S.E.A.L., Sea scout Experience Advanced Leadership training is the Sea Scouts BSA highest leadership training for youth, which is now open for Scouts BSA as well. It is a demanding hands-on leadership experience that takes a lot of preparation. The course is designed to develop leadership skills in young adults in an “at sea” experience, but seamanship and nautical skills are merely the means, not the end. Sea Scouts need to have the rank of Ordinary (the second rank in Sea Scouts BSA, after the rank of Apprentice) or be a Venturing Pathfinder or a Scouts BSA First Class Scout by June 1st of the year of the SEAL training.
Furthermore, both Sea Scout, Venturer, and Scout need to study Chapter 4 of the most current edition of the Sea Scout Manual, have to be able to perform basic coastal navigation, and be able to tie all knots required for Apprentice and Ordinary rank (15 knots) within 3 minutes. They also need to know most basic names of all sailing vessel parts, helm commands and relative bearings, which can be found in the Sea Scout Manual. All participants must also have their State’s Boater License in order to pilot a boat or ship.
Troop 447 Life Scout and SPL Austin was accepted to attend the NY/NJ SEAL training off of Long Island NY on the 65’ motorized vessel Sea Dart II, out of Linden NJ the last week of June. Austin had only 6 weeks after he was accepted to this course to be fully prepared for this adventure. Fortunately was offered help for this by the new National Service Territory Boatswain William Kennedy, who gave Austin a crash course in Coastal Navigation, and in the use of Austin’s newly acquired Boatswain pipe, the high pitched device with which commands are given on a ship.
Austin also studied the required Chapter 4 of the Sea Scout Manual and earned his MD Boater License, all while earning his PADI open water certification (not required, but scheduled 2 weeks before the SEAL course). He also got a full Sea Scout uniform, which was a requirement for this course. Fortunately, the uniform can be found at any local Walmart, the dark navy shirt, and shorts or cargo pants from Dickies (a higher end, but more expensive option can be found at any 5.11 store).
We dropped Austin off on the dock in Linden New Jersey on Saturday, June 25 and received sporadic messages during the week, as cell phone use is restricted on board during most of the day, so the candidates can focus on the rigorous training. Fortunately we were able to follow the vessel in real time through on online maritime locator system. From Linden, they visited Port Jefferson on Long Island NY, through the Long Island Sound to New London CT for the U.S.C.G. Academy, to Bridgeport CT, to Throgs Neck NY for the State University of NY Maritime College and back to home port of Linden NJ. During the trip Austin and his fellow candidates practiced and performed the twelve areas of leadership management of the SEAL course and experienced life on board of a vessel, including cooking, cleaning and preparing for the journey of the next day.
When we picked Austin up a week later, he was exhausted, but he was happy to report that he had successfully completed the SEAL training, and that he was now the proud owner of the coveted SEAL Award pin, the Silver Dolphin pin and SEAL certificate! In the 5 hour journey home it was a non-stop waterfall of stories from his adventure. In the end he shared with us that it was an exhausting trip, but more than worth it.