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Swimming rules

I am aware from the large number of questions to the Scout Information Centre, office and through EScouts and other forums that there is confusion and a number concerns amongst leaders at the implications of the revised swimming rules contained in the recently updated edition of POR.

I appreciate that the problem has been compounded by difficulties in the communication process for which I apologise. Although rather late, it may help you to know that the changes were introduced following concerns raised by both members of the Movement and Technical Advisers as to the suitability of the previous rules. During January 2009 an online survey was conducted to establish the current ways in which swimming activities were organised and delivered and the impact of any possible changes was also established. The proposed changes were trialled in a number of areas and issues now being raised were not identified at that stage.

Many of the comments and questions being received in particular relate to the impact on swimming in inland waters (lakes etc.) and from boats as part of a boating activity, a suggestion being that these may benefit from a differentiation as we have with other water activities. There are also questions regarding the appropriateness of the NBLQ qualification.

As a result, I have requested the UK Commissioner for Programme to undertake with the Activities Team an urgent review into our swimming rules. Details of this, and an opportunity for members to contribute will be circulated shortly.

Please note that whilst this review will be undertaken as a matter of urgency, the rules as presently written in POR remain in place and must be followed.




By Howard
on 13/03/2010 00:28

How, as a GSL, did I find out about these new rules just now? If it hadn't been for this message, why would I ever have known? How was this communicated...obviously not very well!

By Peter Bench (District Commissioner, Basingstoke West)
on 13/03/2010 07:00

It's good to see that you are listening to comments and concerns, relating to new rules. And are prepared to review them in light of the large number of comments and feedback

By David Hood
on 13/03/2010 07:07

I appreciate that times have changed, but when I was a member of The National Scout Activities Advisory Board many years ago, I very well remember this area being raised on a number of occasion.
Col John Muston (Land Activities Adviser) was adamant that if a Team of Scouts were on a foot expedition and thay came accross a lake or Tarn (or even safe river) the Rules should not preclude them from taking a dip, as this is what they will do on a hot day.

By Ian Turner
on 13/03/2010 09:25

Thank you Wayne, this is a move in the right direction and will hopefully bring some comon sense to the rule. It doesn't seem logical to have the same rules for a swimming pool, a muddy pond at Tolmers and someone swimming off a boat in the sea.

By Mark Grant
on 13/03/2010 10:17

As a PB Safetyboat instructor, where we train our young people(YP), when they are sail training and they capsize, many decide to swim to the waterside rather than help their buddies to right the boat! At what point do I require Lifegaurd qualifications (which I don't have)in my my safety boat if they are struggling, or do I need to hire a Lifegaurd every time our sailing instructor takes our YPs out. Come on guys get your act together, your paperwork is already losing leaders and instructors in our movement. Let's use paragraph 4, words 5 and 6 of factsheet FS120620 !!

By Lee Budd
on 13/03/2010 10:25

Can you please explain the need to change Rule 9:42
"A non swimmer for boating activties is now someone who can not swim 50 meters on a bouyancy aid"?

By John Foxwell, DC Ealing and Hanwell
on 13/03/2010 15:53

When I saw the new swimming rules I was disappointed that free swimming with just the provision of "pickets" will now no longer be possible either from the lovely beaches of Guersey and the equally lovely lakes of Kandersteg, both of which my troop have enjoyed in the past. Slowly the range of activities that we are able to offer our young people are being erroded by over zealous PC and HSE officialdom. Where, I ask, will this process stop, no more camping or cooking on open fires? Scouting is meant to be an adventure and there will always be some risk involved in any adventure. Sadly it seems that the spirit of adventure is being censured by more and more rules. Sorry, but I think this one is just one of those that has gone too far.
John Foxwell, DC Ealing and Hanwell district.

By neil mortimer
on 13/03/2010 18:01

current rule that no account of other life saving people, my friends on the local life boat will be insulted by my not being able to use their skills on our local beach!

By Jim Elliott
on 13/03/2010 18:17

Bronze Medallion
Recognised as the flagship award for lifesaving.
I hold this, which used to be the legal requirement for pool and surf lifesavers - Yet it gets no mention in POR, neatly leaving me to argue equvelency issues for the new lesser quals !!!!!!
Come off it Scouting HQ we leaders should not have to do this.

By Alan savery
on 13/03/2010 19:14

I have my own swimming pool 9m x 4m and 1m deep. Under theold rules I only needed appropriate adults for the number in the pool. As a Warranted leader I have a recognised first aid certificate which includes CPR. I canot immagine circumstances in my pool which would require a qualified life guard.

on 13/03/2010 21:51

Can't comment on the rules but someone ought to tell them the plural of 'ratio' is not ' ratio's ' :)

By Keith Nixon SL 1st Capel St Mary Scouts
on 13/03/2010 23:18

No doubt the Urban Scouts who now run the movement, those who think the countryside and outdoors a really scarey place, will dream up more rules to prevent leaders running an adventurous and appealing programme. Next thing is they'll wring their hands and ask who no one wants to join and why we can't get good leaders. A scout is to be trusted. So trust us leaders to run activities safetly and STOP making us jump through hoops (better not use firey ones, they're a bit risky) to train us scouts.

By John SK
on 14/03/2010 07:47

We are volunteers but the Scout Association are expecting us to have the same qualifications as the professionals who do the activity 100% where we do it once or twice a year. We will end up just paying for activities using professional instructors and therefore excluding those that can’t pay.

By Dave
on 14/03/2010 19:05

If we carry on at this rate we are going to have to change our name in a few years time as we will no longer have any 'out' in scouting!

By John Sims
on 14/03/2010 22:35

As a Scout Instructor with 25 years experience, RLSS and RYA qualifications, I've always felt that the previous rules were superb. They allowed the application of common sense, spontenaity and a bit of the adventure aspect of activities that youngsters crave. An NBLQ should not be used as a blanket qualification to supervise swimming at any open water site, each lifeguard's ticket is site specific. I think it is too much to expect that we now have to find and hire a local lifeguard before putting more than a toe in the water. I agree that a boating activity should not be allowed to become a swim just because the children are wearing buoyancy aids.

By marie jenkins
on 15/03/2010 02:01

yes things are getting really silly now too much red tape paper work it stops us doing what we are there to do getting the groups to have fun and grow we are all sensible other wise we would not get the warrants [would we?] so come on stop all this paper work and help get more leaders and not push them away.

By Ed
on 15/03/2010 08:10

Completely ruined our Summer Camps. We always choose places with a river next to the site so the scouts can have the much needed free time and enjoyment that comes with camping.

Yet another example of bad communication, lack of common sense and additional requirements on a VOLUNTARY leadership that makes me question why after nearly 25years as a warranted leader I want to continue when everything is being changed for the worse.

By Mike Tullberg
on 15/03/2010 09:08

When are HQ going to learn you seem to keep making the same mistake changing rules that then prevent activities happening and being suprised when we the grass routes sharp end folk tell you we can't do x or y anymore. First I hear about this is now! Herts Canoe Team DWAA CAA BCU coach BDA coach

By Chris Collinson
on 15/03/2010 11:32

To get the Swimmer 1 badge you have to swim 25m. If you can only swim 25m you are classified as a non swimmer and therefore have to use a buoyancy aid. I assume then that Leaders can't assess Cubs and Scouts for this badge.

By Mike Levett
on 15/03/2010 12:52

I hope the Activities team will ask the people who know about swimming. With my colleagues at Calleva Lifesaving Club, we have been providing lifesaving expertise for some 30 years. We are a unique club in that all our members are drawn from Scouting and Guiding in the Basingstoke area and all our trainers are Trainer Assessors for the Royal Lifesaving Society. Based on our experience, we would be happy to assist the Activities Team. We can be contacted via the Basingstoke West DC

By Sid.
on 15/03/2010 14:24

I agree with Howard. These changes were not well communicated!
Whats more, they are a further nail in the coffin for us to be able to offer activities 'in house'.

What has happened to leaders being able to use their own common sense? If we carry on like this, our youngsters will not be able to afford Scouting.

Moreover, as one of the other contributors has suggested, we will no longer be able to swim in the beautiful lake at Kandersteg.... I mourn the death of common sense in this beloved movement of ours!

By Garry
on 15/03/2010 14:44

Can we expect this review to look effectively at the interaction of swimming with other activites. and be clear in its results. e.g. We sue "swimming type" drills as a fundamental part of our kayaking training. Exercises such as handstands and forward rolls in a pool are a fundamental training exercise for learning to roll a kayak as they introduce the sensation of being upside down and disorientated in a kayak without the restrictison of being in the boat. as the new rules stand though it appears that all the canoe lifegaurds and coaches we have in the Scout kayak club will now need a pool lifegaurd qualification as well, and if we now do these activites or simialr "out of boat" activities which are a fundamental part of building confidence in the boat and the water environment in a river then we need open water lifegaurds as well.
Finally your decsiion to stick with the new rules, rather than reverting to the old ones, during the review, even though you appear to accept they are flawed means that we either change/stop our activites during the course of the review or risk being uninsured. Is this really a sensible way forward?

By Mark Pullen
on 15/03/2010 15:36

Before I start I need to clarify that I like admin but I'm also aware that there are others in the movement who don't!

I am concerned that just because we are volunteers who may occasionally undertake a potentially risky activity there are some who feel we don't need to have in place the same standards as a "professional" setup.

Would they also run across a busy main road without looking just because they only do it occasionally?

By Dave John
on 15/03/2010 16:52

I agree with Howard. It does concern me that these new rules have been trialled in other areas, and surely they should have picked up on the implications of these new rules on the average group/ leader? who if things go on as they are will have to spent most of their time obtaining formal qualifications (and of course the updating) which will mean that most of us in the real world wont have any time left for the Kids. And please don't tell me that we will have to find more specialist volunteer leaders!!.

By Chris
on 15/03/2010 19:32

Agree with Jim's comment regarding the Bronze Medallian, I hold it and it's the most generaly recognised standard.
I also list it as my "qualification" to review the swimmers badges - if it's no longer recognised does that mean I can't do that any more?!?

By Neil Spowart
on 15/03/2010 23:50

I definitely feel that the Activities Team should seek the advice of those involved in Scouting/Guiding and Lifesaving. As an Assistant Lifesaving Teacher myself, I feel that the previous rules regarding were fine but if changes are going to be made then I would advise that they go through West Basingstoke DC and contact Calleva Lifesaving Club for specialist advice

By Ana
on 16/03/2010 18:47

Scouts just celebrate 100 years... I don't belive will last another 100. Not at least the way things are turning

By John - SL
on 17/03/2010 09:15

How is it that I have only just discovered this? Why are changes not communicated? The Home page of Scoutbase 'What's New' would be a good place to start and a note with a link in Scouting Plus would not go a miss either. 'Simples'!
I holding a Rafting Authorisation and can see loads of pitfalls where a rafting event on a lake at out county site is now going to be almost impossible. Does this mean I have to have an adult on each raft along with those in the safety boat? Does this mean that conservation walks around the lake at the county site or our local woods mean everyone needs a buoyancy aid? Come on – these are fundamental activities that contribute to the fun and the out of scouting. Control measures need to be reasonable and practical otherwise people will ignore them or the activities will not happen.

By Anna (DESC and BCU coach)
on 17/03/2010 14:25

Why is a NBLQ providing cover for 70 people acceptable where a Activity Authorisation holder (i.e. as well as being qualified is recognised by the Scout Assoc as a suitable person to be with Scouts), with First Aid and BCU/RYA etc qualifications leading a group with a max. of 1:8 with boats and buoyancy aids not? Leading a group of paddlers is completely different to being a NBLQ, where group managment and dynamics are not involved. As has been said earlier water confidence, jumping in, climbing out etc is essential to the skills in sailing, paddle sports etc. Indeed participants who are denyed this are more likely to have problems when a boat does capsize. More importantly those magic moments when a child who is never taken swimming splashes up in front of you with a big grin will be lost forever. Please, can we told who was consulted and what the findings were that led to this situation. Those who have taken young people out on the water where swimming is not allowed ( some reservoirs etc) find the first thing that many participants will do is fall in 'accidentally'. Does this only mean that someone with NBLQ is allowed to rescue a person? How does it apply to Cubs wading with model boats in the public park paddling pool, thigh deep, with a sign saying 'Children using must be supervised by a responsible adult'. Clearly we are no longer regared as responsible adults. On the same page in Scouting Plus we are asked what we need to recruit more adults.

By Peter Aylott
on 17/03/2010 21:05

I hope the review is concluded by the begining of July and these are communicated out as the new rules will seriously affect our summer camp programme, where we will have to brief all instructors and ban all swimming! Have you tried to find a qualified beach lifeguard when camping 200 miles from home who does it for the love of it?

By Roy Gray
on 17/03/2010 21:34

Being a scout leader for over 25 years I will be asked by my young scout and new leaders what was it like when I was a young leader, and a scout. Well going back not that far, Scouts was challenging, and dangerous that’s what kept me coming back for more, we had sensible rules made by scout leaders, and not I guess lawyers or injury claim consultants. Today we have a pale copy of scouts, a faire ground thrill without the danger. Take swimming I learnt water confer dance in scouts at summer camp, my old scout leader and PL helped me. Now you need to be a professional life guard. So no more summer camps swimming in the river, and helping young people be safe around the water. Funny that, as we live on an Island! Well if one of my scouts drown it will not be on a scout activity so that’s OK, well we would not want to get sued would we.
Today’s scouting is about identifying any risk, and the stop that activity.
I thought are new Chief scout Bears was a man of action or so the June / July scout mag claims, and the chief “every child has the right to adventure” well that’s true, but you would need to join another organisation
When will common sense take over and stop all the rules for rules sake!

Roy Gray
3rd Portchester Sea Scouts

By Adam Buckell (Scout Leader)
on 17/03/2010 21:44

The new rules also don't take into account recognised lifesaving qualifications like the NRASTC (National Rescue Award for Swimming Teachers and Coaches). Under the new rules an average swimming teacher would not be able to run a swimming lesson with Scouts in a private pool without the cover of a person with the NPLQ. An average swimming teacher / coach will gain the NRASTC qualification to allow them to run lessons in a private pool, but will not hold an NPLQ as this qualification takes 5 days to gain and in an average private pool is not required. Most private pools including School Pools will specify the NRASTC as the minium required qualification in their Normal Operating Procedure (NOP). The NRASTC qualification is considered a lesser qualification than the NPLQ and hence equivalency can't even be argued. The implications of the new rules are that we will be unable to swim at our summer camp this year - a big shame!

By Terry
on 18/03/2010 12:06

Having been involved in Sea Scouting for many years, I am becoming more and more convinced that the increased bureaucracy and regulation being imposed upon us is slowly killing off the movement. This change to the swimming rules is just another example of this. We celebrated our centenary last year with plenty of water activities under the previous rules, which with the application of good common sense and well qualified leaders made for a very successful day. Under the new revised rules we would have had to cancel the main part of the event. Why are Groups never consulted about these major changes ? - after all we are the ones with the experience and could make a valid contribution - which would perhaps have prevented having to have a review at this late stage.

By Lyn Jack: Group Scout Leader, 12th Eastleigh
on 18/03/2010 18:05

Seems to me that all these rules are designed to protect our insurers, and infuriate our Leaders and indirectly our members. Sadly, all this beurocracy just makes me want to ignore the rules and take a common sense approach. Do HQ realise that this is a potential effect of tying us in so much red tape?

By John Sk
on 19/03/2010 08:05

I’m not saying i would walk across a road without looking (or that i like admin)... but a sensible approach... for example.. I am a BCU coach and we hold kayaking sessions in a local pool... the pool provides lifeguards at a cost but admitted that they dont know how to deal with someone in a kayak who got into difficulties.. so a group of us took the BCU pool lifeguard test which rides on the back of the old CST... the pool give us regular training similar to their NPL including emergency procedures ...everyone happy in fact safer and we pay less!! Isnt this a better approach? Remember we are qualified by the BCU and approved by the SA to take and rescue YP on a grade 2 river where conditions are far more difficult that a nice warm clear pool!!!!! But cant?

By John Sk
on 19/03/2010 08:09

My son is a qualified NPL this and the NBLQ are professional qualifications for professional lifeguards and all include a element of CPD to revalidate.... the Bronze medalion or BCU /RYA qualifications are far more appropiate qualification for scouters

By Les
on 19/03/2010 14:07

Having been involved with scouting for over 25 years I strongly agree that adventurous activities should be supervised by qualified people with specialist skills and equipment. However I fail to see how swimming in a pool or beach/pond under close adult supervision as per previous POR rules requires someone to have a full lifeguard qualification.

In addition has anyone who was involved in changing the rules really looked into what is required to get pool or beach lifeguard qualification.
Apart from the cost (last time I looked it was in the order of £150) it requires (for a pool qualification) 31 hours of training (this has to be done over a week as most pools schedule them on this basis or 28 days which presumably would be several venues). Followed by 7 hours of assessment.

For beach lifeguard there are currently only 2 places available doing the courses and these are over 100 miles from London.

To be able to update your qualification you need to have 20 hours life guarding practice and then take another assessment. How many hours of swimming supervision would the average scouter do in a year I would think maybe 3 or 4 maximum. Even at this rate I would think 5 years would be too long to qualify for reassessment - would the full course have to be done again?

What scouting leader who may want to supervise swimming will be able/want to take this on?

I have one begging question why the change?

A compromise would be for the scouting movement to have their own swimming qualification which would encompass a lot of the training that those of us with adventurous activity permits already possess

By Paul Austin
on 19/03/2010 17:39

I arranged for our ACC water to come and do a talk to our district on this. I am still not happy as the explantion given was generally carry on as normal as their is a lot of grey areas. We should not put leaders in any doubt about what is required whihc is what I feel at the moment.

It would help if guidance is to be sent out that it is in a form of flow chart so that a leadre can follow it through and be very clear about what is and is not requred.

I was alos disapointed that even though we had chance to comment before the actual issue date. The document was still issued even though myself and many others said it was not fit for purpose.

Good luck with the review.

By Karen, ADC Beavers, Boston
on 23/03/2010 11:17

This is all so confusing! Does this mean that I won't be able to let my Beavers go paddling in the sea - under our usual careful supervision of course - without a qualified beach lifeguard? This will kill our 'Beavers on the Beach' annual event as many of the Beavers dont get the chance to go paddling. And what about when we go for our picnic in the wolds where there's a stream running by that we paddle in?

By Andy Neill (ASL 1st Northwood Scout IOW)
on 25/03/2010 19:51

Just as Scouts is on the up again, this rule gets introduced! This will limit all the water activities on the Island, I guess they just won't happen. Sorry Scouts!!

By Wayne Flowers GSL (1st Sandown & Lake) Sea Scouts
on 26/03/2010 11:30

Taking the “OUT” in scOUTing!!!

What a great idea to impose a new ruling without a realistic timescale.

As to the choosing of the NBLQ qualification a couple of concerns I have before I book this for myself and my leaders

1) There will need to be a minimum of 4 of us to do the course (requirement from RLSS before they will run a course). Let alone the cover required at a scout meeting.
2) The cost at £225 per person for the 2 day course, has the Association released funding for this?
3) The ability to swim 400 metres in less than 8 minutes, yes 8 lengths of an Olympic-size swimming pool, I’m sure this would be very difficult for most leaders.

Surely a better course would have been the Emergency Response - Activity Supervisor, this course offer much the same as the NBLQ, used by most other activity organisers, i.e. school teachers, etc..

The Emergency Response - Activity Supervisor course includes risk assessment, certification via exam, a non-timed rescue, the same valid 2 years time period. with a cost of £125 per person for the 2 day course. There is No requirement to be an Olympic Athlete, just a general level of fitness.

A comment from one of the RLSS Tutors I have just spoken too “I don’t think your headquarters could have spoke to anyone in the RLSS in detail on this”.

By Mike Harrison desc Hayes and Harlington
on 08/04/2010 18:43

Living in london makes it nearly imposibble for us to obtain beach lifesaver qualifications and lakes/rivers do not present the same risks as the sea.

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