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On a sandy finger of eastern North Carolina, members of Venture Crew 615, left, stand ready to zip around the Pamlico Sound on a fleet of six Sea-Doos. The personal watercraft are vehicles at Pamlico Sea Base, one of the first camps to begin offering the BSA’s Personal Watercraft (PWC) program. This council-level program teaches PWC safety and driver’s education to Scouts age 15 and older. Pamlico’s Sea-Doos operate on “green keys” (seen at right) made especially for beginner driv- ers, limiting the vehicle’s speed to no more than 35 miles per hour on the water. This limitation, however, doesn’t put a damper on the fun.


The personal watercraft activity, a


newly minted council-level program, aims to educate Scouts and Venturers (age 15 and older) on watercraft safety and stewardship of lakes and rivers. The upswing: The need for speed is universal among most teens, serving as an alluring recruiting and retention tool for waterside camps. But how do you toss teens a key to a powerful machine while keeping safety a top priority? To address Scouts’ motor-loving


PERSONAL WATERCRAFT


SAFETY TIPS Complete a boating safety course before driving a personal watercraft. Many courses are offered online. For a list, visit scoutingmagazine.org/PWC.


ffAlways wear a life jacket.


ffWhen driving the personal watercraft, maintain awareness and a safe distance from other watercraft.


f fFasten and wear the wrist lanyard that serves as an engine-stop accessory.


ffRide in a group with adult supervision. 40


interests and the need to amplify recruiting and retention efforts at camps across the country, the BSA ini- tiated a personal watercraft, or PWC, pilot program in 2010, testing the success of personal watercraft at camps nationwide. As of fall 2011, the PWC program is now supported for council use only among approved camps; the program is not available for unit use. Scout Executive Ray Franks, with the East Carolina Council, and Reggie Cahoon, former camp director at Pamlico Sea Base, jumped at the idea to rev up the camp’s summer pro- grams with Sea-Doos. At the time, the camp’s primary focus was non-motor- ized boating, such as sea kayaking. These motorized water scooters, on the other hand, use an inboard jet engine to propel the watercraft. Several brands exist on the market, including Jet Ski by Kawasaki, WaveRunners by Yamaha, and Sea-Doos. The boats range in price from about $6,000 to $10,000 and up, depending on size and power. The East Carolina Council pur-


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