Our world has changed dramatically since I last wrote you. Amid all the change and constraints imposed on us, this could be our finest hour. Consider that our traditional competitors for the attention of youth – sports, orchestra, etc. – are all dead in the water. If we can find ways during this time to continue to engage our youth, to give them things to do and a sense of belonging, we can emerge from our time of isolation and social distancing stronger than ever!

Many of you have not even slowed down – have switched to video based meetings via Zoom or GoToMeeting or whatever and are charging ahead. If you aren’t doing that, it’s time to get started. It isn’t that hard, and it turns out that you can accomplish a lot in a video conference. One of the most important elements of a meeting is the social aspect – seeing your friends, commiserating about school, and planning to do things together. All those can continue – so remember that your meetings don’t have to be all business – allow social time too! And for this reason consider meeting more often – if you meet twice a month, maybe pick it up to weekly for a while.

This is also a good time to think about constraints of time and distance which have disappeared. That family that doesn’t come too often because they live 45 minutes away? Their travel time to meetings just went to zero! Remember discussing with people in your Seabadge crew how fun it would be if your ships could meet together, but it was just too hard because you were 3 hours drive apart? Not any more! Just this week I was able to join a ship meeting in Rhode Island – in normal times I could never do that from here in central Texas! Also remember that the overhead of running meetings has gone to zero – you can have as many as you like, as often as you like. My home ship is having regular meetings using Zoom, but also holding on-demand micro-meetings focused on a single advancement requirement. For example, this Tuesday at 7:15 there was a meeting to work on Apprentice 7B – “Describe the identifying characteristics of a sloop, ketch, yawl, cutter, and schooner.” The 3 or 4 youth who needed to work on that showed up, and when they were done, the meeting was over. After all, nobody had to drive anywhere – they just picked a free time and got together and did it. So don’t think you have to be constrained by big blocks of time. Do just-in-time training and advancement! But don’t forget that youth protection practices still apply – you’ll need two deep leadership for those sessions.

Obviously, sailing is a bit hard to conduct while social distancing, but with a little creativity, there is an awful lot that you can do. In addition to advancement, planning activities for the summer, I’ve heard of more than one ship that has done ILSS via video, plus, this is probably a good time to dust off your code of conduct and your bylaws, those could easily be worked on online. This is a great time to write up some Sea Scout Leadership Award nominations, too. Think out of the box – with some thought, we can teach nearly anything online. And speaking of out of the box thinking, consider signing your ship up to produce a short video about an activity that can be done at home – the Scouting at Home Initiative.

Scouting at Home Initiative
You may have noticed that BSA has an initiative for Scouting in all programs to continue despite social distancing – there’s a site here that’s collecting ideas for activities that can be done at home right now. We’ve been asked to provide an idea per day for the 30 day Video Challenge to show activities that can be done in this time of social distancing. Yes, I know there’s no Sea Scout section, but there will be as soon as we contribute something.

We are looking for 30 Sea Scout Ships to volunteer to each make a one to two minute video of a Sea Scout related activity that can be done solo or through a video conference such as Zoom, Skype, or UberConference. A fun activity that a Scout or non-Scout could do is ideal, so the activities should be something anyone can accomplish – even if they are not currently in our programs. BSA media will be creating an opening and closing template – and the focus is for these videos to be consumable by a wide audience (not just Sea Scouts). This could be a really fun project to bring your ship together.

  • Activities that could be great for a short video can include, but are not limited to:
  • How to send a Semaphore Message;
  • How to Make a Ditty Bag;
  • Understanding Bell Time;
  • Rules of the Road Right of Way Situations with Toy Boats;
  • Monkey’s Fist & Heaving Line; and
  • Many other activities from the Sea Scout Manual, Regattas, or Safety @ Sea events.

If your Ship wants to participate, please email marketing@seascout.org with your video proposal. All participating Sea Scouts will need to send in a media release and wear either the Official Sea Scout Uniform or their Ship activity t-shirt.

Online Training Opportunity
Also, while you’re thinking of things that can be done online, I want to point you at NauticEd – they’re an online training company focused on sailors. One of our Skippers put me in contact with them, and while I was initially skeptical as to how much useful sailing stuff you could learn from an online course, I’ve come around after looking at their courseware. They have a 15 hour course to prepare you to operate a small keelboat (20 ft or so) that has a lot of great content in it that corresponds well to Sea Scout advancement. It includes some good in-depth coverage of topics like weather, too. That course is normally about $40 but they’re offering a limited time discount code for Sea Scout youth and their immediate families making the course less than $20. If you’d like to take advantage of that, follow these instructions:

(1) Go to Skipper Small Keelboat Course

(2) Click the Register for this Course button

(3) Enter information. In section 2, note where it says “If you have been given a promotion code from a sailing school or charter company click here”, click the “click here” and enter the promotion code (see below). The price will drop from $39 to a special Sea Scouts price of $19.90.

(4) After payment, the course will be shown under the Curriculum button. There will also be a bonus of 2 other free courses in your curriculum.

(5) On the site, anytime you see a [?], tap it. It will give you further information about that area.

Please respect their generosity in offering this to our Sea Scouts and don’t share the promo code outside Sea Scouts. The promotion code is SeaScoutsBSA1912 – just copy and paste.

Sharing Experiences – Online Roundtable
On the topic of sharing what’s working, we’re going to hold another video roundtable next Wednesday, April 1st at 8pm central time. This one is open to any Sea Scout or adult leader. I’d like to ask a few ships to speak briefly on what they are doing that’s working – if you’ve got a good idea or story to share, please contact me (email below). If you’d like to attend the roundtable, you’ll need to register in advance. We’re limited to 300 people on the Zoom line, first come, first served.

Register in advance for this roundtable here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

International Opportunities
It turns out, Scouts all over the world are experiencing the same challenges we are. Jamboree on the Internet will allow your Scouts to compare notes with others around the world. Find out more here.

Keeping in Touch
I’d love to drop in on your meeting sometime – if your ship or committee are holding video meetings, please send me an invitation. I’d like to hear what’s going on with your ship and to answer any questions you may have of me. My calendar is pretty full, so I can’t promise to be there, but I’ll try! Email me or send a calendar invite to twcook at seascout.org.
I would also really like to hear the ideas you’ve had about how we can make the best of these times – please send those along as well and consider sharing those on the upcoming roundtable.

Fair winds and remember to keep 1 fathom of social distance!
TW Cook
National Commodore