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  • Board of Reviews

    So I was reading through the previous thread along with a few others this past year and got to thinking about how we do BORs in Sea Scouts. You know how the BOR is not supposed to be a retest of the reqs? Well, at least in my area, Sea Scout BORs are very much a retest. You may not be tested on everything, but depending on who is on your board certain things will be checked. Some adults will bring a piece of line and ask you to tie a knot or two. Others will focus on other things.

    When I had my Able BOR there were charts, and I had to show that I was familiar with them. I was asked a lot of very specific questions that had very specific answers. Everything was fair game. Even the stuff from previous ranks.

    The members of the board were all very knowledgeable Officers. Most had been Sea Scouts in their youth, all had been active in the program for between 10 and 50 years. I walked in, introduced myself, they opened a manual and started with the first requirement. They took turns asking me questions about each until they were satisfied. It was rather fun. I think it took like an hour, but I don't remember right now.

    That is pretty much the standard format for BORs in my area. That is the tradition, and I doubt it will change anytime soon. Well with National Vice-Commodores suggesting various iPad apps to assist with asking questions at Quartermaster BORs I know it is not going to change.

    I know other areas don't do it the way we do it. I know that in most of the country it is a lot easier to earn Quartermaster than in my area. That pisses me off once in a while, but then I get to remembering the Quartermasters that I have met from those other areas. Of the Quartermaster that I have met, the ones from my area are usually much more knowledgeable boaters. There are a few exceptions in both directions, but those are few and far between.

    I attribute that to two things. One, we have a huge number of adults volunteers that come from the program, and have a maritime background. We have a lot of tugboat captains, Navy and Coast Guard personnel, and a lot of people that went to various maritime academies. Two, we make rank advancement a lot harder than it needs to be. Those two factors seem to produce Sea Scouts that have a better handle on the material.

  • #2
    You raise a good question, sail. Should board of reviews in the venturing program different in any way from BS BORs?

    I would suspect Quartermaster would necessarily be different because the nature of the award is very specific. Silver is a nebulous entity. Not sure a BOR could be tested.

    Never gave it much thought because my crew is not there. Also, let's face it, we all come off as having a law unto ourselves sometimes.

    But any of you who have crews that awarded Silvers, what guidance have you given your committee?


    • #3
      I was reading the advancement guide earlier this year, I don't have time to look it up right now, but they specified that the rules for BORs were the same for all programs.


      • #4
        Hello sailingpj,

        I think you make the useful point that DESPITE what National thinks, Scouting is still a program owned by the units that organize the program. They have a lot of room to decide how they will organize and manage their programs.

        Some choose to use that by organizing Eagle Mills and program to grease the ways for Quartermaster. Others choose to have programs led by highly experienced volunteers and professionals interested in passing on real skills that can lead to professional opportunities.

        A few months ago a Sea Scout leader was relating his experience when he was appointed a US Navy Admiral. He received a phone call from Eagle Scout and US President Gerald Ford informing him of his promotion and remarking on his experience as a Scout Leader "Keep it up," was the encouraging word of the Commander in Chief. Decades later, he was still doing that.

        If leaders like that want to ask some serious questions at a Board of Review, it would be foolish for National to try to stand in their way.


        • #5

          I have a hypothesis on the reasons why the national advancement folks are so out of touch with how Sea Scouts do things and think the BORs are similar: they have no idea on how the Sea Scout program works at all and have no experience whatsoever with the program, despite Sea Scouts being the second oldest program in the BSA, and scouting worldwide.

          So the volunteers on that committee are clueless.

          And very few pros have any idea about Sea Scouts, heck my SE what uniform I was wearing when I wore my working khakis to a council level meeting. Charlie Holmes took a very strong interest in Sea Scouts, heck he was the first pro I ever saw in a Sea Scout uniform.

          If memory serves, Keith Christopher's had a daughter in Sea Scouts. If so, he had an indirect background in the program.


          • #6
            Well to see that National knows nothing about the program and nautical stuff in general you just have to look at the new manual.


            • #7

              Is the new manual THAT bad? Don't have a copy, and don't want to spend the $25+ tax on a book I wont' use at this time.


              • #8
                Well apparently a Sunfish is the only kind of catboat that exists. As a Laser sailor I find that offensive because Sunfish sail very differently than any other catboat.

                According to the manual everyone uses a fender board because "Fenders are hung over the side but are never allowed to rub against the wharf or pier,..."

                "A dock is the space alongside a wharf or pier that the boat occupies. You cannot tie a boat to a dock since the dock is the space the boat occupies."

                There are a dozen sailing specific pages in the Boat Handling section, and only 1 1/2 powerboat pages.

                That is just a few things I noticed on a quick check. There is a lot of stuff in it that simply doesn't make sense, or is specific to one area or situation, but they don't say that.

                You can download the manual for free from


                • #9
                  AH CARUMBA!!!!!!!!!

                  And thanks for the link for the free download.

                  And aside since you know a bunch of regional and national Sea Scout folks, you can tell them the "What Did You Do This Weekend?" Sea Scout promotional videos are working, at least in my household. Oldest made the comment "That looks cool!" and when he found out I only made it to Ordinary, stated, "I wanna get Quartermaster."


                  • #10

                    What pj says about Sea Scouts and National is also true about Venturing and National. They just don't seem to get it or even care to learn. Sea Scouting is pretty much dead in our council and their remants have now joined crews. I have a former Sea Scout Skipper, and three former sea scouts, as an asociate advisor in our crew who has really expanded the crews water activities with kayaks, white water rafting, and smail sailboats. It is sad that the BSA has allowed the Sea Scouts and Air Scouts to die off, even though it seems economics may have been the deciding factor.


                    • #11

                      My opinion, stressing opinion, is that Career Interest Exploring is what caused Sea Scouts to wither. Someone pointed out that after the intro of Career Interest Exploring, as well as the creation of Red, White, and Blue fleets for Traditional, Nontraditional, and maritime career oriented ships, the number of Sea Scouts dropped drastically.

                      Also I see a simile with the non-traditional ships and some ships today with troops being led by SMs grew up in Scouting from 1972 - 1979: Those skippers from non-traditional ships are following what they learned, just as the SMs are following what they learned: more leadership and less outing.

                      Hmm maybe that's what's wrong with national? Too many big wigs, both volunteers and pros, grew up when the emphasis was not on the Outing in Scouting?


                      • #12

                        While you might be correct IMO what killed traditional sea scouting(power boats/ships) was plain economics, cost of repairs, fuel, insurance, docking fees, etc. for a ship these days are way beyond the means of most organizations.


                        • #13
                          Well that's why all ships should ditch the powerboats and go to sail. One of the sailing ships near me fills up their fuel tank once a year. I think they have a 100 gallon tank.


                          • #14
                            PJ - any chance the person who wrote the new guide is British or relied heavily on British books for definition? What we call a slip here in the US is called a dock in Britain.


                            • #15
                              I can find out, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Every section has things like that that are just weird. The manual also often ignores the fact that there are a lot of ships out there that use powerboats. Most of the manual covers sailing ok, and ignores powerboats.