Canoe Outings

Paddling adds a whole new dimension to exploring the outdoors. We get to travel to remote areas only accessible via watercraft and get to travel in style with whatever we can pack in our Canoes.

Canoe Outing Requirements

Water activities carry more risk than most any other outing and activity Scouts will participate in. Our Aquatics and Paddle Teams takes all swim and paddle activities seriously. Because of this, many steps must be taken before a Scout may participate in an activity on the water to limit the risk of drowning or hypothermia.

Scouts and Adults are required to take Canoe Training prior to any major canoe outings with Troop 49. We have instructors in our unit who will teach you how to safely operate a canoe and respond to various emergencies. Troop 49 will NOT compromise on safety.


  • Safety Afloat - 1 adult 21 years of age per 10 participants - required by BSA

  • Wilderness First Aid and CPR

    • 1 person with CPR training is required by the BSA

    • Troop 49 requires at least 1 adult with Wilderness First Aid or other advanced medical training on any paddle activity outside of camp

  • Canoe "Basic Training" - conducted by Troop 49 prior to canoe adventures

  • Swimming Ability per BSA Guide to Safe Scouting:

    • Operation of any boat on a float trip is limited to youth and adults who have completed the BSA swimmer classification test. Swimmers must complete the following test, which must be administered annually.

    • Jump feet first into water over the head in depth. Level off and swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be completed in one swim without stops and must include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating.

    • For activity afloat, those not classified as a swimmer are limited to multiperson craft during outings or float trips on calm water with little likelihood of capsizing or falling overboard. They may operate a fixed-seat rowboat or pedal boat accompanied by a buddy who is a swimmer. They may paddle or ride in a canoe or other paddle craft with an adult swimmer skilled in that craft as a buddy. They may ride as part of a group on a motorboat or sailboat operated by a skilled adult.

  • Life Jackets

  • Buddy System to include “buddy boats"

  • Skill Proficiency per BSA Guide to Safe Scouting:

    • Before a unit using human-powered craft controlled by youth embarks on a float trip or excursion that covers an extended distance or lasts longer than four hours, each participant should either receive a minimum of three hours training and supervised practice or demonstrate proficiency in maneuvering the craft effectively over a 100-yard course and recovering from a capsize.

    • These requirements are covered in our "Canoe Basic Training" course

  • Discipline

    • Scouts and adults who fail to demonstrate the ability to follow directions from the trip leader will not be able to attend paddle outings. This is at the discretion of the adult leadership leading the outing.

Example of performing a T-Rescue

Cold Water Shock can result in Heart Failure or Stroke in vulnerable people!

If you have a history of heart problems or stroke, you MUST inform our leadership prior to ANY activity on or in water.

All participants with the following need to speak to our Aquatics and Medical Team prior to any outing in or on water:

  • Cardiac Condition or Heart Disease

    • Coronary artery disease

    • Prolonged QT syndrome

    • Ion channel disorder

  • Autism

  • Seizure disorders

  • Diabetes Mellitus

  • other medical and physical impairments

Participants with a history of epilepsy will need to have a discussion with the Troop leadership prior to any activity in or on water.

Mountain lakes and rivers are fed by snow melt
Even on hot days, water temperatures pose a risk of Cold Water Shock

Cold Water

Washington State waters can get pretty cold and Scouts and Adults on Paddle Outings will need to be prepared for possible immersion in cold water. Understanding what happens when you enter cold water is vital for water safety

Cold Water Shock

  • Gasping for Breath & Rapid Breathing (2-3 Minutes or More)

    • Cold Water Immersion can trigger involuntary gasping, rapid breathing or hyperventilating due to the “shock” of sudden immersion. This uncontrolled rapid breathing can quickly create a drowning emergency if you inhale water and cannot stay afloat.

  • Heart and Blood Pressure Spike

    • Cold water can cause a sudden spike in heart rate and blood pressure. This increase can cause heart failure and stroke for vulnerable people.

  • Cognitive Impairment

    • Cold shock can cause an immediate panic, fear or stress reaction that then impairs clear thinking and decision making. Extended exposure and the onset of hypothermia can further hamper cognitive ability and the ability to choose the right actions to avoid severe injury or death.

Physical Incapacitation

You progressively lose muscular control of your upper and lower extremities when immersed in cold water. Extended periods of immersion will make staying afloat without help or self rescue impossible. As little as 10 minutes in cold water can incapacitate a swimmer.


Those left in water for an extended period of time, or who are unable to get dry and rewarm themselves afterwards are at risk of hypothermia. The risk of hypothermia is reduced by being able to perform quick water rescues, wearing proper clothing and being prepared for a submersion event (ability to dry and rewarm victim).

Note: rapidly rewarming a victim with hypothermia in warm or hot water is potentially lethal. If there is a concern for hypothermia, please defer to the medical provider on the outing or activate EMS.

Solo canoeing is generally discouraged and
reserved for skilled adults and youth

River Canoeing

Rivers pose unique risks including snags, and increased risk of swapping or capsizing a canoe. Special requirements must be followed on all river trips.


  • Operation of any boat on a float trip is limited to youth and adults who have completed the BSA swimmer classification test.

  • Participants must wear a properly fitted PFD.

  • Everyone in an activity afloat must have sufficient knowledge and skill to participate safely.

  • Passengers should know how their movement affects boat stability and have a basic understanding of selfrescue.

  • Boat operators must meet government requirements, be able to maintain control of their craft, know how changes in the environment influence that control, and undertake activities only that are within their personal and group capabilities.

  • Class II

    • Properly designed and fitted helmets must be worn when running rapids rated Class II and above.

  • Class III

    • Self-guided unit trips on Class III whitewater may only be done after all participants have received American Canoe Association or equivalent training for the class of water and type of craft involved.

  • Class IV

    • Unit trips on whitewater sections of rivers rated Class IV are only allowed in RAFTS with a professionally trained guide in each raft.

  • Class V&VI

    • Trips above Class IV are not allowed.

Canoe Resources

The BSA and Troop 49 have many resources available for Scouts, Adult Leaders and Parents. Come talk to our Paddle Team for more information.