Permit free activities on water
You don’t need to have a permit to have an adventure on (or in) the water. We’ve made an list of adventurous activities you can do without a permit, so there’s nothing stopping you giving it a go and dipping your toes in.
For more information on any of these activities, check the activity rules and factsheets through the A-Z of activities. Don’t forget, you can do other activities without getting a permit by asking another permit holder (you can search on Compass) or using a provider (like Scout Adventures).
Before you get stuck in, you need to know the rules. All members taking part in the activities listed (except swimming) must wear an appropriate buoyancy aid (Rule 9.43). The Scouts classify waters. All of the activities listed can only be led without a permit in Class C Waters, safe inland waters less than 100m wide, where flow causes little effect (including swimming pools). For more information on the classifications of water, see Rule 9.44.
Bell boating in Class C waters.
A bell boat is made of two open hulls connected with a platform in the middle. Bell boating is great fun for everyone – but is especially good as an introduction to paddlesports for younger sections.
Canoeing or kayaking in Class C waters.
Canoes are usually open boats that hold two or three people – you sit on a slightly raised seat (or kneel) and use a single-bladed paddle. Kayaks have double-bladed paddles. They can be open or closed, and usually seat one, two, or four people. Any section can canoe or kayak, but you’ll need more adults if you have non-swimmers.
Dinghy sailing or keelboating in Class C waters.
Everyone can take part in sailing a boat classed as a dinghy or keelboat, no matter their age or swimming ability. Any non-swimmers need to have a competent adult with them, and they may need additional safety devices. It’s an adventure for all, though, as even beginners can take control of a boat during a session, to experience the excitement of sailing for themselves.
Kite surfing in Class C waters.
Kite surfing is one for the older sections – Scouts, Explorers, and Network. Young people can test their balance and skill as they’re propelled across the water on a surf board, using a power kite to control their speed and direction.
Pulling (fixed seat rowing) in Class C waters.
Any section can give pulling a go, as boats and oars come in all sorts of sizes. Boat leaders (whether young people or adult volunteers) should have the right skills (and be responsible enough) to control the boat safely.
Raft building and traditional rafting in Class C waters.
All sections can build a raft, putting their teamwork and knot skills to good use to create a floating device from barrels, poles, and rope.
Rowing and sculling in Class C waters.
Rowing or sculling in boats with sliding seats is suitable for Scouts, Explorers, and Network. These are the types of boats used in the Olympics, or the Oxford and Cambridge boat race – if you use a single oar, you’re rowing, and if you have an oar on each side of the boar, it’s sculling.
Stand up paddleboarding in Class C Waters.
Any section can try balancing on a specially designed board while paddling through the water. Beavers might find it tricky, depending on the kit that’s available.
Swimming in Class C waters.
Any section can go swimming – non-swimmers must be under the direct supervision of an adult in the water (each adult in the water can supervise two non-swimmers). One responsible person must be in overall control, and where there are no operating procedures the leader must make sure that there’s adequate safety cover, including having a strong enough swimmer capable of rescue.
Swimming in other classes of water.
Any section can swim in other classes of water, but if there’s no attendant lifeguard, the safety cover must hold a water activity permit, or the right elements of the RLSS Water Safety Management Programme (or equivalent).
Windsurfing in Class C waters.
This blend of surfing and sailing is suitable for Scouts, Explorers, and Network. Board and sails come in various sizes, which makes it easier for beginners, but you’ll probably still get very wet.
Check out our website for more information on the adventurous activity permit scheme.