From the Beginning
It's been a long voyage. There of course has been momentous change along the way. And yet the community-minded core of the South Shore Yacht Club Junior Organization remains intact after all these many decades of service.
The group was officially organized in 1935. William J. Lawrie, a past commodore, and Albert Nickel were the principal founders. 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 their son, William T. Lawrie. Lois Lawrie Rehberg was one of the first girls to become a junior member in 1937.
The organization has operated continuously for more than 75 years. Many SSYC members have been instrumental in its growth and development. 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 played instrumental roles
Many different meeting places have been used by the juniors over the course of their history. In the early years, it was members' basements. Other locations included the “Shack” - still beloved but really not much more than a shed out in the skid lot.
In 1937 the present SSYC clubhouse was dedicated. From then on the juniors were able to hold their meetings in the LILLY E Room. If that was prior booked, they used the clubhouse basement - floods and all.
In 1986 under the direction of Junior Advisor John Schmuhl the juniors acquired their first actual clubhouse. This cedar-sided trailer was home until 2006 when a new clubhouse went up, completely financed by the juniors themselves through a 10-year fund-raising drive.
Attaining Foundation Status
Thanks to the efforts of Past Commodores Vic Weiler and Helen “Cookie” Mueller, the SSYC Junior Program gained foundation status in January of 2004, officially becoming the SSYC Junior Sailing Foundation, Inc. As a 501(c)3 organization it was now eligible for tax-free donations.
The SSYC Juniors meet year round. The monthly sessions are presided over by the junior commodore and board of directors. Also throughout the year, the juniors are involved in a variety of social and boating activities. Service activities include grounds clean-up day and cleaning of the club trophies.
Every 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. Twice now they've won 1st in the float competition!
Since 1991 with financial help from the SSYC Auxiliary, the juniors also have been organizing and running children’s parties. These are open to children of SSYC members and include Halloween, breakfast with Santa and the Easter egg hunt. At their annual Santa event they 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, at which junior volunteers serve breakfast, bus tables and wash dishes. Until the recent advent of stricter health codes, they also did the cooking. The annual junior awards banquet is held every September, menu and entertainment of course planned by the kids.
When summer arrives many juniors enroll in sailing lessons and race in regattas throughout the Midwest. These include the LMSRF Youth Championships, Area K Bemis & Smythe and Sears Championships.
But the most prestigious regatta is their own annual SSYC junior-sponsored Kaszube Cup. It's held in early July and draws young sailors from neighboring states. Numerous club members volunteer their time to help with race committee, safety boats, housing and feeding the participants. It’s a successful event because of the total club involvement.
Yet, being an SSYC junior isn't all sailing all the time. There are other fun events like trips to Great America, horseback riding, skiing and the annual "junior lock-in." Junior membership at South Shore Yacht Club is a well-rounded experience emphasizing service to the club and to our wider community. That's how it's been from the start. It's how we're moving into future in the 21st Century.