The Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatU.S.) and Sea Scouts, BSA recognize Sea Scout Ship 1 “SSS UNIQUE” of East Texas Area Council and Tomahawk District as the recipient of the 2018 BoatU.S. and Sea Scouts, BSA “National Flagship” Award. BoatU.S. created the award in 2002 to mark the 90th anniversary of Sea Scouting. It is presented in recognition of excellence in program quality, youth achievement, and adult commitment. It is because of these attributes, as reflected by the SSS UNIQUE’s exemplary program of seamanship and youth development, that we honor them with this award.
Chartered by the First United Methodist Church of Palestine, Texas, and the Palestine Rotary Club Ship 1 was formed in 2012, with two goals: to help rural girls through high school with no negative baggage and to give them every advantage for the next stage of their lives. Sea Scouting was chosen as the vehicle for this vision because of its focus on values, leadership development, service to others, fun water activities, and unique technical skills and knowledge. The decision to make Ship 1 all girls was made by the original group, and has been affirmed periodically over the years.
As the ship has grown it has used the crew method organized by grade. Once a girl is in a crew she is in it for life. The bonds of sisterhood that develop in the crew are founded on the Scout Oath and Law, and create a positive and supportive peer group. The power this can have is seen in the Alpha Crew who are all in scattered colleges now, but remain in daily contact to support and encourage one another and to inspire girls in the ship.
Leadership begins with training, and the girls have taken ILSS, Quarterdeck Training, NYLT, Aquatic School, SEAL, Sea Scout Academy, Safety at Sea, and RYLA. Leadership beyond the ship is encouraged, and members have held eight different positions at the council, area, and regional levels and the girls have been recognized with the Sea Scout Leadership Award at each of those levels. Two of our girls attended the National Jamboree last summer, and one was chosen as Sea Scout contingent Boatswain.Beyond Scouts, the girls have served as drum major and section leaders in band, captains of their athletic teams, presidents of clubs, church youth leaders, and staff at trainings. Many are in the top ten of their class, and our girls have competed in sports and academics through the State level. Ship 1’s motto is, “Don’t be a passenger; drive the Boat!”
Greatness comes from service to others. Serving others enriches your experience, improves your leadership ability, and deepens your understanding and wisdom. Ship 1 cultivates a heart for service in each girl by exposing them to the hardship of others from Harvey victims, to children who don’t have school supplies or food for the Christmas holidays, to veterans, to foster children, and allowing the members of the ship to find ways to help those in need. Each member of the Ship is enrolled in the President’s Volunteer Service Award program (PVSA). In 2017 each girl in the ship was recognized with either the Bronze, Silver, or Gold level of the PVSA, representing more than 2,500 hours of service.
Our girls are also registered with the Congressional Award for Youth program. Two of the girls have received the Congressional Gold Medal, one in 2016 and the other in 2017. The award is presented at the National Capitol, and each year Ship 1 had the only girl in the Boy Scouts of America contingent of awardees.
An inland ship, UNIQUE primarily gets on the water with Sunfish, day sailors, Kayaks, and canoes. It is believed that in 2017 one of the girls in Ship 1 conducted the first Quartermaster cruise involving kayaks. Several times a year the ship travels to Sea Star Base Galveston to work on larger sail boats. The ship has also crewed the Point Glass, an 82 foot retired Coast Guard cutter. Experiences on the water offer fun the girls relish, but importantly also build competence and confidence, two things they will need throughout their lives.
The technical skills required for Sea Scout advancement present a challenge to the girls that they readily accept. We had three girls spend their 2017 Christmas holiday away from home taking the USPS piloting
and navigation course in a national experiment to determine the feasibility of presenting the course in seven 14 hour days. We’ve had two girls Graduate from SEAL, and we have six more in SEAL preparation. The ship alternates marksmanship between pistol and rifle each year during the winter. At the last Minto Rendezvous, our girls placed 1st and 3rd out of 58 scouts competing in the rifle, and Ship 1 was first as a team. The girls are very proud that they know things about boats, navigation, rifles, pistols, and knots that none of their friends can match. Mastery of the technical skills in Sea Scouts empowers the girls to take on any challenge.
Parental involvement is critical. Ship 1 focuses its recruiting on the parents of middle school students. If the parent doesn’t see the value of the program they will not support their daughter in it. In Ship 1, girls whose parents were introduced to Sea Scouts when their daughter was in middle school have stayed with the program through high school and into college at a retention rate of 100%.
One final element was needed to complete the original vision: to fill the gaps we saw in the preparation for college our girls were getting. A target date for having colleges and scholarships identified, and essays written by the first day of 12th grade is set for each girl. The girls start resume writing with the first ship election. The ship has developed a system for organizing scholarship applications, helps girls in online applications for admissions and scholarships, and mentors girls in essay writing. The ship has an SAT/ACT prep course, and begins encouraging the girls to take either test beginning in the 9th grade.
So, does Sea Scouting for college bound teens work? What do you think? Ship 1 has 29 girls who love Sea Scouting, and will tell you so in emphatic terms. They are people of high moral character who live the Scout Oath and Law. They are courageous in taking on new challenges, and generous in meeting the needs of others. They are servant leaders wherever they are. They are drawn to the water, and thirst for understanding of its mysteries. The parents are engaged and enthusiastic for what their daughters can achieve. Twelve girls have graduated high school, not one had any negative baggage, and each of the twelve received college acceptances and scholarships. And, the girls of Ship 1 call themselves sisters.
Join us in congratulating the 2018 National Flagship UNIQUE SSS 1 for receiving this honor!
The 2018 National Flagship Fleet includes the following Sea Scout Ships for their outstanding programs for this past year:
- SSS Charles N. Curtis Ship 110, Pacific Harbors Council, Tacoma, Washington
- SSS Response Ship 911, Capitol Area Council, Austin, Texas
- SSS Nahar Ship 626, Longhorn Council, Mansfield, Texas
- SSS Del Mar Ship 711, Orange County Council, Newport Beach, California
- SSS Captain Awesome Ship 1015, Prairielands Council, Champaign, Illinois
- SSS Dragonlady Ship 1942, National Capital Area Council, Arlington, Virginia
- SSS Decisive Ship 5011, Aloha Council, Kauai, Hawaii