Kristine Theriault

SM Tips - National Outdoor Awards Promote Outdoor Achievement

By: Posted On: 2013-01-12

It’s summertime, and the living is anything but easy for many Scouts. Backpacking treks, canoe trips, and other rugged adventures are physically and mentally challenging—and far more satisfying than lolling around the pool or playing videogames all summer.

Recently, the BSA has created a new set of awards to recognize Scouts who excel in the outdoors. Dubbed the National Outdoor Awards—catchy name, huh?—the awards cover the areas of adventure, aquatics, camping, hiking, and riding (bikes or horses).

The program has two levels. First, Scouts can earn badges in the five areas listed above by meeting specific advancement and participation requirements. These badges are segment patches that go around a five-sided center emblem (which Scouts receive with their first segment), as shown at the right. Gold and silver devices denote additional achievement in a subject area (e.g., more miles of hiking or more nights of camping).

The second level is the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement, which is the highest recognition a Boy Scout can receive for outdoor achievement. To earn this medal, a Scout must reach the First Class rank, earn the National Outdoor Badge for Camping with the silver device and two other National Outdoor Badges with gold devices, earn specified merit badges, complete Wilderness First Aid training, plan and lead an outing, and either plan and lead an adventure activity or complete a season on summer camp staff in an outdoor area.

Needless to say, this is a tough award to earn, but it may be just perfect for some of your overachieving, adrenaline-fueled older Scouts. It may also give them a target to shoot for that’s a lot more meaningful than a digitized alien in a videogame.

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Republished with permission of Mark Ray at


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