Washing Cars to Travel Far

Aloha from the Sea Scouts of Hawaii!

Spring is here and that means regatta season. Sea Scouts everywhere are hard at work practicing their regatta skills and preparing to compete. It all culminates over Memorial Day Weekend at the Ancient Mariner Regatta in the San Francisco Bay Area.

SSS Decisive crew at the Ancient Mariner Regatta, 2015

Sea Scouts in Hawaii have an added challenge: We have to travel a long way to get there.

Airfare to and from Hawaii can be a bit pricey, so we have to do some serious fundraising. Over the years, we’ve figured out how washing cars can make travel affordable for all of our Scouts.

Car Wash!

Here is some of what we’ve learned:

  • Know and abide by your Council (and Charter Organization) policy for fundraising.

Check this link: http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34427.pdf

  • Plan a few different dates/places for your car wash

We try to schedule 3 car washes on different dates at different places throughout our community.

  • Pre sell tickets

We print tickets with the dates and locations on them. This way we can sell the tickets before the car wash even starts! The different dates/places make them more appealing to buyers because there are several opportunities to redeem them. Best of all, pre-sales are lucrative. We sell them for $10 each with Scouts keeping 100% of the money from their own ticket sales. If a Scout sells just 20 tickets, that’s $200 toward airfare!

  • Drive ups

People will see you waving signs and pull in to get their car washed. These “drive-ups” are in addition to the tickets you’ve already sold, and they add up! In a 6 hour day we can expect to bring in anywhere from $500 to $700. We divide these funds evenly.

The cars keep coming!

Some quick math:

20 Pre car wash ticket sales= $200, +Scouts share of “drive-ups” from 3 car washes= $180

Total funds raised= $380

Round trip airfare= $500

$500 airfare – $380 funds raised  = $120 out of pocket expense.

This is just an example, but as you can see, washing cars can make traveling affordable! In our experience this fundraiser is truly effective and it really only has one down side: You’re going to be washing cars. Lots of cars!

sea scouts carwash1
Shade, water, and a moment to rest

Remember, this is not “free money”. Washing cars is fast paced and labor intensive. (If you’re lucky) you’ll be washing lots of them.

Here are some operational tips to make your car wash go smoother:

  • Assign each person a supply to bring

Buckets, hoses, soap, wash rags, towels. Have each person bring one or two items so that everyone can do their share and you’ll have everything you need.

  • Assign everyone to bring a food/drink item.

Car washing is hard work. You’ll want to stay hydrated and keep your energy up. An ice cold water and a slice of pizza can be a lifesaver during a busy day!

  • Pop-up tent, table, folding chairs.

You’ll need a base of operations to get out of the sun, sit down and rest for a minute. (And a minute might be all you have!) Consider this equipment to be mission critical.

  • Car Washing 101

Scouts can benefit from a quick “how to” before things get started. (A savvy Skipper will use his/her own vehicle so the scouts can practice their technique!) Seriously, some Scouts might have never washed a car, so take a minute and train them.

sea scouts carwash2

And there you have it.

That’s how the Hawaii Sea Scouts are able to travel to California each year for the Ancient Mariner Regatta, and if it works for us, it can work for you too.

sea scouts carwash3

No matter where you live in the country, please consider attending the Ancient Mariner Regatta in northern California, or be our guests at the Hawaii Youth Maritime Regatta on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.(AMR is in May. HYMR is in April)

You may have to wash a lot of cars, but it is an attainable goal and your Scouts will learn the valuable lessons of earning their own way thru hard work…and when they get to where they’re going, they will have the time of their lives!


Goal Achieved: Competing in AMR


Respectfully Submitted,

Larry Richardson

Skipper, SSS Decisive

Western Region Programming Task Force


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