Old Hickory Council - Hanging Rock District

Troop 444: Whitewater Merit Badge






  1. Do the following:
        A. Review with your counselor the first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while working on the
              Whitewater merit badge, including hypothermia, heat reactions, dehydration, insect stings, blisters,
              bruises, cuts, and shoulder dislocation.
        B. Identify the conditions that must exist before performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a
              person. Explain how such conditions are recognized.
        C. Demonstrate proper technique for performing CPR using a training device approved by your
  2. Do the following:
        A. Review and compare BSA Safety Afloat and the American Whitewater safety guidelines and
              demonstrate your understanding of these principles by answering questions from your counselor.
        B. Identify and explain the use and importance of safety equipment on moving water. Include in your
              explanation a discussion about throw ropes, whistles, and how to choose and properly fit PFDs
              (personal flotation devices) and helmets.
  3. Before doing requirements 4 through 13 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 BSA Award.
  4. Do ONE of the following:
        A. If you are completing these requirements as a tandem canoeist, demonstrate basic canoe-handling
              skills by completing the Scout gate test within 160 seconds while paddling tandem with a buddy.
              Then demonstrate the following strokes: cross forward, cross draw, bow pry, Duffek, high brace,
              and low brace,
        B. If you are completing these requirements as a solo canoeist, demonstrate basic solo canoe-handling
              skills by completing the Scout gate test within 160 seconds. Then demonstrate the following
              strokes: cross forward, cross draw, stern pry, Duffek, high brace, and low brace.
        C. If you are using a kayak to complete these requirements, demonstrate basic kayak-handling skills
              by completing the Scout gate test within 160 seconds. Demonstrate the following strokes: Duffek,
              high brace, low brace, and sculling draw. Then do the following:
            1. Move the kayak forward in a reasonably straight line for 10 yards.
            2. Move the kayak sideways to the right and to the left.
            3. Pivot 360 degrees to the right and left.
            4. Stop the kayak.
  5. Do the following:
        A. Explain the importance of scouting before committing to running a rapid, and discuss good judgment
              when evaluating a stretch of river or a particular rapid.
        B. Explain the terms downstream V, riffle, strainer, eddy, eddy line, pillow, ledge, bend,
              shallows, falls, low-head dam, current, rock, drop, horizon line, wave, standing wave,
    , and sleeper.
        C. Explain how to scout and read a river while ashore and while afloat, and discuss the importance of
              hazard recognition.
        D. Demonstrate your ability to read the river where you are practicing and demonstrating your
              whitewater skills.
  6. Explain the International Scale of River Difficulty and apply the scale to the stretch of river where you are practicing and demonstrating your whitewater skills. Identify the specific characteristics of the river that are factors in your classification according to the International Scale.
  7. Explain the importance of communication during every whitewater outing. Explain and then demonstrate using the following river signals: "Run right," "Run left," "Run down the center," "Stop," "Are you OK?" and "Help!"
  8. Do the following:
        A. Explain the differences between flat water and whitewater canoes; identify the advantages and
              special uses for kayaks and decked canoes in running water. Identify the different materials used in
              modern whitewater canoe construction and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
        B. Describe the various types of kayaks and how they differ in design, materials, and purpose.
        C. Identify the advantages and special uses for kayaks and decked canoes in moving water.
        D. Discuss the construction, safety, and functional features of paddles used in whitewater activities.
  9. 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.
  10. Wearing the proper personal flotation device (PFD) 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.
        A. Launch and land.
        B. Paddle forward in a straight line.
        C. Back-paddle.
        D. Sideslip, both sides.
        E. Ferry upstream and downstream.
        F. Eddy turn.
        G. Peel out.
  11. Explain and demonstrate:
        A. Self-rescue and procedures when capsized in moving water, including a wet exit if necessary
        B. Safe rescue of others in various whitewater situations using a throw rope.
        C. Portaging - when and how to do it.
        D. The whitewater buddy system using at least three persons and three craft.
  12. Discuss the use of inflatable boats on moving water. 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.
  13. 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

Whitewater Worksheets for use in working on these requirements

Note to the Counselor

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 f 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 flat water skills. Make plans 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.

Boy Scout Oath

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my Country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Boy Scout Law

A Scout Is...

A Scout tells the truth.
He keeps his promises.
Honesty is part of his code of conduct.
People can depend on him.
A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.LOYAL
A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.HELPFUL
A Scout is a friend to all.
He is a brother to other Scouts.
He seeks to understand others.
He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.
A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position.
He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle.
He treats others as he wants to be treated.
He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.
A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop.
He obeys the laws of his community and country.
If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.
A Scout looks for the bright side of things.
He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
A Scout works to pay his way and to help others.
He saves for unforeseen needs.
He protects and conserves natural resources.
He carefully uses time and property.
A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid.
He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.
A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean.
He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals.
He helps keep his home and community clean.
A Scout is reverent toward God.
He is faithful in his religious duties.
He respects the beliefs of others.