Sea Scouts are members of Scouts Canada aged 11-26 (depending on local availability) with a particular emphasis on water-based activities such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and rowing. Depending on the available water, these activities are on lakes, rivers or sea in small or large ships. Sea Scouting can be a program for all Scouts or just older Scouts. Sea Scouts provides a chance to sail, cruise on boats, learn navigation, learn how to work on engines. Sea Scouts often compete in regattas.
Robert Baden-Powell (B-P) grew up being constantly reminded of his family's naval connections. His maternal grandfather was Admiral William Smyth. In 1872, when he was 15, Baden-Powell accompanied his brothers on a cross-country expedition by collapsible canoe. They slept in tents and cooked their meals over open fires. Little wonder then that B-P was to write later on in his life that he started his Scouting as a Sea Scout.
Sea Scouting had its beginning at a campfire in England when B-P voiced the hope that older Scouts would be interested in learning about boat management and seamanship. He stressed the need for young men to prepare themselves for service on their country's ships. Sea Scouting was introduced by B-P with the assistance of his brother, Warington Baden-Powell, K.C., an Admiralty lawyer, sailor, and inventor of canoe sailing. Lord Baden-Powell personally held a Scout camp at Bucklers Hard, Hampshire in August 1909 which marked the start of Sea Scouts, though they were not officially named such until 1912. Warington Baden-Powell wrote the handbook Sea Scouting and Seamanship for Boys in 1910 with a foreword by Robert Baden-Powell. A special uniform was approved in 1910, and was enthusiastically received by the young men of Britain, soon finding its way to the rest of the world. Warington Baden-Powell is also the author of Canoe Travelling: Log of a Cruise on the Baltic, and Practical Hints on Building and Fitting Canoes, London, Smith, Elder, 1871.
Uniforms & Insignia
The official unform for Sea Scouts in Scouts Canada is the same as the regular Scout uniform and is a green shirt. Sea Scouts add a Sea Scout/Scout Marins strip on the right pocket. Some Ship's Companies continued use of navy blue shirts after the change to tan shirts in the 1990s and have adopted the navy blue shirts produced now for the Venturer Scout section. Additionally, some groups which had gone to tan or green shirts are now converting to the navy blue as well. Although this uniform choice is unofficial, in most cases it has been adopted at the direction of a Court of Honour and therefore has great weight.
Other than the Sea Scout / Scouts Marins strip pictured above, woggles, and a leader badge, there are no other Sea Scout materials produced at present by Scouts Canada. There has been a rumour that something additional may come as part of the new program, but nothing official has been announced.
The current badge program is exactly the same as for Scouts. Undoubtedly some Ship's Companies have specialty badges to cover some specific Sea Scouting areas or use extranl systems to provide a more nuanced water program.
Relevant external programs
- Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association (ORCKA) - certifies guides in Ontario as well as providing instruction in a number of disciplines
- Paddle Canada - national recreational paddling program in a number of disciplines
- Canadian Yachting Association - White Sail program delivered through clubs
- Canadian Power Squadron - operator classes for boats and marine radios
There are approximately 25 Ship's Companies (Sea Scout troops) in Scouts Canada at present. It is difficult to ascertain the number for sure and I hope the publication of this list will encourage corrections and allow better collaboration. The list is organized roughly from west to east by province and alphabetically within the province.
Sea Scouts participate with other Scout troops in local, council, national and international events for all Scouts. However, there are times where Sea Scouts gather as Sea Scouts for regattas and other Sea Scout specific events.