WR Region Sea Scout Bridge of Honor on the USS Iowa

The first Western Region Bridge of Honor was held on July 26, 2014. The Bridge was held on the fantail of the USS Iowa, one of the most decorated battleships in United States history. The Sea Scouts attending also had their admission to Disneyland covered the next day by National Sea Scout Committee Member and WR Area 3 Commodore Bob French.

Purpose of the Bridge of Honor

WRBridge_WRYeoman_4617A Sea Scout Bridge of Honor is an awards ceremony similar to a Boy Scout Court of Honor in that the Sea Scout receives their Advancement Awards during the Landship Ceremony. In addition, the Sea Scouts host a Sea Scout Ball.

To the public, a Bridge of Honor is visible evidence of what Sea Scouting has done for youth in the community; to the Sea Scout volunteer it is the vision, faith and satisfaction which gives them the courage and resolve to carry on in their unselfish leadership; to the Sea Scout it is the reward for their loyalty and teamwork, an experience to cherish in the years to come. From the 1939 Sea Scout Manual.

Why a Western Region Bridge of Honor?

The goal of hosting a Western Region Bridge of Honor was to inspire Sea Scouts to set and complete Advancement goals. This goal was meet with thirty Sea Scouts being recognized for earning their Apprentice; nine Sea Scouts for earning Ordinary; and one Sea Scout for earning Able.

WRBridge_4771We recognized three Sea Scouts who had earned Quartermaster in the past year and one new Quartermaster was presented onboard the USS Iowa.

WRBridgeCakeMy hope for 2015 is to see continued Advancement. Sea Scouts who are actively working on Advancement have to get on the water for many of their requirements.

The 2014 National Flagship Fleet

The Western Region had the most Sea Scout Ships in the country apply for the BoatUS National Flagship Award. Three of the Ships that submitted applications were named to the National Flagship Fleet. National Sea Scout Director Keith Christopher recognized the Sea Scout Ships Heatwave, Tsunami, & City of Roses for their outstanding programs in being part of the National Flagship Fleet.

The 2014 Western Region Flagship

Both the National and Western Flagship Competitions are based up on the Journey to Excellence. The competition focuses on a Sea Scout Ship’s annual activities, from advancement, to community service, and of course how they get on the water.

The evaluations for the Western Region Flagship were done on four separate categories: Scouting, Seamanship, Service, and Social. These are the four S’s of Sea Scouting. Each S was judged on a 5 point scale.

The first Western Region Flagship had a total of 18 points out of 20. Their program is extremely impressive, which is why they were once the National Flagship and have been honored in the National Flagship Fleet.

Please join me is congratulating the Sea Scout Ship Makai as being the first Western Region Flagship.

How Sea Scouts Prepares You for Life

Alameda Council Commodore Kris Leverich gave the keynote address on the USS Iowa on how Sea Scouts prepares young people for life. Kris grew up on the SSS Gryphon of Redwood City, California and is now a lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard. Kris’ Coast Guard service has taken him from buoy tenders to the Barque Eagle to search and rescue missions.

Commodore Leverich said in his keynote:

I definitely have the life I want right now, however long that lasts, so perhaps I’m supposed to be here again with a chance to really understand not so much WHY Sea Scouting made a difference for me- hardly a day goes by where I don’t note another turning point in my wake influenced by Sea Scouting, no… not why, but how it made a difference.

I can answer that with two sentence fragments: Prepared. For Life.

Particularly for larger coastal units, but not exclusively, Sea Scouting is a resource intensive program. The boats, materials, supplies, maintenance, fuel make our program dwarf the resource demands for many other youth programs… but look around and see the symbolic badges of achievement being honored here today. Beneath them all, beneath all of the studying and demonstration of rank requirements, beneath all of the planning, the logistics, the coordination, and the final mission execution for everyone to muster here from hundreds of miles away aboard this stunning monument to American courage and excellence, something deeper is happening.

For those of you who took a chance to do something different from routine home life, you know that something deeper is happening. Maybe you start sensing it when you go to school one Monday morning and you almost can’t describe your weekend in Sea Scouting because you aren’t sure anyone else could or would believe you. That’s how it was for me…

And for some who go on to a life absent anything resembling things you did as a Sea Scout, you suddenly realize that you resolved a dispute smarter, or held someone accountable, accepted critical appraisal or just organized a mess because – wait a minute, you handled it way back in Sea Scouts. Yeah, maybe things were going badly in your crew at a regatta practice, or an endless summer haul-out, or the 3rd day of a long cruise where you discover someone forgot to buy TP. Yes, even then, something deeper is happening that transcends situational context.

Trial and error, defeat, and many, many mixed successes – all critical to what is deeper in Sea Scouting:

We are preparing you for life.

We are preparing you for life, with all of the coming unknown trials, and in Sea Scouting we are doing it at a level of challenge, managed risk, and scope of opportunities that the best of your generation needs and craves to experience, but too often discovers too late in life; “Wow, I wish I knew about this!”

There are endless examples you can probably think of even now, but for all the successes and failures you are afforded, the only real failure is the lost opportunities for the shipmate you never ask to join and make the most of our shared commitment to one of the most dynamic and consequential experiences preparing you for life. So let me leave you with this thought; appreciate this and so many other moments you will have in Sea Scouting and know that you are part of the cycle wherever you go. With a little luck and lot of work, you can come back around to it in 20 years, too. Thank you.

The Tradition of Challenge Coins

Each Sea Scout who advances in rank at the Western Region Bridge of Honor will be given a new “challenge coin” by the Western Region Commodore. A “challenge coin” is a tradition in the Armed Forces where an Admiral or General gives a coin with their emblem to a service person in recognition of a job well done.

WRChallengeCoinThe Western Region Challenge Coin has an anchor on one side, based on the original 1914 design of the Sea Scout Emblem that would become the First Class Anchor. The design was found in the Sea Scout Ship Pioneer’s logbook from August 24, 1914. The Sea Scout image on the other side of the coin was taken in 1942 of a Sea Scout practicing semaphore in Santa Monica. This image was found in the archives of the Boy Scout Museum in Texas. The original 3 S’s of Sea Scouting is across the top of the coin.

The Sea Scouts of the Caribbean

WR Area 3 Commodore Bob French, and National Sea Scout Committee Member, is one of the kindest human beings in the history of Sea Scouts. “Commodore Bob” wanted to make the WR Bridge grand and offered to cover the admission costs to Disneyland for all of the participating Sea Scouts.

SeaScouts_Disneyland_8877Sea Scouts mustered outside of Disneyland at 0730 on the morning of July 27, 2014. All hands formed up outside of the park for a group picture to thank Commodore French and promptly headed to Pirates of the Caribbean. Over 90 Sea Scouts and their adult volunteers boarded boats, singing away “A Pirates Life for Me.”

WRBridge_Disneyland_8843Sea Scouts enjoyed a full day at the Magic Kingdom, answering the challenge to post photos on Instagram with the hash tags #seascouts and #getonthewater.

Thank you for every Sea Scout who attended and keep up the good work for 2015.

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