The Gulf Coast SEAL course was one of the best experiences I have had in my scouting life. Since I am from the landlocked state of Colorado it was unlike anything I have ever done before. I learned very quick that SEAL is not your typical leadership course, in fact it is quite far from it. While the leadership skills taught and learned in SEAL may be similar to NYLT and NAYLE, the format is much different as it is almost entirely underway. That means that the classes and skills are taught on a boat. I don’t know of any other courses like that.
SEAL training is conducted underway: that means decisions have real consequences and a team can get into a dangerous situation very quickly. Thankfully, Skipper Freas, the skipper for my SEAL course, was there to guide us in the right direction when we were not comfortable enough to make the best decisions.
One of the best parts of SEAL, and one of the things that sets it apart from the from the rest, is that it brings six or seven strangers to one place and they either come together and succeed as a team or fail as individuals. My team found this out first hand. We had four female and three male Sea Scouts all coming from different parts of the country. All of us had different strengths and weaknesses when it came to sailing. Unfortunately for us, our biggest weakness was a lack of knowledge on how to sail because of how little sailing experience the members of my team had.
Most of us were from inland landlocked states where it is difficult to get sailing experience. Individually every single one of us would have failed miserably; collectively we knew enough to proficiently sail to where we needed to go. As a team, we bonded almost immediately. This is partly due to the nature of the SEAL course and how important teamwork is for success; but the friendship and trust we gained will last forever. All the nights with little sleep, all the early mornings, all the orders from skipper, and all the fun that was had (or lack thereof) was shared as a team.
My SEAL experience was 10 days long, but in my opinion it could have been 20. It was a time of learning and self-discovery, just as much as it was about leadership. I got a glimpse of who I am inside and how far I can push myself to be the best I can be. I learned that I could thrive in any environment I’m thrown into no matter how unfamiliar and that accomplishing goals is much easier when you have a team and when that team is able to work as one. I may have learned more in 10 days at SEAL than I did in 13 years of public school. I believe that each individual member of my team grew personally but perhaps more importantly my team grew together and we will always cherish the memories we made as a crew. I HIGHLY recommend SEAL for anyone who wants a challenge and wants to be the best leader they can become.