Years ago I was a brand new Scout attending my first ever Sea Scout Regatta.
I clearly remember seeing another Scout walk by me in uniform. He was “Able” rank and had a long cruise badge with 3 red arcs. I was in awe.
That experience, and some more recent ones, have led me to believe that (outside of rank advancement) the Long Cruise Badge could very well be one of the most important recognitions in Sea Scouting.
To earn the Long Cruise Badge,
”The Sea Scout must cruise for two weeks on any vessel or boat provided by the local council or the ship, or their own vessel when authorized by an adult leader in that Sea Scout ship.”, –Sea Scout Manual, page 67
But what if your Ship doesn’t cruise for 2 weeks at a time? Fear not! You can still earn the LCB:
“In the event that it is not possible to make a two-week cruise, a series of weekend or overnight cruises may be made, provided that the total number equals 14 days” -Sea Scout Manual, page 68
But wait! It’s not just spending 14 days on the water. There is a pre-requisite:
”A Sea Scout must be Ordinary rank before he or she can start recording cruising time for the Long Cruise badge .” –Sea Scout Manual, page 67
By looking at these requirements, one can see just what the LCB represents and why it is so important.
First, it requires the Scout achieve the rank of Ordinary. In other words, becoming trained and educated about boating and Sea Scouting. Secondly, it requires that the Scout take that newly acquired knowledge and skill set out into the “real world” to gain some practical experience.
In a nutshell, the Long Cruise Badge represents the very valuable combination of formal training and practical experience. “Educated experience”.
Educated experience is the Holy Grail of any skill, trade, or professional field and is something we should be instilling in ALL of our Scouts to help them be successful in boating, Scouting, and in life.
The Long Cruise Badge is an excellent way to do just that. The LCB is also a requirement for the next rank of “Able”.
But there is more:
“Each additional long cruise earned is marked by a red arc above the badge, until five such cruises have been completed. Then a single white arc replaces them above the badge.” –Sea Scout Manual, page 68
As Scouts continue to gain valuable experience, they continue to accumulate red arcs.
It looks impressive on the uniform, and you can bet that the Scouts that have earned this recognition are very proud, but other youth see this recognition and are themselves inspired to do the same. I have seen youth earn the rank of Able, but were much more proud of the fact that their sleeve was filling with red arcs!
And there is no need for the adults to feel left out:
“The Long Cruise badge is an achievement, not a badge of rank; therefore, an adult leader may qualify for the badge” –Sea Scout Manual, page 68
So, adults can earn the LCB too!
Finally, I knew an adult leader once who thought that the requirements for the LCB were too difficult and that we should waive some requirements (specifically the Ordinary requirement) so that more kids could get the award.
I absolutely disagree with that logic for 3 reasons:
First, we can’t just make up the requirements for awards and just give them away. They need to be earned. The ocean does not give out participation awards and neither should we.
Secondly, the fact that it is not easy to earn…is kind of the point! When a Scout puts a LCB on her sleeve, she has done something. Worked hard. Achieved a goal…and learned valuable life lessons in the process.
Finally, I have many youth in my crew who have worked very hard to earn their LCB’s. They are extremely proud. When they see someone at a regatta sporting a Long Cruise Badge with 2 red arcs…and is still an Apprentice, (and this has happened) it diminishes the achievements that they have rightfully earned. (And without having the bar lowered for them.)
In summary, the Long Cruise Badge is an amazing award that youth can be very proud of earning and adult leaders can be proud of providing the opportunity for youth to gain the life experiences that are part of the LCB.