Kayaking Cub Scout Style

Today, I let loose a fire storm on Google+ with a simple question of:
Aquanaut activity badge question: if son does 1-3 doesn’t that also count for #7? Also does a kayak count as a rowboat? I say yes for the latter. He already got swimming beltloop again this summer and one other. So he he just needs to swim with a PFD and he is done besides explaining why.

The first question was answered because I did not read Feet vs yards within the Aquanaut requirements. Done.

Here is the full requirements of the Activity Pin:

  • Jump into water over your head.  Come to the surface and swim 100 feet, at least half of this using a backstroke.
  • Stay in the water after the swim and float on your back and your front, and demonstrate survival floating.
  • Put on a personal floatation device (PFD) that is the right size for you.  Make sure it is properly fastened.  Wearing the PFD, jump into water over your head.  Show how the PFD keeps your head above water by swimming 25 feet.  Get out of the water, remove the PFD, and hang it where it will dry.
  • And Do Three of These:
  • Do a front surface dive and swim under water for four strokes before returning to the surface.
  • Explain the four basic water rescue methods.  Demonstrate reaching and throwing rescues.
  • With an adult on board, show that you know how to handle a rowboat.
  • Pass the BSA “Swimmer” test:
    • Jump feet-first into water over the head in depth, level off, and begin swimming.
    • Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl.
    • Then swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke.
    • After completing the swim, rest by floating.
  • While you are a Webelos Scout, earn the Cub Scout Sports belt loop for swimming.

So, my son Elliot over the course of the summer and just today has completed the following:
#1: Earned in pool earlier in summer.
#2 Same as above, but he is skinny so he worked at that a bit since he didn’t float like boys who EAT! (He’s very skinny for his age.)
#3 Not done yet. Need to find PFD
#4:Done: He does this all the time when diving.
#5: Not done.
#6: Did it in a Kayak this summer.  He has done this before in a Rowboat, but not as a Webelos. So, I cannot count what he did before he attained Webelos I   rank this June. (At family cabin on a Lake in Montana.)
#7: Not completed as a whole.  Which he needs to do.
#8 Earned the Beltloop for Swimming.

So, I posted this on Google+ and got a lot of Feedback.  Remember Feedback is a gift!

While I am not going to post every response, this one sums it up. “With an adult on board, show that you know how to handle a rowboat.” — it’s not a rowboat, it’s a kayak…not the same device. ”  Ok, I got it.  But, I will go futher in what the Boy Scouts of America officially says.

First, Safety Afloat. Under section six: For Cub Scouts:Canoeing, kayaking, rowing, and rafting for Cub Scouts (including Webelos Scouts) are to be limited to council/district events on flat water ponds or controlled lake areas free of powerboats and sailboats. Prior to recreational canoeing and kayaking, Cub Scouts are to be instructed in basic handling skills and safety practices.

It is restated on a PDF for Age-Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities.

So, while I get and understand that a Rowboat is not a Kayak, another Scouter pointed out: Think about why canoes (and kayaks) are discouraged for cubs: they are much more likely to capsize than a row boat because of their narrow beam. So a row boat is mentioned in the requirements because of the higher amount of safety it provides for the boy. There is also one significant difference between handling a row boat and a canoe or kayak: with the row boat you are going backwards and the others you are going forwards. So, in order to control where the rowboat goes you need to know how to pick a reference point.

These are all great points and I would have argued in the end that yes, a Kayak is not a Rowboat.  I see and get that.  In life, I work to follow the rules.  In Cub Scouts, and in the early ranks, I use the “Do my Best” philosophy.  Meaning, if a Cub Scouts really tries to do the activity and makes the attempt, then he gets it.  However, last year a Bear did not write a letter as required for a Communication section for Rank or Beltloop. (I wasn’t the Den Leader I cannot fully remember what it was for.)  However, he was not awarded credit since he did not do it.  Now, the Den Leader sent home the information so he could bring it back and present it to her or his mom.  Nope, did not do it.  So, he was told why he did not get the requirement.  Yes, he was upset.  But he learned.

Hence, my understanding of why people responded the way that they did.  So, Elliot will not get credit for that section of the Aquanaut Activity Badge.  It is still easily attainable to him and he will end up getting it.

About Adam R. Cox

Current Skyloo District Commissioner Current Skyloo District & Council Trainer Current Council Member at Large (Cascade Pacific Council) Former Tiger DL & CM of P221 in Pioneer District Former Skyloo District CS Roundtable Commissioner. Former Ast Council Commissioner for Commissioner Tools and Communication Former Pioneer District Training Chair WE1-492-09 Beaver W1-492-11 Bobwhite TG ASM Logistic W1-492-17-2
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