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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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Celebrating the Sea Scout Centennial

2012 is our time to celebrate the Centennial of Sea Scouts. Boy Scout Councils are encouraged to organize one Centennial event honoring the first 100 years of Sea Scouts, whether you have one Sea Scout Ship or twenty.

Arthur Carey, with the Boy Scout Ship Pioneer in Boston, is credited with starting Sea Scouts in the United States. There were other early leaders who were instrumental in this period, including Charles T. Longstreth, who organized a Sea Scout patrol aboard his yacht Arawan in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A century later, Sea Scouts continue to sail in waters off Puerto Rico to rivers of Iowa to the warm oceans of Hawaii.

A Council Centennial Celebration can qualify as an official Centennial Event by incorporating the 4 S’s of Sea Scouts into their activity. The 4 S’s include:

Scouting: “The Sea Scout lives the Scout Oath and Scout Law every day in every way”

Seamanship: “...For the Safety of your shipmates and your ship...”

Service: “Service to your community, your ship, the Scout Program, and all of those who have trustingly learned to look to a Scout for help.”

“Social”: The reward for the first three “S’s”

Here are some sample activities a Boy Scout Council can host to honor the Sea Scout Centennial:

Sea Scout Day: Celebrate being a Sea Scout with a Council-wide day by the water, complete with small boat sailing and a barbeque. Inland councils can use a Boy Scout camp where Sea Scouts can do semaphore, boatswain’s chair, marlinspike and other “dry land” nautical activities.

Sea Scout Council Exhibit: Build an exhibit for the Council office lobby, highlighting Sea Scout advancement and adventure.

Merit Badge Regatta: One day event with Sea Scouts teaching Merit Badges such as Rowing, Sailing, Motorboating or Canoeing to Boy Scouts.

Task Force Cruise: Sea Scout Ships rendezvous and cruise together to a destination. The cruise can include each vessel taking the lead, complete with signal flags to execute turns. A social event can be held at their destination, such as a barbeque or dance.

Centennial Regatta: Organize a competitive event honoring the Centennial, such as a sailing regatta or land-based competition, with activities such as boatswain’s chair, scuttlebutt or drill. Existing regattas/rendezvous can apply for “Centennial” status in 2012.   

The above are only ideas. You are only limited by your imagination. Remember: food, fun, and outdoor adventure bring youth together.