Canoeing Merit Badge Pamphlet Canoeing Merit Badge


These were the requirements from 2018 until the revisions made in 2022

To see the CURRENT requirements, Click here.

To see the changes made in 2022, Click here

For the previous requirements, Click here

To see the changes made in 2018, Click here

  1. Do the following:
    1. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in canoeing activities 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 could occur while canoeing: blisters, cold-water shock and hypothermia, dehydration, heat-related illnesses, sunburn, sprains, and strains.
    3. Discuss the BSA Safety Afloat policy. Tell how it applies to canoeing activities.
  2. Before doing the following requirements, successfully complete the BSA swimmer test: Jump feetfirst into water over the head in depth. Level off and 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 at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating.
  3. Do the following:
    1. Name and point out the major parts of a canoe.
    2. Describe how the length and shape of a canoe affect its performance.
    3. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the different materials used to make canoes.
  4. Do the following:
    1. Name and point out the parts of a paddle. Explain the difference between a straight and bent-shaft paddle and when each is best used.
    2. Demonstrate how to size correctly a paddle for a paddler in a sitting position and a kneeling position.
  5. Do the following:
    1. Discuss with your counselor the characteristics of life jackets most appropriate for canoeing and tell why a life jacket must always be worn while paddling.
    2. Demonstrate how to select and properly fit the correct size life jacket.
  6. Discuss with your counselor the general care and maintenance of canoes, paddles, and other canoeing equipment.
  7. Do the following:
    1. Discuss what personal and group equipment would be appropriate for a canoe camping trip. Describe how personal and group equipment can be packed and protected from water.
    2. Using the containers and packs from requirement 7a, demonstrate how to load and secure the containers and other equipment in the canoe.
    3. Using appropriate knots, including a trucker’s hitch, tautline hitch, and bowline, demonstrate how to secure a canoe to a vehicle or a trailer, or if these are not available, a rack on land.
  8. With a companion, use a properly equipped canoe to demonstrate the following:
    1. Safely carry and launch the canoe from a dock or shore (both, if possible).
    2. Safely land the canoe on a dock or shore (both, if possible) and return it to its proper storage location.
    3. Demonstrate kneeling and sitting positions in a canoe and explain the proper use for each position.
    4. Change places while afloat in the canoe.
  9. With a companion, use a properly equipped canoe to demonstrate the following:
    1. In deep water, exit the canoe and get back in without capsizing.
    2. Safely perform a controlled capsize of the canoe and demonstrate how staying with a capsized canoe will support both paddlers.
    3. Swim, tow, or push a swamped canoe 50 feet to shallow water. In the shallow water, empty the swamped canoe and reenter it.
    4. In deep water, rescue a swamped canoe and its paddlers by emptying the swamped canoe and helping the paddlers safely reenter their boat without capsizing.
  10. With a companion, use a properly equipped canoe to demonstrate the following paddling strokes as both a bow and stern paddler:
    1. Forward stroke
    2. Backstroke
    3. Draw
      For stern paddling only:
    4. J-stroke
    5. Pushaway
    6. Forward sweep
    7. Reverse sweep
    8. Rudder stroke
    9. Stern pry
  11. Using the strokes in requirement 10, and in an order determined by your counselor, use a properly equipped canoe to demonstrate the following tandem maneuvers while paddling on opposite sides and without changing sides. Each paddler must demonstrate these maneuvers in both the bow and stern and on opposite paddling sides:
    1. Pivot or spin the canoe in either direction.
    2. Move the canoe sideways or abeam in either direction.
    3. Stop the canoe.
    4. Move the canoe in a straight line for 50 yards.
  12. Use a properly equipped canoe to demonstrate solo canoe handling:
    1. Launch from shore or a pier (both, if possible).
    2. Using a single-blade paddle and paddling only on one side, demonstrate proper form and use of the forward stroke, backstroke, draw stroke, pushaway stroke, forward sweep, reverse sweep, J-stroke, and rudder stroke. Repeat while paddling on the other side.
    3. Using a single-blade paddle and paddling only on one side, demonstrate proper form and use of a combination of a forward stroke, rudder stroke, and stern pry by canoeing to a target 50 yards away. Repeat while paddling on the other side.
    4. Make a proper landing at a dock or shore (both, if possible). Store canoe properly (with assistance, if needed).
  13. Discuss the following types of canoeing:
    1. Olympic canoe sprint
    2. Flatwater and river touring
    3. Outrigger
    4. Marathon
    5. Freestyle
    6. Whitewater
    7. Canoe poling

Note to the Merit Badge Counselor:

In the 2021 Guide to Advancement (BSA Publication 33088 - SKU 648216), Under Section Merit Badge Counseling Risk Management and Quality Control - Section Supervisory Qualifications and Certifications has specific special qualifications or certifications for either the merit badge counselor or the supervisor of certain activities that may be involved with this merit badge, as follows:

The qualifications below for aquatics-related merit badge counseling and supervision not only assist in managing risk, but also give counselors credibility. Current policies are found at Guide to Safe Scouting at health-and-safety/gss/gss02 and supersede any other publications or literature.

Canoeing. Those supervising canoeing activities must have either BSA Aquatics Instructor or Canoeing Instructor certification from the American Canoe Association, American Red Cross, or equivalent; OR local councils may approve individuals previously certified as such or trained by an instructor so qualified.

BSA Advancement ID#: 33
Requirements last updated in: 21
Pamphlet Stock Number: 35867
Pamphlet SKU Number: 650866
Pamphlet Revision Date: 2019

Worksheets for use in working on these requirements: Format
Word Format PDF Format

Blanks in this worksheets table appear when we do not have a worksheet for the badge that includes these requirements.

Page updated on: May 08, 2022

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