Sea LegsBy ANTHONY WARREN,
SSS Jackson helping young Northsiders learn leadership skills
A program designed to help Northside kids earn their sea legs while learning valuable leadership skills recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.
That program is the state’s only chapter of the Sea Scouts, and it meets at the Jackson Yacht Club.
The chapter, which is called a ship, is known as the SSS Jackson. It was formed last June and has 12 participants.
Advisor Alan Jones said Sea Scouts is a division of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), but has a nautical focus.
“It’s got the same structure as Boy Scouts, (but) instead of going camping in the woods, we go sailing,” he said.
The program is lesser known than Boy Scouts, with only one ship in the entire state.
“The one on the coast went away after Hurricane Katrina. There are folks in Vicksburg who are interested in starting one, and we’ve talked with people in Pass Christian about starting one,” he said. “Everybody loves to be on the water. This is all about learning how to be on a boat.
“Scouts learn nautical terms, and learn about navigation and throwing an anchor.”
The chapter itself is known as a ship, with the one at the yacht club being christened the SSS Jackson. SSS stands for “Sea Scout Ship.”
Jones likes the program, in part, because it gives him an opportunity to spend more time with his daughter, Anna Marie, who was voted this year to be the ship’s boatswain.
Ranks within the organization, for example, are based on the positions found aboard ship.
The top adult advisor, for example, is the skipper.
Scouts take positions ranging from boatswain, the top youth position, to yeoman and purser.
Yeoman is the ship’s scribe, while the purser is the treasurer, Jones said.
The top rank a student can obtain is Quartermaster, which is equivalent to Eagle in Boy Scouts.
“We bring in a lot of Navy traditions, like ringing the bell and blowing the boatswain’s whistle during ceremonies,” Jones said.
Jones, who also is involved with Boy Scouts, said he particularly likes the uniforms. Adults wear a uniform similar to a Naval officer’s, while scouts wear white sailor suits and work blues, he said.
“They’re the best looking uniforms in Scouting,” he said.
Uniforms and titles aside, Jones said he can see his ship’s crew growing not only in their maritime knowledge, but also in their leadership abilities.
When the chapter was first formed, Jones took on many of the responsibilities, which are now being handled by the scouts themselves.
“They don’t even want me to go sailing with them anymore,” he joked.
Trey Currie, a senior at Jackson Preparatory School, said the program has helped him build on his communications skills.
He joined Sea Scouts at the urging of a close friend, fellow Prep senior Nelson Ramsey. “He said, ‘I’m signing you up and you’re going,’” Currie said. “I went, I liked it and I’ve kept going.”
Currie and Ramsey have risen through the ranks and now serve in area and regional leadership roles respectively.
Currie is boatswain for Area One of the Southern Region, which includes large portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, the organization’s Web site states.
Among duties, Currie helps share information about events going on in the area, and helps with the development of programs to keep Scouts involved. He hopes the training will give him a leg up on getting an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.
“I’ve learned how hard it is to keep a program together, and a lot about communication,” he said.
The ship meets once a week, on Tuesdays, at the yacht club. Students receive classroom training that night, and usually go out on the water on weekends.
Jones credits the yacht club and the help of other adults in helping the program succeed. The club not only provides meeting space, it also donated a 27-foot sailboat for the scouts to use. Another donor provided the ship with a 25-foot sailboat, both of which are used on a regular basis. Other adults work with Sea Scouts behind the scenes, so Jones can spend more time with his students.
“We plan trips to the (Mississippi Gulf) Coast about four times a year,” he said. “Next year, we want to go the Caribbean.”
For more information about Sea Scouts, e-mail Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.