Helicopter pilot with the U.S. Navy credits her success to Sea Scouts

Former Sea Scout Amy Hunt is a Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTjg) in the U.S. Navy. She is a designated Helicopter Pilot currently stationed in Florida.

Before Sea Scouts, Amy Hunt knew one water skill: swimming. After Sea Scouts? She can pretty much do it all.

Hunt credits the program for her career in the U.S. Navy.

She joined the Navy via the U.S. Naval Academy in 2004, after graduating with a bachelor’s in International Relations, a minor in Japanese, and a slot in the pilot training program. Last month, Hunt received her wings and was assigned to fly helicopters in Florida before being deployed to Hawaii. Impressive.

The story of how she got there and what she learned along the way contains an inspiring message for Scouts and Scouters. It’s the latest example of just how far a young man or woman can go with a background in Scouting.

Hunt took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions by e-mail.

Bryan’s interview with Amy Hunt

What got you interested in Sea Scouting?

It was quite simple. I looked up to my older brother and wanted to be as cool as he was, and he was a Sea Scout.

I was a Girl Scout in the U.S., but the fit wasn’t right. As a Girl Scout, I did mostly indoor activities, including selling cookies, naturally. I was hoping for more outdoor experiences.

My older brother, Devin, was very active in Scout Troop 2000, where he became an Eagle Scout. It was from Troop 2000 that Devin and several others formed Ship 2000.

As soon as I was old enough, I joined as well.

Amy Hunt stands at the ready during her Sea Scout Advanced Leadership (SEAL) training on Chesapeake Bay.

What were some highlights from your time in Sea Scouts?

We learned to sail and went on some exciting trips, including visiting the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, the USS Intrepid in New York to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Sea Scouts, and the Underwater Demolition Team training school in Panama City.

I also attended Sea Scout Advanced Leadership (SEAL) training on Chesapeake Bay, under the adept training of Skipper Doug Yeckley. My Ship Skipper, Kip Peterson, was a mentor during my years in Sea Scouts and encouraged me to think about attending the Naval Academy.

What trip sticks out the most?

About six Scouts planned and executed a long cruise off Florida’s gulf coast. With three adult leaders, we rented a Hunter 50-foot sailboat and sailed out of Tampa Bay south along the coast. The pride we Scouts felt from all the training we had been exposed to gave way to exhilarated freedom.

I was a 16-year-old Boatswain sailing a 50-foot boat out to sea with the means and knowledge our crew had acquired under the adept tutelage of Skipper Peterson. We stayed out for about four days, checking out the local wildlife along the coast and exploring various bays with the boat’s detachable dingy. We definitely soaked up more than just sun.

Amy Hunt will be training to fly the SH-60B Seahawk over the next six months before being sent to Hawaii.

How do you think your time in Sea Scouts and the SEAL training helped prepare you for the Navy?

Sea Scouts in general, and SEAL specifically, helped me in numerous ways. There are technical aspects, like how to sail or how to organize a presentation while being rocked around on the back of a boat. Every Midshipman at the academy has to learn to sail, and there are a surprising number of similarities between sailing and flying.

The hardest type of leadership for me is peer leadership. Most of the officers I am around are just like me, junior officers a few years out of college without much experience in combat.

I still struggle with it today, but I was introduced to it in Sea Scouts. What authority did I have to tell a bunch of other teens to smarten up and stop screwing around and plan something? I didn’t really.

It was all about making that authority by respecting them, being polite, and keeping focused. It is an invaluable life skill.

Many of my crewmen are between 18 and 26, some of them even older then I am, but I am still in command. It shouldn’t come down to the embroidery I wear on my flight suit to make the chain of command work; I learned that from Scouting and from the Navy. And I’m still learning.

In this photo from Amy Hunt's junior year of high school, Ship Skipper Kip Peterson (left), Amy Hunt, and Amy Hunt's father stop for a quick photo.

What did you know about sailing and other water activities before Sea Scouts?

Haha! I could swim. Everything else I learned in Sea Scouts.

By the time I left home to attend the Naval Academy I was a competent sailor, both fresh and salt water. Most of our ship activities were centered on sailing and community service projects. The Scouts, under the direction of qualified Sea Scout adult leaders, operate the ship, and our leaders wanted us to experience the challenges and satisfaction associated with mastering fundamental sailing skills.

What’s your advice to adults who are thinking of starting a Sea Scout ship?

An adult shouldn’t, really. A successful Sea Scout ship is run by the Scouts, many of whom are often involved in a variety of activities and bring with them specialties and traits that can be invaluable to the team. Semantics, I know, but I feel it’s important to understand. The Scouts, also, need Sea Scout leaders who have as varied aquatic experiences as possible.

So the adult leaders serve as guides. How did your ship’s adult leaders help guide your progress through the program?

They were essential. They gave form and direction to ideas that we dreamed up. They provided technical know-how — like how to sail or how to open a bank account for a charitable organization — and overall guidance: “Let’s try sailing on the ocean first before we try to sail to England,” they’d say. They let us run the ship, but without Kip Peterson, Bill Rankin, Dave Hunt, and others we wouldn’t have been able to do the things we did.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.