The Sea Scout program is run by the youth members with guidance from adult leaders. During quarterdeck meetings, ship officers work together to plan, and during meetings they conduct the program. As experience is gained, more opportunities arise to contribute to the leadership of the unit.
Sea Scout advancement rewards individual pursuits of excellence. Each level of advancement marks growth as a seaman and a leader.
- Apprentice Rank
New Sea Scouts learn ideals, courtesies, procedures, and responsibilities, and how members of a ship are organized and uniformed. Basic swimming and beginning seamanship skills are required, as is knowledge of safety, emergency procedures, and Safe Swim Defense. Sixteen hours of service in ship projects, activities, or equipment maintenance fill out the requirements.
- Ordinary Rank
A Sea Scout attains Ordinary rank through additional service, knowledge of the Sea Scout emblem, U.S. flag etiquette, and land and sea protocols. Successful candidates will participate in strengthening ship membership, serve as an event chair, complete quarterdeck training, pass the Swimming merit badge requirements, and qualify on various safety and emergency procedures, drills, communication methods, and Safety Afloat. They learn about the galley, build on seamanship and boat handling skills, and learn about anchoring, piloting and navigation, and related regulations. Overnight cruise planning and participation provides for skills application, and completing three electives broadens their horizons.
- Able Rank
To achieve the Able rank, Sea Scouts master ceremony presentations and demonstrate knowledge of maritime history. They also teach others—perhaps Scouts and Venturers—about the program and fulfill leadership responsibilities. They must pass the Lifesaving merit badge requirements and develop further expertise in safety and first aid. There is a continued progression in seamanship, boat handling skills, anchoring, and piloting and navigation, as well as a deeper understanding of maritime environmental issues. The Sea Scout Long Cruise badge is required for Able, as is completion of four electives.
- Quartermaster Rank
The highest award for Sea Scouts presents a challenge that, when met, will affect a young person lifelong. The Quartermaster candidate must think analytically about how the program is delivered and supported, while developing a deeper understanding of Scouting ideals. Most requirements represent intensification of what was learned for previous ranks, but with significant additions in the Quartermaster service project, cruise, and study of weather and forecasting. The cruise involves taking long-term command of a vessel and crew and conducting critical drills.
- Note: Scouts who have earned First Class in a troop can earn Star, Life and Eagle with a ship.
Other awards exclusive to Sea Scouts youth and adults include
- Small Boat Handler Bar
Indicates the Sea Scout has the knowledge and skills to be safe on the water. Most of the requirements for this award can be met by completing a NASBLA approved safe boating course.
- Qualified Seaman Bar
Denotes a scout not only has the knowledge and skills to be safe on the water, but has also demonstrated the ability to take charge of a vessel and handle it with competence.
- Marksman Ladder Bars for Shotgun, Rifle and Pistols
This course is designed to teach leadership skills while underway. The course will jump start youth leaders from new ships and fine tune youth leaders from established ships. The course is a hard core, physically and mentally demanding, and extremely rewarding hands-on leadership experience. The course is taught every summer in multiple venues. Look for an application and more information at seascout.org.
Equivalent to BSA’s Woodbadge, the Sea Badge course is available to youth members over 18 years of age and adult leaders. SeaBadge is an advanced Sea Scout management course, is offered on a regional or council level. Seabadge will not teach you to operate a vessel, but it will give you intense training in Sea Scout Ship operations as well as providing an opportunity to network with other Sea Scout leaders throughout the region. Sea Scout Adult Leader Basic Training is a prerequisite for Seabadge.
Other opportunities include:
- William I. Koch International Sea Scout Regatta
The William I. Koch International Sea Scout Cup is held every two years. This international event is sponsored by Bill Koch, a former America’s Cup winner. Youth spend a week racing in 420’s for the Koch Cup which is modeled after the America’s Cup. There are usually 10 or more countries involved in the competition.
- USS Eagle
The U.S. Coast Guard Academy offers an extraordinary opportunity to Sea Scouts to be a part of their Cadet cruise during the summer. The Barque Eagle is the 295 foot square rigger that is used to train U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets and officer candidates for careers in the world’s most unique seagoing service. Those chosen to participate serve as regular crew members, and are integrated into the underclass of cadets aboard ship.
- Group Activities and High Adventure
- There are many events of long-standing held across the nation. Councils host Sea Scout Academies, and most regions sponsor a Safety at Sea event in conjunction with the Coast Guard. Many areas and regions have annual rendezvous and regattas where Sea Scouts compete and showcase their nautical knowledge and skill.
- Most ships plan a summer long cruise. Some stay close to home, some utilize the Boy Scouts of America’s high-adventure bases, and others choose to explore new venues across the nation and beyond. A ship is only limited by their imagination and ability to fundraise.
Sea Scouts give service to others. From World War II where over 100,000 Sea Scouts answered their country’s call to now, Sea Scouts have been of service to hundreds of communities across the nation. Service can be expressed in individual good turns to others or in organized projects involving the whole ship. In rescues at sea, or facing emergencies on shore, Sea Scouts have saved lives and property. Sea Scout service puts citizenship into action.