Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.

Scouting Forums

How do you get your Cub Scout Pack on the water in kayaks and canoes?

Through multiple rounds of layoffs there’s less than 15% of National Council staff remaining. I suspect a lot of items are not receiving any attention, some are slipping through the cracks, and those that do get attention are not receiving due diligence.

Given the reasons why we’re in this position one would think safety, youth protection would not be one but it’s obvious they are.

According to the Bryan on Scouting article in the original post, it looks like this change was actually made in May 2016. However, to this day, it seems the online Safety Afloat training hasn’t been updated. So this looks like an example where the limited national staff and shifting priorities have been a challenge for quite some time.

IMO the GSS could be a bit clearer where there are programmatic differences, e.g. guides for each program instead of a catch-all guide. The chart helps a lot, but it only tells you what you can do, not how. But I recognize it may be some time yet before the organization can refocus back to improving these materials.

1 Like

Off topic but related the Climb On Safety training on my.scouting tells that a Tour and Activity Plan must be completed.

They were discontinued back in early 2017.

The Den Leader Training was updated late 2019 and tells that the Cubmaster and Den Leaders are members of pack committee.

They are not.

Neither of those can be attributed to staff reductions due to the legal issues and the pandemic.

A council that I used to be in (before I moved) did canoes at Webelos Resident Camp, but they had 2 or 3 canoes and did them in the pool. The stance was that cubs are not allowed in “open water”. I do not mean to be the voice of authority here, just stating what I’ve seen. They did require swim tests and it was done in the camp setting with trained lifeguards at the pool and I think that’s how they got approval.

1 Like

Risk Management is the “Key” word. Keep in mind, as a leader, you are responsible for the safety and protection of any youth you are supervising on an activity, whatever the activity may be. There are many water sports the youth are allowed to participate in. However, there are very specific safety and training guidelines that MUST be followed. It is the same for other high adventure activities such as Shooting Sports, Climbing, Snowmobiling, etc.
For Water Sports, BSA has prepared a manual titled, “Aquatics Supervision, a Leaders Guide to youth swimming and boating activities”. Along with the Safe Guide to Scouting, these two manuals will provide you with everything you need to know for Water Sports, including, planning, training, supervision, and safety guidelines. If you are interested in getting your unit involved in Water Sports, you would be well advised to thoroughly study these manuals. Remember, in the instance, something tragic happens while on a Scouting activity, BSA Liability insurance will not be available to you if any of the BSA guidelines are not followed.
You also need to know that BSA Camps operate under a different set of rules. Because you saw how things might have been done as Summer Camp, does not mean that it is automatically okay for a unit to conduct an activity the same way as Camp did it.

This is the link to the BSA Aquatics Resources. You will be able to download the “Aquatics Supervision Guide” Manual (PDF, 328 pgs). You will be able to print whatever pages you may need for a given activity.

Each Council should have an Aquatics Committee that would be responsible for overseeing all Water Sports activities. If you have questions you don’t find answers to, this committee would be a good resource. Your District Chair or District Exec should be able to provide you with their contact information.

Steve Terry

Every Scout deserves a “Trained” leader


Thank you for the great advice!


Since that is the most recent information available, we have been functioning as if every adult in the pack is a voting member of the pack committee, since the 2019 training was released.

Truthfully, mny packs were functioning in that manner anyway.

I’ve been involved with two different packs over the past 15 years. We’ve never taken a vote that did not come out unanimous. The best way to govern the affairs of a Cub Scout pack is by consensus.

1 Like

Yet the current training for Scouts BSA Scouters clearly has a defined troop committee where the Scoutmaster and their assistants are not members of the committee.

This training is historically consistent and shared the same consistency with the operation of a Cub Scout pack until that significant rewrite of Cub training.

With the change those Scouters are coming up to troop level and they are expecting the same seat at the table they had under the erroneously changed Cub Scout Scouter training.

@ChristopherSchuster - There are good reasons for ASMs to not be part of a troop committee. Most important is that it allows the committee to function independent of the troop’s week-to-week operations, which provides a different perspective that is often helpful.

In a troop, the Scouts should be planning and executing the program. In a pack, the direct-contact leaders do this. Separating them from the committee effectively results in their being mandated to carry out decisions in which they have no say. There’s no good reason to do that to adults.

This is a perfect position as to why den leaders should not be members of the committee.

They were not, they were never as far back as I can remember until the December 2018 rewrite.

While that may be true in my theory, in my Pack, our committee meetings have consisted of the Chair, 1 or 2 other official committee members, 5-6 Den Leaders and the CM. We never vote, so defining voting members is kind of moot, but the reality is, it’s largely the DLs plus a few others that keep the Pack moving.

1 Like

As it should be. The committee makes the pack grow, the Cubmaster and den leaders make it go.

1 Like

The same is true for Troops. We operate our Troop committee by consensus – there have been maybe one or two decisions made since I’ve been with the Troop (and the Pack before that; I’ve been a unit leader for both for going on 15 years) that weren’t done that way, and those have always stuck in someone’s craw for a long time.

Another point to remember: Even though the Scoutmaster and the ASMs aren’t members of the committee, they’re (almost always) still parents of kids in the Troop. They deserve to have the same say about things that all the other parents have. I honestly can’t imagine doing something in the committee that they aren’t on board with.

@ChristopherSchuster - We’r ejust not going to agree on this.

In a Scouts BSA troop, the Scouts themselves are (ideally) planning and executing the program. The committee is supporting the Scouts.

In a Cub Scout pack, direct-contact leaders are executing the program. It makes sense that they have a say in the planning and logistics. While Cubmasters and den leaders officially did not have a vote on pack committee matters prior to 2019, very few packs actually operated that way The purposes of having the direct-contact leaders not vote simply don’t exist.

Get this back on topic or it will be closed

@SteveCagigas - I’ve never been involved in a troop in which I had a child.

I was an ASM for a few years, and I was the only adult registered with the troop who did not have a child. Consequently, when adults had disagreements, they sought to gain my support for their position, because I appeared impartial. It started almost immediately, because there were a few warring factions. I never attended a committee meeting, because I didn’t want to be involved.

I left that troop when another asked me to be SM. The second troop had its own philosophy. The committee provided almost no support for the program. It was expected that the “adult staff” (SM and ASMs) would take care of this. They just wanted to see a calendar once a year and do boards of review, a role they handled extremely well.

I inherited five ASMs, none of whom had sons in the troop. So, we were a unique group. The committee’s support consisted of signing tour permit forms. Over the course of seven plus years, ASMs left and more were recruited. I lost one when he became committee chair. Others moved away. I gained a few as they turned 18. There were 14 ASMs I can recall who took the position while I was SM. Only three had sons in the troop.

Since the committee didn’t have troop committee meetings at which troop-committee-type decisions were made, I never attended their meetings, unless they summoned me to aks me a question. They held the meetings while my troop meetings were happening. So, it was not practical to attend.

Because the “adult staff” handled many traditional committee functions, we had periodic staff meetings to keep things in order. I don’t recall ever bringing anything to a vote.