The South Shore Yacht Club Junior Organization was officially organized in 1935. William J. Lawrie, a past commodore, and Albert Nickel were instrumental in beginning the Junior program.
In the early years the Juniors met in the basement of Meta and Bill Lawrie’s house on South Shore Drive. The first Junior Commodore was William T. Lawrie, son of Meta and Bill. Lois Lawrie Rehberg was one of the first girls to become a Junior member in 1937.
The SSYC Junior Organization has met continuously for 75 years. Many SSYC members have been instrumental in the growth and development of the Junior Program. Dedicated Junior Advisors such as William T. Lawrie, Al Nickel, Bill Lepthein, Carl Mueller Jr., Bob Blackwood, Roger Strube, Don Dillon, John Schmuhl, Helen “Cookie” Mueller and Mike Blackwood have been instrumental to the success of the Junior program.
Numerous meeting places have been used by the Juniors since 1935. In the early years the Juniors met in Member basements. Other locations for meetings included the “Shack” which was a shed located in the skid lot. In 1937 the SSYC clubhouse was dedicated. From then on the Juniors were able to hold their meetings in the Lily E room. When that was not available, the Juniors met in the basement of the clubhouse, water and all.
In 1986 under the direction of Junior Advisor John Schmuhl the Juniors acquired their first clubhouse. This cedar-sided trailer was home to the juniors until 2006 when a new junior clubhouse was built. The Juniors financed this building construction with fundraising/donation money that they raised over the previous ten years.
Thanks to the efforts of Past Commodores Vic Weiler and Helen “Cookie” Mueller, the SSYC Junior Program gained Foundation status in January of 2004. They officially became the SSYC Junior Sailing Foundation, Inc. As a 501c3 organization they were now eligible for tax free donations.
They SSYC Junior Sailing Foundation meets year round. Membership is open to all youths ages 8 to 18. Parents need not be members of SSYC. There are currently 81 Junior members from throughout all of southeastern Wisconsin. Meetings are held on a monthly basis and presided over by a Junior Commodore and Board of Directors.
Throughout the year, the Juniors are involved in a variety of social and boating activities. Service activities for SSYC include Grounds Clean Up Day and cleaning of the Club trophies. In spring and fall the Juniors participate in the Keep Milwaukee Beautiful campaign by cleaning up litter at South Shore Beach. The Juniors have entered floats in the annual South Shore Frolics Parade in July. On two occasions they have won 1st place in the float competition!
Since 1991 with financial help from the SSYC Auxiliary, the Juniors have been organizing and running children’s parties. These are open to children of SSYC members. These include Halloween, Breakfast with Santa and the Easter Egg Hunt. At Breakfast with Santa the Juniors collect toys that are donated to the Toys for Tots program.
A long standing fundraiser for the Juniors is the annual Mother’s Day Buffet. The Juniors serve breakfast, bus tables and wash dishes in honor of their moms. In the “good old days” the Juniors actually cooked and prepared the food themselves. But, stricter health codes put an end to that tradition.
When summer arrives many Juniors enroll in sailing lessons. Lessons are held for Beginner, Intermediate, Racing Tactics and Social sailors. In 2010 the cost of the lessons are $250 for the eight week program. The Juniors use Lasers, Optimists, JY Trainers and 420 boats for lessons. During the summer the Juniors race in numerous regattas throughout the Midwest. These include the LMSRF Youth Championships, Area K Bemis & Smythe and Sears Championships.
The most prestigious regatta that the Juniors participate in is their own SSYC Junior sponsored Kaszube Cup Regatta. This regatta is held annually in early July and draws sailors from throughout the Midwest. In 2005 the regatta attracted 142 racers from four states and 16 different yacht clubs. Numerous SSYC Club members volunteer their time to help with race committee, safety boats, housing and feeding the participants. It’s successful regatta because of the total Club involvement.
The annual Junior Awards Banquet is held in September. The menu and entertainment are planned by the Juniors. This event highlights the accomplishments of the Junior sailors and members. Sailing awards and Junior participation awards are presented to the Juniors. It’s a time to recognize the Juniors for all of their hard work and achievements throughout the year. A fun time is had by Juniors, family and friends.
During the course of its history, the Juniors have also been involved in a variety of social events. These events help form life long friendships for many Juniors. Some of the more popular events are the trip to Great America, horseback riding, skiing and the annual Junior lock-in. Juniors that attend meetings and work days earn a reduced fee for attending these events. This proves to be great incentive for increasing Junior participation in all events.
The SSYC Junior Sailing Foundation is fortunate to have the support of the Junior Advisory Committee, SSYC Officers, SSYC Members and Junior parents. Without this help, operating the SSYC Junior Foundation would be a daunting task. A strong Junior organization helps build the future of SSYC. Junior members today become prospective SSYC members in the future.