Scouting Safely Boating Alert

From the National Outdoor Programs Office

As National Water Safety Month in May draws to a close, it’s crucial for everyone in Scouting to continue to focus on facilitating safe aquatics programs this summer. A few recent incidents serve as reminders of the ever-present need for vigilance.
Please review the following Boating Safety Alert information and share with all Scouting units, camp staff and volunteers immediately:

  1. Ensure the principles of Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat are always followed. Both training courses must be renewed every two years.
  2. Leverage the annual swim check process to ensure everyone is prepared to participate based on their swim classification (nonswimmer, beginner, swimmer). Review Aquatics Supervision Chapter 5 for details.
  3. Per Safety Afloat Principle #4, “Properly fitted life jackets with U.S. Coast Guard approval for the activity must be worn by all persons while boating.”
  4. Utilize the Buddy System (see Safety Afloat Principle #5 and Safe Swim Defense Principle #7). All participants in an activity afloat are paired as buddies who are always aware of each other’s situation and prepared to sound an alarm and lend assistance immediately when needed.
  5. Review Aquatics Supervision Chapter 7 prior to facilitating swimming activities from boats. Reminder – swimming from a boat under way is not authorized.
  6. Reminder – Motorboats may be operated by youth, subject to state requirements, only when accompanied in the boat by an experienced leader or camp staff member who meets state requirements for motorboat operation

From Scouting’s Commitment to Safety, “In Scouting, we will not compromise the safety of our youth, volunteers, and employees. Safety is a value that must be taught and reinforced at every opportunity. We are all responsible and must hold each other accountable to provide a safe environment for all participants.”