Seascouts (1912-24)

The early years of the Sea Scout program (or Seascouts as they were sometimes called then) is unclear.  During this time the program was ever changing as different people got involved.  Because of this, the information about this time is incomplete.  We'll try as best to cover it here.

Lord Baden-Powell's older brother Warrington wrote the first book on Sea Scouts in the UK.  This was used in the early days of Sea Scouting in the BSA until others could come up with something.

In 1912, Sea Scouts was officially begun in the BSA when Arthur A Carey of Massachusetts was appointed the Chairman of the National Council Committee on Sea Scouting.  He had worked with establishing Sea Scouts using his schooner the Pioneer. Another figure at that time was Charles Longstreth of Philadelphia.  He worked with a patrol of Sea Scouts on his yacht.  Both men prepared works and Carey's Cruising for Sea Scouts was the first American Sea Scout literature.  It was intended to be used as a supplement to the Boy Scout Handbook until a full manual could be produced.  Longstreth's work, Nautical Scouting, followed.

Despite the work of these two men, on a National level Sea Scouting struggled without having good leadership or resources available.  But it did grow, if slowly.

In 1917, James Austin "Kimo" Wilder came on board.  He became the Chief Seascout (the first and as far as I know, the only one to hold that title), and served as the (volunteer) Director of the Department of Sea Scouting.  He supervised the preparation of the first true Sea Scout Manual.  The program at this time is not quite what we think.  Requirements to become a Sea Scout was set to 15 years old and weighting 112 pounds.

James Wilder (1868-1934) was an interesting figure in early scouting who is today forgotten.  He apparently got Scouting going in Hawaii, wrote several early scouting booklets (The Pine Tree Patrol Service Library booklet and Jack Knife Cookery), and his work with Sea Scouts.

Despite his work, Wilder was unable to really turn around the program.  In 1923, Kimo Wilder agreed to step down, and was replaced by Commander Thomas J. Keane.  Keane had become involved with Sea Scouts in the Chicago area, and had done a good job of revitilizing the program there, hence the reason he was asked to takeover the National program.  Over the next few years, Keane would revise the Sea Scout program, turning it into the program we know today.  Go to the Sea Scouts (1924-49) for information on this.

The program during these years is unclear.  It was nautically based, but it is unclear what advancement (if any) might have existed for Sea Scouts during this time.  It appears that Sea Scout units were named based on the size of the units.

The Sea Promise(started in 1920)
As a Sea Scout I promise to do my best--
1. To guard against water accidents.
2. To know the location and proper use of the life saving devices on every boat I board.
3. To be prepared to render aid to those in need.
4. To seek to preserve the Motto of the Sea, "Women and Children First."

It was under Kimo's tenure that unique Sea Scout uniforms began in 1919.  During this time, Sea Scouts did not wear the blue or white naval style uniforms that might be expected.  Instead, Sea Scouts wore khaki uniforms with navy blue insignia.  The jumper, pants, and leggings of the uniform shown below were khaki with navy blue collar, pocket flaps, and wrist bands.  Some works show the insignia used, but it is unclear what purpose they had. Below are copies from BSA catalogs at the time showing the uniform and insignia.  If anyone can explain what they all mean, it would be appreciated.  Sea Scout Ships were given different names based on their size (Sloop, Schooner, etc.), and thus each had their own caps.  Am unclear what the different officer names signify, nor the ratings badges and billet marks.


Seascoutmaster (Skipper) hat pin, 1919-25 Portmaster/Flag Officer hat pin, 1919-25Schooner Class Officer Insignia, 1919-25 Officer's cuff insignia on khaki
Advancement Program
It is unclear to me if there was an advancement program for Sea Scouts.

Baker Billet Mark
Signalman Billet Mark

Unit Organization
It is unclear how the Sea Scout units were organized.

Council/National Organization

During this formulate period of Seascouting, four different works served as the Seascout's manual.  The first edition is Warrington Baden-Powell Sea Scout manual developed in England and used here unchanged.

Until a full, American Sea Scout manual was created, Cruising for Sea Scouts was used as a supplement to the Boy Scout Handbook.
This was replaced by the short lived Nautical Scouting.  Finally, Chief Seascout James Wilder edited a new Seascout Manual.  A good deal of it was written by Fleet Portmaster Herbert G. Horton.
Sea Scouting and Seamanship for Boys (1st edition)
Warrington Baden-Powell
Cruising for Sea Scouts (2nd edition)
 1st   1912
 2nd  1913
 3rd  1914
A.A. Carey, author
Nautical Scouting (3rd edition) (#3524)

Charles Longstreth

Seascout Manual (4th Edition)
 1st     1920
 2nd     1922
 3rd     1923
 4th     1923
 5th     1923

J.A. Wilder, ed

Updated: 01/20/2005mrb