Sea Scouts is a co-educational program from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that teaches youth boating and leadership skills with on-water practice and outdoor, social and community service experiences. During the pandemic, local Sea Scout “ships” have faced significant challenges. One such group chartered in 2019, Sea Scout Ship 1959 Seafarers Commitment barely had a full year of activity before it faced the national crisis.
Throughout the pandemic, Ship 1959’s youth and adult leaders did such a great job in the areas of advancement, on-water activity, learning and community service that the ship was recently awarded the 2021 BoatUS National Flagship Award. The honor was created by the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) in 2002 to mark the 90th anniversary of Sea Scouts and recognizes excellence in program quality, youth achievement and adult commitment.
Seafarers Commitment’s “ship” number, 1959, alludes to the founding year of the group’s sponsor, the Seafarers Foundation, and parent, Seafarers Yacht Club of Annapolis, one of the oldest, historically African American yacht clubs in the nation. Located on Back Creek, the ship’s name is in honor of SV Commitment, a 47-foot sailboat piloted by Captain Bill Pinkney, the first African American to global circumnavigate solo via the treacherous less-traveled Southern Route. Seafarers Commitment’s 16 Sea Scouts, 16 adult Scouters and two adult leaders focus on keelboat sailing.
The ship had been meeting via a video conference platform since it was founded, but when the pandemic struck, it put safety protocols into place to be able to get on the water. Ship members participated with Severn River Association to deliver oyster spat, visited BSA Sea Base, took Safety at Sea training at U.S. Coast Guard station Curtis Bay, and kayaked and paddleboarded on Back Creek.
Seafarers Commitment members also went to the state capital to visit the legislature, participated in the annual BSA Report to the State of Maryland and met Governor Hogan, capping it all off with a bowling night with fellow scouts. The ship also hosted a fellow Sea Scout ship when it came through Annapolis on a long cruise, showing the members around the U.S. Naval Academy.
In the community, the ship’s youth served thanksgiving meals to seniors, helped build a historical monument, supported the public library, created a community chess club, honored veterans, participated in Wreaths Across America and helped to restore Thomas Point Lighthouse. Along the way, four scouts advanced to the rank of Apprentice and one to Ordinary.