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Navigate to max potential

Girls from across the country converge for a week of intense learning at a sea training program.

August 03, 2007|By Kelly Strodl

Living on a boat for the last four years with her family, Devon Fehn has developed a sturdy pair of sea legs. The 16-year-old Sea Scout from Maryland spent the last year proving it so she could make the trip out to the Newport Sea Base and participate in the prestigious Sea Scout Advanced Leadership Training.

Devon and five other girls ages 16 to 19 from across the country converged for a week of intense training on the water. They began as strangers, but after spending six days in close quarters, have banded together as a unit. "It's been very challenging, a lot of work … but being able to study together we're learning leadership while using teamwork," Devon said.

Sea Scouts are akin to Girl Scouts, but with added adventure, said Daniel Stoica, one of the adults in charge of the program down at the base. In addition to typical scouting activities, the girls learn basic navigation, knot-tying techniques and other skills.

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"Our goal is to provide practical leadership training, experience and practice using sailing and Sea Scout activities as the framework, to help each girl reach their maximum potential," Stoica said. "If we accomplish that, we've done good."

The Sea Base opened its classrooms and a 43-foot Columbian sloop, the Del Mar. Run by the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the base has provided a wide range of aquatic programs for kids since 1937.

"I think that a lot of people who hear about us think it's a challenge but don't really understand how much of a challenge it is," Devon said.

Earlier in the week, after hours of rigorous book study, the adult leaders had the young women each navigate to random coordinates in the middle of nowhere. The exercise challenged them to "reach those points in the water accurately without [geological] references," Stoica said.

The group set off Thursday for its final adventure on the Pacific, to Alamitos Bay in the Long Beach Harbor. There the Sea Scouts will trade turns on anchor watch overnight, each taking two-hour shifts.

Whatever the outcome, the experience was invaluable, Devon said. "Whether I fail or pass, I will be bringing a lot of information back to my ship."


  • KELLY STRODL may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at kelly.strodl@latimes.com.

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