The Value of Training Weekends

So often we stumble upon what later turns out to be a pretty good idea. Thus was the case with the “Training Weekend” concept.

Some years back our boat needed engine work and we couldn’t take it cruising, but we still needed to do some sort of activity.

Our crew decided they would spend the weekend aboard our boat, but not leave the dock. Instead, they would take the Coast Guard Auxiliary Safe Boating Class, and when that was done they would practice driving our small boats in the harbor.

It was Saturday in class and Sunday on the water. “Small Boat Handler Weekend” was born.

Small Boat Handling
Small Boat Handling

Right away we noticed some real benefits:

  • It was still fun to stay aboard the boat, even if we didn’t go anywhere
  • No one was late because we were already there!
  • Rank advancement requirements were a lot easier when we did them as a group
  • We were able to get many sign offs at once, making rank advancement much easier
  • Spending the entire weekend ensured that we truly learned the material presented
  • There is no better place to learn about boating than on a boat, surrounded by boats.

The result of Small Boat Handler Weekend was that we all earned our “Small Boat Handler” bar and we all completed the Coast Guard Auxiliary Safe Boating Class. (Ordinary requirement #14) With just a little bit of additional training during the weekend we were able to meet the requirements for Ordinary #7, “Boat Handling” and #8, “Anchoring”. Those were some big steps towards earning Ordinary!

Introduction to Leadership Skill for Ships (ILSS) "Helium Stick"
Introduction to Leadership Skills for Ships (ILSS)
“Helium Stick”

This was such a success, we’ve made it an annual event and have since staged many different training weekends. Some of our training weekends have been:

Rank Advancement Weekend (RAW)

  • We split into groups and work on those tough to get rank sign offs

Navigation Weekend

  • We take the “Weekend Navigator” course through our local Coast Guard Auxiliary and even learned some celestial navigation. We also got sign-offs for rank advancement!

Petty Officer Academy

  • Quarterdeck training using the “Introduction to Leadership Skills for Ships” course and other leadership and position specific training

First Aid Training Weekend

  • We learned the Red Cross First Aid and CPR course, got certified, and met the requirements for advancement to Able. (#5, “Safety” F, G, and H)
Rank Advancement Weekend (RAW)
Rank Advancement Weekend (RAW)

So, there are really no limits to what you can do with a weekend that you’ve dedicated to training. You can have your own training weekend and focus on whatever your ship needs to work on.

Here are a few tips:

  • Plan ahead on who needs what rank sign-offs and tailor your content and instruction to meet those requirements.
  • Remember to mix classroom with practical, hands-on stuff.
  • Partner with local organizations that can help you provide the training. They will often do it at a discount for Scouts.
Navigation Weekend chartwork
Navigation Weekend chartwork

We do our training weekends on our boat, but you can do them anywhere that works for your ship: a sea base, Coast Guard station, yacht club, even a campout.

First Aid Training Weekend
First Aid Training Weekend

And that’s it! Training Weekends are fun, educational, and help you meet your training goals. Try a Training Weekend for your ship’s program. You’ll be glad you did.

Respectfully Submitted,

Larry Richardson

Skipper, SSS Decisive

Western Region Programming Task Force



One comment

  1. Yep – your idea is a good one.
    Our new SSS did the USCG AUX Boating Safety Course as one of our first weekend activities to get going, and get going safely. All of our new Sea Scouts were a winner earning their WA State Boating Card. Our focus now is on Apprentice so we can get on with the Ordinary requirements where many new things come up. Of course, we have two focus areas that we are working on – Sailing and Amateur Radio. Almost all of the Crew now have their Amateur Radio License and we plan on an active weekend in OCT for JOTA, all bands. We wonder how many other Sea Scout Ships will also be on the Amateur Radio airwaves; we even have our own call sign now. A training weekend coming up next is a collaboration with the Seattle Center for Wooden Boats where we all will become volunteers and our Skipper will be teaching us to crew and skipper a 100 year old 30 foot fishing sailboat, a Gilnetter called the Admirable – a double sprit rig. Working weekends can be great fun.
    Doug Mecham, Skipper SSS Phantom, Everett, WA

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