Full speed ahead: Your Sea Scouting questions, answered

On Feb. 10, 2016, the BSA National Executive Board made waves by making Sea Scouting its own separate program with the BSA.

The move gives Sea Scouting the same status as Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting and Venturing.

As with any big change, this one generated some questions among current (and future!) Sea Scouts.

With that in mind, the Sea Scouts have released this list of FAQs. If you have a question not addressed here, send an email to nationalcommodore (at) seascout (dot) org. Answers to those questions will be used to generate the next set of FAQs.

What do I need to do differently now?

The general answer is:  Keep doing things the same as before until new guidance is issued. Details about lots of things will need to be worked out in the coming months with a number of BSA departments that may have new interest in Sea Scouts.

How are all the other transitional questions going to be answered?

In cooperation with the Venturing youth, adult and professional leadership, a plan will be discussed and shared through the National Sea Scout Committee. The National Sea Scout Committee leadership will work with all other departments and committees who may have an impact on the program and will share those thoughts with everyone. 

May a Sea Scout still earn Venturing Awards?

Yes, Sea Scouts may continue to earn all Venturing awards and recognitions for a specified term, which is being discussed now and to be released soon.

As with past changes in BSA programs, changes to eligibility and requirements for advancement, awards and recognition will be phased in over time. For the time being: Use the eligibility and requirements that were in effect before the resolution.

The details for future eligibility for Venturing awards and recognitions are still being worked out. Sea Scouts who are working on any of the Venturing awards and recognitions will be “grandfathered” to continue on until a decision has been made to make any changes. Some recognitions, such as the Venturing Leadership award, may be replaced in the future with unique Sea Scout awards. In the meantime, these recognitions will continue to be available to Sea Scouts and Sea Scouters, as appropriate.

If changes are made, they will be phased in over a period of time. Plus, no matter what changes may be made in the future, any Sea Scout may dual-register in a Venturing Crew to maintain eligibility for Venturing awards.

What about eligibility for other advancement, awards, and recognitions?

The Sea Scout Resolution didn’t change the eligibility for other advancement, awards, and recognition programs. For example, the Eagle Scout rank will continue to be available to Sea Scouts who achieved First Class rank in a Boy Scout Troop. General BSA awards, such as Religious Emblems, Nova Awards, BSA Lifeguard, etc., will continue to be available to Sea Scouts.

Is there now going to be a Sea Scout Leadership Award?

A proposal to establish Sea Scout Leadership Awards at the Council, Area/Flotilla, Regional, and National levels is under consideration by the National Awards and Recognition Committee. In the meantime, Sea Scout youth and adult leaders are eligible for the Venturing Leadership Awards as before.

Will there be criterion and an award for a Sea Scout award comparable to the current Venturer award?

No. The new “Venturer” award is a stand-alone entry-level award. There are no plans to establish a Sea Scout equivalent; because a Sea Scout entry-level award already exists–the Apprentice rank.

May Sea Scouts continue to wear the Venturing Bronze award if previously earned?

Yes, Sea Scouts may continue to wear any BSA authorized awards and recognition, as before. This includes the highest medal earned of the old Venturing awards (Bronze, Gold, or Silver); but not the old Venturing small ribbons. The old Silver award knot may be worn.

Cloth rank insignia of the new Venturing awards may not be worn on the Sea Scout uniform, because the left pocket position is used for Sea Scout rank insignia. The new Summit award medal and knot may be worn.

Will Sea Scouts still be able to attend the National Jamboree as part of a Council Venturing Contingent?

Yes, Sea Scouts will be continue to be welcome as members of these Council Venturing Contingents; there is no necessity, nor plans, to establish separate Sea Scout Contingents.

Do Sea Scouts register with “Venturing” Crews for Jamboree or will special arrangements be made? 

Sea Scouts register with Venturing contingents.

Or, will Venturing Crews be renamed “Sea Scout/Venturing Contingents” or something like that?

That will be a decision for the contingent membership to address.

Are Sea Scouts still eligible to attend VenturingFest at the Summit in 2016?

Yes. Sea Scouts will continue to be welcome as members of Council Venturing Contingents, on staff, and in any other capacity.

Will Sea Scout representatives continue to participate in Council Venturing Officers’ Associations (VOA)?

Although each Council sets its own bylaws for the VOA or other teen leadership forums, it is expected that most Councils will continue to run their teen leadership forums as they have before. There is no need for a change. Many Councils have only a few Sea Scout Ships (units); so establishing a separate Sea Scout Officers’ Association is probably impractical. Some Councils include all teen programs in their Council’s youth leadership forum — Venturing, Sea Scouts, Order of the Arrow, and Exploring. That approach may be the best for the future; and is under consideration for adoption as a policy at the national level.

Where the VOA has a youth seat on Council Executive Boards, will National support changes in local bylaws to ensure Sea Scouts get an equal voice now?

A number of changes will be made to the National charter and bylaws to address issues like this. The proposal for this particular item would expand the authorized membership eligibility for youth members on Council Boards to be “up to three.” These may be filled (or not) as the council sees fit; according to the Council’s local bylaws.

Will there be organizational changes at the Regional and Area levels?

Each Region establishes its own organization based upon National guidelines. We expect guidelines for Sea Scouts will be developed in the coming months. In the meantime, most Regions will probably leave current organizational relationships intact; and adapt over time to the needs of supporting Sea Scouts as a separate program. Program development and support committees at all levels should be involved in formulating the new guidelines. Currently, the Southern Region and Western Region have included the Region’s Sea Scout Boatswain as a youth member of their board. This will be a region’s option at this time.

How does this affect our structure at the council level?

Each Council establishes it’s own structure and may choose to simply retain their existing organization or make a change. Many Councils have few or no Sea Scout Ships; so they would have little incentive to make big organizational changes.

We were in the process of starting a squadron in (our) Council however is there now a new standard for a council level sea scout leadership?

No, you may continue to use the organization you had before; or go ahead with your plans for a Council Squadron. 

Which Region/Area/Council committee should the Sea Scouts report to? Some have them report to Vice President of Venturing, or Outdoor Programs, or Marketing, or Membership?  

It is likely there will be a special task force, including volunteers and professional staff, to address issues like this. We anticipate that model organizations will be developed and presented for adoption to meet their needs.

The Resolution includes the words: “Those youth program participants who are at least 18 years of age and eligible to participate in programs designed for youth shall be referred to as “adult program participants.” Does that mean our 20 year-old boatswain can serve as the second adult for a work party?

No. They are still youth members under the program parameters; but because of their age anyone between 18 and 21 has to register as an “adult program participant.” They still can participate as full Sea Scout youth members. They cannot serve as the second adult for a work party or any other activity or meeting.

Will younger youth members be allowed into Sea Scouts?

Maybe. A program to look at having younger youth participate in a pilot or test program is under consideration. No decisions have been made to pilot/test this, or not.

Will this impact BeAScout.org — such that Sea Scouts will get visibility on the page and can be searched separately?

BeAScout.org, and many other website and publication references, will be corrected in the course of normal updates to BSA media. We have specifically requested an update to BeAScout.org.

For dual-enrolled Sea Scouts, will they be required to pay twice like Explorers or will the dual registration apply like before?

The dual registration will apply.

May Sea Scouts still participate in Wood Badge, NYLT and NAYLE?

Yes, youth members over the age of 18 may participate in Wood Badge. Youth members are still eligible to attend NYLT and NAYLE.

At Wood Badge, can a “Ship 1” flag be designed/used in lieu of a “Crew 1” flag?

Yes, this is permitted; subject to the discretion of the Course Director.

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