Seascout-Net Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: 13 year olds
Re: 13 year olds
Thu, 25 Feb 1999 00:14:46 +0000
The debate on the possibility of a lower age limit for admission to Sea
Scouting in BSA is very interesting. John Erickson has asked for some
In most Associations where Sea Scouting exists it is a parallel programme,
or even a parallel separate section, to Scout and Venture Scout/Rover
sections, (i.e. ranging from 11 yrs to 20 yrs). Rev Phyl Fanning has
already given a very comprehensive picture of the Group system and the
section age ranges in UK. Most European countries are similar but there
are some differences in age ranges and overlaps.
However, in many European countries, but not in UK, Greece, Cyprus or
Ireland, Sea Scouting starts at the Cub Scout level (8-11 yrs), with a set
nautical programme of sailing and simple water activities and games often
based on the Optimist dinghy. Figures of Sea Scout membership in these
associations therefore include from 8 yrs old upwards.
In Ireland our system is very similar to UK as described by Rev Phyl, with
slight variations. We have a wider band of choice between Scout and Venture
Scout membership - a Scout may elect to join the Venture Unit at 15 yrs or
stay in the Scout Troop till 16 yrs. In Sea Scouts the upper age choice is
17 yrs. Unlike the UK, Cub Scouts in Sea Scout Groups may be "Sea Cubs" -
this means that they may have some "nautical" alternatives in their
advancement programme, will have a few supervised boating sessions
organised by Sea Scout Watch Leaders (Patrol Leaders) and Venture Scouts,
and will wear navy-blue jerseys instead of green. But they are not counted
as Sea Scouts.
In my own Group we made a decision many years ago not to take Scouts into
the Troop unless they would be 12 yrs old before the start of their first
boating season. The only exceptions to this would be Cub Scouts in our own
Pack in consultation with the Cub Leaders. This decision was made on the
basis of our experience over a number of years that a high proportion of
10.5 - 11 year olds left during the first year, many because they found
that they didnt like boating. Since taking that decision we have found that
the "leakage rate" is very much less.
The above notes are just a general account of the situation in Europe, and
I think probably reflects that in most of the rest of the world. The BSA
has taken a different approach to Sea Scouting from the beginning,
regarding it as a senior branch only, entry to which originally had to be
earned by age and possession of the First Class Badge. In earlier days this
meant that all Sea Scouts had already completed a good Scout training and
were already experienced in scoutcraft, hiking, camping, etc. Therefore the
pattern of specific Sea Scouting activities in USA has been in general more
advanced than elsewhere, as illustrated by the Long Cruise tradition,
bigger boats, etc. In other countries much of a Sea Scout's activity is
basic Scouting - cruising for Sea Scouts usually meant short coastal or
inland waterway journeys in open boats except for the older members i.e.
Venture Scouts, etc, 15 - 19 yrs - in other words those of the same age
range as Sea Scouts in BSA.
I dont think that anyone can say that one system is "better" than the
other, both systems come from our conviction that the sea and maritime
experiences are very valuable media to help young people develope
physically, mentally and spiritually. I would not dream of making any
recommendation to our American friends on the lower age limit question but
I would say that if the age is dropped, then you may find that some
modification of accepted practices and standards may have to be considered.
Please forgive me if I am starting to sound pompous - if so its the fault
of John Erickson and Alphonse!
8th Port of Dublin Sea Scouts
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