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How many Sea Scouts earned the Quartermaster Award in 2013?

Quartermaster_AwardIn a room filled with 175 Sea Scouts, odds are just one earned the Quartermaster Award last year.

Finding him or her in this imaginary room won’t be easy, but once you do, you’ll be face-to-face with a young man or young woman who worked tirelessly to earn Sea Scouting’s highest honor. This individual has been active in Sea Scouting, conducted a Quartermaster Project and demonstrated 11 special skills — to name a few of the rigorous requirements.

In 2013, exactly 39 Sea Scouts had a bridge of honor ceremony to receive the award, which has been around since 1930. Consider a Quartermaster bridge of honor ceremony the Sea Scouting equivalent of an Eagle Scout court of honor — only even rarer.

Of the approximately 6,800 Sea Scouts registered in 2013, 0.57 percent earned the Quartermaster Award.

For comparison, of the roughly 1 million Boy Scouts registered last year, about 4 to 5 percent earned the Eagle Scout rank. I’ll have exact Eagle Scout numbers from 2013 in a month or two.

So how does 2013’s Quartermaster Award number compare to previous years? Check out this handy chart:

sea-scout-quartermaster-chart

In other words:

  • 12 in 2008
  • 20 in 2009
  • 28 in 2010
  • 39 in 2011
  • 33 in 2012
  • 39 in 2013

Since 2008, Sea Scouting has seen the number of annual Quartermaster Award recipients more than triple. Numbers from previous years aren’t available.

One final thought on my comparison of the Quartermaster and Eagle Scout awards: Both are equally impressive, and saying that one’s rarer isn’t meant to diminish the accomplishments of those who earn the other. My point is to acknowledge that if you happen to see a Quartermaster Award recipient out there, be sure to shake his or her hand. There simply aren’t many around.

Related posts

Amid ‘One Oath, One Law’ changes, the Sea Scout promise is here to stay

Houston triplets earn Quartermaster Award


Big thanks to Keith Christopher and Natasha Leahey-Sayles for the info.

19 Comments on How many Sea Scouts earned the Quartermaster Award in 2013?

  1. …not enough if you’d asked *me*.

    The reason why there’s no numbers before 2008 was because, as important as Quartermaster was back then, nobody (NOBODY) at the national level was tracking who earned Quartermaster. Some local Councils were tracking it but there was no requirement for the application or materials to be reviewed at the National level like Eagle. It was “complete the requirements, earn the Quartermaster Award (and shush about it, because Eagle is what everyone wants to hear about…)”.

    The Sea Scouting community tried several times in the past to bring this disparity up to the national folks. The National folks were listening, but unfortunately until 2008, nothing occurred.

    Now, we have tracking. But the other part of this needs to be promoted — and that is the PROMOTION of the award, alongside the Ranger and Silver (or whatever the Silver will be called — let’s hope that the Venturing leadership KEEP the Silver title. Historic, branded and there’s a (small) buzz for the award.

    Quartermaster is a hard award and takes a bit of time to earn it. My personal congrats to the Quartermaster class of 2013 and it is my hope and prayer that we increase the Quartermaster class of 2014 by at least 40 percent — through discussions like this, and continued promotions in our local Councils!

    Sail On!

  2. Steven Chmielewski // February 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm // Reply

    Well after reviewing the requirements, I’m not surprised it is rarely awarded. I would expect a Quartermaster to be able to pass the USCG Ocean Operator exam with flying colors. Having earned my “ticket” at the tender age of 18, I recall it was no small feat, and marlinspike seamanship was not a part of the exam!

  3. Until I became a Scouter a few years ago I did not know what the knots were on my grandfather’s Scout uniform. I had a picture of him in what I assume is his District Commissioner uniform (the grey shoulder loops) presenting a District Award of Merit to my uncle. I pulled that picture out after I went to Wood Badge to see if they had beads. I was VERY surprised to see that my grandpa wore the Quartermaster Award knot. I had no idea he was a Sea Scout. So please, talk to your kids and grandchildren about your Scouting experience. It might inspire them to try something new.

  4. Why is Sea Scouting such a small program for the BSA? Why is it that there more registered Venturers in just my council than there are registered Sea Scouts in the entire country?!?

  5. I would guess there are many reasons Sea Scouting doesn’t have as many members as it could: it is not well publicized, it is expensive to own a boat or ship, there are large parts of the country where there are no Great Lakes or the ocean. I suspect that the operating costs of a ship are the biggest factor.

    • It just seems odd that the BSA continues to invest the time and resources that it does (developing program resources; hosting a web resources; stocking special uniforms, insignia and publications; organizing training events; paying national/regional staff; overseeing volunteers; etc.) for a program that serves so few Scouts. My local council summer camp services more Scouts each summer than Sea Scouting does nation-wide, year-round (and our camp is 100% volunteer-driven with no professional staff aside from a single year-round ranger and has little to no council or national operating support or financing). If only our local camp got a fraction of the resources, attention, and support that Sea Scouting does from BSA, oh man! Why does a representative of Sea Scouts get to meet the President during the BSA’s annual Report to the Nation, rather than a Scout from my local Scout camp? I mean, me local camp is a bigger Scouting program than Sea Scouting is!

      • I mean, Sea Scouting is a program that serves approximately 6,800 Scouts. It gets an entire blog post on Scouting Magazine. My local Scout camp holds programs that serve approximately 8,000+ Scouts annually, yet it never get as much as a shout out.

        • So Matthew, what’s the name of your Scout camp and what’s so special about it? *smiling*

        • A Scout Camp serving 8K Scouts/year isn’t uncommon, my Council has 2 that come very close or exceed by far this number. I’m sure Bryan would be fine giving a shout-out to ALL the Scout Camps who bring our program to life for the Scouts. But I think Bryan is doing a GREAT service to Sea Scouts by bringing attention to the hidden jewel of the BSA as well as their Highest Rank the “Quartermaster”. Keep up the good work Bryan !!!

      • Matthew, you are correct that the program is quite small compared to rest of Scouting nationwide. You are incorrect to assume much BSA resources goes into the program however. A single person at National oversees the program, in addition to their main job duties (not sea scout related). Most BSA stores do not stock the uniform. And the website is not hosted by national BSA.

        Sea Scouting, my friend, has been around for 102-years. I wish there were more of us around, but the program took a huge devastating hit in WWII when large numbers of adult Sea Scout volunteers were either already apart of the US Navy, enlisted in the Navy or other service, or otherwise pulled into the war effort.

        Sea Scouting is a world-wide program within Scouting, believe it or not. However, in many countries, Sea Scouts is like a different flavor of Scouting, and sea scouts join as young as 7-years old. They go through their scouting system as cubs, scouts, rovers, etc…all the while sea scouts. In the US, girls and boys cannot join sea scouts until they are 14-years old, which makes it harder to recruit folks into the program.

        Sea Scouting is a very unique program that could further benefit from more exposure. As much as 20% or more of Boy Scouts drop out of Scouting every year and many do not realize there are other options for them to remain engaged in Scouting through other avenues, such as Sea Scouting or Venturing.

      • Matthew- I wanted to address each of your points individually. You say “It just seems odd that the BSA continues to invest the time and resources that it does”
        Developing program resources- A committee of volunteers from around the country develop all of the program resources, write the materials, proof it and submit it to BSA on their own. In fact this is common for most BSA program resources for every program.
        Hosting a web resources- The website is owned, developed and maintained by volunteers on their own dime and on their own time.
        Stocking special uniforms- While BSA Supply has been doing a great job lately Sea Scouts around the country rely on a 3rd party volunteer run uniform distributor to take care of uniforming needs.
        Insignia and publications- Again much of the insignia is produced by a 3rd party volunteer run supplier. The Sea Scout Manual is written by volunteers (see above) but is in fact printed by the BSA.
        Organizing training events- Every single training event is developed and organized by volunteers or generous councils.
        Paying national/regional staff- Yes, the BSA does have a Professional staffer overseeing the Sea Scout Program. Sea Scouts falls under the Properties Department and the Department Manager of Properties serves in a dual role as the National Sea Scout Director (he does a phenomenal job as the Natl. SS Director) on top of his duties in properties that oversee COPE, Aquatics, Properties, National Events, the OA, and so much more
        Overseeing volunteer, ect- I think you get the idea, these volunteers are overseen by other volunteers for the most part.
        I am not saying that the BSA does not support the Sea Scout program, from the Chief all the way down the National structure and spilling over into our regions and some councils Sea Scouts receive much appreciated support from the BSA. But you have a very poor understanding of how the entire BSA structure operates (volunteer driven) and came to some extremely unfounded conclusions. It is just a shame you want to spend your time tearing apart a BSA program instead of trying to support it in your council.
        One final note- your final comment about the Youth Sea Scout Representative attending the Report to the Nation is extremely un-scoutlike. How could you compare the countless sacrifices and untold amounts of work that youth put into the developing the program for years, to a scout attending your local camp? Would you say that your camper is as deserving as the National OA Chief in regards to attending the RTTN? If not, then I recommend you send a written apology to the youth you degraded with these remarks.

  6. The reasons Sea Scouting is smaller than general Venturing is many-fold. You need to have water and boats (meaning financial commitment and logistical support) is the biggest one. But, it is also specialized knowledge that not just any adult has, unlike general woodsmanship, which is far more common, so finding QUALIFIED adults can be challenging. So, it’s not a natural fit for the average “Scout-parent-adult leader. Most Councils can’t support (or round up kids for) more that a handful of Ships, (our Council has 2, and over 1100 other units) and don’t make it a focus to help recruiting efforts. So, Sea Scouting is sort of a “specialty Crew” within Councils, like a shooting sports Crew, a scuba diving Crew, etc. That said, Sea Scouting genuinely IS the best program in all of Scouting. They can do everything else a normal Venture Scout does, plus a whole lot more, like take a cruise on the USCG Bark Eagle.

    • Well said. Being a past Cubmaster and a current Scoutmaster & Skipper I can tell you as a matter of fact Sea Scouts, BSA is by far the best program offered by the BSA. My Ship has sent 1 of our Ordinary Rank Female Scouts to serve onboard the USCG Barque Eagle and with the exception of just a couple of our members my Ship are all certified Tall Ship Sailors and volunteer crewmembers of a 17th century re-creation 300 tonne Tall Ship as well as crewmembers onboard other historical vessels. We had to be creative when it came to a boat/ship to use as our Charter Partner won’t allow us to own a vessel..but there isn’t a Scout in the Ship who would change a thing. My Ship has been chartered since 2007 and we have 1-Quartermaster (BOR Jan. 2013 & he is a Grandslam Scout: earned Quartermaster/Silver/& Eagle there is only a handful of these Scouts in the history of the BSA), 7-Silver Awards, 2-Rangers, 2-Venturing Shooting Sports Awards Scouts, & I can’t keep up with all the other awards these Scouts have earned since 2007.
      What other Scouts irreguardless of program can say they are sailors on a Pirate Ship or can climb 10 stories into her rigging or have personally met the King & Queen of Sweden (5/10/13). My Sea Scouts are learning & living the tenets of Scouting & having a GREAT TIME doing it !!!!

  7. Being one of the 39 Scouts that earned this very prestigious award in 2013, I can confirm that the requirements ARE very difficult, time consuming, and rigorous. I spent 5 years working on all of the requirements and spent most of my freshman year at college focusing on my QM Project. Although the process was extremely hard and at times I wanted to give up, I am very proud of my accomplishment, and I am also very supportive of all other Quartermasters and all potential awardees. Learning how to be a skilled sailor, strong leader, and mature young adult over the course of (now almost) 6 years of being a Sea Scout has been the most important, meaningful, and rewarding experience of my life. Sea Scouts has shaped me to be the person I am today and I am very proud of this amazing and unique program that I consider my family.

    Side note to the author: The Halling triplets earned their award in 2011 and this article is about scouts earning the award in 2013… I believe that the banner photo should be of a more recent Quartermaster Bridge of Honor.

  8. The Sea Scouting website used to have “A Chronology of Sea Scouting in the United States” that showed:
    * The first known Quartermaster Award in 1929
    * In 1962 there were 26,751 registered Sea Explorers, and 124 achieved Quartermaster in that year
    * In 1966 there were 18,210 registered Sea Explorers, and 82 achieved Quartermaster

    The document is archived at:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20120728192441/http://www.seascout.org/about/history/A_Chronology_of_Sea_Scouting_in_the_United_States.pdf

  9. Do you know the percent ratio for the Venturing Ranger award and the Silver award?

  10. Rachel Reichner Earns Sea Scout Quartermaster Rank; First for Hudson Valley Council

    While Hudson Valley Scouting has seen its fair share of Eagle Scouts, on January 5, 2014 it honored its first Quartermaster, the highest rank that can be earned by a Sea Scout, at a Bridge of Honor held by Ship 2037 at the Pearl River United Methodist Church social hall.

    “Similar to the rank of Eagle, earning the rank of Quartermaster requires mastery of certain outdoor skills (generally relating to sailing), sharing those skills with others and providing leadership to your Ship” explained Rachel. “It also requires organizing and managing a significant service project that gives back to the community.”

    Kim DiMauro, the associate director of the Prince of Peace Lutherine Church pre-school in Old Tappan explained “Rachel Reichner first approached me about two years ago to discuss renovating the access to the nature trail behind the Church. She proposed building steps and installing a slide to make the steep access path more child friendly. When Rachel was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma this past spring, I expected the project would fall by the wayside. But this past summer and fall, between rounds of chemotherapy, Rachel solicited donations from local businesses including Home Depot, Beckerly Lumber and Crown Trophy, organized supplies and work crews and managed the project. As a result of Rachel’s project and several earlier Eagle projects, our pre-school has a beautiful nature trail and playground.”

    Sea Scouting is the original co-ed high adventure branch of the Boy Scouts of America, according to Skipper and longtime Scoutmaster Ken Reichner, “The program gives older (8th grade graduates until 21) the exciting and distinct opportunities. While it is called Sea Scouting, Rachel like many Sea Scouts find themselves on all manner adventures anything from Backpacking in the foothills of the Rockies to command of a 64 foot Morgan Ketch and so much more.”

    “We are all proud of Rachel” says Ship Committee Chairman Eric Sharrin, “You must understand this achievement in context, only 1 in 250 Sea Scouts attain the rank of Quartermaster but she has run the gauntlet, earning her GSUSA Gold Award and Venturing Silver Award making her the areas first ‘Trifecta’”.

    • My Ship met Rachel & her father the Skipper at multiple North East Region Sea Scout Events over the last few years. My Scouts “hangout” with her Ship whenever we are together. Rachel is a great Scout and her ship mates from Ship 201 (PA) congratulate her on her accomplishment(s) !!!!!
      Well Deserved !!!

  11. SHAC is large enough to run a great Scouting program and afford to serve Sea Scout units. Sea Scout uniforms are repurposed Navy uniforms and work clothing. Sea Scout units rely more heavily on unit fund raising and donations of involved adult time, skills, and boats, gear, etc. I takes a lot of dedication for a scout to earn Quartermaster at a time in their life when they are finishing high school or attending college.

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