BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA

Scouting Forums

Female swimsuit requirements

Are there any swimsuit guidelines/requirements anywhere for adult scouters? I’m looking for written guidelines to share with the other adult leaders in my troop. Thanks!

Hi, @MelissaSmith3,

The only specific regulations of which I am aware are from SeaBase. They stated (IIRC) that all swimwear must be “modest”, and prohibit tight trunks/speedos for men and two-piece swimwear for women. That said, it’s been a long time since I was at SeaBase, so these requirements may have changed (or may have been specific to SeaBase).

ETA: Seabase Participant Guide. Search for swimwear. Policy generally the same as I recalled.

Ask Andy

Andy,

At summer camp,the female Venturing crew members were told that they had to wear shorts and a t-shirt or tank top over their swim suits. The females all had packed one-piece, tank-type swim suits (similar to those worn by swim team members). (Meanwhile, we adult female leaders were not advised that we needed to wear anything more “covering” than whatever swim suit we had.)

When asked why with the girls, we were told it’s for “safety” reasons. When I then pressed for a better answer as to what was the “danger” and how wet shorts and t-shirts clinging over a tank-style swim suitprotected females in a well-supervised swim area from “danger,” I was then advised that it was a BSA “rule.” I went to the computer that afternoon and couldn’t find this “rule.” and then I was advised that it was a “camp rule.” I pulled out my copy of the camp rules, and no mention was made of the type of swimwear. I advised the camp director that the rules should state that one-piece, tank-style swim suits were recommended for females.

Once home, I couldn’t find any rule that references the banning of “Speedo”-type swim wear for males nor any requirement for female crew members to wear one-piece suits only nor any wearing of t-shirts.

We really like the camp, but the “rule” seems to suggest that hormonal-crazed adolescent males will be rendered rapacious at the sight of teenage females wearing a tank-type swim suit. But only at Scout camp, because these same males see females wearing far skimpier swim suits at the local swimming pool. (RJ, Simon Kenton Council, OH)

I’m rolling on the floor over this one, I must admit!

Of course! the BSA has no “rules” about what young people should or shouldn’t wear, other than stating that we’re a uniformed organization and wearing the uniform of the program you’re in is always the right thing to do.

I was an aquatics director for three of the seven years I was employed at BSA summer camps. In my era, no person of the female persuasion was a youth member of the BSA, so we uninformed lads had to swim or paddle a fair distance to discover for ourselves what the proper swimming attire was for Girl Scouts, at the Girl Scout camp across the lake. Gee Whiz! They all looked pretty normal, and acted as normally as we did, because they now had the opportunity to learn for themselves what boys of the he-man persuasion wore while swimming (or paddling)! Since they didn’t seem to be horrified or in fear of some imminent “danger” and since we young men were able to subdue our crazed nerve endings, all was well and ended well.

Ever since then, I’ve made it a point to not comment in any sort of negative judgmental manner on fashions or the ways girls and women choose to attire and accessorize themselves; thus I have survived one wife and three daughters, and helped three sons avoid the dangers inherent in women’s fashions, especially those related to ablutions or other aquatic merriment.

In short, you were obviously handed a bunch of baloney made up by someone who’s either a complete prude or totally lily-livered. Bottom line: If you like the camp well enough to tolerate this nonsense, go on back (and you might consider taking the “rule” to absurdity–just for the fun of it). If it’s truly intolerable or severely uncomfortable, then I’m afraid you’ll be looking for another camp to go to!

Thanks for making my day!

Happy Scouting!

A number of points to point out:

  • We are creating character.
  • Clothing does not dictate response.
  • We, as leaders, should be appropriately understanding and have the appropriate decorum.

I looked at this right off the start line with our Sea Scout unit. The SSS Rampart program has a policy that matches it’s vocational training program.

It is our policy to promote healthy relationships that would translate into the work place by teaching the participants of the program the proper responses. We do not dictate personal wear by definition and restricting the participants has to do with character building instead of allowing the use of their savage tendencies.

Good coworkers don’t treat each other like meat; neither do our Sea Scouts.

We further dealt with this by making sure that our Sea Scouts have purchasing options through the unit for swimsuits, of whatever type they which.

@MelissaSmith3, wear what you want. Camps and Councils make policies on occasion, but National does not.

(And I have seen big fat men at Scout Camp in Speedos… It haunts me to this day. lol)

7 Likes

every camp has its own guidelines as well

1 Like

As a somewhat overweight female, I’m so glad to hear that there isn’t a rule requiring one-piece suits. I would be horrified to be seen in one of those. My tankini style two-piece is far less snug than a one-piece would be.

3 Likes

Follow the your Council’s policies on swim wear. If they do not have a policy, the safest bet is to follow the Sea Base policy ( Being that Sea Base is the recognized Water Sports Authority for BSA.)

I would state that any camp which you attend may have some rules. Outside of that, I would say it is a committee discussion. And as adults we should be able to come to a consensus that works for the unit.

As a note, I honestly think that rules should be worked to be even. As an example a local crew had a rule that the females had to wear a t-shirt over their suit. Some of the young ladies brought up the unfair situation and the young men immediately said they would also wear a shirt.

On a separate note, I typically wear a troop shirt when I swim even away from scouting. Our unit has moisture management shirts and it leaves less skin to get burned. If you are getting shirts printed you can get the shirts for the same cost. A4 brand shirts are a great deal as far as I am concerned.

@KennethMortello
Which Sea Base are you referring to? The Florida Sea Base, the California Sea Base?

If you’re talking about the Florida Sea Base, it is not the only one. Some are run as Council assets; still more are run as Unit assets. As an example, SSS Rampart has a Shipyard and the unit south of us has dubbed their location a Sea Base.

Their policy says, last I looked, one piece or a tankini and the rest of the published Sea Bases have no policy.

We should not be teaching our Scouts that their clothing defines the way they are treated.

4 Likes

There are four national high adventure bases: Philmont, Northern Tier, Summit Bechtel Reserve, and Florida Sea Base.

I would expect that anyone talking about “sea base” in a national forum is talking about FLORIDA Sea Base, not some council- or unit-run camp. If a poster is being specific to some different “sea base”, it’s on them to be clear, it’s not on the readers to figure out where they are talking about.

4 Likes

I have followed the admonition of my 6th grade English Teacher, Mr. Call: never assume anyone (the reader) has any idea what you are talking about.

It is important to be clear about every facility being discussed. People may not have heard of the facility or the program; less than 2 years ago I had never heard of Sea Scouts or the Florida Sea Base.

My daughter went to the 2013 National Jamboree. They originally sent out information stating that all females must wear a one piece bathing suit. I’m sure enough of us complained about this because it was then revised to a one piece or a two piece that covered the midriff.
I know my daughter is two different sizes from top to bottom. Wearing a one piece can be indecent for the opposite of which she uses for sizing. She has always worn a two piece at BSA camps including the Summit. She worked there for two summers.

3 Likes

For issues like this, we need to be reminded that it’s a big country. Do keep in mind that at most camps males are discouraged from wearing speedos. Therefore, don’t think of this as an issue that applies to only one sex.

If a camp requests it, try to honor that request. Of course we don’t want scouts objectifying the opposite sex. (Or the same sex. Mean girls and mean boys can be really demoralizing for everybody.) But, if over the years a certain camp has found that its dress code has helped campers uphold one another with dignity, do your best to work with them.

As for what National may or may not say on the matter – if what holds for FL Seabase holds for everyone – my rule #1 is: don’t ask for a rule. You’ll more than likely live to regret it.

4 Likes

This is a very good point. Being somewhat familiar with laws concerning such matters, women and men don’t have to have the exact same dress code, but it must be equal. Requiring females to wear shirts over swim suits but not boys will likely be considered not equal I would think. Very interesting topic.

2 Likes

Our camp this year has pretty simple guidelines. For girls, one piece lifeguard style or 2 piece tankini. No bikinis. For boys, board shorts style or the like. No speedos.

3 Likes

A Scout is kind.

If anyone in my unit fails to follow that directive, they get a chance to fix it, then a Skipper’s Mast and ejection from the unit.

We are not here to allow failed integrity to abide.

We’ve had to deal with some of our Boy Scouts similarly. In each case, the female staff was compliant with dress code. The problem was squarely with the scout, and the home/school culture that reinforced his behavior.

So respecting a particular dress code may have little to do with constraining impertinent scouts. It has more to do with honoring the culture that a camp director is trying to instill.

@MelissaSmith3, I’m a male SM of a new girl troop and we just addressed this for our first campout this past weekend. “Modest” was the keyword we used since we found it to be defined between the parent and their child, and further, every body is different. I didn’t find a one suit is perfect for all at any retailer. The girls did mention getting matching suits and sewing on their patrol patch in the future, I’m not holding my breath, but yeah that’d be cool. Of the five girls that attended the campout last weekend, four wore one-pieces and one wore her two-piece. I can safely say all were modest and we all had a great time swimming in the lake with zero issues.

1 Like

I guess this is where I’m kind of a troublemaker, but if I had a daughter in the program I’d be pushing back VERY hard on the whole covering of the midriff thing. What is it about the midriff that is a problem? Is it just that some old men have too much of a problem with it exciting them and so they think all girls should keep it covered?

Most of the boys in my Troop wouldn’t be caught dead in a speedo type swim suit, (or banana hammocks as they call them), but a couple of the Scouts are on swim teams and don’t think anything over it. If a student can wear a speedo to a swim meet where there are both boys and girls, why can they not wear a speedo to a Scout event? It’s not like the other racing swim suits they wear, (the ones that are so tight they look like they were painted on), are any more modest.

And who get’s to determine what “modest” means? Is it the most puritanical person there? Or the person who complains the most?

I think that the USA needs to get over this rape excuse culture of ours of blaming the victim for wearing clothes that aren’t modest. As long as it meets the legal issues of coverage of the parts that will get you arrested for showing, then it should be okay.

Telling a girl, “Sorry Suzy, but I know you wear that swim suit all summer to the beach, but the boys in the other Troops are sensitive to such risque things like your midriff, so you need to buy a one piece suit for summer camp”. Yeah, and with that kind of logic we’ll be surprised when girls start dropping out.

3 Likes

Didn’t you know, having a girl show her belly button makes boys lose their mind so we must be mindful to make them cover up. Just kidding and being very sarcastic. It never ceases to amaze me how taking a 100 year old program and merely opening it up to the other 50% of the population can make people lose their minds.

2 Likes

I feel that if we are going in depth about female swimsuits then we should do the same for male suits. And if females can’t show a midriff then males shouldn’t either.

And quite frankly many two piece suits are more modest then some one piece suits. In fact, the least modest suits I saw last visit to the water park were single piece suits. (And interestingly I saw several cases where a teen girl was more modest then her mother. )