Under the sea
Don't let oceans, rivers or lakes go unexplored. Girls can use masks and snorkels to see what's under the surface – from beautiful plants and rocks, to weird and wonderful creatures.
For snorkelling, girls swim while wearing a snorkel, which is a short tube that allows them to breathe while viewing what's under the surface of the water.
To take girls snorkelling, you will need to find a reputable local provider with a suitably qualified adult.
Snorkelling is an adventurous activity and should follow the adventurous activity policy and procedures.
Approved: 5 May 2021
Content owner: Adventure team
If you or another member of your leadership team is running the activity at an external venue/location, follow these extra steps:
- Arrange for a home contact. Leave any route or other relevant details with your home contact and complete a home contact agreement form. Let them know about any changes to your plans.
- Tell your commissioner.
- Get a copy of the public liability insurance of the activity provider before you book.
- Check you hold the relevant qualification (if one is needed) to run the activity and let your commissioner know you plan to run it yourself. If you aren't sure, speak to your local adviser to check.
- Check with the venue that they have the correct equipment and, if needed, specialist clothing that will meet the needs of your group.
- Get any specialist equipment or clothing needed to run the activity not provided by the venue, and make sure this is in good condition and fit for purpose.
- Check that any equipment is suitably insured by the provider and agree what happens to the equipment if it gets damaged.
- Ask for a copy of the venue's safety guidelines and risk assessment (if relevant).
- Make sure you have the correct ratio of participants (girls, leaders and volunteers) to qualified adults (those running the activity if a qualification is needed). This is different to the ratio of leaders to girls.
- Consider the ability and experience of the participants and any disabilities, access needs or health conditions and plan the session accordingly.
Some venues might ask for a disclaimer or waiver to be signed for each person taking part in the activity. This is something which parents/carers must sign on behalf of their child. You can do this along with the consent form. Parents and carers should be given sufficient information from the provider along with the waiver so they can make an informed decision to sign it or not. Leaders can only sign disclaimers and waivers for their own personal participation.
If you're working with an external provider or external instructors to run this activity outside the unit meeting space, follow these extra steps.
- Arrange for a home contact. Leave any route or other relevant details with your home contact and complete a home contact agreement form. Let them know if you make any changes to your plans.
- Tell your local commissioner.
- Tell the activity provider about the ability and experience of the participants and any disabilities, access needs or health conditions that need to be considered when running the activity.
- Choose a reputable and licensed activity provider (where applicable).
- Check the qualified adults hold the correct qualification to be able to run the activity (see the information below).
- Get copies of the instructor qualiﬁcations and public liability insurance of the activity provider before you book.
- Ask for a copy of the providers' safety guidelines and risk assessment.
- Make sure you have the correct ratio of participants (girls and volunteers) to qualified adults (those running the activity). This is different to the ratio of leaders to girls.
- Check with the venue that they have the correct equipment and, if needed, specialist clothing that will meet the requirements for your group.
- Source any specialist equipment or clothing needed to run the activity not provided by the venue, and make sure this is in good condition and fit for purpose.
Snorkelling in purpose-built pool
To take girls snorkelling in a purpose-built pool there must be a qualified lifeguard present or someone that holds one of the following qualifications:
Snorkelling in open water
The instructor must hold one of the following qualifications:
Where there are weak swimmers or those with low water confidence, this should be risk-assessed and ratios amended so that there are no more than 2 non-swimmers to 1 competent adult.
Flotation devices may be worn where appropriate to support weak swimmers.
This risk management guidance may help with the risk assessment process.
You can get good swimmers who have low water confidence if the environment in which they are swimming is different to usual. Someone who is a good swimmer in a pool may not initially be very confident in cold open water.
Activity providers may have a swimming ability requirement to take part in this activity. Leaders should check with the activity provider before booking.
Buoyancy aids and lifejackets must be worn for activities where this is recognised as best practice as identified by the qualified adult or activity provider.
If a girl has a medical condition that will affect her ability to swim, tell the instructor and take steps so she can take part safely.
If snorkelling outside
Inspect water for visible signs of pollution, for example rubbish, blue green algae or chemicals.
Make sure girls and parents are aware of the dangers and symptoms of Weil's disease and what action to take if they suspect infection. On the day of the activity, advise participants to cover cuts and grazes with waterproof plasters to help prevent infection.
See our guidance on water activities.
If snorkelling abroad, the above qualifications and regulations may not be applicable. The leader will need to make enquiries about the reputation and safety standards of the activity provider. Contact your international adviser or outdoor activities adviser, or email Volunteer Support for more guidance.
Adult to child ratios
The ratios below are given as a maximum and ratios must be considered as part of the risk assessment, this may lessen due to any medical conditions, physical ability or other factors.
Leadership team ratio
As this activity will take place outside of your usual meeting place the leadership team adult to child ratio is mandatory.
- Rainbows: 1:5, at least two adults
- Brownies: 1:8
- Guides: 1:12
- Rangers: 1:12
There must be a minimum of 2 adults for all sections. The leadership team ratios must be maintained on the water for the activity. The qualified adult can be included in this ratio.
Qualified adult/participant ratio
The activity leader (qualified adult) should determine what size of group is safe. There must be enough qualified adults to ensure the safety of all participants.
The number will be determined by any limitations placed on their qualification, permit or the rules of their operating organisation as well as the risk assessment. This should take into consideration the location, weather and experience of both the qualified adult and other participants. The leader should assess the risk and any concerns must be raised to them.