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Boy Scout & Girl Scout Kayaking Merit Badge Requirements

Bird perched on a tree in Door County, Wisconsin

Check off your Kayak Merit Badge in Door County

Hey Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts! I remember the first time I went kayaking…My uncle, a kayak guide at the time invited me out on a kayak tour with his group. I was quite nervous, being only 13, it was tough to keep up with the group, but I learned quickly all names of the kayak, the different strokes, weather considerations as well as group dynamics. Looking back at that first day, it inspired me to; start kayaking surfing with my uncle, build a wood canvas kayak, visit a kayak symposium, those first few experiences and now led me to surfing, kiteboarding, a job in Maui kayaking and swimming with the dolphins as well as my own business doing something I love! Follow your dreams and passions, even with multiple people saying otherwise, those dreams and passions will lead you success!

So we hope to offer an opportunity for you to get that next merit badge! Don’t think it will be too easy, kayaking goes back to the time of the Native Cultures like the Inuits, there is deep history with many interesting sports they used to play, e.g. Having a race upside down in a kayak, by putting the paddle over the bottom of your kayak and racing a friend. Might not want to try that friendly competition until you have mastered the wet exit.

Kayaking merit badge requirements requires prior BSA swimmer test.

  1. Explain the potential hazards encounter while participating in kayaking activities, including weather and water-related hazards, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
  2. Review prevention, symptoms, and first-aid treatment for the following injuries or illnesses that can occur while kayaking: blisters, cold-water shock and hypothermia, hyperthermia, dehydration, sunburn, sprains, and strains.
  3. Review the BSA Safety Afloat policy.
  4. Review the characteristics of life jackets most appropriate for kayaking and understand why one must always be worn while paddling. Then demonstrate how to select and fit a life jacket for kayaking. What “Type” life jacket is required to kayak?
  5. Review the importance of safety equipment such as a signal device, extra paddle, sponge, bilge pump, and throw bag.
  6. Kayak Nomenclature.
  7. Review the differences in the design between recreational, whitewater, and sea or touring kayaks. Include how length, width, initial and secondary stability, and rocker are involved in the design of each type.
  8. Review the advantages and disadvantages of the materials most commonly used to make kayaks. Explain the care, maintenance, and storage of a kayak.
  9. Using the trucker’s hitch and bowline, demonstrate how to secure a kayak to a rack on a vehicle or a trailer, or to a rack on land.
  10. How to choose a kayak paddle.
  11. The different materials from which paddles are made, parts of a paddle, and the care and maintenance of a paddle.

Using a properly equipped kayak with an open cockpit, a sit-on-top, or an inflatable kayak, do the following:

  1. Safely capsize and perform a wet exit.
  2. Reenter the kayak with assistance from a buddy boat.
  3. Demonstrate a kayak-over-kayak rescue.
  4. Demonstrate the HELP position.
  5. Capsize the kayak, swim it and the paddle to shore, and empty water from the kayak with assistance, if needed.

By yourself with a properly equipped kayak demonstrate the following:

  1. Forward stroke
  2. Backstroke
  3. Forward sweep
  4. Reverse sweep
  5. Draw stroke(s)
  6. Stern draw
  7. Paddle a straight line for 25 yards, make a sharp turn, and return 25 yards in a straight line.
  8. 360 degrees rotation to the right and 360 degrees rotation to the left.
  9. Move abeam to the right 10 feet and to the left 10 feet.
  10. Stop the boat in one boat length.
  11. Paddle a buoyed course of a length determined by your counselor that includes two right turns and two left turns performed while under way.

Well, good thing kayaking is fun, because that is a lot of knowledge to learn. Help out your fellow troop mates and lets hear some comments that answer these requirements!