Desert group takes gold in nautical competition

POSTED: 11:12 AM PDT May 21, 2013    UPDATED: 11:14 AM PDT May 21, 2013 

The Coachella Valley's Mariner Girl Scout Troop #103, also known as M.S.S. CONCHILLA, traveled to Newport Dunes last weekend to compete in the annual Mariner competition known as GAM. The girls quietly sailed past a troop that has won the competition 19 times, including a winning streak more than a decade long.

Mariner Girl Scout Troop #103 meets in Indio, but includes girls from 4 different high schools and 5 different middle schools. The troop has 22 members ranging from 6th to 12th grades, though only the oldest girls compete at GAM. Their home turf ranges from Salton City to Cathedral City. The girls participate in the traditional Girl Scout program, as well as the Mariner program. Mariner troops are known as ships, thus the Indio troop is known as M.S.S. CONCHILA, The Ship of the Little Shell. M.S.S. stands for Mariner Scout Ship.

It is difficult to adequately describe the intensity of the competition, the wide range of skills, and the high proficiency required to successfully compete at GAM. Although there is a great deal of camaraderie, the weekend is a constant stream of pressure-filled competition.
Top Ship Awards are given to the ship with the highest score in 19 different categories. This year M.S.S. CONCHILLA earned Top Ship Awards in 9 categories, including:

-Class A Test
-Compass and Relative Bearing
-International Code Flags
-Kayaking for Form
-Sailing for Form
-Rescue Event
-School of the Crew
-Site Inspection

An Individual Top Score Award was given to Irene Morrow, who tied with a girl from M.S.S. HORIZONS with 80 out of 87 questions correct on the difficult Class A Test.

The M.S.S. CONCHILLA was also awarded the prestigious Golden Clipper award for the first time in it's history.

M.S.S CONCHILLA 2013 GAM girls were Xenia Andrews, Brittney Bell, Hanna Fickewirth, Aspen Koestler, Irene Morrow, Judy Morrow, Ashley Whitley. The girls were accompanied by Skipper Mike Wells, First Mate Ann Wells (who have been the ship’s advisors since 1983, and Girl Scout leaders since 1975) and 3rd Mate Gloria Maciel (Troop Committee Member). 2013 was the 30 year anniversary of M.S.S. CONCHILLA’s first trip to GAM, and the 19th time they entered the competition.