"... that the kids are taking on real life decisions and responsibilities in real life situations. Most teens have few opportunities for this--and it can sometimes take some serious coaching before they feel ready for it. It is an honor and a pleasure to see them grow and go." - Skipper Shay Seaborne
I grew up sailing small boats on the Potomac River, but did not continue to sail in adulthood. When I decided in 2005 that it was time to bring sailing back into my life, I had no idea where that desire would take me.
As a teen, I tried to join a Sea Scout unit that was chartered by the National Park Service, aboard the Lightship Chesapeake, where I had been a volunteer since age 11. I handled boats, chipped and painted, cleaned brushes, gave tours, assisted with environmental programs, conducted water quality testing, and was in full charge of the ship's library and 13 fresh- and saltwater aquariums.
At age 14, other volunteers became Scouts/crew members, and were paid to be on board the ship. I could hardly wait until I was old enough! Shortly after my 14th birthday I filled out the application, merrily took it up the gangplank I had walked every weekend and every summer weekday for 3 years, and was told, "You can't be a crew member because of your sex. We don't want any girls hanging around here. But you can still be a volunteer." I could hardly believe these words came from the mouth of a woman! I had no advocate, and I loved being aboard the ship, so I continued to volunteer until age 18, never having the opportunity to be a crew member or a Sea Scout.
In late summer of 2007, the chair of the Ship's Committee for Sea Scout Ship 7916 of Occoquan, VA asked if I would be the leader of the then-unformed unit. I agreed, and started to build a new organization.
Since then I have planned program, organized- and led events, garnered support from the community, developed training, taken training, handled boat acquisition and insurance, repaired boats, garnered publicity, planned- and participated in fund raisers, filed tour permits, handled membership- and other paperwork, kept spreadsheets, announced meetings, kept the calendar, hounded scouts, hounded parents, hounded our boat procurement officer, responded to "boat adrift!" alarms at 7AM, planned menus, and much, much more that falls far beyond the skipper's job description. It has provided great enjoyment in learning and in learning about my scouts, in providing good things for them, and in seeing what it does for them.
Recently, a maxillofacial surgeon, whom I knew when he was a Sea Scout in our youth, told me that the Sea Scout program gave him experiences and opportunities he never would have had otherwise. He recognizes that being a Sea Scout molded him in a positive way that has deeply affected his life. Having been denied the opportunity to be a Sea Scout due to sex discrimination, I find it very gratifying to be capable of giving that opportunity and these experiences to young women and men today.