When Jewell Norris received a phone call from a number she didn’t recognize, she got so excited she forgot to answer it.
She knew Cassidy Christian, the national Sea Scouts boatswain at the time, would be calling her successor the weekend that Jewell was at an outdoor leadership training camp. When there was a break in the training, she called the number back, and it was indeed Cassidy, who delivered the news that Jewell had been selected to be the 2022-23 national boatswain.
“Instantly, I had so many ideas running through my head,” Jewell says. “I started a note on my phone and wrote down anything and everything that came to mind. When I got home after camp, I was on fire to start planning what my term would look like.”
The national boatswain (pronounced BO-sun is the top youth member of Sea Scouting, a BSA on-the-water high-adventure program for young people ages 14-20. Jewell’s term began June 1, and she’s already been busy putting her plans into action.
She recently spoke at the Order of the Arrow Summit Experience banquet at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, and she’s been serving at Camp Strake, a council camp in Texas that has Sea Scout Fridays. On those days, Sea Scouts on staff serve as the color guard at camp.
Let’s meet Jewell Norris
Jewell joined Sea Scout Ship 502 in Houston, Texas, when she turned 14. The biggest factor in joining the ship was the friends who invited her.
“This is one of the reasons I am pushing ‘friends’ so much this upcoming year,” she says. “Asking your friends to come to a meeting really can make a difference for them and your ship.”
Jewell has loved the variety of activities she’s done as a Sea Scout. She’s gone on long cruises, sailed, canoed, kayaked and earned her lifeguard certification. One of her favorite memories came while she was sailing with her fellow Sea Scouts on Galveston Bay. When they pulled up the anchor, it was covered in mud.
“So, what do we do? We all ‘Simba’ each other by swiping a stripe of mud across each of our foreheads,” she says, referring to the opening scene from The Lion King.
She’s also been on staff for five National Youth Leadership Training courses, and she has attended Wood Badge, Sea Scout Experience Advanced Leadership Training and Sam Houston Area Council’s Sea Scout and Order of the Arrow events.
The recent high school graduate is an Able Sea Scout (the Sea Scout ranks are Apprentice, Ordinary, Able and Quartermaster). Jewell is also a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow and an Eagle Scout. Older youth can join multiple programs like Scouts BSA. She joined girls Troop 156 in Cypress, Texas, where she served as its first senior patrol leader and supports the troop as an assistant Scoutmaster.
During her term, Jewell plans to increase Sea Scouting’s visibility by highlighting its fun activities and the friendships youth can make. She would also like to encourage fundraising within ships.
“We want Sea Scouts to be available to every youth in the country no matter their financial situation,” she says. “This year, we will encourage ships to start looking into fundraising opportunities to support both their members and their ship’s program.”
Sea Scouting isn’t reserved for those living on the coast. You can start or join a ship in a landlocked state. Jewell encourages Scouts to invite a friend to a meeting and show them the fun that the program offers. To find a local Sea Scout Ship near you, go to beascout.org, click the Sea Scout logo and enter your ZIP code.
“Ask your Scouts what they want to do and do it!” she says.
Why Sea Scouting?
We asked Jewell to share a few things she wants people to know about Sea Scouts.
- I want everyone to know how life-changing it is. It’s very rare in any other organization or just by yourself to be able to experience the diverse programming Scouting provides. Where else can you learn methods — like the EDGE method for teaching or the stages of team develop — turn around, and apply them by leading a crew of eight people sailing a 40-foot sailboat or a fleet of kayaks?
- I am a huge proponent of Scouting’s High Adventure programs. I believe in giving youth opportunities to experience activities they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, like sailing, motorboating, mountain biking, ropes courses, zip lining, or even ATVs. I believe in leveraging these activities to allow youth the opportunity to experience personal growth in an environment that requires them to step out of their comfort zone. This is something so unique to Scouting.
- Scouting is whatever you make it, which is the best part. Your Sea Scout ship can have a heavy focus on shooting sports if that is what the Scouts enjoy. Or you can focus on hiking around the country if you have a group of travelers. It is completely your own.
The 10 most recent national Sea Scout boatswains
2021-2022: Cassidy Christian
2020-2021: Aven Alexander
2019-2020: Hannah Carter
2018-2019: Jack Otto
2017-2018: Mercedes Matlock
2016-2017: Rachel West
2015-2016: Edward Campbell
2014-2015: Peter Schmidt
2013-2014: Billy McElligott
2012-2013: Matt Miller