Sea Scout program gets new facility
Sea Scouts, a 100-year-old program with thousands of participants worldwide, has a new building at Sylvan Beach in La Porte.
Built with contributions from Harris County, the Port of Houston Authority and the Houston Pilots Association, the 30-by-40-foot area includes both a building and an open teaching area, said Dan Wilson, a Sea Scouts volunteer regional administrator.
The pilots association is a professional maritime organization whose members board ocean-going vessels to direct them into and out of the Houston Ship Channel.
The new space was completed earlier this month and is expected to be heavily used by Sea Scouts from two southeast Houston high schools Austin, 1700 Dumble St., and Yates, 3703 Sampson St.
Both Austin and Yates are sites of Port of Houston Maritime Academies, which opened in August 2009 to help students identify career opportunities in the maritime industry.
Sea Scouts and the maritime academies have similar goals but are separate organizations.
Mark Seegers, spokesman for Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, said Garcia was interested in both programs' potential for expanding students' employment options.
This is a career-development thing getting kids in these schools interested in seafaring," Seegers said. That's what got Commissioner Garcia on board as much as anything else."
Capt. Bob Webbon, a member of the Houston Pilots Association, said the commissioner's support was critical in getting the Sea Scouts facility at Sylvan Beach.
It gives high school students a foothole on Galveston Bay," Webbon said.
It was important to secure an area so that, going into the future, the kids have a place where they can come and establish contact with the ocean," Webbon said.
Sea Scouts, though officially part of Boy Scouts of America, is open to all young people ages 13 to 20 and their adult advisors.
In East Texas, there are 22 Sea Scout troops, known as ships," with about 300 participants, said Wilson, who lives in Houston's Clear Lake neighborhood.
Sea Scouts is the oldest special-interest program in Boy Scouts," Wilson said of the organization that began in England and got its U.S. start in 1912.
It was huge before and during World War II."
In the early 1940s, about 70,000 young people who enlisted in the Armed Forces had Sea Scouts experience, Wilson said.
Admiral (Chester) Nimitz credited Sea Scouts with getting the Navy up to speed (for World War II)," he said.
Wilson was at Sylvan Beach on Saturday, when all area Sea Scouts had an invitation to see the new facility at the north end of the beach.
About 40 young people turned out, primarily from Ship 31 at Yates, Ship 17 at Austin and Ship 24 headquartered at St. Stephen's United Methodist Church in northwest Houston.
The event was a chance for all the scouts to see the new facility and for newcomers to get a taste of sailing.
Some of the less-experienced ones went out with kids from Ship 24 to get a feel for the water," Wilson said.
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