Fathoms Royalty wins scholarships, important to festival

Growing up in the 1970’s, Fathoms O’ Fun Festival was a household name. The big weekend was the highlight of the summer. I remember looking forward to participating in the parade, watching the royal court riding on the float, going to the carnival on the waterfront and watching the fireworks on the 4th of July, which will take place this year July 1.

To be part of Fathoms was something special.

Times have changed, but what Fathoms represents has not. Fathoms is a community organization run by volunteers. They work tirelessly to provide you with rich and inviting events within the South Kitsap community.

Over the years Fathoms has evolved from a one-week event during last weekend in June through July 4, to something that creates fun for the community all year long. It starts in March with the crowning of our royalty for our scholarship program.

For 50-plus years we have been enriching our youth by helping their college dreams come true. But our program provides much more than scholarships. We provide them invaluable connections to community businesses, as well as the ability to expand their communication skills, helping them acquire future jobs, and gain confidence in who they are and who they can grow into as an individual.

The experience of being selected for the royalty court is tedious but rewarding. Many contestants have said that even if you don’t make it on court, the lessons you learn through participating are priceless. Each contestant is required to write and memorize a 500-word essay about something they are passionate about that they present to local service clubs.

To prepare for the pageant, contestants start practices in November when training begins. On the last weekend in January, the kickoff of our competition begins with the Royalty Tea held at Harper Church, sponsored by the Port Orchard Soroptimist Club. This is where they deliver their platform speech for the first time.

In February, they continue to recite their speeches and answer an impromptu question to other groups such as the Port Orchard Lions, Port Orchard and South Kitsap Rotary, Port Orchard Eagles, and the Port Orchard and South Kitsap Kiwanis clubs. To help them prepare for that, the Port Orchard Toastmaster Club critiques each contestant to help prepare them for their final speeches.

Each contestant is also interviewed privately for 10 minutes by judges that consist of community business owners and past court members. They are asked questions on their platform and contestant application.

On pageant night each contestant will answer an impromptu question, perform a talent, and model in a formal wear of choice, to demonstrate grace and elegance. Thanks to some of our sponsors, the Port Orchard Lions Club, Port Orchard Soroptimist Club, Debbie Macomber, Stokes Auction and many more, we give up to $5,000 in scholarships and prize money each year.

Being a Royalty Member gives you the opportunity to meet lifelong friends and travel to parades representing Port Orchard.

We also offer many volunteer opportunities with local businesses and service groups to assist them in various community events putting in an average of over 1,000 cumulative volunteer hours. Yes, the hours are demanding and sometimes very tiring, but the important things in life never come easy. Our most treasured assets are the ones we work the hardest to obtain.

I have often reminded them that— life with its little twists and turns helps make the journey that much sweeter when a goal is achieved. Without obstacles, we would take it all for granted. Efforts like this help our youth feel passionate about their community while bringing awareness to the events around them. Most of all, being a part of Fathoms helps them gain connections for life!

I want to thank sponsors not already mentioned: Astound powered by Wave, Kitsap Credit Union, Kitsap Bank, That One Place, Rill Life Tribute Center, Sidney Museum and Arts, Morrison Gravel, Port Orchard Ford, Sound Storage, Glacier West Storage, Domino’s Pizza, Port Orchard Bay Street Association, DeFord Photography, New Hope Church, Ace Hardware, Fix Auto Port Orchard, Paratransit Services, Woodridge Vision Clinic and Kitsap County to name a few.

If you want to be a part of this program, or need more information, visit our website www.fathomsofun.org. Scholarship applications will be available in the fall.

Helene Jensen is Fathoms Royalty director for the scholarship program.