Being a Sea Scout in a BSA world
Gordon Wickward (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mon, 11 Aug 1997 17:02:06 -0700
A reply to: to be or not to be
Yes indeed there are the odd problems with being associated with the B.S.A. (restraining the urge to keel haul higher echelon members of the council among them), but there are some very solid benefits.
A couple of the very few things that B.S.A. does provide to us that can make it worthwhile:
Legal existence. You can't do a lot if you don't exist, such as purchasing insurance (note - individuals do have legal existence and can do some such things if they are willing to accept and carry out the risks and responsibility that maintaining such for a group that could just vaporize and leave that person holding a bag (2nd note - this is not meant to implicate anyone as a person who would leave someone like that, just that over time the people involved change and somewhere along the line you might just get a ringer - a fleet commodore in the northwest tried to walk off with several thousand dollars a few years ago). On the other side of the coin, your individual may get tired and leave and the scramble to replace them would not be fun.
Administration. Dotting all the i's & crossing all the t's that make the first item possible. You don't see much of that effort personally, but it is the underpinning that makes chartering a unit possible. And it takes a fair amount of detail, and much of it can get you in trouble if you let it slip. They also provide standards, again basic, but getting together a bunch of people and trying to hammer out an acceptable compromise on such things is ugly and time consuming. The scout office is very concerned with liability, but just you try to get a group of adults together to create a document that details how you will handle discipline (that may be shoved in your face in court) that they will sign their names to and they will sing much the same tune. Sad fact but reasonably true. Registration, you don't really want to spend all the time doing paperwork do you? You want to be doing program. Even more do you want to lie awake nights wonder how to set up training for your leaders
in youth (and protection of them from youth) protection training, or making sure each new leader does get this information...
Speaking of Program: If your interest lies to the non traditional side (the just go out and have fun) then this does not apply to you, but if you want (In my humble opinion (can any skipper have a *humble* opinion?)) the greatest benefit that can be obtained from getting youth out on the water, then you need program & structure, something that the youth can work within and with, and the traditional Sea Exploring program has no equals to that as I have seen (within what I have seen which is USA only). You could use the program as a non BSA group, but it would lack much of it's reward as you could not award advancement nor could the members display the insignia not being members of the BSA nor could they really feel a part of the bigger movement.
Community: Strictly speaking this is not provided by the council directly, they just enable the rest of us who are your community to exist, but as a Sea Exploring Ship, you are part of a bigger whole, and there are other ships to visit and compete against and some recognition in the maritime world of what Sea Exploring is. This is not to say that you could not participate some what but to my knowledge most of our functions have the basic underlying assumption that you are covered by insurance, and that as it is BSA insurance it is adequate to the task. It may prove a complication to bring in an outside group and have to verify such details. I would really doubt that you would be looked down on, we are primarily all in this for the same thing, the development of youth and what matters is what works (and Sea Exploring / BSA has no corner on that market - just a decent framework to operate with) but a lot of the basic rules that we operate under and participants with us would need
to meet to participate with us would make you mostly a scout unit anyway if you really wanted to work together much.
We do seem to whine about our councils (see the first line) but not too many leave or try to set up their own organizations, but that is not to say it could not be done, just that the new organization will have to do a lot of what the council does now by itself (on the plus side that means no outside restrictions on what you do or how you raise and spend money) but look carefully to your support network and the ability to maintain that support in the long term. To me that makes dealing with the council, when I must a reasonable deal.
I appreciate what they do, if not, perhaps, all of the exact people who do it.
S.S.S. Yankee Clipper
Ship 97,Chief Seattle Council, BSA.