Navigating on the water

  • young man in a kayak


Build teamwork and acquire the skills to navigate boats and other vessels on the water.


Navigating on the water requires you to learn how to plot courses using latitude and longitude, plan for and respond to severe weather conditions, and avoid collisions. Plan a series of activities to help you learn about water navigation. These activities should be planned by various team members and chosen from the following five fields of emphasis. You should also choose and plan a culminating activity—such as a river rafting or sailing trip—from one of the fields of emphasis.

For these activities, Scouts and adult leaders will need access to watercraft—rafts, canoes, kayaks, sailboats, or motorboats.

Fields of emphasis

Personal development

  • Explore different types of watercraft, and learn how to use one type. Also learn how to plot courses using latitude and longitude.
  • Invite an expert to teach the team how to protect our water resources from pollution and conserve water during a drought.
  • Learn how to avoid collisions, what to do during severe weather, and how to respond to an emergency situation while on the water. Learn how to waterproof items such as food and matches.
  • Learn first aid for injuries related to water recreation.


  • Do service projects for any Navy or Coast Guard veterans in your community. Invite them to share their experiences with the team after the service project.
  • Clean up an area with a water resource.

High adventure

  • Choose a nearby lake, river, or ocean. Divide assignments among your team and plan a trip that will last a few days and put your water navigation skills to use. Make sure your plans include preparation for water safety, different weather conditions, charting your course, the type of watercraft you will use, shelter, and food. Create a packing list. Also prepare for devotionals, personal reflections, quorum prayers, and scripture reading. Then go on your trip.

Special programs and events

  • Take a tour of nearby facilities for the Marines, Coast Guard, or Navy. Discuss the importance of proper navigation and water safety.
  • Participate in a safe water class or course.
  • Participate in a water navigation class or course.


  • Canoeing merit badge
  • First aid merit badge
  • Rowing merit badge
  • Swimming merit badge
  • Whitewater merit badge
  • Small-boat sailing merit badge
  • Mile swim

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