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What is the United States Power Squadrons, Inc.?

USPS® Frequently Asked Questions

Contents of this page

Q. What is United States Power Squadrons?
A. Organized in 1914, USPS is a non profit, educational organization dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching classes in seamanship, navigation and related subjects. Our members are boating families who contribute to their communities by promoting safe boating through education. We enjoy participating with our fellow members on the water and in the classroom. USPS has some 60,000 members organized into 450 squadrons across the country and in some US territories. USPS is the world's largest non-profit boating organization and has been honored by three US presidents for its civic contributions. 
Q. What are the activities of USPS?
A. Each squadron's activities involve the three primary objectives of USPS: community service, continuing education, and enjoying the friendship and camaraderie of our fellow members. 
Q. What community and civic services does USPS perform?
A. Local squadrons offer boating safety courses on a regular basis to boaters in our communities. These courses are open to the public and there is no age limit for participants. USPS squadrons have offered these courses for over half a century and have educated more than 3 million boaters to date. Successful completing a USPS boating safety course meets the educational requirements for boat operation in all states and is a requirement for squadron membership. Our members also help the National Ocean Service keep our nautical charts accurate by reporting chart corrections, and our local squadrons participate in many other community improvement projects. 
Q. What educationalcourses are available to USPS members?
A. Every squadron offers many carefully planned courses in subjects like Seamanship, Piloting, Plotting and Position Finding, Celestial Navigation, Cruise Planning, Engine Maintenance, Marine Electronics, Sailing, and much more. These courses are taught by experienced member instructors, and members who complete them are recognized. 
Q. What social activities do members enjoy?
A. Participating both on-the-water and off with fellow members who are skilled in boating is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. On-the-water activities include cruises, rendezvous, sail races, navigation contests and even fishing derbies. Activities ashore include meetings with marine programs, parties, dinner-dances, picnics and field trips. 
Q. Can sailors become members?
A. Of course. More than 40% of our members are sailors. The term "Power Squadrons" in our name dates to our founding in 1914 by the power boat division of the Boston Yacht Club. Following the first World War, our ranks broadened to include all types of boats, and sailors have been a major part of USPS ever since. 
Q. Is USPS a part of or supported by the U.S. Government?
A. No. While we have many joint programs with the United States Coast Guard, the CG Auxiliary, and the National Ocean Services division of NOAA, USPS is a private, totally self-supporting organization. 
Q. How does one become a member of USPS?
A. Active membership in USPS is open to those 16 years and over who have passed the USPS Boating Course or Boat Smart examination, the CPS (Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons) Boating Course examination, or the USCGAux Boating Skills and Seamanship or Sailing and Seamanship examination and who are able and willing to contribute time, energy, and skills to the objectives of USPS. Email us at or call toll free, 1-888-FOR-USPS (1-888-367-8777). 
Q. What if you're already a member of the Canadian Power Squadron or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary?
A. If you already belong to either of these organizations you do not have to pass a USPS course to become a member because you have already completed a qualifying course. 
Q. How do you enroll in a USPS boating course?
A. Every USPS squadron teaches at least one or two such courses every year. Some squadrons teach many more. The courses usually begin in September or October, then again in January or February. Some squadrons offer courses during the summer. The courses are publicized in local newspapers, on posters, at marinas, and at various other locations. The easiest way to determine when the next course will be offered in your area is check our online schedule ( call toll-free 1-888-FOR-USPS (1-888-367-8777). 
Q. What about the person who cannot take an evening Boating Course?
A. USPS has a 80-minute video Boating Course which can be taken at your own leisure. For information, call 1-888-FOR USPS (1-888-367-8777). Call today. Safe Boating is more fun. 
Q. What's in it for you?
  1. A great variety of courses to choose from: As a USPS member, you and your family can enroll in a great variety of advanced grades and elective courses which are only available to USPS members. These courses include Seamanship, Piloting, Celestial Navigation, Weather, Sail, Engine Maintenance, Marine Electronics and Cruise Planning. In addition, USPS offers more than two dozen self study courses on such subjects as the Water Sports, Boat Insurance, Oceanography, Introduction to Sailing, Preparation for Coast Guard Licensing, and much more.
  2. Meeting with other boaters in your area: As a member of a local squadron (and there are approximately 450 squadrons throughout the USA, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands) you will join with other knowledgeable boaters in your area who are familiar with the local waters, the best anchorages, and marinas and boat repair shops.
  3. Participation in a variety of on water activities: As a USPS member you're automatically invited to join in the squadron and district cruises, rendezvous, predicted log contests, raftings and other on-water activities.
  4. Savings on Boat Insurance: There are many marine insurance companies which provide discounts to those who complete advanced boating courses. This savings can be significant.
  5. USPS Networking with other members throughout the USA, Canada and even more distant areas: Thinking of boating in a river, lake or ocean far from your home? USPS has a Port Captain program which will provide names and telephone numbers of local USPS members who know the territory.
  6. Receive the official USPS magazine THE ENSIGN.

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