Our first Recognition Dinner

On Tuesday evening our ship held its first annual recognition dinner, intended to honor those who have provided us with support in the past year. Our guests included: Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta, Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May and his assistant Ed Cronin, BSA’s Occoquan District Commisioner Tim Rupert, BSA Assistant District Commissioner Tami Cope-Jones, Occoquan Regional Park Manager John Houser, Prince William Marina owner Carlton Phillips and his lovely wife Debbie, Carefree Boat Club representatives Leo Smith and Chris Ragland. I introduced those guests, and one of our two Eagle Scouts, Jared Habel, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Mayor Porta prefaced reading the invocation with one of the humorous anecdotes for which he is known. This one referred to my having endured his giving his first invocation some weeks ago, in which he rambled for about 10 minutes. He ended the story by holding up our event invocation so all could see its brevity and stating that I had given him this in order to ensure that he would not go on and on. Once the invocation was over, Earnie asked if this meant we could all eat. Of course! (That’s why I wanted to keep it brief.)

We put out a good potluck spread, with lasagne, mac and cheese, a broccoli casserole, a potato and onion casserole, tossed salad, ham, turkey breast, and a variety of beverages and desserts. Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, and there was a happy, congenial air to the room.

After everyone had some time to eat, the Boatswain and I went back to the front of the room to begin the recognitions. Aside from presenting plaques to our major donors, we also recognized our two captains, John Ashton and Tom Finn, and two leaders who had given “above and beyond” the call of duty: COR Stu Sanford and Mate for Program Dan Schmoker. In addition, I presented adult and youth officers with a small gift I heped my friend Debra prepare. She donated gear bags in memory of her father, who loved sailing until his last days, and who taught his children and step-children to sail. I wanted everyone to recognize “These officers are some of the people who regularly contribute their time, energy and talents to our ship.” and thank them for their service. I also wanted all to know that Stu and Dan had done so much more, and why I appreciated their contributions. It was fun to end my comments about Dan on a note that raised applause for his amazing accomplishment in Amanda Grace‘s homecoming sail.

After I gave out awards and recognition, our Boatswain, her Mate for Program
and our Assistant Bravo Crew Leader presented me with two gifts. Before presenting, Boatswain Keller noted that I had done a great deal to make the ship a success, and even told them I had put in 7 hours of ship work in the previous day alone. Rebecca presented a bisqueware plate, with a beautiful rendition of Amanda Grace, hand painted by her sister Judith, who is a professional captain. The plate bears signatures from some of our scouts and leaders, and is ready for more. I could hardly believe how lovely and perfect is this gift! It is very meaningful, and I will cherish it always.

Then Sarah presented me with the best consumable gift, a box of
Gearharts chocolates! I could not resist noting that these are from one of the top 50 chocolatiers in the country, with delicious ingredients like whiskey, fresh mint, and cardamom.

Later, I told my scouts in an email, “your gifts are perfect! One will temporarily indulge my “dark” side (dark chocolate, that is), and the other a perfect personal keepsake I will enjoy for the rest of my days.” Too many of them escaped without signing my beautiful AmandaGrace plate, though, so I will have to pin them down at various meetings and events. In the meantime, I had a movie night with my daughters Thursday night, during which we will carefully cut the luscious handmade into thirds so we could share them all, because everyflavor–from Tequila Lime to Earl Gray to Raspberry Zinfandel to Maya–is my favorite.

Two more celebrations that night: Carefree Boat Club’s gifting to us the Catalina 22 “Takin’ It Breezy,” and Luis’s fifteenth birthday. His parents brought a cake and we sang before eating it.

The evening wound down and we made the scouts–who were outfitted in their dress blue uniforms for the first time–pose for group shots. There were so many flashes it was like a press conference!

Though it took a lot of last-minute scrambling , we pulled off our first recognition dinner with success. We had a nice set up, plenty of good food, enthusiastic acknowledgment of our honorees and making them feel welcome, and incredibly efficient and thorough clean up. I suppose we will do it again next year. With this template created, the scouts will be able to handle this all by themselves. I will be the image of what they say is “the successful skipper,” the one who, at an event, looks like she isn’t doing anything, because she has done all her work–including training her scouts for their leadership roles–ahead of time. She socializes and relaxes, while her scouts go about their business, knowing what to do, and doing it well.

I can dream, can’t I?

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