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themselves and know how to deal with the emotions and the brain chemistry involved in the kind of fear that makes a child dig his fingernails into your neck,” he says.

SWIM IN WINTER. Make aquatics part of your troop’s program all year, not just in the summer, suggests Health and Safety Support Committee chairman Hurst. “This way youths are keeping fit and developing swimming skills consistently throughout the year.” This also gives you the opportunity to spot anyone in your unit who seems reluctant around the water or who has lesser skills. Build aquatics into your advance-

RECRUIT A “GRAYBEARD.” When you identify a Scout who’s having difficulty learning to swim because of fear, it’s important to go slowly with instruc- tion and not push them too quickly so your efforts won’t backfire. “You want to put these kids with

the best instructors, the older ones who’ve taught for years, who really love kids, know how to have fun, and have a teacher mentality,” says Sue Nelson, an aquatics program specialist with USA Swimming and a longtime swim coach. A good instructor, she says, will

show boys that they can touch the bottom; it’s not over their heads. Then they advance to putting their faces into the water and blowing bubbles. “You take small steps; it’s all about trust, cre- ating trust with the water.” Krieger agrees that veteran coaches,

who he calls “graybeards,” should handle swim instruction. “Find sea- soned instructors who are parents

ment calendar by having the entire troop work on Swimming merit badge at a local pool in a relaxed setting. (Some councils even arrange pre-camp swim checks.) You’ll find excellent resource material for unit leaders in Aquatics Supervision: A Leader’s Guide to Youth Swimming and Boating Activities (Supply No. 34346), recently updated by the National Aquatics Task Force.

ALTHOUGH WATER SAFETY is the top priority, group fun comes in a close second. So plan for the beginners and nonswimmers. Make sure they participate in water activities with the troop and take swim instruction. Do your best to keep them engaged so they won’t dwell on their performance in any single swim check but will tackle many new challenges and gain confi- dence and competence from trying. “What’s wonderful about Scouts,”

clinical psychologist Pollack says, “what really impressed me when I observed troops, was the duty to honor and respect others — and the fact that every boy, regardless of ability, has a place in the club.” ¿

JEFF CSATARI is a contributing editor at Men’s Health and co-author of Norman Rockwell’s America with his father, Joseph Csatari, the official artist of the BSA.

MARCH • AP R I L 2 0 1 1 ¿ S COUT ING 35

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