Sea Scouts BSA

Course Overview 

Introduction to On-the-Water Leader Skills training (IOWLS) gives adult leaders an introduction to resources and on-the-water skills they need to assist Sea Scouts in  achieving Ordinary rank.  The material and training presented in Introduction to On-the-Water Leader Skills closely follows the Sea Scout Manual, the Guide to Safe Scouting, and the ANSI (Approved American National Standard) standards for on-water vessel activities and are meant to serve as an adult training outline. In addition, participants will be given access to lesson plans and support materials that will enable them or their youth to teach Apprentice and Ordinary advancement requirements.

Regardless of the program being run – small boats, paddlecraft, SCUBA, larger vessels – using these skills sessions in conjunction with the Sea Scout Manual and Guide to Safe Scouting, trainers can be sure new Skippers and adult leaders are exposed to requirements through Ordinary rank.

Hands-on participation makes the best learning tool, so participants should leave the training experience knowing they can show their Sea Scouts how to accomplish necessary skills while fulfilling rank requirements. Back home, we want Skippers, mates and adult leaders to feel comfortable working with and instructing their Sea Scouts. From raising a flag to setting an anchor, they should feel confident in helping their youth officers plan and carry out their own ship outings and exciting programs using these skills.

Course Prerequisites

  • Registered as a member of Boy Scouts of America and over the age of 21
  • Completed online training at BSA Safe Swim Defense, BSA Safety Afloat, BSA Hazardous Weather
  • Completed a NASBLA approved Safe Boating Course

Offering a Course

This course can be conducted by the council, district, multiple districts, area or a group of  experienced Sea Scout leaders with permission from their district or council training chair.

This course requires access to a classroom and as well as a vessel. For the on-the-water skills instruction, it is recommended that two instructors teach and monitor two to four participants. This will ensure that each participant has a hands-on, small-group experience and actually learns how to accomplish the skill.


Introduction to On-the-Water Leader Skills training was developed over two years, in 2017-2018, and piloted in 2018. It was released in 2019. An advanced on-the-water training is under development. It will build on  the skills taught at IOWLS and is aimed to replace the discontinued Seabadge Underway program.

Course Materials

Instructor Guide and Syllabus

ANSI standard checklists for sail vessels

ANSI standard checklists for power vessels

ANSI standard checklists for human powered (paddlecraft) vessels

Lesson Plans

Sample Handouts

Best Practices for Organizing an IOWLS Course


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