Sea Scouts BSA

Some go wherever the wind takes them. Others hoist the sails and set their own course.

Let’s say Bravo Zulu (the nautical way to say “well done”) to the Sea Scouts who fall in that second group. They’re servant leaders who overcome challenges, challenge others, work as a team, and instill  confidence — all the while enjoying the endless beauty of our country’s outdoors especially our rivers, lakes, oceans and waterways.

Keeping Sea Scouting cruising along takes exceptional yeoman’s work. It takes a vast network of youth participants and adult volunteers who go far beyond what’s expected.

Last month, Sea Scouts BSA awarded the 2023 National Sea Scout Leadership Award to six most deserving individuals who have gone above and beyond to support Sea Scouting and who share an unrivaled passion for BSA’s original high adventure program that dates all the way back to 1912.

About the Sea Scout Leadership Award

The Sea Scout Leadership Award is presented at various levels within Scouting — from Council, National Service Territory, all the way to National.

Though Sea Scouting itself has been around for more than a century, the award itself was introduced in 2017.  The youth and adult nominee must have been involved in Sea Scouts for at least a year, hold a leadership position within Sea Scouting and “show exceptional dedication and give outstanding leadership and service to Sea Scouting and to Sea Scouts.”

National Sea Scout Leadership Award recipients are presented:

  • a certificate
  • a knot (Supply No. 14220, which is the same knot as the Venturing Leadership Award)
  • a Sea Scout device/pin to go on the knot (Supply No. 931)
  • a red and white medallion (Supply No. 636186).

2023 National Sea Scout Leadership Award recipients

These six individuals have been honored with the 2023 National Sea Scout Leadership Award:

Youth Recipients:

Jewell Norris of the Sam Houston Area Council.  An Eagle Scout and Wood Badge Course graduate, Jewell served as the National Boatswain from 2022 to 2023. During her tenure, her servant leadership made a huge impact on the National Quarterdeck and local council Sea Scout youth leaders when she consistently promoted outdoor and on the water activities during the immediate post Covid pandemic period.  She effectively mentored National Service Territory (NST) Boatswains and guided them when the National Sea Scout Committee reorganized the NST functions. Her outstanding tenure was also marked by constant interactions with her counterparts in BSA’s Older Youth Programs.

Tyler Clendenning of the Pathway to Adventure Council. As National Boatswain Mate for Program, Tyler effectively oversaw the coordination of National Quarterdeck functions and worked to improve program elements of our organization. Tyler planned and facilitated the Ship in Action Initiative, encouraging ships across the country to reach the JTE standard of holding bimonthly unit events. Tyler also worked behind the scenes putting together the new VNSSA 2023 team along with many other projects. Tyler overall improved the National Quarterdeck with his pledge to service and creative ideas.

Matthew Irsfeld of the Denver Area Council.  As National Boatswain’s Mate for Communications, Matthew enhanced communications among youth and adult members by increasing the Sea Scout BSA social media presence, building our presence on a new platform (TikTok), and building social media resources and precedents for future officer to use. Matthew’s innovative ideas have bettered the program’s mass communication and will continue to help officer for years to come.

Adult Recipients:

Bill Johnson of the Colonial Virginia Council.  A retired Coast Guard Commander and Cutterman, Bill has coordinated the Coast Guard Sea Scout USCG Barque Eagle Program where a select group of Sea Scouts sail on the Eagle for ten days. He was instrumental in developing contacts with the Coast Guard and coordinates with the Coast Guard Auxiliary in selecting Sea Scouts to participate in the program. In his local council Bill is Committee Chair for Ship 16, “Confluence” in Suffolk, Virginia.  

Ron Sunker of the Sam Houston Area Council.  Earning the Eagle and Quartermaster Award as a youth, Ron continues to be active in the Sea Scout program.  He has been an active member of the National Sea Scout Committee as subcommittee chair for Jamboree committee where he planned, coordinated, and the National Sea Scout Exhibit Booth and national and most recently, the 2019 World Scout Jamboree at the Summit.  At the local council level, Ron is an active member of his Council Executive Board.

John Taylor of the Virginia Headwaters Council.  A recipient of the Silver Beaver Award, John has served as co-lead for the National Sea Scout sub committee for the National Exhibit Booth for national and most recently the 2019 World Scout Jamboree at the Summit. Most recently, John served as the Chair for the Strategic Planning and Membership Chair.  At the local council level, John serves as Council Vice President.

Again, congratulations (or Bravo Zulu) to all of this year’s recipients!

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