BSA Safety Afloat for Whitewater Rafting

Boy Scout Safety Afloat Program is essential prior to participating in a boating activity. Safety of guests is the top priority for Whitewater Challengers. The Boy Scouts has outlined 9 important requirements as part of the safety afloat program.

Qualified Supervision on the River

All youth should be accompanied by an adult age 21 years or older that is committed to following the Safety Afloat guidelines. Specific adult to youth ratios (according to Scouting guidelines) should be followed when participating in the activity. All Whitewater Challengers rafting trips on the Lehigh River are accompanied by trained river guides certified in first aid and CPR. The guides accompany the trip in kayaks or sit on tops. Whitewater Challengers encourages youth groups to have one adult in each raft (rafts seat 5-7 people), especially if the group is first-time rafters.

Personal Health Review

BSA Safety Afloat for Whitewater RaftingAll participants should be physically fit to participate in whitewater rafting and other boating activities. Paddling and swimming require physical exertion. On our guided whitewater rafting trips we can accommodate many disabilities. Please let us know prior to your trip about any concerns you may have. If there are specific health concerns like allergies or recent injury/illness please notify our guides in private prior to the trip so they can respond swiftly if any incidents occur while on the trip.

Swimming Ability

Swimming is not a prerequisite for whitewater rafting. Whitewater rafting is a multi person craft and even those not classified as a swimmer can participate in the activity. Whitewater Challengers offers different trips based on age level and skill level, you can choose a trip appropriate for your group. For some boating activities the BSA Safety Afloat program requires participants to pass certain swimming test prior to participating.

Life Jackets

Life jackets are required on all Whitewater Challengers rafting trips. Before getting on the river shuttle our river guides will give each participant an appropriately sized life jacket and adjust it to fit the individual. Life jackets must be worn at all times when on or around the river.

Buddy System

All scouts should have a buddy when participating in an activity afloat. 5-7 participants fit into one raft (depending on water levels). Buddies should be in the same raft. If your buddy falls out of the raft nearby guides and rafts should be alerted so they can pull the swimmer from the water into a raft as quickly as possible, especially when moving through swift rapids. If another raft is not able to pick up the swimmer please follow our safety instructions: float feet first down river using your arms to avoid obstacles. Do not stand up in fast moving water under any circumstance. Whitewater Challengers has a safety video available online. In addition, each trip is given safety instructions prior to getting on the river.

Skill Proficiency

All participants must have sufficient knowledge and skill to participate safely. Whitewater Challengers offers online safety videos and pre-trip instructions. All of our guided whitewater rafting trips are suitable for beginners and first time rafters. You must be able to work as a team and take instruction from the raft captain (someone in your group, preferably an adult or experienced rafter).


Whitewater Challengers does the planning and preparation for your group. To enjoy a safe and enjoyable trip, we provide professional guides and quality equipment. All trips are accompanied by a first aid kit in case minor injury occurs. Our guides will point out the proper line to take through whitewater rapids. All of our trips stop mid-way for a lunch break. You should bring your own lunch in a Ziploc back or you can purchase a lunch from us.

Whitewater rafting trips run rain or shine. You should consider the temperature, weather and water temperature when deciding what to wear on your trip. Wet suits are available at the rafting center. On warm days a bathing suit and/or short and a t-shirt is suitable. Sunscreen and hats to protect you from the sun. When temperatures are colder wearing wool or polypropylene will keep you warmer. Avoid cotton since it loses insulation value when wet. Cotton will make you colder as it holds the moisture against your skin.


According to BSA Safety Afloat guidelines you need to make sure your craft is suitable for the activity. When rafting with a outfitter like Whitewater Challengers you can rest assured that your raft, paddles, life jackets and other equipment will meet or exceed safety regulations.


Rules and safety guidelines are only effective when followed. All participants should know and understand the safety procedures before embarking on the activity afloat. Learning the reasoning for the rules makes them easier to understand and will likely result in more people following them. When participating in activities in nature, especially around water, there are always real hazards. When taking part of a guided trip be sure to listen to the advice and instruction of your professional guide.

Ready for your next activity afloat? Try one of Whitewater Challengers guided rafting trips on the Lehigh River, Hudson River or Black River in PA or NY. The Lehigh River offers discounted Scout days and special Raft-O-Ree weekends. Onsite camping, trail biking and more are great additions to your outdoor adventure.