Every two years, Scouters from across the country meet to learn the latest in best aquatics practices. In the past, the BSA’s National Aquatics Conference has been held at the Florida Sea Base. This fall, it was slated take place at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed that. Now, instead of a four-day workshop, it will be a virtual series of seven Zoom sessions set over four weeks in September and October, available for free to any interested Scouter.

“While we won’t be able to meet in person, by moving to a virtual webinar format we have an opportunity to reach a much greater audience than we would normally reach with our biennial offering,” says Terrence Budd, National Aquatics Subcommittee member.

The first session is Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET. Each session should last about an hour-and-a-half. There’s no deadline to register; you can sign up minutes before a session.

Robert LaFlamme, executive board member in the Heart of New England Council, has been attending the BSA’s National Aquatics Conference since 2006 when it primarily was a gathering for aquatics directors at National Camping Schools. This year’s online format is still well-suited for council program directors, council aquatic committee members, camp aquatic directors and National Camping School staff members. However, anyone interested in the BSA’s aquatics programs won’t log off without a wealth of new knowledge.

“It’s a great place to learn the latest Scout aquatics policies and programs, and meet some great people who share the same mission,” LaFlamme says.

The online schedule

You can check out the conference’s schedule here. Each session will be recorded and posted on the BSA’s aquatics page for you to view later.

“The courses and topics are very useful,” says Dean Woodley, Capitol Area Council Aquatics Committee chair. “It’s an opportunity to renew our knowledge and stay on the cutting edge with the current information.”

Check the BSA’s aquatics page for how to register for each session.

Session 1, Thursday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m. ET


  • Conference welcome
  • Overview of BSA aquatics since 2018. This session will review and discuss the changes to BSA aquatics that have happened in the last two years.
  • National BSA Outdoor Programs group update
  • American Red Cross update

Session 2, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 8 p.m. ET


  • COVID-19: Aquatics best practices and lessons learned. In this session, a moderated panel will share best practices and experiences from 2019.
  • High Adventure Base update. What’s new and different at the Florida Sea Base. 

Session 3, Thursday, Oct. 1, 8 p.m. ET


  • Building an aquatic staff: A long-term process. This session will examine solutions and best practices to alleviate problems from the annual search for an aquatic director, combatting the national lifeguard shortage and how to establish continuity in a camp’s aquatic staff.
  • Customer service in aquatics. This session will discuss customer service, maintaining a positive staff attitude and safety.
  • High Adventure Base update. What’s new and different at Northern Tier.

Session 4, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 8 p.m. ET


  • Whitewater rafting. This session will review the BSA’s resources and policies on whitewater rafting and talk about the Whitewater Rafting Award.
  • American Canoe Association update
  • High Adventure Base update – What’s new and different at The Summit.

Session 5, Thursday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m. ET


  • Aquatic Staff Guide – revision rollout. This session will spotlight and introduce the newly revised Aquatic Staff Guide, a 2019-2020 project of the Aquatics Subcommittee.
  • Effective aquatic committees. In this session, a moderated panel of successful Council Aquatic Committee chairs will share their best practices and lessons learned in developing and maintaining a high-functioning Council Aquatic Committee.

Session 6, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m. ET


  • Sea Scouts update
  • Swimming instruction. This session will focus on practical techniques for effective swimming stroke instruction.

Session 7, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. ET


  • Keynote speech from Al Lambert, Assistant Chief Scout Executive, National Director of Outdoor Adventures.

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