BSA Stand Up Paddleboarding

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This page is for the BSA Stand Up Paddleboarding award.
Scouts, Lone Scouts, and qualified Venturers or Sea Scouts can also earn the Whitewater merit badge.
BSA Stand Up Paddleboarding

This patch is not worn on the uniform.
It is aquatic insignia and is worn on the left side of swim trunks.
Last updated:
Level:Boy Scout, Venturer, Sea Scout


BSA Stand Up Paddleboarding provides an introduction to SUP skills and safety procedures and serves as a program opportunity for Boy Scout, Venturing, and Sea Scout units in camp or out. Mastery of BSA Stand Up Paddleboarding skills is a first critical step towards satisfying Safety Afloat guidelines for safe SUP excursions.

BSA Stand Up Paddleboarding is not a merit badge.

The BSA Stand Up Paddleboarding award introduces Scouts to the basics of stand up paddleboarding (SUP) on calm water, including skills, equipment, self rescue, and safety precautions. This award also encourages Scouts to develop paddling skills that promote fitness and safe aquatics recreation.

BSA Stand Up Paddleboarding requirements

  1. Review the BSA Safety Afloat policy. Explain to your instructor how this applies to stand up paddleboarding.
  2. Before fulfilling other requirements, successfully complete the BSA swimmer test: Jump feetfirst into water over the head in depth, level off, and begin swimming. 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 one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating..
  3. Explain safety considerations for stand up paddleboarding in the following environments: lake, moving water, whitewater, open ocean, ocean surf.
  4. Review the characteristics of life jackets most appropriate for stand up paddleboarding and understand why one must always be worn while paddling. Then demonstrate how to select and fit a life jacket for stand up paddleboarding.
  5. Describe the appropriate type of leash to wear in different water venues.
  6. Name and point out:
    a. The major parts of a stand up paddleboard
    b. The parts of a paddle for stand up paddleboarding
  7. Discuss:
    a. The different types of stand up paddleboards
    b. How to correctly size and hold a paddle for stand up paddleboarding
  8. Using a properly outfitted stand up paddleboard, demonstrate the following:
    a. How to safely carry a stand up paddleboard
    b. How to safely paddle away from a dock or shoreline (on knees)
    c. How to stand and balance on a board in the neutral position
    d. How to appropriately fall off a board
    e. How to remount the board
    f. Forward stroke
    g. Back stroke
    h. Forward sweep
    i. Reverse sweep
    j. Draw stroke
    k. One self-rescue technique -- lay on your stomach and paddle with your hands.
  9. With supervision from your instructor, paddle a course that involves:
    a. A straight line for 25 yards and stop within one board length
    b. A figure 8
    c. Moving abeam to the right 10 feet and to the left 10 feet.
The official source for the information shown in this article or section is:
Scouts BSA Requirements, 2019 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #648914)



Any youth or adult who is registered with a troop, ship, or crew and completes the requirements is eligible for a patch and recognition card, available from the local council service center. Instruction for BSA Stand Up Paddleboarding is to be conducted under safe conditions on calm, flat water free from wind, waves, current, or outside boat traffic—within swimming distance of shore. There should be no submerged trees or structures that could injure an individual falling off a board. One to three hours in one or more sessions should suffice for instruction and practice. Paddle lengths and life-jacket sizes should be adequate to fit all participants. Counselors are expected to supplement the material in this document with their own knowledge and resources. All counselors must be trained in BSA Safety Afloat. Completion of this award should prepare the participants for unit activities in similar environments and encourage them to seek more advanced courses prior to paddling in more challenging venues.

Who can teach SUP

Any person recognized as a SUP instructor by the ACA | Canoe - Kayak - SUP - Raft - Rescue or equivalent organization may serve as a counselor for this award, with the approval of the local council. An ACA Level 1 or Level 2 Stand Up Paddleboarding Assessment Course or ACA Instructor certification is strongly recommended. A person experienced in SUP skills and safety may serve as a counselor in a BSA summer camp program under the direction of a currently certified BSA Aquatics Instructor.

SUP Safety

In addition to the basic board-handling skills, the counselor needs to have the following:

  • Knowledge of the dangers of falling off the board near docks or onto submerged obstructions–scene safety
  • Knowledge of the different leash types and when and when not to wear them
  • Knowledge of how to rescue SUPs; both with and without an attachment point at the nose

Scout-to-Counselor Ratio

There should be one qualified counselor for every six Scouts. Ratios of youth to adults must also meet the BSA Youth Protection policies. Everyone must be monitored by a buddy, including the instructor. The instructor’s buddy may serve as an assistant on the water or as a lookout on land if the instruction is close enough to shore for easy verbal communication. The instructor’s buddy must know enough to realize when the instructor is having difficultly rather than demonstrating a fall.

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