Sea Scouts becomes its own program within the BSA

Sea Scouting logoSea Scouting, the 104-year-old nautical arm of the Boy Scouts of America, will become its own independent program within the BSA, effective immediately.

During board meetings Wednesday in Texas, BSA volunteers and professionals approved a resolution establishing Sea Scouts, BSA, as an independent program. The resolution was signed by Michael Surbaugh, BSA Chief Scout Executive.

From 1998 through Feb. 10, 2016, the Sea Scouting program was part of Venturing.

Now, Sea Scouting is in the same boat as Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting and Venturing — in that each is a separate BSA program. (Exploring is part of Learning for Life, a BSA subsidiary.)

Making Sea Scouting a full-fledged program is more than a cosmetic change.

The move is a “significant milestone for Sea Scouts, BSA,” according to a release from the National Sea Scout Support Committee. The change provides “Sea Scouting with access to the full range of attention and support at the National Council and throughout the BSA organization.”

What’s next?

National Commodore Charles D. Wurster, National Director Keith Christopher, National Boatswain Edward Campbell and the National Sea Scout Support Committee will use this status to help grow and improve Sea Scouting, according to the release.

Their goals in 2016 include providing additional resources to existing ships and trying to increase the size of the nationwide fleet.

Speaking of, this is a good time to note that Sea Scouting is open to young men and young women who are 14 (or 13 and finished with the eighth grade) but not yet 21. And you don’t need to live near the ocean to be a Sea Scout. There are ships based on rivers and lakes, too. Learn how to join Sea Scouting here.

Also big in 2016? Communication. Sea Scouts, BSA, is rolling out better communication tools, beginning with its new website.


  1. I have to admit that structural changes like this are a bit lost on me at the local level. If the program is still part of BSA, what difference does it make? Last year was my son’s first year in Sea Scouts (he is also in a troop) and he loved it.

    • Ed, it has to do with the amount of support nationally and regionally to Sea Scouting which will eventually affect your son’s Ship and all other Ships. I welcome the change — long coming — which will take Sea Scouting out from under Venturing and where it should have been a long time ago — a separate program within the BSA’s wings.

      • I’m sure whoever recommended that sea scouts be rolled into venturing in 1998 would have praised that move and said it would be great for both programs. My point, and this applies to any large organization be it IBM or BSA, is that there is a lot of time spent on determining who reports to whom and what programs/departments/facilities operate together. Upper management bills this as ‘continuous improvement’, but I think most employees/volunteers roll their eye when these sorts of things get rolled out.

        • “I’m sure…” more like you are clueless. In 1998 National Commodore Jimmie Hobmburg walked into the meeting were Venturing was established with piles of materials that would change “Sea Exploring” back into “Sea Scouts,” had it not been for her determination a day like this would never have been possible. Because of the work of people like her, Sea Scouting was not disbanded in 1998 and rolled into the Venturing program, instead it was granted special status as a division of the Venturing program. I’m sorry you have such a cynical view of the world, you are probably a really fun coworker and person to hang out with at a party.

  2. Lots of questions. So all the youth in our ship that have been working on the Venturing awards, what do they do now? They say the effective date is 2-10-16.

    So the Jamboree must be out for a few of our sea scouts that were planning to attend, including my daughter, as Jamboree participation is limited to Boy Scouts and Venturers only.

    I hope my Sea Scout Ship can still shoot high power rifles and any hand gun caliber, as we do many times for our program.

    • Dual registration for a ship and a crew would be a possibility if they don’t allow shooting or pursuing the Venturing Awards… it wouldn’t cost anything extra for dual registration and the same people could be in both… And I really can’t imagine that Jamboree wouldn’t be allowed… they will just have to change the wording.

    • Considering how supportive Keith Christopher is of Sea Scouting and his past involvement with Jamboree, not to mention the Sea Scout exhibit that goes on at Jambo ( that Sea Explorer exhibit in 1989 got me pumped to be a Sea Scout) I don’t think Sea Scouts at jambo will be a problem.

    • Youth currently in Sea Scouting have always had the option of working either on Venturing ranks leading to Summit; or Sea Scouting ranks leading to Quartermaster; or BOTH if they have the inclination to do so. They can do so as members of both a Crew and a Ship.

      The Jamboree will still be open to older youth programs — Venturing and Sea Scouting. Hey — they made the decision YESTERDAY; give the National Center some time to adjust the verbiage on various materials!! *smiling*

      Yes, if your Ship has the capabilities and the adherence to the BSA’s policies on usage of those kinds of weapons, nothing changes.

  3. Maybe we should bring back Air Scouts (It actually WAS a program in the 1930s and 1940s.). Like Sea Scouts, the program is part “sport” and part “career exploration”. And the price of the vehicles used are similar.

  4. Hi, I am an English Sea Scouter, working with the 14-18 age range, which we call Explorer Sea Scouts. We also have a troop level section (10 1/2 to 14) called Sea Scouts. Do you have plans to extend your Sea Scouting down to troop level?

  5. Integrating Sea Scouting, nautical topics, into Boy Scout troops can be done quite easily by forming a Nautical Patrol that works with a Sea Scout Ship. This enhances the Boy Scout towards Eagle since many Merit Badges apply to Sea Scout topics – e.g. swimming, life saving, first aid, and others. Send me an email and I will send you details on how this can be done. Thus, the Troop gets to focus on nautical topics but remain in Boy Scouts and the Sea Scouts will someday get an Eagle Scout to move on in the continuum of Scouting.
    Area Vice Commodore

  6. I have a sailing vessel 33 foot, I would like to donate to a sea scout group, I live on long Island. how do I find out if there are any groups in need, or if there are any groups without a ship needing this. I you know of any have them contact me.

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