For SDI members who are interested in being involved with their local Boy Scout of America troops and offering instruction for SCUBA BSA Merit Badge, here is some information and some tips to get you started.
What the Scuba BSA Merit Badge represents to Scouts and Requirements
The Scuba Merit Badge is a brand-new challenge for BSA intended to introduce qualified Boy Scout, Venturing, and registered adult participants to the special skills, equipment, and safety precautions associated with scuba diving. This program also encourages aquatics activities that promote fitness and recreation, and provides a foundation for those who later will participate in more advanced underwater activity.
The Scuba BSA experience contains two parts — Knowledge Development and Water Skills Development. During the first part, participants learn basic dive safety information and overview skills to be used during their water experience. The Water Skills Development session introduces essential dive skills, such as mask clearing, regulator clearing, and alternate air source use. The Scuba BSA program is conducted in clear, confined water by an instructor certified by diving organizations recognized by the BSA.
Completion of Scuba BSA requirements sets the stage for additional training, but does not qualify the participant to dive independently, either in confined water or open water environments.
Who can teach the Scuba BSA
All scuba instruction must be conducted by recreational diving instructors in good standing with a scuba agency recognized by the Boy Scouts of America and approved by the BSA local council.
Counselors for the Scuba Diving merit badge must be registered with the Boy Scouts of America and be approved by the district/ council advancement committee. (This is the step that SDI members must undertake proactively.)
Like other merit badges, the Scuba Diving merit badge has been developed to teach and train youth in a manner consistent with the overall goals and values of the Boy Scouts of America. The merit badge counselor should be fair and consistent when presenting and evaluating the knowledge and skills specified by the requirements. None of the requirements may be modified or omitted.
Unlike many other merit badges, the Scuba Diving critical prerequisites, knowledge, and skills are not itemized in the requirements nor adequately covered in the merit badge pamphlet. The requirement to earn Open Water Diver Certification means the Scout must meet training requirements set by outside agencies and must supplement the material in the merit badge pamphlet with an entry-level scuba diver manual.
All phases of scuba instruction—classroom, pool, and open water training—must comply with the minimum training standards for entry-level scuba certification adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the U.S. Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC). The RSTC is recognized as the ANSI Accredited Standards Developer for recreational diving instructional standards. The BSA acknowledges those standards by limiting scuba instruction only to instructors trained and sanctioned by recognized scuba agencies.
What Scouts must do to earn this Merit Badge
  • Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while scuba diving, including hypothermia, hyperventilation, squeezes, decompression illness, nitrogen narcosis, motion sickness, fatigue, overexertion, heat reactions, dehydration, injuries by aquatic life, and cuts and scrapes.
  • Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person, and explain how to recognize such conditions
  • Demonstrate the proper technique for performing CPR using a training device approved by your counselor
  • Before completing requirements 3 through 6, earn the Swimming merit badge.
  • Discuss the Scuba Diver’s Code with your merit badge counselor, and explain the importance of each guideline to a scuba diver’s safety.
  • Explain what an ecosystem is, and describe four aquatic ecosystems a diver might experience.
  • Find out about three career opportunities in the scuba industry. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.
Typical Schedule and Course Topics for SCUBA Merit Badge Program SCUBA Course
Session 1(Pool)Introduction to:
  • Physics, Physiology
  • Equipment
  • Skills development
Session 2 (Pool) Skills development
Session 3(Pool)Skills development
Session 4 (Classroom) Dive Planning
  • Print and bring at least 3 Copies of the Dive Planner
Session 5 (Pool) Skills development
Session 6 (Pool) Skills Evaluation
Session 7 (Classroom) Final Exam
  • View and print the various Scuba IQ assessments and Final exams and answer keys for the CD-ROM course.
Some Advice from Phil Ventura
Ventura is the point man at 1.877 Scuba out of New Jersey. His facility has had great success with the Scuba BSA program and has even gone to the length of forming its own Venturing Crew.
“It is most important to make an informed presentation to the local scout council and scout troops. Do the research and get known,” he says.
“Also critical is putting together a course schedule that will make sense to a Scout’s mom and dad. Look at exactly what the Scuba BSA goals are and work within that framework.”
“Finally,” Ventura advices, “price your program in a way that takes into account the customer. You are not going to make a fortune because the money simply is not there. For example, we present two packages to scouts. One includes a good quality mask, fins and snorkel – and I say good quality rather than top quality because these kids are going to grow out of everything. The other package is less and allows a scout to rent the gear.”
For more information, please contact your local SDI representative or contact National Sales Manager Cris Merz.