Unit Service to Sea Scout Ships: The Tools of Success

By Bob Sirhal
National Sea Scouting Committee
Membership Development Subcommittee

The role of the commissioner is to support the programs of the BSA from the unit to the national levels. The challenge is few commissioners know how to be of help in their role as it relates to Sea Scout ships.

A solution is to develop a few tools to enable the commissioner to have information to help the ship to connect with the resources within the council to accomplish the mission. In the Summer 2011 issue of The Commissioner newsletter, the "Sea Scout Program and the Role of the Commissioner" article on pages 17 and 18 provided a comprehensive picture of the Sea Scouting program.

A few facts might shed some additional light on the challenge:

  • Few adult leaders in Sea Scouting come from the traditional units: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity, or Venturing. They join with their son or daughter, come from the nautical military service or from the marine trades, or have been there a long time. They may be accustomed to the ship being stand-alone with little in the way of contact with the district or council. It may take some time to establish a level of trust between you and the ship.
  • This means they may have little understanding of the traditional Scouting systems—training, roundtables, and organization; district, council, and youth-led programs and trainings; and recruiting and retention concepts.
  • Convincing the new leader of the importance of taking part in the basic training trifecta of This Is Scouting, Venturing Leader Youth Protection Training (both are available online), and Sea Scout adult leader basic training can sometimes be difficult to do. You may offer to help them open their MyScouting account online and then provide the signup information for the basic training, whether it is in council or through the flotilla/area training team. Thinking out of the box to make this happen may be necessary. Perhaps asking the Sea Scout training team to come to the unit or cluster of units to deliver the basic training?
  • As a commissioner, you should bookmark www.seascout.org on your browser as a resource to you for any questions which may arise. From there, you can go to advancement, program, training, history, videos, and much more. Later in the year, the website will have totally new look and many more resources. Ensuring that this essential tool is in your commissioner’s toolbox will be advantageous to you.
  • You are there to mentor, coach, and counsel; to help with their rechartering; or to help strengthen the ship. Along the way, you will get to learn more and more about Scouting’s best kept secret.
  • Try to remember, that Sea Scouts, like Venturing, is for the teen market, and in many cases, their uniform may be their own design and not the traditional appearance as seen in the Sea Scout manual or on posters. Embrace the difference!

Commissioners to Sea Scout ships have unique opportunities to strengthen the ships they work with. Your success will depend on the variety of tools you have in your commission’s toolbox. Maybe you know a couple of Boy Scouts with local troops who have dropped out and may be available to learn the lore of the sea?

Some commissioners arrive at a unit meeting with doughnuts and coffee. Wouldn't it be fun to arrive with suggestions on how the ship might grow?