An impressive recruiting effort to introduce area teenagers to Sea Scouting. Community service projects that build goodwill — and often make the local news. An I-gotta-try-that schedule of monthly outings that includes sailing, swimming, fishing, waterskiing and wakeboarding.
Any of those could explain why Sea Scout Ship 198 of Lewes, Del. (Del-Mar-Va Council), saw its membership leap from 10 to 28 last year.
But Cheyenne Snyder, Ship 198’s boatswain during that remarkable 2019, has an explanation that’s harder to quantify.
“I think this growth is because of the fun but educational program we have,” she says, “along with the atmosphere that is built for teamwork and friendships.”
However you explain it, Ship 198 is a deserving recipient of the 2020 National Flagship, an honor given to the top Sea Scout ship of 2019.
Whether on board the 32-foot Coupe de Tete, the 30-foot Sea Angel or the Sea Scout training vessel Miss Mell, Ship 198’s members have shown how to navigate the Sea Scouting program.
Ship 198 received its award at the National Bridge of Honor in May. The event, held online for the first time because of the pandemic, celebrated the incoming and outgoing national and regional boatswains, recognized recipients of the National Sea Scout Leadership Award, and honored the 2020 National Flagship Fleet.
(Quick reminder: Even though this year’s National Flagship is from a prime spot on the Delaware Bay, the list of past recipients includes several ships from landlocked areas. “You have to live near the coast to be a Sea Scout” is one of five major myths about the program.)
We reached out to Ship 198 to learn how they charted a course for success.
Many of the lessons of Sea Scouting were pressed into unexpected action during Ship 198’s long cruise in the summer of 2019. The plan was to take a 120-mile voyage from Lewes, Del., to Baltimore via the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
But midway through the trip, Cheyenne noticed smoke coming from the engine bay of the 32-foot Coup de Tete.
“So I went down to take a look,” says Sea Scout Carson Watts. “I found a small fire and put it out with a fire extinguisher. If not for Cheyenne seeing it and me putting it out, I think it could have been catastrophic.”
Knowing the location of the ship’s fire extinguishers — and how to use them — is essential for any boater. The Scouts’ quick action prevented further damage to the ship.
With their boat docked for repairs, the Scouts feared their long cruise would end early. But the youth leaders remembered that Ship 123 from nearby St. Georges, Del., was conducting its own summer activities nearby. Youth leaders from Ship 198 contacted Ship 123 and coordinated an impromptu weekend of paddle sports, camping and fellowship.
“Even though the long cruise was technically a failure, we definitely made the best of the situation and had a great time,” says Sea Scout Ben Koly.
Advancement, activity and service in 2019
To get a better picture of Ship 198’s success, let’s look at its 2019 résumé:
Advancement and awards
- 50% of youth members advanced one rank.
- 10 members earned the BSA Recruiting strip.
- Members earned certifications in first aid and CPR, completed safe boating courses, and worked on Scouts BSA Rank advancement.
- Several members were elected into the Order of the Arrow.
- Members earned the Long Cruise Badge, and the Ship conducted Introduction to Leadership Skills for Ships.
- Several adult leaders attended Seabadge training.
- One youth member attended SEAL training.
- During the winter and spring, the ship conducted land-based and indoor pool training.
- During warmer months, the ship enjoyed monthly outings to learn the fundamentals of sailing, marine engines, marine radio procedures, piloting, navigation, onboard emergency procedures as well as man-overboard drills.
- The ship sailed to Cape May, N.J., as well as locations throughout the Delaware Bay and the Chesapeake Bay.
- Ship 198 fielded two teams in the Northeast Region Koch Cup Qualifiers in October 2019, placing first and third.
- Ship 198 planned and conducted five community service projects during 2019, including an erosion-prevention project involving the planting of dune beach grass in areas along the Delaware Bay.
- The ship partnered with the city of Lewes, Del., to provide maintenance to city marinas and buildings, clean up the canal and set up a safe-boating booth during the city’s annual Maritime Day.
- In December, members of the ship partnered with the local Lewes West Marine store to wrap Christmas presents for customers.
- Ship 198 counts among its members Eagle Scout Matt Parsons, the 2019-2020 National Chief of the Order of the Arrow.
For another perspective on a successful Sea Scout ship, read this or watch the ship’s National Flagship application video below. The video offers a compelling recap of the ship’s 2019 adventures.
What the Sea Scouts said
Scouts in Ship 198 shared a few more favorite memories with us.
“My favorite memory is taking the boats out in the summer and having man-overboard drills. It combines education and safety with having fun.” — Elie Cerchio
“My favorite memory since I joined Ship 198 was our long cruise in 2017. We sailed to Cape May, N.J., and Atlantic City. There were many issues that took place throughout the trip, but it brought the people on the trip closer together, gave them experience in difficult situations and taught them to value teamwork.” — Lex Dignon
“Sailing over the summer definitely was the best memory so far. I remember it was my first time sailing, and I had a lot of fun.” — Wyatt Snyder
“My favorite memory has to be the 2017 long cruise. We got to explore a city, walk the boardwalk, eat tons of free fudge samples, and even went to see a movie — all in between relaxing days of nice sailing on the water. When we ran into rough weather on the last day, we extended the trip and learned a lot about teamwork in tough situations.” — Christopher Dean
Watch the National Bridge of Honor
Thanks to Ship 198 Skipper Ron Krajewski for the help with this post.