across a river with two younger Scouts. He became exhausted and drowned.
What went wrong
Exhaustion followed by drowning is a common concern for those who try to swim farther than they are able. Unit leaders should identify a person’s swimming ability and limit non-swimmers to shallow areas and beginners to areas with shallow water nearby. Deep, turbid or flowing water would require use of life jackets if the supervisor determines it to be safe.
Before your unit’s next swim, paddle or row, make a plan for aquatics safety. This starts with training: Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat, both available at my.scouting.org to take any time. These aren’t learn-to-swim or learn-to-paddle courses; they cover the Boy Scout way to conduct a safe and fun aquatics program. After reviewing those materials, take our quiz to test your knowledge.
Anyone who takes this quiz below will be entered to win a $100 scoutshop.org gift card. (Contest ended August 31, 2018, but you can still take the quiz).
Find BSA Safety Moments, with essential information on a range of topics from acute mountain sickness to zip lines, at scouting.org/health-and-safety