By Boy Scouts of America
Apr 28, 2015

Cub Scout 411 Roundtable: Aquatics for Cub Scouting

On June 1, 2015, the new Cub Scouts program will be in effect. This will be the most significant change in the Cub Scouting program since the introduction of the current Webelos program in 1967. Over the last few months we have presented blog roundtable sessions to help all Cub Scout leaders prepare for the launch of the new program materials. canoeingThis month’s focus is on Aquatics and is designed to help you prepare for the new program launch with Aquatics as the June theme for Cub Scouting.

This article is fifth in a series of program updates from the 411 Task Force. These include:

January—Program Support for Den Leaders
March—Program Planning
April—New Pack Meeting Plans
May—Aquatic Adventures
June—Campfire Programs
July—Resources for Packs and Den Leaders

These subjects will also be presented in local Cub Scout Roundtables each month.

Water Safety is a Critical Issue

Aquatics activities have been a part of the Scouting program since it began, and it is an important part of most summer camp programs. Swimming and boating safely are not only an enjoyable leisure activity, but could also save the life of a Scout, or someone else!

  • Every day, 2 children under 14 die from unintentional drowning
  • Drowning is the fifth leading accidental cause of death in the US (CDC)
  • Scouting events frequently involve water activities
  • Scouting is a natural place to provide improvement in swimming abilities, both as an instructional body and as an experienced based skill
  • We provide life skills to our Scouts on a variety of subjects – water safety is a natural fit!

Relevant Adventures

The aquatics program is an active part of the new Cub Scout Adventure program electives:

Aquatic Adventures

Tiger Elective Adventure: Floats and Boats

The Water Safety Chant

S is SOMEONE’s  watching
never swim alone
C is CHECK the rules
Know where you can roam
O is ONLY buddies
Should go from the shore
U is know what YOU can do
Don’t do any more
T is TELL a grown-up
if someone’s in need
SCOUT show safety
Now you take the lead.

tigers boats1. Identify five different types of boats.
2. Build a boat from recycled materials, and float it on the water.
3. With your den, say the SCOUT water safety chant.
4. Play the buddy game with your den.
5. Show that you can put on and fasten a life jacket the correct way.
6. Show how to safely help someone who needs assistance in the water, without having to enter the water yourself.
7. Show how to enter the water safely, blow your breath out under the water, and do a prone glide.

“Spirit of the Water” – the Wolf Elective

For the Spirit of the Water elective adventure, Wolves learn about water conservation and how to enjoy swimming and boating safely. 100px-Spirit_of_the_WaterThe requirement for this adventure are shown below. Upon completion of this adventure, Wolf Cub Scouts will receive a belt loop.

  1. Demonstrate how the water in your community can become polluted.
  2. Explain one way that you can help conserve water in your home.
  3. Explain to your den leader why swimming is good exercise.
  4. Explain the safety rules that you need to follow before participating in swimming or boating.
  5. Show how to do a reaching rescue.
  6. Visit a local pool or public swimming area with your family or Wolf den. With qualified supervision, jump into water that is at least chest-high, and swim 25 feet or more.

You can see the progressive skill instruction – as the Scout gets older, he learns a little more about each topic, reinforcing the previous information, and introducing new skills to keep it fresh!

Bear Elective Adventures: Salmon Run

Salmon-RunSalmon Run is a Bear elective adventure, where Bears learn swimming and boating safety rules and then go have fun in the water. The requirement for this adventure are shown below. Upon completion of this adventure, Bears will receive a belt loop.

  1. Explain the safety rules that you need to follow before participating in boating.
  2. Identify the equipment needed when going boating.
  3. Demonstrate correct rowing or paddling form. Explain how rowing and canoeing are good exercise.
  4. Explain the importance of response personnel or lifeguards in a swimming area.
  5. Show how to do both a reach rescue and a throw rescue.
  6. Visit a local pool or swimming area with your den or family, and go swimming.
  7. Demonstrate the front crawl swim stroke to your den or family. 8. Name the three swimming ability groups for the Boy Scouts of America.
  8. Attempt to earn the BSA beginner swimmer classification. (BEGINNER’S TEST: Jump feet first into water over the head in depth, level off, swim 25 feet on the surface, stop, turn sharply, resume swimming as before, and return to starting place.)
Webelos and Arrow of Light “Aquanaut” elective adventure Webelos-AOL-AquanautThis adventure continues building on the previous year’s topics of:

  • Water Safety
  • Rescue
  • Swimming Skills
  • Ability Testing – Requirement 5 says “ Attempt the BSA Swimmer test”: 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. The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating.

This is the “Blue” classification, and would allow full access to aquatics activities at summer camp. Wouldn’t it be great if every Webelos/Arrow of Light going into Boy Scouts was a “Blue” swimmer?

District and Council Support

Access to aquatics facilities may be an issue for many Packs. So be sure to check with your district and our camps, both of whom will support the earning of this elective by providing programs like:

  • Cub Scouts “Swim Days”
    Cub Scouts can learn basic swim skills and improve on their ability level.
  • Cub Scout Leader Training
    Provide aquatics Instructor training (Red Cross, or other agency training for swimming instruction) to Pack Leaders who want to serve as a resource to their unit and others. (NOTE: BSA training – Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat is available through the MyScouting training site and can be taken any time.)
  • Motivation
    Recognition and patches, etc., to generally raise the level of aquatics skills for your local program.Additional Aquatic Resources


  • What’s New” Training Module on E-Learning (by end of March 2015)
  • Updated Cub Scout Position-Specific Training on E-Learning (by end of March 2015)
  • New youth handbooks and den leader guides in scout shops by May 1st and available as E-pubs on in both English and Spanish (30-45 days later).

Next month, be sure to come back for an introduction to the July pack meeting plans for campfire programs. For ongoing updates, visit for regular program updates and links to program materials and training opportunities.

Author: 411 Task Force | Boy Scouts of America

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2 thoughts on “Cub Scout 411 Roundtable: Aquatics for Cub Scouting

  1. AvatarLourae Minor

    Working on Aquatic belt loops and I need clarification for:

    Requirement #8 for the Bears “Name the three swimmimg ability groups of the Boy Scouts of America” and

    Requirement #2 for Webelos “Recognize the purpose and the three classifications of swimming groups in scouting”

    Thank you,
    Lourae Minor

  2. AvatarLeah Overson

    My sister is a den leader. She told me the boys Loved making boats out of aluminum foil and seeing which craft could hold the most pennies. They were excited to go home and make another boat out of things in the house. Great work Scout leaders! Keeping people safe around water is very commendable.


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