From Eagle Scout to Sea Scout

12/10/18

My name is Jack Jackson. I am a freshman at Cambridge, and when I am not completing the responsibilities related to that, I spend a portion of my time in the Sea Scouts. Many people have heard of Boy Scouts, of which Sea Scouts is a subset. It is like the Boy Scouts on, around, and occasionally under water. It used to be a part of the Venture Scout program, but because of its water/maritime focus, it is now its own section of Scouting.

Having spent all of my life around scouting, I finished my Eagle Scout award in 2017, and wanted to find another challenge to explore. I had a hard time finding the Sea Scouts, because it is the least published and known branch of Boy Scouts. Nevertheless, after some research, I came to think that Sea Scouts was a really cool program. I spent a week at a Sea Scout activity Base in Galveston, Texas doing the Scuba Merit Badge (That’s the under-water stuff) with some guys from my troop, including Cambridge Sophomore Dean Stephens. While we were at the base, the staff told us a lot about Sea Scouts, and encouraged us to join. I learned there, that unlike Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts is co-ed, and is for older scouts. Later that year, I went searching for a unit to join.

When I first began to look for a Sea Scout unit in Dallas, all of the options were very far away. However, a couple months after I began to search, I got wind that a unit would be starting at Dallas’ very own White Rock Lake, at the White Rock Boat Club. That November, I came to the presentation for the unit. Only then did I learn that a Sea Scout group is called a “Ship”, as opposed to a “Troop”, or as the venture scouts have, a “Crew.” I learned that we call it a Ship, for the simple reason of “You know… water.” Also, at that presentation, they talked about how the focus in Sea Scouts is about being good at things, instead of just trying things. In Sea Scouts, you actually learn how to sail big boats, instead of just getting a merit badge after learning about them.

When we concluded the meeting, I had no doubt in my mind that joining Sea Scouts would be fantastic! I got on an email list, and a couple weeks later, we were having regular meetings for Ship 1899. Since boats have an identification number, and a name, the custom in Sea Scouts is to name the Ship. We chose the name “Aeolus,” for the mythical wind god, an apt name because our primary vessel is the Flying Scot, a racing sailboat.

We elected our first term of leadership, and to this day are sailing strong! Lead by our fearless Boatswain (Pronounced “Bosun”, because, you know… water), we have done many activities to learn and practice nautical skills such as sailing, sail making, and even sextant navigation! How cool is that! Some of these were “Rendezvous” campouts where we would do sailing activities during the day, and sleep in tents at night, but some of our activities were full on cruises. When I say cruise, I do not mean it in the vacation sense, but rather in the sense where our crew charters, sails, sleeps in, and lives on a boat for days on end.

Since we are only about a year old, we have not done that much cruising, but recently, the Ship got the chance to maintain, navigate, steer, and even command a 90 foot former Coast Guard cutter. We rolled out on Friday after school, and until late Sunday afternoon, that boat was ours! The boat, The Point Glass, served in the Vietnam War, and is now privately owned and maintained. We got to do actual nautical work on the boat, as though we were a professional crew. This was one of the coolest things I have ever gotten to experience. We took The Point Glass out for three days out on the Inter Coastal Waterway (the site of some sailing this past summer), and even for a little bit on the Gulf of Mexico!

In summary, the Sea Scouts is a program where young men and women get to go sail, navigate and learn about boats, in ways that are very helpful. When I started Sea Scouts, I had just finished Boy Scouts, where I learned about Leadership. In Sea Scouts, I learned how to apply that leadership, and how to do ridiculously cool things with it, like sailing a 40 foot yacht for a week, or navigating a 90 foot cutter through the Gulf of Mexico. Sea Scouts is one of the most time-consuming extracurricular activities I do, but it has proven its worth time and time again.