At the US Power Squadrons (USPS) Annual Meeting held recently in Jacksonville, Florida, five Squadrons from across the country and one District were honored with Distinguished Civic Service Awards. Sponsored by Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), the awards are given annually to the USPS District and Squadrons in recognition of exceptional service and public boating safety education and service to the boating community.
“While America’s recreational boaters are enjoying the water with friends and family, Power Squadron members work hard giving up their own time to help make boating safer. They offer boat owners free vessel safety checks, provide boating safety instruction, and more. We greatly appreciate their commitment to ensuring everyone has a safe day on the water,” said BoatUS Foundation for Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner.
Top Squadron honors went to Sanibel-Captiva Sail and Power Squadron, Florida. Some of their activities included: participating in an on-water wreath laying ceremony honoring lost members of the armed forces, helping a local food pantry, and working to increase safety for paddlers. “They showed how difficult it can be to see kayakers at dusk and in times of limited visibility, and how simply adding white reflective tape to paddle blades can be a real lifesaver,” said Sensenbrenner.
Second Place for Top Squadron went to Lake Norman Sail and Power Squadron, North Carolina, for their work with youth and bringing a new Sea Scout Ship to the area, as well as support of the “The Dolphin Project,” a local non-profit that performs surveys to monitor the health of dolphin populations.
Third place went to North Strand Sail and Power Squadron, South Carolina, which hosted shoreline clean up events, collected donations for their local Helping Hands charity and Sea Haven, a residence for homeless teens offering crisis services.
Runners up for Top Squadron included Ocean City Power Squadron, Maryland, for their community participation in parades, clean up events and their work with a respite care home to take families fishing and sightseeing. Another runner up was Fort Macon Sail and Power Squadron, North Carolina, for their work with the local visitors center to spread safety message as well as publishing boating safety stories and reaching out to boating families.
Top USPS District Award, which recognizes the collective efforts of all of the squadrons within a region, went to USPS District 8, which includes South Florida and the Keys. The award is based on the amount of classroom hours logged, community outreach hours and number of vessel safety checks performed. These voluntary and free safety reviews are designed to educate boaters about recommended and required safety equipment aboard recreational vessels and to assess the condition of the safety equipment they have aboard.
US Power Squadrons began with the efforts of Charles Chapman, who in 1914 realized that owners of recreational powerboats needed instruction on how to operate safely and with confidence. Today, the USPS has over 400 regional Squadrons for owners of both sail and powerboats.