Sailing on The Triad, Sea Scouts, from left, Melissa Paris, James Warde, David Crawley, Mate George Warde, Rachel Paris, Jimmy Paris, Daniel Taylor and Skipper Andy Griswold enjoy the beauty of Old Hickory Lake.
Ken Beck/ The Wilson PostBy KEN BECKSpecial to The Wilson PostThese teenagers hear the siren call of the Seven Seas, but they’ll settle for the nearby waters of Old Hickory Lake.Lebanon High School students David Crawley, James Crawley, Sam Rule, Cory Walker and James Warde can raise the main sail, set a jib, plot a course, fly a spinnaker and man the helm as members of Sea Scout Ship 360. They meet weekly with the members of Sea Scout Ship 851 at the Harbor Island Yacht Club in Mt. Juliet to bolster their sailing skills and learn more about navigating waterways as well as the challenges of life. “I’ve always loved being on the water. We go out, sail, swim. It’s very hands-on,” said Walker, 18, a recent graduate of Lebanon High School and boatswain of the Lebanon ship. “Boy Scouts have their camping. We go out and we sail. It’s very mechanical. We use the same equations as aviation. It’s good, clean fun.” About two dozen students participate as members of three different ships (ships are the equivalent of troops in Boy Scouts) representing teens from the Lebanon, Smyrna, Old Hickory and Hendersonville areas. The Sea Scouts own five boats ranging in length from 8 feet to 32 feet. “I’ve been in Scouting since the 1960s and was a Scoutmaster in Lebanon for over 10 years. I started on the water at 10-11-12. I was looking for something different,” said George Warde, 52, skipper of the four-year-old Lebanon ship, who has a background in sales and marketing. “Sea Scouting has been around for 98 years. We’ve (he and his sons) been camping and backpacking and hiking for so many years. I thought this would be something different for the kids to get involved in. It’s a way to learn what boating, sailing, kayaking and windsurfing is about.“With the ability to be coed, some young women appreciate that they have had the opportunity to get into aquatic sports and adventures. It’s a lot of fun,” Warde said.Smyrna High School student Melissa Paris, 17, has been a Sea Scout just over a year, ever since her dad told her about the organization.“It sounded really cool. We came here and checked it out and joined. It’s really fun,” Paris said. “I learned how to sail. I had never been on a sailboat. I love it—being on the water. I had never done much on water except for kayaking.”Last year, the aqua scouts traveled to Pensacola, Fla., and sailed the Gulf of Mexico. In just a few days, they plan to sail Lake Barkley for six to seven days. This fall, they’ll learn about scuba-diving.Supervising the teenagers are adults known as skippers and mates. Andy Griswold serves as skipper of Old Hickory’s Ship 851, which first set sail in 1993 and is sponsored by the Harbor Island Yacht Club. Billy Moomy is skipper of Hendersonville’s ship 9851, which launched last summer.Other mates include Toni-Lee Crawley with the Lebanon ship; Randy White, Brian Laidlaw and Cathy Griswold with the Old Hickory ship; and Roy Cecil of Hendersonville.“We all work together (the three ships), and it’s for the kids to help them develop skills on the water, leadership and citizenship skills,” Warde said.“Sea Scouting is an organization that teaches the kids a lot about life: how to run an organization, how to set goals and achieve those goals, how to make a boat fast so they can win a race. Basically, it’s about how to work together,” said Skipper Griswold, who lives in Hermitage and is a computer programmer for the Department of Agriculture.“I dealt in Scouting for most of my life. In 1993, my wife and I were approached by Harbor Island Yacht Club members about the possibility of starting a Sea Scout ship. I thought it was only natural. We were already working with kids and this gave me an excuse to get out to the lake. It’s become a life-changing thing. We’ve heard many kids say this has been the most important thing in their lives.“Some of these are older kids and they’re busy kids. We have a challenge keeping them here. Some come to a few meetings. Some don’t miss for four or five years. We have had some who have progressed to becoming U.S. sail certified instructors,” Griswold said.“I will remember this experience for a long time,” said Zack Laidlaw, 18, who just graduated from Hillsboro High School and sails with the Old Hickory ship. A Sea Scout for the past four years, he relishes last summer’s trip to the Gulf. “We got to see the different channel markers and different waves and experience how enjoyable sailing on the ocean could be.”Sea Scouting is a part of the Venturing program with the Boy Scouts of America for youth ages 14-20. During the school year, the Sea Scouts meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays. Among other things, training sessions are conducted and weekend activities are planned. During the summer months, the ships meet at 6 p.m., and an evening sail often follows a short meeting.Ken Beck may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.