Some go wherever the wind takes them.
Others hoist the sails and set their own course.
Let’s say Bravo Zulu (the nautical way to say “well done”) to the Sea Scouts who fall in that second group. They’re natural leaders who solve problems, work as a team and gain confidence — all while enjoying the endless beauty of our country’s rivers, lakes, oceans and waterways.
Keeping Sea Scouting cruising along takes yeoman’s work. It takes a vast network of youth participants and adult volunteers who go far beyond what’s expected.
Last month, Sea Scouts BSA awarded the 2020 National Sea Scout Leadership Award to eight individuals who have gone above and beyond to support Sea Scouting.
One first signed up for Scouting in 1965. Two others registered in 2019. But all of these Sea Scouts — regardless of tenure — share an unrivaled passion for this BSA program that dates all the way back to 1912.
About the Sea Scout Leadership Award
Though Sea Scouting itself has been around for more than a century, the award itself is rather new. It was introduced in 2017.
The nomination process, which we have outlined here, is rather simple. A nominee must have been involved in Sea Scouts for at least a year, hold a leadership position within Sea Scouting and “show exceptional dedication and give outstanding leadership and service to Sea Scouting and to Sea Scouts.”
National Sea Scout Leadership Award recipients get:
- a certificate
- a knot (Supply No. 14220, which is the same knot as the Venturing Leadership Award)
- a Sea Scout device/pin to go on the knot (Supply No. 931)
- a red and white medallion (Supply No. 636186).
2020 National Sea Scout Leadership Award recipients
These eight individuals have been honored with the 2020 National Sea Scout Leadership Award:
- Aven Alexander of the East Texas Area Council
- Ron Blaisdell of the Michigan Crossroads Council
- Edward Campbell of the Great Smoky Mountain Council
- Isabella Fadullon of the Baltimore Area Council
- Ben Feril of the Del-Mar-Va Council
- Jayce Letson of the Denver Area Council
- Harvey Morrissey of the North Florida Council
- Stephen Stevens of the Capitol Area Council
Let’s meet each one.
East Texas Area Council
Aven Alexander joined Sea Scouts at age 14 to get out on the water and make memories with friends.
She quickly discovered a knack for leading others. She was elected ship boatswain, area boatswain and Tejas Lodge secretary in the Order of the Arrow. She says she appreciates how the Sea Scout program pushed her out of her comfort zone and developed her leadership skills.
Aven recently finished her term as 2020–21 Sea Scout National Boatswain. (Read our interview with her here.)
“Sea Scouting offers many experiences that youth cannot be exposed to simply by participating in school activities,” Aven told us in 2020. “A common misconception about Sea Scouting is that you have to live near the coast to have a unit, but this isn’t true. Sea Scout Ships can do paddlecraft, small-boat sailing or even scuba diving. All you need is a river or a lake to get time and experience on the water.”
Before and during her time in this role, Aven traveled from coast to coast for various Sea Scout activities, helping her see just how wide-reaching the Sea Scout program has become.
Michigan Crossroads Council
Ron Blaisdell’s first attempt to join Sea Exploring, as it was known from 1949 to 1998, was met with some headwind. He was 14 — too young to drive — and the closest ship was 40 miles away.
Ron spoke with some Scouting friends about starting a ship, but they felt their lake wasn’t big enough for sailing. In the end, Ron joined the Navy Junior ROTC instead.
Ron joined Scouting in 1967. He has been a Scouting commissioner since 1976 and has also served in a number of positions at the unit, council, area, regional and national levels — including Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Venturing Advisor, committee chair, area vice president, and member of the National Sea Scout Service Committee.
Just as important, he has also formed a number of Sea Scout ships — helping even more young people have unforgettable experiences on the water.
Great Smoky Mountain Council
Throughout his 19 years in Scouting, Edward Campbell has found peace on and in the water. That’s what motivated him to join Sea Scout Ship 5111 (Anthony Wayne Area Council) in 2011 — right after turning 14.
He earned the rank of Quartermaster (Sea Scouting’s highest honor) in Ship 5111 and now serves that ship as a committee member.
Edward was a member of Ship 5111 when he was named the 2015–16 National Sea Scout Boatswain.
In addition to serving as a committee member in his home ship, Edward also is a leader with Ship 46 of Knoxville, Tenn., part of the Great Smoky Mountain Council.
“Sea Scouting is a different type of fun and family and offers experiences and challenges that are second to none,” Edward says.
Baltimore Area Council
Isabella “Izzy” Fadullon joined Ship 1959 of Annapolis, Md. (Baltimore Area Council) in early 2019. She wanted to meet new people and join the kind of on-the-water adventures not found in other youth-serving programs.
She jumped in with both feet and was soon elected boatswain’s mate for program. Izzy continued to lead her ship as boatswain and was later selected as one of the hosts of The Lookout, which is Sea Scouting’s network of podcasts.
Izzy says Sea Scouts has given her confidence and leadership abilities that will be essential when she attends the U.S. Naval Academy.
Ben Feril’s Cub Scout journey began in 1965 as a member of Pack 4 of Gardner, Mass. Scouting clicked right away. As he grew up, Ben became a senior patrol leader, a member of the Order of the Arrow and an Eagle Scout.
He moved to Michigan in 1974 and attended the 1975 World Scout Jamboree in Norway before entering Central Michigan University a year later. He stayed active in Scouting in college and then entered the U.S. Navy in 1980.
He was a commissioned officer in the Navy for 34 years, serving Scouting in seven different councils as he was stationed at different locations across the country.
He began volunteering with Sea Scouts in 2005 and served at the ship, council, area, region and national levels. He also staffed the Sea Scout exhibit at the 2005 and 2010 National Jamborees and the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.
It’s safe to say he’s helped grow Sea Scouting from sea to shining sea.
Denver Area Council
Jayce Letson joined Sea Scouts in 2019 when he helped form a new unit, Ship 444 in Littleton, Colo.
After that, his ascent was nothing short of meteoric.
Just six months after joining, Jayce was selected to serve as Area 2 boatswain in the Western Region. Six months later, he was named 2020–21 Western Region boatswain.
“I love the camaraderie everyone has for each other,” Jayce says. “Everyone I’ve met, every event I’ve attended, I’ve had the same feeling — that feeling of friendship among everyone.”
North Florida Council
Harvey had just finished the eighth grade and was about to turn 14 when he became a Sea Scout in Portsmouth, Va. He wanted a program that would allow him to sail and make new friends.
What he didn’t expect was to also develop leadership skills and become more independent.
Harvey served as the yeoman of his ship and later became council boatswain, Area 4 boatswain in the Southern Region and most recently national yeoman in 2020–2021.
“The most rewarding accomplishment is meeting and becoming friends with so many individuals who all have a common goal of helping youth to become their best self,” Harvey says.
Sea Scouting has helped Harvey become his best self. He says the skills he’s gained have helped him as he works toward a degree in communications and management in college. He’s currently dual-enrolled as both a senior in high school and an undergraduate at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla.
Capitol Area Council
Stephen Stevens wasn’t really involved in Scouting as a youth. As a dad of three kids, he’s made up for lost time.
He first got hooked as an assistant Cubmaster, joining his children on their various adventures. Beyond that, he was a troop committee chairman, district chairman, and taught courses at the Philmont Training Center.
A mentor both to youth and adult volunteers, Stephen has earned recognition at the council, regional and national levels.
He worked at IBM for 36 years before retiring in 2013 and continuing his “other” job: Sea Scout volunteer. He’s a member of Ship 911 in the Capitol Area Council in Round Rock, Texas.