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Sea Scout Experience Advanced Leadership Training (SEAL)

The Sea Scout Experience Advanced Leadership (SEAL) training program is designed to teach leadership skills while underway. SEAL is designed to “jump start” the junior leaders of new Ships and to fine tune leaders of experienced Ships. It is a hard core, physically and mentally demanding, and remarkably rewarding hands-on leadership experience. New and experienced Sea Scouts can succeed at SEAL so long as they are willing to learn and work hard at preparation.

Download the SEAL Application 2015 here.


History and Purpose

In 1996, the National Sea Scouting Committee created a new youth leadership course called Sea Scout Advanced Leadership (SEAL) training. The course is designed to develop leadership skills in young adults. Seamanship is the medium through which the course is taught; however, nautical skills are the means, not the end. This course, which utilizes an “at sea” experience as a laboratory, is intended to teach and apply leadership skills. There are few other media offering the opportunity for young people to actually put leadership skills utilizing group dynamics into practice. In SEAL, there is no “play acting.” All situations and tasks are real, not created. Bad decisions or team failure can produce immediate and real problems.



This week long “at sea” experience allows the student to learn and apply new skills immediately. Courses consist of five to seven youth with a Course Skipper and two instructors. Each instructional module relates to a specific leadership skill with exercises designed to show mastery of the concepts taught while under the leadership of the Boatswain of the Day. SEAL is NOT a seamanship course. All applicants are expected to have basic seamanship skills prior to arrival.

Skills Taught

Evaluation Team Building Leadership
Training Communicating Goal Setting
Planning & Preparing Motivating Managing, Supervising & Commanding
Counseling Implementing & Re-Implementing Problem Solving


Preparing for SEAL

SEAL candidates must arrive at the course prepared to learn, lead, and excel. It is not a seamanship course and all candidates must become intimately familiar with the Safety & Seamanship chapter and appendix of the current Sea Scout Manual. Candidates will be required to outline the chapter in detail. Additionally, candidates must be able to perform basic coastal navigation on paper and must be able to tie all knots required for Apprentice Sea Scout and Ordinary Sea Scout ranks. They must know and understand the basic nomenclature of a sailing vessel; know and understand helm commands and points of relative bearings. All of this information is in the Sea Scout Manual.


Conducting the Training

This course is managed by the National Sea Scout Committee and have been conducted at Chesapeake Bay, the Texas Gulf Coast, the Pacific, the Ohio River Valley, Florida Keys, Long Island Sound, and the Great Lakes. Course dates vary but are always held in the summer months. Costs are typically from $125 to $250 not including candidate transportation to and from the course. Check our event calendar for course offerings.



    • Achieve Ordinary Rank by June 1st the year of the course.
    • Apply leadership skills with their ship after the course.

Before Students Arrive

The student will:

  • Prepare an outline of “Chapter 4” of the Sea Scout Manual to be forwarded to the course’s Skipper for evaluation.
  • Know basic nomenclature of a sailing vessel.
  • Know and be able to perform basic coastal navigation.
  • Be able to tie all knots required for Apprentice and Ordinary Ranks in less than three minutes.
  • Know standard helm commands.

Two practice tests are sent to the applicant’s Skipper prior to the course that cover seamanship covered in “Chapter 4” of the Sea Scout Manual and basic coastal navigation. The student’s performance on these practice tests helps the student know better how to prepare for the course.



By the end of the course, graduates will be equipped with leadership skills and management tools necessary to fire up a ship’s program. They will be prepared to serve in leadership positions such as Boatswain or Boatswain’s Mate in their ships as well as in their schools, jobs, and communities.



Each graduate receives the coveted SEAL pin. SEAL patches are also available to graduates, which can be worn on their uniform instead of the pin. SEAL graduates are also selected to represent Sea Scouts with other opportunities such as trips on submarines, aircraft carriers, and as course marshals for the America’s Cup races.



Applications are due each year by March 1st, and are available for download here. All courses are posted, and the applicant must list their preference in priority order. If two or more Scouts from the same ship are applying, they should apply for different locations. Further questions should be directed to the National SEAL Training Coordinator, Mr. Jim Elroy here or by telephone at (805) 797-7900.


Preparing for SEAL

The Skipper’s evaluation of the candidate’s readiness for SEAL is critical. The application consists of an admonition and instructions to the Skipper regarding evaluation of the applicant. Preparation and full readiness regarding the knowledge of seamanship as set out in the Safety & Seamanship Chapter of the Sea Scout Manual and coastal piloting is absolutely essential prior to arrival at the training site. Failure to fully prepare ensures failure of this course and the waste of a valuable space for someone else that would have been able to participate.


To assist candidates' preparation, two tests are forwarded to their Skipper. The first tests the candidates knowledge on the Safety & Seamanship Chapter of the current Sea Scout Manual, the second tests their knowledge of basic coastal navigation. In the navigation test, candidates will set a course, compute speed, time and distance, compass error, a fix by two lines of position and finding latitude and longitude. These tests are used by the candidate and her Skipper to determine the candidate's readiness for SEAL. Using the results of the test, the Skipper can tell if the candidate needs help before she reports to SEAL training.

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2014 National Flagship Banner

Ship 1942 “Dragonlady” Honored With
2014 Boat US and the Sea Scouts, BSA National Flagship Award

BoatUS and Sea Scouts, BSA recognize Sea Scout Ship 1942 “Dragonlady of Arlington, Virginia of the

National Capital Area Council as the recipient of the 2014 Boats and the Sea Scouts, BSA “National Flagship” Award. The award was created by BoatUS in 2002 to mark the 90th anniversary of Sea Scouting. It is presented in recognition of excellence in program quality, youth achievement, and adult commitment. It is because of these attributes, as reflected by “Dragonlady’sexemplary program of seamanship and youth development, that we honor them with this award.

Heartfelt congratulations go to Ship 1942 Boatswain Philip Whittlesey, their Skipper Tom Ballew, and the dedicated crew and the many adult volunteers of “Dragonlady.” Sea Scout Ship 1942 “Dragonlady’s” name will be inscribed on a perpetual trophy at the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas. An identical trophy will be presented to the Ship at an appropriate public gathering in the National Capital Area Council.

The “2014 National Flagship” award is the third time Ship 1942 is in the BSA national spotlight, as Ship 1942 was also the “2007 National Flagship” and was one of the ships named to the “2012 Flagship Fleet.” Ship 1942 annually meets the Journey to Excellence (JTE) “Gold” level and has been a Northeast Regional Standard Ship since 2002.  

Ship 1942 is a large, co-ed unit with a historic average of 40 youth members. At the 2014 rechartering, Ship 1942 had 27 youth members but recruiting is always strongest during the spring months and the goal is to bring the membership back to 40 youth members. Ship 1942 has 15 sailboats, twelve of which are named after the Scout Law: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, etc. They range in size from the training fleet of six 19-foot Flying Scot vessels to the 30-40-foot cruiser-size sloops in Solomon’s, Maryland. Ship 1942 sails the Flying Scots out of their home port at the Washington Sailing Marina just north of Old Town Alexandria, VA in sight of the Washington Monument.

Ship 1942 is blessed with 35 very passionate registered adult volunteers - Skipper, Mates, and Committee Members, 33 of whom are fully trained for their positions of responsibility, with a combined total of hundreds of years of experience and thousands of miles of off-shore sailing.

In 2013, Ship 1942 youth spent 68 days on the water with 36 of those days involving an overnight activity. The Quarterdeck Officers met a total of 17 times to plan their activities which included an additional 26 nights of tent camping and 14 nights of cabin camping. The annual 9-day Long Cruise was planned out by the Quarterdeck for a roundtrip voyage of 350 miles from Solomon’s, MD to the northern-most reaches of the Chesapeake Bay and back.

In 2013, Ship 1942 promoted its 19th Quartermaster since 2004, sent its 30th teen off to successfully navigate through the rigorous Sea Scout SEAL leadership training, and gave its 11th youth member the opportunity to sail aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Braque Eagle. Ship 1942 conducted a “teentaught” ILSS training for the entire unit. Also, youth members attended as students or served on staff for both NYLT and NAYLE. In 2014, Ship 1942 is sending its 9th Sea Scout off to a military service academy. This latest one is going to West Point but 3 of their past Sea Scouts have gone to the U.S. Naval Academy, 3 to the U.S. Air Force Academy, 1 to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and 1 to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Through the “Wounded Warrior” program and the Northern Virginia Sail and Power Squadron, in fall 2013, Ship 1942 hosted many U.S. veterans from Afghanistan undergoing treatment at the Walter Reed Military Hospital and their families for a day of sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and a sunset Bar-B-Q picnic.

Ship 1942 participated in the annual Northeast Regional Bridge of Honor and Sea Scout Ball; took 1st place in the eastern seaboard’s Henry Nygard Regatta; hosted Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers for introductory sails; provided merit badge instruction in small boat sailing, oceanography, and weather to over 80 Boy Scouts in the semi-annual recruiting Open House called “Merit Badges Afloat,” and provided assistance to other ships throughout the region in their annual advanced nautical training weeks of “Camp Able” and “Life Guard Certification.” Youth members received their Quartermaster, Eagle Scout, and Venturing Silver awards, conducted hundreds of hours of community service projects, and completed several U.S. Power Squadron seamanship and navigation training courses.

Bravo Zulu to Ship 1942 Boatswain Philip Whittlesey, Skipper Tom Ballew, their Charter Organization St. George’s Episcopal Church (Arlington, Virginia), Executive Officer the Most Reverend Shearon Williams, and Charter Organization Representative Davis Jones for their outstanding support of the teen youth on the water program. For more details about their program, go to

2014 Flagship

The 2014 National Flagship Fleet was also selected and wishes to recognize the following Sea Scout Ships for their outstanding programs for this past year:

  • Ship378 ‘The Dawn Treader’, Flint River Council, Newnan American Legion Post 57, Georgia
  • Ship 450 ‘Heatwave’, Las Vegas Area Council, Lake Havasu City Outrigger Canoe Club, Arizona
  • Ship 601 ‘City of Roses’, Cascade Pacific Council, Fleet Reserve Association, Branch #55, Oregon
  • Ship 678 ‘Tsunami’, Cascade Pacific Council, Battle Ground Elks, Oregon

Congratulations to each of these ships for their great programs in the past. We look forward to their continued involvement with the Sea Scout program around the country.