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Fun in the water is a big part of Scouting’s outdoor program. Our programs can include everything from swimming or snorkeling or SCUBA to boating, canoeing, kayaking, or sailing. Many of these activities are offered at our council’s summer camps. Of course, your local unit might also choose to plan a weekend event or camp out that incorporates one of these.

Whichever activity you choose, it’s important to make sure you’re providing a safe environment. The Boy Scouts of America requires at least one adult leader to first complete the Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat training courses before planning or conducting a water activity. You can take these two courses online by logging in to (if you’ve never visited this site before, visit this page to learn more about it).


Merit Badges

These are only earned by youth in the Scouts BSA program (not Cub Scouts). Scouts earn a merit badge in a topic by completing specific requirements and demonstrating that they understand and can master basic skills in a particular field of study. Scouts must work with a registered Merit Badge Counselor or take a class at a BSA summer camp or activity to complete a merit badge. Most of these aquatics-related merit badges may be earned at our Scouts BSA Summer Camp at Lost Pines Scout Reservation:


  • Canoeing Merit Badge
  • Rowing Merit Badge
  • Swimming Merit Badge
  • Kayaking Merit Badge
  • Small-Boat Sailing Merit Badge
  • Motorboating Merit Badge
  • Scuba Diving Merit Badge
  • Water Sports Merit Badge
  • Whitewater Merit Badge
  • Lifesaving Merit Badge

Swimming and Water Rescue

Provides adult leaders with information and skills to prevent, recognize, and respond to swimming emergencies during unit swimming activities. It expands the awareness instruction provided by Safe Swim Defense training. Persons completing the training should be better able to assess their preparation to supervise unit swimming events. The BSA recommends that at least one person with this training is present to assist with supervision whenever a unit swims at a location that does not provide lifeguards.

Paddle Craft Safety

Provides adults and Scouts 15 and older guidelines for safe float trips and expands Safety Afloat training to include the skills, as well as the knowledge, needed for a unit leader to confidently supervise canoeing or kayaking excursions.

BSA Lifeguard

Provides Scouts 15 and older or adults with advanced lifesaving skills on par with American Red Cross lifesaving certification. Participants must be current in American Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training. BSA Lifeguard training may only completed through a current BSA Aquatics Instructor or BSA Lifeguard Instructor.

Powder Horn

This is a two-weekend activity co-hosted by our council and the council headquartered in Fort Worth. Powder Horn is an introductory showcase that gives you the chance to sample many kinds of “high adventure” activities. Canoeing, Kayaking, and SCUBA are typically offered as a part of this program. You won’t complete any formal training during these weekends, but you will get to try them first-hand and decide whether you want to pursue any further training to offer them to your Scouts.

Have a question about aquatics?

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