Whitewater Merit Badge Pamphlet Whitewater Merit Badge

Whitewater


Requirements were REWRITTEN effective January 1, 2015.

For the previous requirements, Click here.


  1. Do the following:
    1. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in whitewater activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
    2. Review with your counselor the prevention, symptoms, and first aid treatment for the following injuries or illnesses that could occur while participating in whitewater activities including cold-water shock; hypothermia; head, neck, and back injuries; heat-related illnesses; sunburn; dehydration; blisters; bruises; cuts; sprains and strains; shoulder dislocation; and submersion injuries.
    3. Discuss with your counselor the BSA Safety Afloat policy and the American Whitewater safety guidelines.
  2. Do the following:
    1. Explain the following river features:
      • upstream V,
      • downstream V,
      • riffle,
      • eddy,
      • eddy line,
      • pillow,
      • ledge,
      • bend,
      • shallows,
      • current,
      • drop,
      • horizon line,
      • wave,
      • standing wave,
      • wave train.
    2. Explain when, why, and how you should scout a river while ashore and while on the river.
  3. Before doing requirements 4 through 12, earn the Canoeing merit badge if you will be using a canoe to earn this merit badge. If you will be using a kayak, earn the Kayaking merit badge. Then do the following:
    1. If you will be using a canoe to earn this merit badge, demonstrate strokes and maneuvers from the Canoeing merit badge to the satisfaction of your merit badge counselor.
      OR
    2. If you will be using a kayak to earn this merit badge, demonstrate strokes and maneuvers from the Kayaking merit badge to the satisfaction of your merit badge counselor.
  4. Do ONE of the following:
    1. If you are completing these requirements as a tandem canoeist, perform the following on calm water:
      1. Demonstrate the following strokes in the bow:
        • cross forward,
        • bow draw,
        • cross bow draw,
        • bow pry,
        • Duffek,
        • sculling draw, and
        • sculling pushaway (reverse scull).
      2. Demonstrate the following strokes in the stern:
        • stern draw,
        • stern pry,
        • sculling draw,
        • sculling pushaway (reverse scull), and
        • forward with stern pry.
      3. Demonstrate a high brace, low brace, and a righting pry.
      OR
    2. If you are completing these requirements as a solo canoeist, perform the following on calm water:
      1. Demonstrate the following strokes:
        • cross forward,
        • bow draw,
        • cross bow draw,
        • stern draw,
        • pry,
        • stern pry,
        • Duffek,
        • sculling draw,
        • sculling pushaway (reverse scull), and
        • forward with stern pry.
      2. Demonstrate a high brace, low brace, and righting pry.
      OR
    3. If you are completing these requirements as a solo kayaker, perform the following on calm water:
      1. Demonstrate the following strokes:
        • Duffek,
        • bow draw,
        • rudder, and
        • sculling draw.
      2. Demonstrate a high brace and low brace.
  5. Do the following:
    1. Explain the International Scale of River Difficulty and apply the scale to the stretch of river approved by your counselor.
    2. Identify the specific characteristics of the river that are factors in your classification according to the International Scale.
    3. Discuss how the level of flow changes a river from one class to another and what effects different flow rates have on the features of a river and its hazards.
  6. Explain the importance of communication during every whitewater outing. Demonstrate knowledge and ability to use the following American Whitewater Universal River Signals, both visual and auditory:
    • "Stop,"
    • "Are you OK?,"
    • "Help/emergency,"
    • "Run river right,"
    • "Run river left," and
    • "All clear-come ahead."
  7. Do ONE of the following:
    1. If completing this merit badge in a canoe, describe the various types of canoes used on moving water and how they differ in design, materials, and purpose.
      OR
    2. If completing this merit badge in a kayak, describe the various types of kayaks used on moving water and explain how they differ in design, materials, and purpose.
  8. Discuss the personal and group equipment necessary for a safe whitewater outing and how and why it is used. Explain how to pack and protect these items.
  9. Do the following:
    1. Demonstrate your ability to read a Class II section of river approved by your counselor. Describe the most desirable paths or lines of travel as well as alternative routes and options. Point out how to use the existing water features to your advantage, and explain how to best avoid the hazards present.
    2. Wearing a proper life jacket and being appropriately dressed for the weather and water conditions, perform the following skills in moving water in a properly equipped whitewater craft of your choice (tandem canoe, solo canoe, or solo kayak). If a tandem canoe is used, the skills must be demonstrated from both the bow and stern positions.
      1. Launch and land.
      2. Paddle forward in a straight line.
      3. Backpaddle.
      4. Ferry upstream.
      5. Ferry downstream.
      6. Eddy turn.
      7. Peel out.
  10. Explain and demonstrate the following to your counselor:
    1. Self-rescue and procedures when capsized in moving water, including a wet exit if necessary
    2. Proper use of a throw rope to rescue a swimmer in whitewater
    3. Proper technique for receiving a throw rope as a swimmer
    4. Portaging - where portaging would be appropriate, and when and how to do it
    5. The whitewater buddy system using at least three persons and three craft
  11. Discuss the use of inflatable rafts on moving water. In your discussion, explain the special safety precautions that should be taken when using an inflatable raft and the risks of "tubing" on moving water.
  12. Participate in a whitewater trip using either a canoe or kayak on a Class I or Class II river. Help to prepare a written plan, specifying the route, schedule, equipment, safety precautions, and emergency procedures. Determine local rules and obtain permission from landowners and land managers in advance. Explain what steps you have taken to comply with BSA Safety Afloat and the American Whitewater safety guidelines. Execute the plan with others.

Note to the Merit Badge Counselor:

Section 7.0.1.1 Qualifications of Counselors, in the 2013 Guide to Advancement (BSA Publication 33088 - SKU 618673) has specific special qualifications or certifications for either the merit badge counselor or the supervisor of certain activities that may be involved with the Whitewater Merit Badge, as follows:

Whitewater. Those supervising whitewater activities must be and certified as whitewater canoeing or kayaking instructors by the American Canoe Association or have equivalent certification, training, or expertise.

The instruction and experience necessary to complete the Whitewater merit badge requirements are intended to prepare the Scout for his initial whitewater experience. The objective is to introduce the skills and equipment with emphasis on safety and self-protection. A Scout earning this award will have taken the first step toward whitewater proficiency, but will achieve true proficiency only through further training and practice under proper supervision and conditions.

A Scout earning this merit badge should have a keen appreciation of the risks and precautions of whitewater sports to help ensure that future whitewater activity will be conducted in a safe manner. He must fully understand and appreciate the limits of his own ability and experience. A counselor who does not believe the Scout has reached this level of skill and understanding should not award the merit badge.

Whitewater instruction should follow all requirements, procedures, and techniques presented in this pamphlet. Supplemental Information and additional strokes should not be introduced until the basic requirements are met. The learning objectives emphasize safety and basic skills proficiency. It is the merit badge counselor's responsibility to follow all BSA safety policies, especially Safety Afloat and the safety guidelines set forth by American Whitewater.

On-the-water instruction and practice, including the whitewater trip specified in the requirements, should be limited only to rapids with a rating of Class I or Class II. The minimum time for training is that which leaves the Scout prepared. The time needed for the Scout to reach adequate proficiency will vary depending on several factors, including class size and previous flatwater skills. Plan on 15 to 20 hours of instruction and practice, plus the required trip. The instructor-to-pupil ratio should be kept small, around 8 to 10 Scouts per pair of instructors. A recommended merit badge course outline can be found in the aquatics section of the BSA publication Camp Program and Property Management, No. 20-920A.

A whitewater merit badge counselor must be designated by the local council service center. Persons trained as whitewater, canoeing, or kayaking instructors by the American Canoe Association, the American Whitewater, the U.S. Canoe Association, or by other agencies recognized by the BSA National Health and Safety Service are qualified for designation as Whitewater merit badge counselors. Persons currently trained as BSA Aquatics Instructors can assist local councils in planning for whitewater instruction and identifying whitewater counselors.


BSA Advancement ID#: 125
Requirements last updated in: 2015
Pamphlet Publication Number: 35965
Pamphlet Stock (SKU) Number: 35965 or 618652
Pamphlet Revision Date: 2015

Worksheets for use in working on these requirements: Format
Word Format PDF Format

Blanks in this worksheets table appear when we do not have a worksheet for the badge that includes these requirements.


Page updated on: April 22, 2015



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