The Sea Scout Advanced Leadership (SEAL) program was discontinued by BSA National to streamline training throughout the BSA enterprise. Efforts to re-address BSA National’s decision were made as late as December 2023. Below is correspondence to all hands in the Sea Scout program from Cassie Johnson, Training Subcommittee Chairman for the National Sea Scout Support Committee, addressing our need to move forward, which I strongly endorse. I want to thank and convey my BZ to Cassie, her superb training team, and SEAL Course Directors, Instructors, and their staff for leading and managing the SEAL program over the years.
-Ben Feril, National Sea Scout Commodore
Many of you may have heard that the Sea Scout youth leadership course, SEa Scout Advanced Leadership (SEAL) has been retired by National. I would like to share some history and thoughts concerning the decision made by Scouts BSA.
For many years, Junior Leader Training (JLT) was an important component in the leadership training continuum of local councils across America. This training was not available to females who were in Explorer and Sea Explorer units. In 1996, recognizing that our young women should also have access to leadership training, the National Sea Scout Support Committee rolled out Sea Explorer Advanced Leadership (SEAL) training. Rather than being conducted in a camp, the weeklong training course focused on leadership skills and their immediate application while underway.
So, what has changed over time? In 2005, National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) replaced JLT, and in 2010 that the program was opened to all genders and Venturers and Sea Scouts.
In 1996, Sea Scouts had no means to network with other Sea Scouts across the nation to discuss program and opportunities. Email was just being introduced to the public, so bringing youth together from across the nation through SEAL was of great benefit. Networking is no longer impossible. Today, our National Quarterdeck has done a phenomenal job of networking with both youth and adults through social media.
SEAL was a great experience for about 30 Sea Scouts a year, but the cost of the course and travel expenses were a barrier for so many. Several of my youth and I have been active in NYLT in my council for the last few years. Just like SEAL, NYLT integrates the best of modern leadership theory with the traditional strengths of the Scouting experience. Unlike SEAL, NYLT is more affordable. Unlike SEAL, NYLT is a powerful recruiting tool. Youth in a troop learn from our Sea Scout youth that there are options for them beyond the troop. Unlike SEAL, council adult leadership gets a chance to see the caliber of youth our program produces.
Completing NYLT opens the door to National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE). Held at Philmont and Summit Bechtel, just like SEAL, NAYLE’s goal is to enhance a youth’s leadership skills through team building, ethical decision-making, problem solving and service to others. Youth participants camp in a team setting that enables them to use their leadership skills to resolve challenging situations. The week concludes with a closing challenge for each Scout to use what they’ve learned in service to others.
For youth who want to staff an NYLT or NAYLE course, they can attend the NYLT Leadership Academy. The academy brings youth leaders together from around the country who have been selected to staff their local council’s NYLT program. They become better instructors, share ideas, discuss how to solve course problems, and they become a skilled corps of instructors to benefit their home councils. The academy is held in several locations around the states and also at Philmont and Summit Bechtel.
Yes, SEAL has been discontinued, but since 2010, Scouts BSA has given our youth even greater opportunities to learn how to lead and incredible opportunities to lead beyond their unit on the council and national levels. I encourage you to embrace and share these opportunities with your youth, and I encourage you to volunteer to serve as adult staff. You will be impressed. I promise!
Training Subcommittee Chairman
National Sea Scout Support Committee