Jim Graves, Capitol Area Council Commodore, offers some thoughts on successful ships. He observes:

Over the past several years at Minto Rendezvous, Sea Scout Academy and at other council and area events I have been taking my own type of silent survey on units…. Several months ago I thought I would start writing down what I learned and observed. While this isn’t really a very scientific treatment of the subject, I think I have some ideas that can be passed on.

Traits of Successful Ships. Over the last several years I have been talking to a number of Skippers and Sea Scout leaders about their Ships and I see the same traits coming up in each successful Ship. While these are not 100% going to make or break a Ship, the traits I have listed seem to be the ones from the most successful Ships.

  • They have regular meetings usually weekly or twice a month (plus one quarterdeck per month). In some instances the Quarterdeck came on the same day as one of the meetings either right after or right before.
  • They have regular outings – monthly
  • They have non outdoor activities (fun events) usually at least every other month
  • They are interacting with at least one other youth group regularly – i.e. church youth group or Scout unit or another Sea Scout unit.
  • They are involved with the Sea Scout community or District or Council regularly
  • The are Rank driven but not overly so, but at least make that option available.
  • Adults (parents) are actively involved.

Ships that Fail. The Ships that have failed from my observations seem to have the same in common. I know that from my experience with one failed Ship we had all the classic signs and the fatal blow to any Ship is a Skipper that is not involved or is in the Ship for him/her self and not the youth.

  • Meetings are usually not held on a regular basis
  • They are not involved with the rest of the local Sea Scout community
  • They are more interested in having fun and not working on rank (sailing club).
  • No structure to meetings or events and adult leaders not really that involved
  • No adult (parent) involvement and not requested by the Skipper.

I know there are many other reasons for success or failure for any Scouting unit but from my talking to many Sea Scout leaders it seems like we could take a lesson from combining as many of the favorable traits into our Ships as possible to keep our Units healthy and lasting.