For Sea Scout Ship 5007 of Syracuse, the third time was a charm.
Then again, times one and two weren’t too shabby, either.
Skipper Ron Sims and several members of the ship’s crew recently installed a wheelchair ramp for a needy recipient at her mobile home near Cromwell.
The location is the third for the ramp and platform assembly, originally built by members of the Sea Scout program, a co-ed service arm of the Boy Scouts of America. “We install them and keep them in place until there’s no more need for them,” such as the recuperation, relocation or death of the homeowner, said Sims.
In the past two years, the crew has built six ramps. The other five are still in their original locations in Syracuse, North Webster and the east side of Lake Wawasee. The group also recently helped reroof, install siding, replace a door and repair floors on a house in the Cromwell area.
“This group of young people is providing some extraordinary service to members of their community,” said Jim Molebach, field director of BSA’s Anthony Wayne Area Council based in Fort Wayne.
Most of the 10-member crew are 14 to 21 years old, though three of them have stayed on past the age limit because “they enjoy it that much,” said Sims, who estimated three-fourths of the ship’s 100 registered members since its beginning in 2009 have been “special needs kids.”
Sea Scout Ship 5007 conducts several yearly service projects, including installing and removing the community pier at the Enchanted Hills public access area. The crew also participates in Chicago’s Christmas Tree Ship, helping unload more than a thousand Christmas trees boated in from Michigan and Wisconsin for distribution to underprivileged families in the Chicago area.
The ship is sponsored by its charter organization, Bowen Center, which administrates the $1,700 yearly budget, most of which comes from an annual endowment from the Kenneth and Lela Harkless Foundation of Leesburg.
Molebach explained the genesis of the Syracuse-based program. “Kurt Carlson (chief executive officer) of the Bowen Center was looking for some program for the older kids in the Enchanted Hills area,” he said. “They had some activities but weren’t under the auspices of any particular group. He was looking for structure.”
Carlson and Molebach connected, and “we were able to put together a group of community leaders. We sat down and brainstormed and got ideas for leaders.”
“The aims of sea scouting are the same as Boy Scouts,” said Sims, who has been with the program since its beginning. “Personal fitness, including physical, mental and emotional fitness — basically being a well-rounded person,” he said.
“It has actually made me a better leader to help kids with hands-on learning,” said John Pfefferle, 24, who has been involved in Sea Scouts since just after he graduated from Wawasee High School five years ago. “I teach them how to tie knots, swimming techniques, how to wear a life jacket and help them with getting their boating license, CPR license, first aid and safe boating.”
The group has taken a number of sailing excursions on Lake Wawasee and field trips to the Ford Museum, Howe Military Academy, various war memorials, the Erie Canal and professional basketball and hockey games in Fort Wayne.