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Educational opportunities set to expand

The United States Power Squadrons has taught more than 4 million boaters during the last 99 years, but that number is expected to rapidly increase when a new, soon-to-be-announced program begins this spring. Moreover, the value of the Power Squadrons to marine dealers will become more evident, too.

Teaming up with BoatUS, the Power Squadrons is on course to introduce two major programs to boating this year. One will be a new series of subject-specific online seminars while the other will be the full seamanship course, one of the Power Squadrons’ advanced educational offerings online.

“Partner In Command” will be the first seminar to come online this spring. It’s designed to acquaint the first mate with basics so that he or she could take command if a situation called for it. This seminar will be followed later this year by seminars on “Using VHF/DSC Radios” and “Boating on Rivers, Locks and Lakes.” Each seminar will take about two hours to complete and, unlike all the Power Squadrons’ full advanced courses, there will be no passing or failing in these seminars.

Dave and Eileen Rickard, Power Squadrons members serving as marketing consultants and education project manager, respectively, for the Power Squadrons Education Department, explain the program goals this way. “We expect to have 15 or so seminars available online in the next two to three years, ranging in subject from on-board weather forecasting to anchoring techniques. The IT team at BoatUS is doing a superb job of bringing this all to life and we’re convinced the effort will result in new levels of confidence through knowledge for boaters everywhere.”

In addition, during the next two to three years, the Power Squadrons plans 10 more full courses to come along after the seamanship course. These will include “Advanced Piloting”, “Sail,” “Engine Maintenance,” “Marine Electrical Systems,” “Cruise Planning,” “Marine Navigational Systems,” and others. These course are expected to take from eight to 14 hours to complete and will have pass/fail grades just as they do in live classroom settings now.

Can all this help dealers? Definitely. First, we must recognize there’s an increasing call (and need) for more boater education. Some 46 states now require boater education for at least some groups of boaters (youth and PWC operators, for example.) While mandatory education for all boaters has never been necessary, voluntary access to a menu of learning opportunities is a desirable thing that can make boating better for our customers and we have always strongly supported such education.

To that end, Brunswick has been the industry leader in guiding its dealers to team up with their local Power Squadrons to advance boating education for their customers in the classroom setting and even some on-water training where practical. A natural extension of the new “Partner In Command” seminar, for example, could be some on-water instruction with customers.

As both the new Power Squadrons seminars and the full advanced courses begin to come online later this year, a new channel of opportunity for dealers to interact with and increase customer boating skills is becoming available. The Power Squadrons is considered boating education experts. Its sole mission has been to teach boaters how to get more out of their boating experiences by being more informed and confident. It’s been doing it for a century and nobody does it better.

For dealers with a local Power Squadrons chapter — there are more than 30,000 members in squadrons around the nation — making contact with them to learn what they can do for you is a no-brainer. From offering your customers access to the new seminars to holding a class in your showroom to holding an on-water learning event in the marina, a local Power Squadrons group is a tremendous resource you might have overlooked in the past.

To get started, go to www.usps.org and look under “locate things.”

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