The Boy Scouts of America scuba policy recognizes scuba industry standards and implements
them by using outside agencies for training and certification.
Any person possessing, displaying, or using scuba (self-contained
underwater breathing apparatus) in connection with any Scouting-related
activity must be either currently certified by a recognized agency or
enrolled in an instructional scuba program, such as Scuba BSA or Scuba
Diving merit badge, which must be conducted by an insured recreational
diving instructor in good standing with a recognized agency and approved
by the council.
Recreational diving activities by BSA groups must be supervised by a
responsible adult currently certified (renewed) as a divemaster, assistant
instructor, or higher rating from a recognized agency. Dive environments,
equipment, depths, procedures, supervision, and buddy assignments must be
consistent with each individual’s certification.
Because dives by recreational divers may be infrequent, the divemaster
or instructor supervising a BSA scuba activity should screen participants
prior to open-water activities and provide remedial instruction and
practice as appropriate. Such remedial instruction and practice should be
in accordance with the policies and standards of the divemaster’s or
instructor’s agency for Scuba Review, Scuba Refresher, or similar
Diving using surface-supplied air systems is not authorized in
connection with any BSA activity or facility except when done under
contract by commercial divers.
Youth members in Cub Scouting, including Webelos Scouts, are not
authorized to use scuba in any activity.
Boy Scouts may participate in the introductory Scuba BSA program and
may obtain open-water certification as part of Scuba Diving merit badge.
Varsity and Venturing groups may participate in introductory and
certification scuba programs conducted by recognized agencies appropriate
to their age and current level of certification.
Standards of the recognized scuba agencies require students for
open-water certification programs to be at least 15 years of age but allow
special certification programs for younger students. Since all instruction
for BSA scuba programs must be conducted by professionals certified by a
recognized agency, additional agency-specific, age-related restrictions
and protocols apply to students under 15 years of age.
Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers may participate in
recreational group dives as unit, district, or council activities,
provided such dives are consistent with their certifications and under
direct, on-site supervision of a responsible adult currently certified as
a divemaster, assistant instructor, or higher rating from a recognized
The divemaster or instructor supervising a recreational dive by a BSA
group must implement the following policies for all divers under 15 years
of age, as well as any additional junior diver restrictions and protocols
adopted by that person’s certifying agency:
¦Depths are limited to 40 feet for divers under 12 years of age and to
60 feet for divers 12 to 14 years of age.
¦Each diver under 15 years of age must have an adult buddy certified
as an open-water diver who is either the junior diver’s parent or an
adult approved by the parent.
¦Additional divemasters or instructors are present to maintain a ratio
of one trained supervisor to four buddy pairs (eight divers) containing
one to four divers under 15 years of age.
Each scuba training agency recognized by the BSA requires a specific
health history form prior to enrollment in a certification program. The
BSA requires review and approval of the completed form by a physician even
if the scuba agency itself does not require physician approval. Various
risk factors identified on the forms may exclude a person from scuba
training, either temporarily or permanently. Risk factors include, but are
not limited to, ear and sinus problems, recent surgery, spontaneous
pneumothorax, asthma or reactive airway disease (RAD), seizure disorders,
diabetes, leukemia, sickle-cell disorder, pregnancy, panic disorders, and
The divemaster or instructor supervising a BSA recreational scuba
activity must review the health information for each participant that is
required annually of all BSA members and evaluate risk conditions using
medical standards consistent with those used by his or her certifying
agency. Additional tests or physician consultations may be required to
confirm fitness for diving. Consultation with medical specialists
knowledgeable about diving medicine also may be needed for participants
taking psychotropic drugs for treatment of attention deficit disorder,
depression, or other conditions.
Scuba diving is prohibited for the following conditions.
¦Use of medication to control seizures or seizure occurrence within
the past five years
¦Use of insulin to control diabetes
¦History of asthma or RAD unless resolution confirmed by methacholine
testing (Persons who have been asymptomatic and medication free for the
previous five years are exempt from the methacholine testing
The scuba agencies recognized by the BSA may allow exceptions to
general medical prohibitions based on individual diving fitness
evaluations by a medical specialist who is knowledgeable about diving
medicine. Scouts, parents, dive supervisors, and physicians with questions
or concerns about diving with specific medical conditions should consult
the Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) Guidelines for Recreational
Scuba Diver’s Physical Examination and the Divers Alert Network (DAN) at
www.diversalertnetwork.org. DAN medical professionals are available for
nonemergency consultation by telephone at 919-684-2948 during business
hours or via e-mail.
When scuba diving is taught in connection with any local council
program, instructors should provide the training on a contract basis. Such
instructors should have dive store or other commercial affiliation that
provides liability insurance coverage. Direct employment of scuba
instructors is not recommended.
Local council programs may not compress or sell air for scuba use, or
sell, rent, or loan scuba equipment (scuba cylinders, regulators, gauges,
dive computers, weights, or BCDs). All air and equipment for local council
program use must be obtained from professional sources (dive stores,
resorts, dive boats, etc.) affiliated with a scuba agency recognized by
Scuba equipment may be used by certified summer camp aquatics program
personnel for installation and maintenance of waterfront equipment, or for
search and recovery operations. Search and recovery could include lost
equipment, as well as rescue efforts.
Recognized agencies are:
¦PADI: Professional Association of Diving Instructors
¦NAUI: National Association of Underwater Instructors
¦SSI: Scuba Schools International
¦IDEA: International Diving Educators Association
¦PDIC: Professional Diving Instructors Corporation
¦SDI: Scuba Diving International
¦YMCA Scuba Program (discontinued in 2008, but certification cards are
¦NASDS: National Association of Scuba Diving Schools (merged with SSI,
but certification cards are still recognized)
In addition to the agencies listed by name, any current member of the
World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC), which includes all RSTC
members, is also recognized.
Other agencies wishing to be recognized by the BSA may contact the
Outdoor Programs Team of the national office. Recognition by a certifying
body such as the RSTC or EUF that the agency adheres to ANSI/CEN/ISO
standards would be expected.