BSA Lifeguard Training in Hawaii

sea scouts bsa lifeguardGreeting and “Aloha” from the Sea Scout Ship Decisive on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii.

Well, it’s that time of year again, and we’ve begun our aquatics training. As you may know, the Sea Scout rank advancement path has very extensive aquatic requirements, and we’ve found it’s easiest to, as a group, satisfy all the requirements in one concerted effort. Our ultimate goal is “BSA Lifeguard” certification for all members. This way, we not only get rank sign-offs, but the training helps keep us all safe during the rest of our adventures all year round.

So, in true “Decisive” fashion, we keep our eyes on the prize and move forward to attain our goals.

It was uncharacteristically cold (for Hawaii) when we arrived at the Kapaa public pool at 0630. There was a large group of Boy Scouts and their parents there already. One of the Scout Moms was thoughtful enough to bring some hot chocolate for everyone. It sure helped the kids keep warm!

So, it was a quick safety brief, a review of “BSA Safe Swim Defense,” some additional instruction and into the water! Luckily, we had a few of our veteran members to serve as lifeguards.

Decisive Boatswain and BSA Lifeguard, Tessa R, briefs the class on “Safe Swim Defense”
Decisive Boatswain and BSA Lifeguard, Tessa R, briefs the class on “Safe Swim Defense”

BSA Swim Test and Swimming Merit Badge Requirements

The Sea Scout aquatics curriculum (via rank requirements) can be basically broken down to this:

First, we make sure you can swim (Apprentice requirement # 4, “BSA Swim test”), then we train you how to swim well and to save yourself if need be. (Ordinary requirement #4 “Swimming Merit Badge”) Then we train you how to save others. (Able requirement #4, “Lifesaving Merit Badge”) Finally, we train you how to be a lifeguard. (Quartermaster requirement #4, “BSA Lifeguard or American Red Cross certification”)

Troop 148 Scoutmaster, Mr. Tabata, provides the training
Troop 148 Scoutmaster, Mr. Tabata, provides the training

So, today’s focus was making sure everyone passed the BSA Swim test, and then taking them through the Swimming Merit Badge requirements.

Some were beginners and some were accomplished swimmers, but everyone started at the beginning with the BSA swim test. From there, we were able to break into ability groups, giving less experienced swimmers the chance to fine tune their skills, while the more accomplished swimmers were able to tackle the various requirements for the Swimming Merit Badge.

With the BSA Lifeguard keeping things safe, these scouts are ready for action!
With the BSA Lifeguard keeping things safe, these scouts are ready for action!

So, as the day ended and everyone dried themselves off and put on their street clothes, we all felt like we had accomplished something and we were well on our way to becoming BSA Lifeguards.

Today, the Scouts were safe, learned something, and had FUN! Mission accomplished.

Being able to just float is actually an important skill!
Being able to just float is actually an important skill!

Lifesaving Merit Badge Requirements and BSA Lifeguard

Today’s activity was only the beginning for our BSA Lifeguard candidates. We’ve already scheduled our next pool session for early next month. On the agenda is to complete the Swimming Merit Badge and to start working on the Lifesaving Merit Badge. From there we will start on BSA Lifeguard. This training is extensive including classroom and swimming pool sessions.

Tips for Ships

  • Partnership, partnership, partnership!

This extensive level of training requires a lot in the way logistical planning, etc. It’s probably too much for one unit to do, but partnering with other units puts a training of this type within range. In our case, a local Scoutmaster secures the pool and provides the lead instructor expertise while we Sea Scouts provide lifeguards and additional instructors. BSA units will be working on the same requirements as Sea Scouts and you may be able to partner up with them. Ships could also partner with the local Aquatics community. High School swim team, YMCA and others can provide great resources for logistics, instruction, and even recruiting!

  • Can do attitude

It probably seems like this is easy for us, being in Hawaii and all. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that swimming pools aren’t really needed around here, so very few exist. I am only aware of 3 on our entire island! The point is, no matter where you are, you’ll have several challenges to overcome, but you can…and it will be worth it! On Decisive we get things done by focusing on the finish line and crossing hurdles one at a time.

And that is latest happenings from the crew of Decisive out here in the islands! We’d like to wish you our warmest, “Aloha a hui ho!” (until we meet again)

Carry on, carry on.

Larry Richardson

Skipper, SSS Decisive

Ship 11, Kauai, HI


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