Use National Safe Boating Week to Help a Sea Scout Advance

Sometimes when you’re a new Sea Scout leader you wonder…ok, are we doing things that move youth along towards advancement?  We meet. We work on boating skills. That’s cool.  We have an elected Boatswain, Mate, Scribe.  All good. They’re getting time in rank…needed for advancement.

What about the other youth? Do they need to wait for a job to open up to get skill at leadership?  Quick answer, nope.

What they need is a challenge.   Look at the manual on advancement. To meet the Ordinary leadership requirement every Sea Scout has to serve as activity chair for a major ship event.    To be Able, you can lead two more activities instead of serving as Ship officer.   QuarterDeck lets you do three more events in lieu of being a ship officer.    We’re not trying to discourage them being officers. We want them to.  But the point is they all need to lead activities.   And that means planning, directing, and evaluating the event.

So what you need is “a major ship activity” that one of your new Sea Scouts can take on. Here’s a suggestion that is a few months out, helps the community, and has Sea Scout written all over it?  Help with or create an event in your community marking National Safe Boating Week, May 21 to 27.


As I said, National Safe Boating Week is May 21 to 27.      What you need to do it find a Sea Scout in your ship who need to advance, and help him or her use this event, and all the tools that the National Safe Boating Council has already created to support it, to reach their goal.

One overarching theme in my thinking about these challenges is to look for opportunities that are already out there, so we aren’t reinventing the wheel, doing everything ourselves for the first time. There is the added bonus that we’re reaching out into the community looking for new youth, and new adults who might like to help with Sea Scouting.

And we’re also helping our existing youth advance.  We don’t want to forget that.


You’re reading West Wind. You’re a dedicated Sea Scout supporter, maybe a Committee Chair or Skipper.  But you’re already busy. Why are you even thinking about this issue?  You need another adult in your unit to step up and take this on.   That can be an existing Mate or Committee member.  Or you could reach out to a parent, or drop in that person all ships have who has always wanted to pitch in, but can’t make “all the meetings.”

The point is, ask.  For many folks they’re just waiting there ready to handle a defined project and just want to be asked….and then given a little direction.


Then you should work with them to find a Sea Scout who need to advance.  Ask all the adult leaders for an opinion.   It probably shouldn’t be a Sea Scout that is new to the unit.  They’re super busy just trying to figure out the bow from the stern and how to tie a bowline.   But it doesn’t have to be a Quartermaster candidate either.   This is about growing from where they are….to where they want to be.

And remember, they don’t know how to run things, make calls, organize the steps needed to do an event. That’s what they leading an event to learn.   The adult leader is there to act as guide.   If you have an experienced Sea Scout…it will take very little coaching.  If you have a new Apprentice, it will take a little more hand holding.


National Safe Boating Week has been around for a while, and your local Yacht Club, Marina, USCG Auxiliary or Power Squadron may already have an idea or event planned.  Your Sea Scout Activity Leaders needs to find out.  Talk to your selected Sea Scout about searching on the internet for “National Safe Boating Week” (include the quotations) and your City or County’s name.  If someone has something planned, or has done something in the past, they may find hits.   If that comes up empty, calls to these groups can turn up more information.

And again, there are tools you can use.  The National Safe Boating Council has created a tool box for you and posted it online here.

One important note here.  Yes, we know you can do the search and make the calls.  But let your Sea Scout partner do it.  Your job is to coach them through what they don’t know.   Role play a phone call with them so they can practice making a phone call to someone.  Write a script that lets them know what to say. (Don’t forget a short script when they get a voice mail not a real person. Here’s one you can use or modify).  Phone Call To potential PARTNERS


So now what should your Sea Scout do?   Well, that will depend in part on the partner you have found to work with you an if they already have any events planned.   But my advice is the same one I learned as a Scout years ago.  KISS. Keep it simple.  (Yea, I know. I left off the second “S”.  Didn’t seem very Scoutly of me to leave it in.  You all know it.)

This can be as simple as manning a booth at an existing event that your marina, yacht club or other partner has on a busy weekend on either end of National Safe Boating Week.  There Sea Scouts can hand out brochures on boat safety from the Boating Safety Council, they can demonstrate the different kinds of life vests on the market, they can assist the Coast Guard Auxiliary in doing free boat inspections.    The list is only limited by what you, your Sea Scout, your partners come up with.


Finally, I want to remind you to remind the Sea Scout activity leader that you all need to publicize what you are doing in advance to the community, take some pictures and video of your event as it happens, and to review the results afterward.

The first part of that is obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many ships leave off this part….and wonder why no one came.   It’s not that they don’t care about it.  It’s more likely they didn’t know about it.   So as your Sea Scout is planning the event, don’t forget promotion.

But again, you are not alone and without some resources to help you think through how to create a Media Release about the event.  In addition to the tools from the National Safety Council we talked about above, here’s a link to the BSA Guideline for creating a release.

Want to include this in your Ship’s Social Media plans?  Again, there are some tools and suggestions for your Sea Scout Leader and the Adult guide to use.  You may have seen them earlier on West Wind.

And one thing I can’t stress enough.  That is the need to take pictures and video during events. That’s what gives you the materials you need to promote your next event…or the Mert Wellssame event if you do it again next year.    Need an example. Here’s a link to video we made for a Chief Seattle Council event this year….that uses photos from the same event over the last few years.  If we didn’t have the pictures, we couldn’t have made the video.

Same thing goes for creating flyers for your ship…and your events.  You need photos to provide the raw materials to create them.


When you’re done with the event, make time to sit down with your Sea Scout Activity Planner to go over the results.  Who came?  How many brochures were handed out? How many boat inspection did you do?  How many Sea Scouts helped?  How many reporters came to talk to you and did stories?  Did the partner organization do everything they said they would?  What went well?   What could have been done better? Did we get a lot of pictures and videos, and where will those be stored.

Have them write all this down and both of you should report back to the Quarterdeck and the Ship’s Committee on the results.

By taking these steps, and holding onto all those notes and records, you’re already set yourself up to help another Sea Scout follow the same path to advancement and success next year.

Now get out there and get going. National Safe Boating Week will be here before you know it.  Use it to help your Sea Scout Ship succeed.

And remember, if you try these activities (or have other successful methods), please let use know what you and your scouts thought by emailing

Dan Leach
Western Region Sea Scout Committee
Vice Commodore
Chief Seattle Council Sea Scout Fleet




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