My Hopes For The Future
The following eMail was written by Max Rothschild, the Northeast Region Area 5 Boatswain and sent to PR@Scouting.org, where he express his concerns over the proposed changes to Sea Scouting and Venturing.
From: Area 5 boatswain
Subject: My hopes for the future of scouting
Dear Scout Leaders and Executives:
My name is Maxwell Rothschild and I am writing to you today to tell you why the Sea Scout and Venturing programs are a vital part of Scouting and how it has meaningfully impacted my life.
When I was 11 I was looking for an after school activity so Scouting was suggested to me. After attending a few meetings I found myself really enjoying the activities so I asked my parents to sign me up. I spent three years in that troop before it got a bit monotonous for me. I felt as if I had done everything there was to be done in Scouting except earn merit badges. I had been camping more days than I could count and attended the same activities which became repetitive.
By accident, I found the Sea Scouts. So, I emailed them but no one got back to me. It took me eight attempts and lots of time waiting on the phone to find a ship to join. If anything, the reason other forms of Scouting could and would be doing better is the lack of marketing and follow-up by BSA. As soon as I went to that first Sea Scout meeting my passion for Scouting was buoyed. That was all due to the diverse opportunities provided by Sea Scouts; if it weren't for the Sea Scouts I would not be in Scouting any longer.
I have remained with Scouts BSA where I have enhanced my leadership skills. In Scouting I worked my way up to becoming the ASPL. I learned how to lead, improve my communication skills, and how to mentor. I attended NYLT to take those skills to the next level. My troop then nominated me to become a member of the OA which I am proud to be a member of today.
Sea Scouting though took me beyond anything I could have learned in other programs inside or outside of Scouting. I learned how to work with my peers on a boat. We learned how to maintain a boat from hull, to engine, to bilge pump. The Sea Scouts have offered me hands-on learning and life skills while surrounded by people from all walks of life in a way that traditional scouting had not. I qualified for SEAL and learned how to work with a high power team along with piloting and navigation. My love for Sea Scouts made me want to become the Council Boatswain. I am now proud to be the Northeast Area 5 Boatswain which has taught me responsibility and how to communicate with adults and youth alike. I feel that Sea Scouts represents the ideals Lord Robert Baden-Powell initially envisioned for Scouting and which must continue.
Sea Scouting led me to join Venturing where I am currently the Vice President of a Crew that devotes their time to volunteering. Yes, we spend some time on high adventure activities but that is not our main focus. We are a driven group of young adults eager to help out, learn, and lead by example.
By removing Sea Scouts and Venturing from the regular program we are going to remove a crucial aspect of development in the youth. The youth will only learn the skills but not the vital personal development. The men and women that are the adult leaders in Sea Scouting and Venturing return year after year and decade after decade. They serve and lead, giving of their time freely, because the values and skills that are taught and earned in the Sea Scout and Venturing programs are truly life changing in more facets than the amazing traditional Scout program.
My vision for Scouting would be that the BSA goes in a different direction. The adult leadership should engage in cooperatives and cross training at council and district meetings so that Scouts can enter a cooperation of a troop, ship, and crew as the youth demand creates. This way everyone has the area they care about but they are learning the essentials of being a good scout - the oath and law. My current ship is an example of this as we work on skills and encourage our youth to benefit from all aspects of Scouting. Each division of the BSA should be kept intact and Scouts and their leaders should be able to use each model to meet the needs of the particular unit.
With respect to the cutoff of age of 18, I believe that Sea Scouts and Venture Scouts should continue to 21. When I was at the World Jamboree I got to spend time with Scouts from many different countries. They had excellent leadership and camaraderie because they had more mature scouts to work with the younger ones. If anything we are missing out on something the rest of the world sees as an advantage, so we should learn from them.
In conclusion, making a difference in the life of youth and young adults is the goal of the Scouting movement and by taking away these programs you take away a core value in Scouting. Please remember that if it weren't for Sea Scouts as it is now, you would have lost me as a Scout of any sort. While I'm only one Scout I am certain I represent many Scouts you have the potential to lose. I have to believe that the national leadership wants to encourage Scouts so they will take my message to heart.
Yours in Sea Scouting,
Maxwell H. Rothschild
Northeast Region Area 5 Boatswain