Parish forms Sea Scout ship - Catholic Courier

Parish forms Sea Scout ship

Canandaigua-area youths who are interested in sailing will soon have a place to learn and hone their skills, as St. Mary’s Parish prepares to launch a Sea Scouting group.

The Sea Scout program is a part of the Boy Scouts of America, under the organization’s Venturing division. It was developed in Britain and came to the United States in 1912. Sea Scouting is coed and open to anyone who has completed eighth grade and is between the ages of 14 and 20. Through the program, Scouts learn about a variety of aquatics-based areas, including sailing, motor-boating, rowing, swimming and life-saving, said Alisha Cramer, committee chairperson for the new group.

Although the Sea Scouts is a division of the Boy Scouts, the division has its own terminology. Just as a unit of Boy Scouts is called a troop, each unit of Sea Scouts is called a ship, said Mike Spillane, skipper, or leader, of the new ship.

There is also a rank system within the Sea Scouts, Cramer said. The first rank a Sea Scout can attain is that of Apprentice, followed by Ordinary, Able and Quartermaster, which is the highest rank in and roughly equivalent to the Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouting, Cramer said.

Spillane said one of his goals is to eventually help at least a few members of the ship become Quartermasters. For now, though, he’s focused on attracting more young people to the program and getting his ship chartered. Although St. Mary’s has agreed to charter the ship, the Boy Scouts of America requires each ship to have a certain number of participants.

The new ship has not yet acquired enough members to be chartered, in part because the Boy Scouts also mandates that the ship be the primary Scouting unit of at least five of its participants, Spillane said. This has posed a problem, because several members of the new ship are already involved with other Boy Scout or Venturing units, he added.

“We kind of hope that once the word gets out, kids will join. We hope to get a nice group together,” Cramer said.

One thing the new ship has successfully acquired is an 18{1/2}-foot sailboat, which was donated by a gentleman in the community, Cramer added. The Sea Scouts will be able to use the boat to learn about and practice sailing on Canandaigua Lake.

Nick Smith, 17, is the boatswain, or senior youth leader, of the new group. Nick said he is excited about the prospect of sailing the donated boat, which is bigger than what he’s used to.

“I’ve always been interested in sailing. When I was younger my dad used to take me out sailing,” Nick said.

Nick’s father has a 12-foot sailboat, which Nick has been taking out on Canandaigua Lake alone or with some friends for two or three years now, he said. He has been involved with the Boy Scouts since he was 11 years old and is also part of a Venturing crew.

Spillane has also been involved in Scouting for a number of years. He has been a Scout leader since 1998 and has also served as commissioner for his local Scouting council. He’s put so much time and effort into Scouting, he said, because it’s a worthwhile cause.

“The basic purpose of Scouting is to have fun in the outdoors, and certainly underlying that is character development,” Spillane said. “They learn discipline by sailing a ship. They learn the traditions of naval history, and they can learn citizenship and service to others.”

Sea Scouts are expected to plan and carry out a service project, comparable to an Eagle Scout project, before they can become Quartermasters, Cramer said. By the time they become Quartermasters, Sea Scouts also have met the requirements for either Red Cross or Boy Scouts of America life-saving certification, commanded a vessel with a crew of four for at least a 48-hour voyage and presented a brief talk about Sea Scouts to a community organization. They also have demonstrated their skills in a number of other areas, including piloting, signaling, safety and the nautical navigation rules.

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