NOTE: In 2019 the Seneca Sail & Power Squadron rebranded itself as "America's Boating Club - Finger Lakes Chapter" as part of a national initiative of the United States Power Squadron. References to the USPS or Seneca Squadron have not been updated in this document, which was written four years earlier. 

Published: January, 2014

Mission:

To encourage and promote boating, power and sail, and to provide a practical means to foster social relationships among persons interested in boating;

To encourage and promote a high standard of skill in the handling and navigation of boats, power and sail; to encourage and promote the study of the science and art of navigation, seamanship and small boat handling; to develop and promote instructional programs for the benefit of members; and to stimulate members to increase their nautical knowledge and skill through instruction, self-education, and participation in marine sports activities and competitions;

To encourage its members to abide by recognized nautical traditions, customs and etiquette; and

To render, and encourage its members to render, such altruistic, patriotic or other civic service as it may from time to time determine or elect.

The Seneca Sail and Power Squadron will be widely recognized as a friendly, energetic organization welcoming to boaters of all types, respected for its quality education programs and varied civic engagement activities.

EDUCATION

Vision:

Definition: The courses, seminars, and programs offered or potentially offered by the squadron, as well as the instructors and infrastructure (technology, facilities, materials, etc.) for effectively delivering the programs.

Situation:

  • Our current educational program emphasizes intensive 12-16 week courses geared to two audiences:

    • Those who plan to cruise in coastal or off-shore environments
    • Those who may never go beyond local waters but are curious and eager to learn
  • Our ABC class faces stiff competition from the Sheriff’s course which is offered for free

    • Per USPS HQ we must offer ABC
    • If we continue to hold ABC it will require new leadership
    • The new NYS law requiring everyone born after 5/1/1996 to take an 8-hourcourse will provide a potential new audience
  • The Mall Boat show requires a heavy investment of time for little return as measured by ABC registrations and potential students interested in more than the PWC certificate

  • We have a reputation for innovative program ideas, including on-the water training

  • A major limiting factor in offering more programs is the availability of certified and willing instructors

  • USPS continues to develop a wider variety of new educational programs including seminars, OTW, on-line courses and Boat Operator Certification

GOAL 1

Meet the educational needs of USPS members and promote safe boating by enhancing the knowledge and skill of the general public.

Objective 1: Regularly assess the need and demand for educational programs and evaluate student satisfaction.

Action Steps: member surveys, student evaluations, strategic partnerships with related organizations, brainstorming
WHO: SEO, Instructors, Executive Committee

Objective 2: Develop and regularly review annual and 5-year Education Plans, providing a clear and timely pathway for members interested in advancing through USPS grades, USPS University and Boat Operator Certification

Action Step: Partner with other nearby squadrons to jointly develop and offer a schedule of courses covering the next 5 years (2014-2018)

WHO: SEO, Commander

WHEN: Schedule developed and announced by April 1, 2014

Objective 3: Encourage the development of cohorts of students that progress through the advanced grades together

Action Step: Incorporate occasional social activities along with instruction time

WHO: Lead Instructor, Proctors

WHEN: As appropriate depending on program

Objective 4: Ensure that all educational programs and activities are adequately marketed to USPS members and, where appropriate, the general public

Action Step 1: Develop and implement a marketing/pricing plan for each program/event to include media, website, Facebook, newsletter, etc.

WHO: SEO, Lead Instructor, PRO, Treasurer

WHEN: Implement 6 weeks before anticipated start date

Action Step 2: Explore potential collaboration with Corning Community College

WHO: SEO, Commander

WHEN: 2015

Objective 5: Ensure that there is a pool of qualified instructors sufficient to support a robust educational program.

Action Step 1: In order to expose potential instructors to the classroom environment, recruit and provide 1 proctor per every 5 students for all courses.

Action Step 2: Utilize social activities, website and Facebook page to recruit instructors and proctors

Action Step 3: Recruit candidates for one offering of Instructor Development to be held in the first half of 2014.

WHO: SEO, Commander

Action Step 4: When advisable, work with DEO to identify potential instructors from neighboring squadrons

Objective 6: Expand and diversify educational offerings especially seminars and OTW programs that meet local demand

Action Step 1: Develop and offer 4 seminars in 2014

WHO: ASEO w/ SEO

Action Step 2: Add an OTW component to one new educational course or activity in 2014

WHO: Lead Instructor w/ SEO

Objective 7: Considering recent experience and the new NYS Safe Boating Law, develop a new approach to offering ABC and recruiting students

Action Step 1: Decide on participation in the Mall Boat Show WHO: ASEO, Flag Officer

WHAT: Recommendation to Executive Committee

WHEN: February, 2014 meeting

Action Step 2: Develop a new plan for ABC WHO: ASEO

WHAT: Recommendation to Executive Committee WHEN: February, 2014 Executive Committee meeting

PUBLIC AWARENESS

Definition: Public Awareness includes the materials, methods and strategies utilized to increase the visibility and inform the general public about the programs and activities of the Seneca Sail and Power Squadron, with the ultimate goal of increasing our educational reach and membership.

Situation:

  • USPS is nearly invisible, even in “our own” marina where many are members

  • Some nomenclature (“power squadron”) and customs (uniforms) may paint an inaccurate or confusing image of what the squadron really is

  • We have an excellent website and recently developed a Facebook page with 42 “Likes” of which 8 are SSPS members (10% of membership base)

  • The squadron PRO position is vacant

  • Two local marinas under new ownership (Frog Hollow and Montour)

  • USPS HQ has developed marketing relationship with Brunswick and Boat US

  • Brochure templates, promotional materials etc. (see PRO LOG webpage) are available from USPS HQ

  • Our service area coincides with televised media (WETM, WENY) market

  • Little direct marketing is done other than to members

  • The Arnot Mall Boat Show seems to be on the decline

  • Ours is a tourist area with many well-attended public events

  • The VSC program has potential for expansion

GOAL

Increase the visibility and presence of SSPS through promotional events, marketing and PSA opportunities.

OBJECTIVE 1: Develop squadron capacity to develop and maintain a robust public affairs/marketing effort

Action Step1: Appoint a Public Relations Officer and Public Affairs Committee

WHO: Cdr.

WHEN: January, 2014

Action Step 2: Review PRO-LOG section of USPS website and identify actions for local implementation

WHO: PRO

WHEN: By March 1, 2014

Action Step 3: Build and maintain an inventory of customized promotional materials (brochures, banners, signs, window stickers, etc.) taking advantage of templates provided by USPS National

WHO: XO, PRO

WHEN: March 1, 2014

Action Step 4: Build list of media contacts and PSA templates

WHO: XO, PRO

WHEN: By March 1, 2014

Action Step 5: Build a list of marinas, bulletin boards, etc. including Keuka Lake, Northern PA and Seneca Lake as far north as Sampson, develop relationships there, and distribute materials.

WHO: XO, PRO and committee

WHEN: April 1, 2014

Action Step 6: Appoint a VSC Chair and charge with expanding current efforts in that program.

WHO: Cdr.

WHEN: January, 2014

OBJECTIVE 2: Implement a marketing strategy for each educational event and social activity utilizing static (printed) as well as dynamic (web, Facebook) media and PSAs

Action Step: Coordinate with SEO, ASEO, SAO WHO: PRO

WHEN: Ongoing

OBJECTIVE 3: Develop and implement one new general promotional event for each year of this plan (i.e., one event in 2014, two events in 2015, three events in 2016, etc.)

Action Step: Develop and implement a local plan for recognizing and celebrating the USPS Centennial in 2014

WHO: XO, AO, PRO

WHEN: National Safe Boating Week (May 17-23)

Candidate events:

Advertising

Do our own cardboard boat? Provide course safety personnel?

Create short spots on the local TV news?

Brochures, hand-outs in restaurants, stores.

Phenolic sign indicating membership for our slips?

Sign by the marina flag pole?

Events where we can invite guests (bring a guest dinner meeting).

Strategic invitations: Wineries, business owners?

Discounts to first 5 or 10 people who sign up for a course? Scholarships?

Free gift?

Consider scholarship in form of free membership for new members?

Become a presence at the Sheriff’s course?

Get involved with high schools?

Adopt a highway sponsor

Have a “Duty Officer” present in marinas on a scheduled basis to answer questions.

OBJECTIVE 4: 25% of squadron membership will “Like” and post at least once monthly to the squadron Facebook page

Action Step: Facebook training for Executive Committee

WHO: Cdr.

WHEN: February 2014 meeting

OBJECTIVE 5: Develop and promote a contemporary public image of the squadron while observing nautical traditions and etiquette

Action Step 1: Consider current public perceptions of USPS and develop recommendations for aligning our promotional materials with organizational goals (self-improvement through education; camaraderie; and civic engagement)

WHO: Executive Committee

Action Step 2: Develop an informational plaque that explains why the flag is flown from the gaff and install at Village Marina flag pole.

WHO: Flag Officer

Action Step 3: Revise squadron bylaws to reflect gender neutrality and other appropriate updates.

WHO: Squadron Secretary

WHEN: Draft to Executive Committee by October 1, 2014

MEMBER INVOLVEMENT

Definition: Member involvement includes strategies and approaches for attracting and retaining new squadron members as well as increasing the participation of current members in squadron support such as committees, leadership positions and as instructors.

Situation:

  • Our membership is at a reasonably healthy level but declining

  • Members tend to be older with larger boats kept at Seneca Lake marinas

  • We are able to fill most key squadron positions, but the “bench is thin” and we are vulnerable to the loss of a few key individuals from leadership

  • The cost of dues relative to perceived value of membership is a disincentive for some

  • Several members have served with distinction at the District and National levels

  • Executive Committee includes members with considerable expertise in education, organizational leadership and community involvement

  • There is limited awareness of USPS member benefits (insurance discounts, etc.) 

GOAL

Achieve and maintain a membership level that will enable the squadron to fulfill its mission.

Objective 1: Double squadron membership to 160 by 2018

Action Step 1: Form a Membership Committee

WHO: Cdr.

WHEN: January, 2014

Action Step 2: Review member recruitment strategies (i.e., pricing, honorary members, cyber-members)

WHO: Membership Committee, Membership Chair

WHAT: Recommendations to Executive Committee

WHEN: First quarter, 2014

Action Step 3: Develop a promotional campaign on the benefits of USPS membership

WHO: PRO, Membership Committee

Action Step 4: Develop a “pitch” for ABC students to encourage them to remain engaged with SSPS by participating in a follow-on event (short seminar, OTW activity, etc.)

WHO: Membership Committee, ASEO

Objective 2: Increase the level of participation by SSPS members in squadron activities and leadership positions.

Action Step 1: Develop a new member orientation program

WHO: Membership Committee, PRO

Action Step 2: Submit Member Involvement Retention Award application

WHO: Cdr.

WHEN: 2015

Objective 3: Expand opportunities for involving families and youth

Action Step 1: Convene a focus group of SSPS youth

WHO:

WHEN: Winter, 2014

Action Step 2: Explore collaboration with Watkins Glen Sailing Club

WHO: Cdr., SEO

WHEN: Winter 2014

Action Step 3: Organize a joint activity with a kayak group

WHO:

WHEN:

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Definition: Social Activities include the various activities that promote and facilitate social interaction among squadron members and contribute to the general enjoyment of boating.

Situation:

  • We have a nice mix of social activities such as COW, dinner meetings, fall and spring events at Fulkerson’s and a summer event with FLYC

  • We have held these events for several years and participation is lagging, averaging maybe 20% of squadron membership

  • Few activities are “kid-friendly”

  • Good relationships with Finger Lakes Yacht Club (FLYC) and Watkins Glen Yacht Club (WGYC)

GOAL

Offer a diverse range of social activities that appeal to a broad spectrum of current and new members.

Objective 1: Generate new ideas for activities and provide assistance to the SAO

Action Step 1: Form a Social Activities Committee

WHO: Executive Committee

WHEN: Winter, 2014

WHAT: Ideas such as:

Coffee meetings on Saturday mornings

Car pool to a boat show or to another event

Buy a project boat and make that a class/member involvement/social event Sponsor small boat racing like Hobie Cats? Sunfish? Lasers

Do a seminar/social event at BOCES and open it to their students?

Action Step 2: (See Objective 3, Step 1 under Member Involvement, above)

Objective 2: Partner with other organizations to organize events

Action Step 1: Partner more closely with the FLYC on summer social events

Action Step 2: Partner with a boating organization at the northern end of Seneca Lake on at least one event in 2014