National Sea Exploring Committee Meeting
Bruce C Johnson (email@example.com)
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 12:04:22 -0500
Fellow Sea Scouters:
I have been asked by several people for a summary of actions taken at
the National Sea Exploring Committee meeting last month. The following is
not the 'official' minutes, but reflect what my notes say. Don't hesitate
to contact me if I can clarify any of this.
National Sea Exploring Committee Meeting
October 23-26, 1997
Florida Sea Base Conference Center
Chair: Capt. James A. Umberger, USCG (Ret.), National Commodore
Staff Director: Bill Rogers, Associate Director, Exploring
New National Exploring Director
The National Sea Exploring Committee (NSEC) was pleased to meet the new
National Exploring Director, Don McChesney. Don comes to us after most
recently serving as council Scout Executive of councils in West Virginia
and before that Wisconsin. Don is a native of Mansfield, Ohio and has
served in a variety of BSA professional positions over the last 24 years.
Don made an enthusiastic presentation to the NSEC on goals and methods
for moving Exploring forward over the coming years. Don stressed the
importance of communicating better, particularly with local councils. He
also noted that it was important that materials be developed to make it
easier for local councils to start new Sea Exploring Ships. The Committee
was very favorably impressed with Don's ideas, and looks forward to working
with him. All of us came away with the feeling that the National Exploring
Division had just experienced a breath of fresh air. Welcome aboard, Don!
The Committee welcomed a new Coast Guard Liaison, John Thorne, Chief of
Community Relations for the Coast Guard. Mr. Thorne was unable to join us
in Florida. Commodore Umberger will be working with Mr. Thorne to
establish a closer working relationship with the Sea Explorers. Two
additional individuals are being asked to serve on the Committee. Both are
prominant businessmen with close ties to the boating community.
The National Sea Exploring Committee's mission statement was reviewed
and approved. Capt. Umberger asked that it be put on the National Sea
Exploring web site. (It has.)
The Sea Exploring cluster's membership numbers for year-end 1996 stood
at 6,712 youth members and 584 units, both up 3.4% over 1995. This
reflects only 1200, 1204, 1206, 1207, and 1208 units. If all Sea Exploring
and Aquatics cluster units are added to the total (1208, 1204, 1206, 1649,
1005, 1639, 1200, 913, 1646, 1339, 1650, 1739, 1645, 907, 1207), the totals
are 11,517 youth members and 779 units. It was noted that it is imperitive
for Sea Exploring units to get their unit specialty codes changed to
Sea Exploring Report Submitted at the National Exploring Committee Meeting
1. There were 2 1997 recipients of the Minto Sea Explorer Memorial
Scholarship for the Summer School at Sea Program at Texas A&M.
2. A number of Sea Exploring leaders have taken advantage of the US
Sailing scholarships for developing certified sailing instructors. Bill
Rogers will confirm whether this program will be continuing.
3. The National Explorer Leadership Conference will be held this coming
July at the University of Maryland. Skipper Jeremiah M. Crabtree of Bowie,
Maryland will be coordinating Sea Exploring competition.
4. A major revision of the Sea Exploring Manual is at press. (More on
5. Seabadge was held in a number of locations in Northeast, Southern, and
6. The new Quartermaster Award has been very well received. (More on that
7. The Northeast Region Sea Exploring Committee sponsored a Sea Exploring
Exhibit at the National Jamboree. 16,000 visitors found the exhibit
terrific, with many asking for help in getting involved in Sea Exploring.
8. The first 'approved' Sea Explorer Advanced Leadership Training courses
were held during the summer of 1997. More will be available next year.
9. Due to an unexpectedly low dropout rate among Coast Guard Academy
cadets, the Sea Exploring participation in the 1997 summer cruise had to be
cancelled. Capt. Umberger is working on the 1998 summer cruise now.
U.S. Navy Youth Program
The Committee heard a rousing report from Master Chief Robert Browdy, of
the Navy's Miami Recruiting District. The Committee expressed the hope
that communications with Navy can be enhanced.
Major Revision to the Sea Exploring Manual
The revision to the Sea Exploring Manual has gone to press. It is
expected that the new Manual will be received by the BSA Supply Division by
10 Dec 97 and be available for purchase soon thereafter. Thanks to all who
helped with the project. Suggested revisions for the future should be sent
to Bruce Johnson.
It should be noted that the new Manual will have significantly revised
advancement requirements. (See the national web site for the specifics.)
Once the requirements have been published, they go into effect right away.
Those Explorers who are currently working on a rank will have up to six
months to finish it under the old requirements. Anyone starting a rank
after the new Manual is available will use the new requirements. The old
requirements will be completely out-of-date once six months have gone by
after the new Manual's availability.
The brochure developed for the Jamboree exhibit were enthusiastically
received and endorsed. The National Exploring Division will look into the
availability of funds to have additional copies printed and distributed by
BSA as a 'bin distribution' item.
The manuscript for a new edition of the 'Handbook for Skippers' is
nearly completed. It is hoped that the Handbook will be available in late
1998 or early 1999. The National Sea Exploring Committee is reviewing the
draft now for comment.
New editions of 'How to Organize a Sea Explorer Ship' and 'Sea Explorer
Leaders Specialized Training Instructor's Guide' are currently in
production and should be available as free 'bin distribution' items in
early 1998. New editions of four other publications are in earlier phases
of layout and printing but, funds permitting, should be available later in
Seabadge Conference Syllabus
Walt Whitacre presented a revised, draft Seabadge Conference Syllabus
for review and comment. Comments are due in by December 15th. A vote will
be taken around the end of the year.
Bob French provided the Committee with an update on what's new at Ship's
Store. He noted that they have gotten quite a few requests for high
quality rank insignia. They have not taken that on though because they
feel strongly that BSA needs to be aware of our rank advancement as it
happens. The National Committee fully agreed, but commended Bob and his
colleagues for providing an excellent service at very reasonable prices.
Quartermaster Award Upgrade
The initial lot of Quartermaster medals are nearly gone and it is time
to reorder. Jimmie Homburg, who has been heading up this project, showed
the prototype of an improved Quartermaster medal that accomplishes what the
1996 version had been intended to. The only difference with the new
prototype is that the double carrick bend at the top of the ribbon will now
be on a bar from which the ribbon will be suspended. The Committee felt
that this was a terrific improvement. The new medals were ordered shortly
after the National Committee meeting. Quartermasters and their families
and Ships are reminded that replacement medals, as well as lapel pins and
charms, are available from Bill Rogers at the National office. (See the
web site for details.)
National Scout Jamboree Sea Exploring Exhibit
The Jamboree Sea Exhibit was enthusiastically received by the roughly
16,000 exhibit visitors. Particularly popular was the 'ship finder'
station where Scouts and adults could find out about Ships in their
hometowns. Roughly 70 new Ship organizers were also recruited and have
been followed up with their local councils.
The National Sea Exploring Committee has gone on record several times
over the past fives years as being in favor of having a national youth
representative ("National Boatswain"). No implementation plan has been
developed to date, but a task force was appointed (chaired by Bruce
Johnson) to develop an implementation plan. A report is due back to the
Committee by 1 Dec 97.
The number of applicants for this summer at sea experience at Texas A&M
improved in 1997 and two excellent candidates were selected. Qualified Sea
Explorers are encouraged to look into this program for the summer of 1998
and apply. (A copy of the application is available on the national web
U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle summer cruise
A excellent group of Sea Explorers were disappointed to be informed that
they would not be able to join Coast Guard cadets during the 1997 summer
cruise. Owing to an unexpectedly low cadet dropout rate, the Coast Guard
Academy had to withdraw its invitation to participate to all outside groups
(including the Naval Academy). Capt. Umberger is working with the Coast
Guard Academy now to ensure that next summer's cruise will go off without a
hitch. Application materials will be distributed to all councils and
Skippers of record very soon.
Seal Training Program Implementation
Jim Elroy, National Seal Training Coordinator, reported that the 1997
training cruises went very well. Based on their experiences, a number of
minor revisions to the training curriculum will be made. Courses have
already been finalized in the Florida Keys and the Chesapeake Bay, with
several other locations being considered. Prospective Seal course
directors should contact Jim for additional details.
Sea Exploring Uniform Requirements
The National Committee has received a number of requests for a
standardized 'official' Sea Exploring uniform. The Committee discussed
this at considerable length and agreed to Bruce Johnson's suggestion that
they review the wording in the draft 'Handbook for Skippers' (HfSK). The
new HfSK will include much more detailed guidance about uniforming and
insignia standards. While local Ships will still have the latitude to make
certain adjustments to specific uniform parts, insignia placement will be
more completely spelled out. (It should be noted that, while Ships are
currently allowed to create their own uniforms, insignia placement is
spelled out in the 'Insignia Control Guide' and can not be varied.) Capt.
Umberger reminded adult leaders that military ribbons have specifically
been prohibited from BSA uniforms since the late 1970s. It is hoped that
by more clearly spelling out uniforming and insignia standards, Sea
Explorers will be recognized as Sea Explorers.
Silver Award Requirements
The National Exploring Committee is working on developing a new Silver
Award that harkens back to the old advancement-based Explorer Silver Award.
Requirements are still in draft. It is hoped that this program will be
ready to go by August 1998. Sea Explorers, of course, would be eligible to
work on the Silver Award, in addition to Quartermaster and Eagle (for those
who have earned First Class in a Boy Scout Troop).
Insignia Control Guide
A new edition of BSA's 'Insignia Control Guide' has been published and
includes a number of revisions related to Sea Exploring. Most obvious to
those whom it affects is that the Seabadge trident pin is now 'officially'
placed on the left pocket flap (or at the top of the left pocket on dress
blues) (or for women, they may, at their discretion, place the pin above
the left pocket).
Quartermasters in NESA
The question of Quartermaster recipients being invited to join the
National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) came up. Lou Walts had committed
last year to pursue this matter on the National Sea Exploring Committee's
behalf. No update on his efforts were received.
There are new standards for maintaining watch while underway. Capt.
Umberger will be spearheading efforts to make Sea Exploring leaders more
familiar with their maintaining watch.
The next meeting of the National Sea Exploring Committee will be 16-18
Oct 98 in Groton, Connecticut. A reception for local Sea Scout leaders
will be held either at the sub base or across the Thames River at the Coast