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Class C Waters

FS120623 (Published January 2022, replacing March 2011)

The definition of Class C Waters can be found in POR Rule 9.13.3.


This guidance provides information related to all activities taking place in Class C waters, and should be used to support planning for activities.

All water activities taking place in or on Class C waters must be operated under these guidelines, except swimming, SCUBA and motorised water activities (as defined in POR Rule 9.13.4).

What are Class C Waters?

All waters used for Scouting activities must be classified as C, B1, B2, B3 or A in accordance with rule 9.13.3. The definition of Class C Waters can be found in POR Rule 9.13.3.

Class C Waters Definition

Class C - safe inland waters which are less than 100m wide where flow causes little effect (including swimming pools);

All waters must be classified prior to their use and the classification may change due to factors such as the time of year and weather.

Class C waters will be found inland and can include ponds and small lakes, swimming pools and other small man-made bodies of water, small rivers and canals where the water flow is limited to surface turbulence caused by the wind. This is not an exhaustive list and other types of water may meet the definition. The key is that the water is sheltered with minimal flow and that it is no bigger than 100m, this means that those in the water can get out within 50m.

It's the responsibility of the activity leader to ensure they understand the classification of water their activities are operating in based on the definitions within POR. If you're unsure about how to determine the classification of the water you are planning to use, you can get advice from your Assistant District Commissioner (ADC) or Assistant County Commissioner (ACC) Activities, water activity permit holders or advisers. 

The National Directory of Waters provides a list of waters with their classifications as identified by the County/Area/Region they are in. This should be used to aid with planning, but the activity leader should still classify the waters prior to the activity takes place, taking into account the situation on the day. Where a piece of water may change from Class C to B1 dependent on environmental factors the activity should be organised using the rules of the highest classification of water.  The activity leader must ensure that the appropriate rules are followed for the class of water being used.

Once you’ve determined what class water you will be operating in, make sure you document this and communicate your reasoning with others. As part of your risk assessment process, you’ll need to document the hazards and risks identified for the area you are using and what controls you will have in place.  

Types of activity

You can do a variety of activities on waters classified as Class C without the requirement for the leader of the activity to hold an activity permit.

These include:

  • Kayak practice in swimming pools
  • Traditional rafting
  • Canoeing or kayaking at campsites

Just remember that you must be sure this is on Class C waters, otherwise a permit holder is required.

It is required that those in charge of the activity have the appropriate skills and knowledge of the activity taking place and a knowledge of and ability to conduct appropriate risk assessments. Although these activities do not require the activity leader to hold an activity permit the activity leader must still have the appropriate skills and knowledge of the activity taking place and be capable of putting together appropriate risk assessments and activity plans.  

Planning activities on Class C Waters

When delivering activities on or in Class C waters the leader must ensure that:

  • The activity is suitable to the age and ability of the participants. 
  • A clear plan is in place for the activity. 
  • A risk assessment has been undertaken and appropriate measures in place to reduce risk, and that this is documented and clearly communicated to those involved.
  • A safety plan is in place in case of an incident or emergency. 
  • The appropriate adult to young person ratios are adhered to. 
  • There is appropriate supervision by a person who has sufficient skill/knowledge of the activity being undertaken (this may be more than one person depending on the activity and the size and needs of the group). 
  • Someone is present with the appropriate level of first aid training for the environment, and has access to suitable first aid materials.
  • Suitable equipment is used.
  • A safety briefing is given to all participants and people in charge.
  • Participants are briefed, with clear boundaries which everyone understands. 
  • Participants do not move into any adjacent waters not classified as Class C (which are thus, at a minimum, Class B1).
  • Participants are given instruction on how to use any equipment safely.
  • Other users of the water do not constitute a hazard.
  • The activity meets any local operating procedures (if using, for example, a swimming pool).

It is important to ensure that when planning all activities care is taken to consider the following which apply to water based activities:  

POR Rule 9.13.1 outlines the swimming requirements for those wishing to take part in water activities. It's important that the swimming ability of the participants is considered when the activity is planned. This will result in appropriate ratios and supervision being applied as well as influencing the location and area of the activity, type of craft used and the personal flotation devices required.

As with any activity the weather can have a significant impact on water activities. Rain fall can affect the water levels and flow, and may result in the activity location not being suitable or the class of water changing. It can also reduce visibility which is even more important when operating around larger and motorised vessels. The sun and heat can also have a big impact on water activities, as the water reflects the sun which can speed up an individual’s susceptibility to sun stroke or sun burn.

It's important to ensure that all members of the group have suitable equipment and clothing (including footwear) for the activity which they are doing and the weather they may face. Where equipment is used, participants should be trained in the correct use and care for it. 

Buoyancy aids and life jackets must be worn as outlined in POR 9.13.2. Read the guidance on buoyancy aids and life jackets.

In addition to ensuring that the ratios are adhered to, it is important to consider the size of the activity group you are planning for. If in any doubt keep the groups small, use the permit ratios as a guide for activity groups and remember the normal section rations still apply as a maximum for the overall activity. Think about how you split your section into manageable groups to enable safe activities to take place. Don’t go beyond the capabilities of the young people.

 You should also consider the overall group size and ensure that if larger groups are operating with multiple leaders that it is clear which young people are within each group and that a clear area of operation is defined.

Approving an Activity on Class C Waters

The District Commissioner is responsible for approving all activities, further guidance on this is available at FS120015 Approving Activities – Guidance for Commissioners, but the best place to start is checking with your Group Scout Leader (GSL) or District Explorer Scout Commissioner (DESC) what the approval process is for the activities you are planning. Check the rules and guidance for the activities you are undertaking at  

Before approving an activity to take place on Class C waters the commissioner should be confident that there is appropriate safety cover in place with the relevant skills and knowledge to perform rescues and recoveries if needed.

Further Information

Further information should be sought from Assistant Area / County Commissioner (Activities).

Rules relating to class c waters

Rule 9.13.1 All Water Activities

Rule 9.13.2 Life Jackets and Buoyancy Aids

Rule 9.13.3 Classification of Waters

Rule 9.13.4 Activities on Class C Waters