Boy Scouts and Scuba Diving

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 16:16 | Filled in Boy Scouts, Dive Training

Boy Scouts Learning to Dive.  Credit: PADI

Boy Scouts Learning to Dive. Credit: PADI

After getting my instructor’s certification, I decided to apply my skills and knowledge to attract the youth in the area to the great scuba diving around the North Carolina coast.  As I have said in many posts, the North Carolina coast has a lot to offer to scuba divers and others who enjoy being around the water.  Getting someone excited about a sport at an early age can foster a lifelong passion for it.  Scuba diving is a life changing sport that teaches people a lot of extremely useful skills and lessons.

 

The Boy Scouts of America worked with the various diving organizations, such as PADI, to create the Scuba Diving Merit Badge in 2009.  This took some effort to make sure that the program met the expectations of both the Boy Scouts and the diving organizations.  The end result is well worth the effort.  The Scuba Diving Merit Badge was one of the most requested merit badges for many years.


 

Scuba diving is an ideal sport for the Boy Scout youth to get involved in.  It is an exciting sport that offers the youth many life skills that apply to other disciplines.  Scuba diving encourages the quest for adventure.  It is an exciting and dynamic sport.  There are many challenges for the youth to conquer and succeeding provides a sense of accomplishment.  Since scuba diving is always done with buddies, it encourages teamwork and friendship.  Scuba diving requires knowledge in First Aid, a key Boy Scout discipline.  Because the sport is dynamic and challenging, it is a great retention tool to keep the older youth interested in worthwhile endeavors.  I certainly wish that this discipline was available when I was a Scout many years ago.

 

Divers Exploring the Reef in Saba

Divers Exploring the Reef in Saba

Scuba diving also teaches environmental awareness.  Scuba diving encourages people to be aware of the environment and surroundings.  Divers support Project Aware, promoting underwater conservation.  The sport encompasses the principles found in Scouting’s Leave No Trace program.

 

To get Scouting youth acclimated to the water and progress to the Scuba Diving Merit Badge, there are programs to teach essential skills and show them what scuba diving is about.  Swimming and Snorkeling are important skills and there are programs to teach Scouts these fundamental components. The Swimming Merit Badge is a requirement of the Scuba Diving Merit Badge, and Scouts can also work to gain the Snorkeling BSA achievement.

 

To learn about scuba diving, Cub Scouts can start with the Bubblemaker program for youth 8 years and older which gives them the opportunity to see and understand the equipment necessary to scuba dive and allows them to experience breathing underwater.  For Cub Scouts that want to learn more, PADI has the Seal Team program to have the youth go through AquaMissions to learn more skills and become more comfortable doing different skills underwater.

 

Scout Training in Pool.  Credit: PADI

Scout Training in Pool. Credit: PADI

Older youth, 11 years and older and adult leaders can participate in a Discover Scuba Diving session where they learn about the gear that a scuba diver uses and then are able to try things out in the pool to experience scuba diving in a controlled environment.  If the Scouts successfully complete their BSA Swim Test, they may qualify for the Scuba BSA achievement.  Scouts who enjoy this experience may continue to obtain their Scuba Diving Merit Badge.  For the Scuba Diving Merit Badge, an Open Water certification through an accepted agency such as PADI, NAUI or SSI is necessary.  Once the Scout obtains the Open Water certification and the Scuba Diving Merit Badge, they are permitted to dive with a buddy (adult required if they are under 15 years old).

 

Since safety is so important in scuba diving, first aid and CPR are essential skills.  Most scuba diving instructors are also able to teach an accredited first aid and CPR program that can fulfill the requirements of the First Aid Merit Badge.  These skills are required if the diver wishes to become a Rescue Diver.

 

One of the great things about scuba diving is that the experience does not end with the merit badge.  There is an ongoing training progression available to everyone that builds upon the foundation provided by the merit badge program.  There are specialty courses in underwater navigation, search and recovery, wreck diving, deep diving, night diving and many more.  Once the youth is certified, there are more classes available to become an Advanced Open Water Diver, a Rescue Diver, Divemaster, Master Scuba Diver and even Open Water Scuba Instructor like myself.

 

Scouts Underwater.  Credit: PADI

Scouts Underwater. Credit: PADI

I hope and encourage all Scouting youth and leaders that live around the North Carolina coast to look into this series of programs available to you.  North Carolina has world class diving in your backyard and it would be a travesty for you to miss out on experiencing what is available to you.  Of course, you are welcome to contact me at scuba@tyteanalytics.com if you are interested in learning more and getting started!

 

-Frank

 

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