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June 9, 2017 at 7:42 am #71221Busy Scoutmaster in LAGuest
National Outdoor Awards
Hi, long time listener, first time caller… 😉
First a comment, then a question. I’ve made a big effort to introduce the National Outdoor Awards in our troop this year. I think it’s a great set of “capstone” awards and help emphasize the “outing” in Scouting — though I do think they are wildly uneven in terms of difficulty, and I’m curious what other people thing about that.
The National Outdoor Award for Camping, for example, is something nearly every Eagle Scout candidate should get almost by default, the merit badges are all Eagle required (and most get Pioneering in camp) and the first badge requires only 5 more camping nights on top of Camping merit badge. This means just one more summer camp or jamboree experience on top of the one you counted towards Camping merit badge, and bam, you’ve got national outdoor award for camping.
Two of the Life Scouts in our troop, having completed Camping Merit Badge, were recently awarded NOA for camping at our most recent Court of Honor. Both had been to summer camp multiple times so it was basically automatic. I’ve got another Life scout who will be attending summer camp for the SEVENTH time this summer. He may have already unwittingly earned not only NOA for camping but the first Gold Device! I’ll be sitting down with him after camp for his Eagle conference and we’ll find out.
[As a side note, to all those people on the other threads who whine about summer camps or jamborees not counting towards Camping Merit Badge, I say: every night counts towards the NOA!)
In contrast to the NOA for camping – which maybe is meant to be easier in order to be a “gateway” to the other awards? – some of the others are especially difficult. NOA for Hiking, actually, isn’t all that difficult once you overcome the enormity of the Hiking Merit Badge (which is so much more difficult than the Swimming Merit Badge which can be earned in 4 to 5 hours easily!). Hiking Merit Badge encompasses 70 miles in total so you need one more merit badge (Orienteering or Geocaching) and only 30 more miles of foot-travel, basically six five mile hikes or two backpacking trips. Not too bad. We don’t get many Hiking Merit Badges in our troop but we’ve got a group of 6 or so working through the hikes this year and I expect those boys will all pick up NOA for hiking pretty easily after that.
Then we come to NOA for Aquatics. Not too difficult, but it requires RECORD KEEPING. The scout book has spaces for Camping Nights, Hiking Miles, and Service Hours, but not Aquatics Hours. I’ve really been encouraging the scouts to start logging their aquatics activities.
Plenty of our scouts earn First Class, Swimming, Lifesaving, and Mile Swim. So that takes care of requirements 1-3. That leaves numbers 4 and 5:
4. Complete the requirements for at least one of the following: Canoeing, Fishing, Fly-Fishing, Kayaking, Rowing, Scuba Diving, Small-Boat Sailing, Water Sports, or Whitewater merit badges or Ranger Award Fishing, Scuba or Watercraft electives. Complete at least 25 hours of on-the-water time, applying the skills that you learned in the merit badge or Ranger elective.
5. Complete at least 50 hours of any combination of swimming, canoeing, fishing, fly-fishing, kayaking, rowing, scuba, small-boat sailing, stand up paddleboarding, water sports, or whitewater activity under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America, including time spent in requirements 2 through 4.
OK, easy enough, one more merit badge and 50 hours of total activity. But then there’s that pesky last sentence of requirement 4.
We are having some difficulty parsing the meaning of this sentence. Some of us think that the 25 hours can be spent in any activity listed in requirement 4, which is the same set of activities for the 50 hours in number 5 less swimming and stand up paddleboarding.
Another group wants to set a stricter standard, that you must pick ONE merit badge from the list in number 4 and apply those skills for 25 total hours of on-the-water-time. Any other merit badge from the list that you might earn can be time counted towards requirement 5 but doesn’t apply to requirement 4.
That strikes me as harsh, and it doesn’t make sense for requirement 4 to be substantially more difficult than requirement 5. So I’ve been somewhere in the middle, figuring that if they earned multiple merit badges in the list then the time spent on all of those merit badges can count towards requirement number 4. But that still leaves a gray area, for example, if the scout earns Canoeing Merit Badge, but then spends 5 cumulative hours paddling a kayak at summer camp without earning Kayaking Merit Badge, do those 5 hours count towards requirement 4. Or only towards requirement 5? Or if he spends several hours on a troop Whitewater activity but never earns Whitewater Merit Badge?
This has become a very timely question because I have just received my first application for the NOA for Aquatics, from one of the above-mentioned Scouts who was just awarded NOA for Camping. He’s completed requirement 5 beyond question, but there is some disagreement about whether he has completed requirement 4, even though he has several merit badges on this list and plenty of on-the-water time. But 25 hours of any ONE activity? That’s a tall order when the merit badge can be earned in 4 or 5 hours of on-the-water time. Is that really what the NOA badge is asking for? I am inclined to say “no”, and to say that he has earned the badge, but I’d really like an expert opinion on this.
[Tangent: Another point that has come up in discussions but not in real life yet: would 25 hours of time spent fishing from the shore on scout camping trips count as “on the water” time for requirement 4? I don’t really like the idea of that, seems to me that this award is encouraging Scouts to spend time in boating and paddle sports, which are so integral to Scouting in my mind that basic paddle skills were added to the First Class requirements last year…. but a fly-fisherman at least is standing IN the water most of the time… and both Fishing and Fly Fishing are listed in requirement 4 so I’m not sure how I could deny it either, if it ever came up. Perhaps fishing from a boat is on-the-water time, but fishing from shore is not?]
Finally, before I go, a couple of quick thoughts on the other NOA badges.
Adventure – Accumulating 10 of these adventures will be tough! Also, why does 3a require 20-mile backpacking trips when most of the trips in Backpacking Merit Badge are 15 miles? It basically means every trip for Backpacking will be stretched to 20 instead of 15 so they will qualify for both. It also seems unfair to anyone who started to work on Backpacking Merit Badge without looking at the NOAs first.
Conservation – seems like this one will be a gimme for a lot of our scouts once we institute the necessary record keeping, I have both a parent and a PLC committee working on some new conservation projects for us to do as a troop in the fall, so we’ll see how that goes.
NOA for Camping with Silver Device – 125 nights? Really? That works out to almost 18 nights of camping a year for 7 years, or one summer camp/jamboree and 6 weekend trips every year without fail. In my humble opinion a Silver Device would be well deserved at 100 total nights instead of 100 nights above the NOA for camping, but the rule is 125, so be it. I’d be amazed if I ever get to award one of these.
National Medial for Outdoor Achievement – Speaking of “amazed.” This is hard core. How many of these have ever been awarded?
I’m looking forward to some expert advice on the NOA for Aquatics, and everyone’s thoughts in general on the National Outdoor Awards. Thanks for reading my long and rambling post, as Mark Twain once said, sorry for writing you a long letter, but I didn’t have the time to write a short one!
Busy Scoutmaster in LA (BSILA)
June 12, 2017 at 8:51 am #71230QGuest
Not an expert. Just an admirer of any boy this focused. But, I’ll opine anyway!
In general, one man’s “hard” is another one’s “easy”.
For example, Son #2 just could not bring himself to trudge down to the acquatics area 6 years in a row and knock off his Swimming partial — or talk to any of the guards at our local pool, or look up any MBC near the Great Lake beside gramp’s cottage. So, at age 17.7, he knocked off hiking MB. Go figure.
Some patrols are smack dab at the nexus of awesome hiking trails. They’ll knock off 20-milers like it’s nobody’s business, using existing shelters to lighten their load. But, as a result not setting up their own shelter, racking up camping nights is hard for these scouts.
For everything else: it’s the boy’s records to keep. If he outlines how he did stuff, and he thinks the way you are reading the requirements is unfounded, you owe him a sign off. If on the other hand, he realizes that the requirements are actually are asking him to do a little more, it’s on him to do what it takes to be sure he earns it free and clear of his conscience.
Don’t make it your problem to parse a sentence.
Will this mean that one boy will write in 25 hours of one activity, while another will write in 5 hours of five activities — simply out of conviction that the reqs mean one thing or the other? Yes. Is it a problem? No.
February 26, 2018 at 4:26 pm #87573GregGuest
This is my view but others will likely disagree. My second oldest son is working toward this award. And is 16 with 120 nights of camping so far. So if you have an active Scout, or one that staffs summer camp for a year or two will easily get 125 nights of camping. He did his without staffing summer camp. As for the aquatic badge I have taken the view that requirement 4 is talking about spending 25 hours of time practicing what you learned in one merit badge, so as to be proficient in said merit badge. Much like we require people learning to drive to have 45 plus hours of behind the wheel before getting a drivers license. I would also point out it does not state under auspices of the Boy Scouts of America. For it to count for requirement 5 you would need it to be under auspices of BSA though. So to get requirement 4 a scout could go canoeing with family over a long weekend and get the time, but it would not count towards requirement 5. A scout could also work a summer camp in aquatics teaching canoeing or kayaking and get more than enough hours for this badge as well.
I do agree with you that many Scouts have done the requirements to earn these awards. They just don’t know about it or don’t what to be bothered putting in for it. And since it is Boy Scouts I do think the Scouts should put forth the effort to get the award and not have an adult in the Troop looking through records to just hand them out. Not to say we can not suggest it to the Scouts on a Troop level, just that the Scouts should take an active role in their Scouting career. As a case in point many Scouts once they get to Life or Eagle should have almost everything for the World Conservation badge too, but how many have been awarded the badge?
I recently did a UoS class where this very question was brought up. Many opinions, sounds to me National needs to change the requirement to clarify it and remove the many questions or doubt surrounding it.
April 25, 2018 at 9:57 am #101916steveGuest
Here is my question: “IN THE AUSPICES OF SCOUTING”. https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/03/13/interpreting-under-the-auspices-in-national-outdoor-awards-requirements/
I have been told on several occasions that “IN THE AUSPICES OF SCOUTING” includes adding activities that a Boy Scout did as a Cub Scout. That means camping when a scout was a Cub, Swimming, Conservation Projects etc. Now I know most Cub Scout record keeping isn’t that great, from what I understand Cub Scouting counts for the NOA. :Is this what the “AUSPICES OF SCOUTING” language intended?
March 11, 2019 at 7:19 pm #191482StephenGuest
Yes, under the auspices of the BSA includes Cub Scouts, so camping, hiking, etc, done while a cub scouts would count towards NOAs.
May 31, 2019 at 3:53 pm #211079Jay the AntelopeGuest
The simplest answer to this question is “no” sir.
Important to note that NOAA cannot be earned until after they’ve completed FIRST CLASS, earned the First Aid MB, Camping MB, and either Cooking/Pioneering MB.
So “no” Cub Scout time does not count on this particular matrix for this particular award.
I appreciate all the opinions on this one. I love this one. It’s the key to a successful Scouting experience. But, let’s not be so quick to check their boxes. The awards and recognition will come. Try instilling the interest in it within them. Once you do, they’ll take the initiative to plan accordingly and towards the trips and activities they’re interested in and ones that will generate opportunities for them to earn these types of awards.
June 5, 2019 at 8:51 am #212835Committee ChairGuest
First Class is required to EARN the award, not to begin working on it. And it is a Scouts BSA award, not a Cub Scout award. So, all requirements can be completed, with First Class being the last, and the award is earned. Similarly, a Boy Scout can count camping nights at a Cub activity (say going with a younger brother on a pack weekend trip), or serving as Den Chief at Cub resident camp. Camping nights while a Cub Scout do not count for this award.
June 5, 2019 at 11:25 am #213060Christopher SchusterGuest
You are mistaken. Camping and hiking while a Cub Scout do count towards National Outdoor Awards.
This was addressed on this blog.
June 5, 2019 at 11:26 am #213076Erik WGuest
This is a topic that has been debated in the past. If you dig through all the comments of the post you reference, you will see the guidance provided by Mr Eric Hiser, member of the Camping Task Force at the time who was also the designer and developer for this award. In it he is quoted as stating: “Nights camped, miles hiked, hours in the water, etc., as a Cub Scout or Venturer “under the auspices” DO COUNT for the final requirement of each badge. That’s the purpose of the “under the auspices” language–to recognize the totality of the Scout’s outdoorism in Scouting. The rank and merit badge requirements, on the other hand, must be earned as set forth under the Boy Scout/Varsity Scout program, until such time as BSA releases guidance for Venturers who are not “Qualified Venturers” as that term is used in the Guide to Advancement.” Unless something has changed in the last few years, this is pretty authoritative guidance that activities conducted as a Cub Scout “under the auspices” do count towards the award, but not towards the Merit Badges that must be earned.
October 22, 2018 at 8:39 am #160491MikeGuest
As a cubmaster I’m interested also, we send kids every summer to a week of camp and tent camp one or two night a year as a pack. Fishing hours, honestly too many to count. So interested if I should be tracking more in scoutbook.
October 23, 2018 at 9:02 am #160721MiddletownscouterGuest
The National Outdoor Awards are for the Scouts BSA and Venturing BSA program levels right now, but there’s probably quite a few different awards at the Cub level for outdoor program and time spent fishing as well as other pursuits.
October 29, 2018 at 7:16 am #161806TMGuest
Thats a good question, camping and hikin are under the auspices of scouting so they count but the Auquatic hours need to have a merit badge so you can practice the skills.
March 11, 2019 at 10:19 pm #191511StephenGuest
The aquatics hours as a Cub could count towards NOA-Aquatics requirement #5.
December 28, 2018 at 10:30 am #178237steveGuest
Yes… That is exactly what it means. Send me your email and I will send you the backup documentation from the person who wrote it.
October 31, 2018 at 2:32 pm #163726Charles in NJGuest
I share your issue about the consistency of level of difficulty, but for Conservation (and Adventure, as you mentioned): we’re a suburban troop in a borderline urban area, so our troop service projects are more often focused on food drives, soup kitchens, community event volunteering rather than camp or park conservation work, which is usually limited to a couple of hours on a camping trip. Not an insurmountable problem, but it definitely makes that segment a tougher one for our Scouts. (Camping is almost inevitable for our active scouts, as we camp every month, and most of ours are doing the Hiking badge, which as you say knocks off most of that requirement). Aquatics and Riding are also tough for our Scouts because of the badges and hours required. But Adventure? I’ll be surprised if ANY of our Scouts earn that one, even if they get through the Backpacking merit badge — 10 different adventure trips is a LOT, especially when we currently don’t do any of them as a Troop.
August 29, 2019 at 9:02 am #259432RobGuest
Hey Charles – our troop is located in a similar situation, smack in the middle of the Chicago suburbs and just as close to the “boonies” as we are to downtown skyscrapers.
That said, for Conservation hours our Scouts have a number of local, easily accessed opportunities through various park districts, forest preserves and the like. In fact each of the local county forest preserves have a “Friends Of…” group which recruits other volunteers for weekend service projects. Our suburb’s park district also runs an annual clean up the parks week …which, in reality, they will gladly hand out gardener gloves and trash bags to ANYONE ANY TIME! 😉
Throw in a conservation-related Eagle project or two and the 25 hours build up fast. In fact, one of our more recent Eagles had the troop using 8 out of the 10 qualifying conservation tools on his project just by coincidence.
Also, for the Adventure segment… we have a few Scouts that have gone to high adventure bases like Philmont and that counts as one activity. We also go on a rock climbing outing generally every other year – not sure if there’s any open rock areas near you. I imagine there are quite a few National Historic Trails in your area so your troop might be able to earn and even re-earn the National Historic Trails Award (also gives an opp. for conservation hours). Add in a few backpacking or canoe treks etc on long weekends or in summer and over time the Scouts will have the opportunity to get to those 10 activities.
November 5, 2018 at 12:58 pm #165115Jeff WillettGuest
My son earned all of the National Outdoor Awards and the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement.
To answer your questions regarding tracking the aquatics hours. The hours were tracked via a spreadsheet for every scout event he attended. We would look at exactly what time he was on the water and the time off based on the event and thus the number of hours. Our troop does a aquatics weekend campout each year (canoeing/swimming/motorboating) and a whitewater raft trip each year – so that helped a lot.
Just to be sure, he was able to cover the aquatic hours in a short time span was 5 different ways.
1) Canoeing at Northern Tier for a week
2) Sailing at Florida Sea Base for a week
3) Going to Claytor Lake Aquatics Base for a week.
4) Working at summer camp waterfront teaching Canoeing/Sailing merit badges.
5) Earning the Scuba Merit Badge – involved a lot of time in the water and then followup trips.
The National Medal for Outdoor Achievement was very tough for my son to earn specifically
due to Requirement 6: Become a certified Leave No Trace trainer (16-hour course).
Our council does not offer this training and surrounding councils that do offer it are hard to find. I signed him up for a class three times – which were canceled due to weather (hurricane) and other conflicts. I took three years before finally lucking into a class that fit with his schedule / troop schedule.
In the end, my son ended earning the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement, all of the National Outdoor Awards, and along the way completed the Grand Slam of High Adventure (all four High Adventure Bases).
The National Outdoor Awards are great – it does involve tracking details. I track many of the details in TroopMaster for troop events and many of our scouts easily earn the Camping and Hiking awards.
When the PLC plans an outing/campout, I will try to encourage them to have it meet one of the requirements for one of the awards. Many times a scout is unaware that he has earned the Outdoor awards until it is presented at the Court of Honor. Then at the Court of Honor, we reemphasize the Outdoor awards and what a scout had to do to earn it.
November 13, 2018 at 9:01 am #166935ChristieGuest
Are female Venturers able to earn the NOAs for camping and conservation? My question comes from two points. First, all of the other NOA badges have requirements to EITHER complete MB requirements OR Venturing ranger requirements. Camping and Conservation are the only two that only list MBs for completing the award. Point two, boy scouts “earn” MBs just like they “earn” their ranks. But the requirements for each NOA badges simply say “complete the requirements” for XX merit badge. Does this mean a female Venturer who cannot earn a MB can still earn by NOA by “completing the requirements” for the specified MBs?
March 11, 2019 at 10:19 pm #191512StephenGuest
Yes, the wording is such that Venturers (and Sea Scouts) can complete the requirements for a merit badge without earning it like a Scout would. This enables them to earn the NOAs.
March 31, 2019 at 9:34 am #194759DismalDaveGuest
Will the Nat Outdoor Award be changed now that Leave No Trace Trainer is no longer a Troop position? It seems that this position change will make the almost nonexistent BSA LNTT training sessions really go away for good.
Fortunately for my son two Councils away from us one is offered. It’s only 105 miles away from us, and entails driving across Los Angeles on a Friday to get there. 😉
April 30, 2019 at 5:30 pm #198706RichGuest
As for the Aquatics segment requirements #4 & #5. I believe #4 is meant to be hours practicing what was learned in the merit badge. To me, that is why they separated it from #5. It is not meant to be easy, they even state these are the capstone (top) awards regarding outings.
As for the comments about “Under the auspices of the BSA” – I believe that to mean according to BSA rules. It does not include things done as a Cub Scout. I cannot quote where, but in BSA literature, it is clear that only activities done while a registered Boy Scout count towards Boy Scout requirements (including merit badge requirements). There is a Bryan on Scouting blog addressing what is scout camping (does not include cabins or locks ins, etc). Must be in a tent or sleeping stars – the intent is to be competent in tent camping (yes, at summer camp they do not set up their own tents – but they want to promote going to summer camp). My son snowshoed 26 miles up and over the Continental Divide in CO over 4 days, but they stayed in Cabins with wood burning stoves (no water, they had to melt snow for water) – That was pretty grueling, yet those do not count as camping nights per the BSA.
May 11, 2019 at 5:52 pm #202590BillGuest
Ok aquatics it states merit badges with an s #4 so think multiple can be used to get to 25 hours but here’s my question. It says on the water applying skills learned in merit badges so is that after the badge is earned or including time spent earning the badge?? I have read Bryan state that say camping w family is not under auspices of BSA so how could fish with family be? Under auspices is the key so as a troop patrol etc we have to get 25 hrs for the kids after completing badge? At the intro to these it does state under auspices is that all must be or just when it says it and includes cub scouts.
National should clean this up with exact terms.
Thx to anyone and their thoughts
May 22, 2019 at 8:38 am #206680Charles CoxeGuest
On the aquatics question, I read requirement 4 as asking the Scout to go deep to become an expert on that one area (Canoeing, Fishing, Fly-Fishing, Kayaking, Rowing, Scuba Diving, Small-Boat Sailing, Water Sports, or Whitewater) with 25 hours of focused work (not including the work to earn the MB, because it clearly refers to the MB in the past tense, meaning you have earned it first). Then requirement #5 is allowing the Scout to branch out with 50 hours across various aquatics-related areas (explicitly allowing the Scout to count the 25 hours in requirements 2-4, which is odd, but that’s what it says).
June 10, 2019 at 11:11 am #214313BSILAGuest
Original poster here. I want to thank everyone for a really interesting and lively discussion, and wanted to come back with a few thoughts and replies.
Aquatics Requirement 4. First, I notice that the BSA made a change to the wording of that pesky requirement #4 for NOA Aquatics.
Here’s the 2017 requirement book:
“Complete the requirements for at least one of the following merit badges: Canoeing, Kayaking, Rowing, Scuba Diving, Small-Boat Sailing, Whitewater. Complete at least 25 hours of on-the-water time, applying the skills that you learned in the merit badges.”
Here’s the 2019 requirement book:
“Complete the requirements for at least one of the following merit badges: Canoeing, Fishing, Fly-Fishing, Kayaking, Rowing, Scuba Diving, Small-Boat Sailing, Water Sports or Whitewater merit badge or Venturing Ranger Fishing, Scuba or Watercraft electives. Complete at least 25 hours of on-the-water time, applying the skills that you learned in the merit badge or Ranger elective.”
Besides the addition of the Venturing language and the three additional merit badges to the list, one change stands out: the removal of the “s” after “merit badge.”
I agree with Charles Coxe and other commenters who say that this requirement is looking for a “deep dive” into one activity, something like a week canoeing at Northern Tier, or another 50-miler by water, or a week on a sailboat at Sea Base. As it happens, 14 of our older Scouts will be going on a kayaking expedition in Alaska this summer, which I think will enable many of them to complete this requirement.
I agree, by the way, with everyone who says that record keeping is generally the Scout’s responsibility (though I do keep a back-up roster of all hikes and camp outs). We’re teaching them from their very first camping trip or hike to start using the logs in the back of their Handbooks. I’m not going to “surprise” a scout with an NOA at a Court of Honor that he didn’t know he had earned, but I might “encourage” a scout to review his records and let me know if thought he had completed the requirements.
One more thing on Aquatics. At the same time they fixed requirement 4, they also fixed the glaring error in Requirement 5, adding kayaking and water sports to the list of activities as well as fishing, fly-fishing and stand-up paddleboarding. Much better.
“Under the Auspices.” There’s some disagreement on this thread but the official directive, linked above, is pretty clear: Cub Scout activities DO count towards National Outdoor Awards, even though those activities do NOT apply to any of the underlying merit badges. So Camping Merit Badge plus 5 nights of Cub camping equals NOA Camping. As long as the camping was “outside” and not in a cabin or a school gym or something. Requirement 5 does not define “camping” (outside of the fact that 20 of the 25 nights are necessarily governed by the requirements of Camping Merit Badge) but surely we can agree that anything to be applied to the National OUTDOOR Awards would have to be, you know, outdoors.
Hiking. Hey Q, did you post somewhere about your son knocking out all of the hikes for Hiking Merit Badge in a week or 10 days or something? Thank you for offering some valuable perspective. I now regularly tell that story to my scouts who complain about how “hard” Hiking Merit Badge is.
By the way, has anyone ever earned NOA Hiking by earning Backpacking Merit Badge and NOT earning Hiking Merit Badge? That would be a rare achievement.
I’ll also note that anyone who would have earned Pathfinder merit badge in 2010/11 would have aged out by now, so this has been removed as an alternative to Orienteering or Geocaching.
First Class. As noted by Committee Chair, First Class is a requirement of these awards, but it is NOT a prerequisite for getting started. One of our scouts had earned Hiking and Orienteering Merit Badges and completed over 100 miles of hiking or backpacking while still second class. When he earned his First Class, he received the NOA Hiking at the same Court of Honor.
Leave-No-Trace Training. Interesting to know that this of all things is a problem for some scouts trying to complete the Medal due to lack of availability. I would definitely like to see this course offered more often and in more Councils. As it happens, my son and I had to travel to a neighboring Council a couple of years ago to take the course so he could serve as his Troop’s LNT Trainer (I mean “Outdoor Ethics Guide” ugh) for a term (even though he has no intention of seeking out the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement). And congrats, but the way, to Jeff Willetts and others who sons have reached this rare and awesome achievement. I’d love to have your son come to our troop and tell some stories from his adventures.
Earning Pins. My Advancement Chair tells me there is no way to enter the pins for each National Outdoor Award in the on-line advancement system. Is this true? Why are these awards not tracked?
Statistics. I love the annual merit badge numbers that Bryan publishes every year and would love to see the annual numbers for the National Outdoor Awards too. Bryan if you are reading this please consider an article. (It would also be interesting to see stats on other awards like World Conservation Award or Mile Swim.) Thank you!
July 12, 2019 at 8:41 am #225779DismalDaveGuest
We are having trouble with the LNTT portion also. We live in Orange Council which has 5 Master Trainers, but they haven’t put on any training in the last few years. The best I can find is a guy in Ventura Council who puts on the training (and does a good job). It’s only 3 hours away, when the Los Angeles traffic is good.
I have heard from one of our main Caouncil staff that there have been about 80 NOAA medals earned nationally since the award started.
I’m keeping track of the requirements on a multi-tab spreadsheet that has the sheets talk to a culminating sheet.
I’m on our Council STEM committee. Have talked with National Staff about knots for the Supernovas. Would help promote the awards if there were knots. Looks like no new knots are planned. They want to decrease the number of knots. My opinion is that the Scout section should be expanded a bit, and adult section, which contains about 70% of the knots, should be trimmed. I’d suggest starting with the one you can buy. I’d never put that next to my red-white-blue knot.
August 14, 2019 at 9:20 am #247724SteveGuest
See this thread on the Scoutbook forums. Scoutbook leaves much to be desired for NOA tracking.
We use the notes field of the appropriate NOA Segment to track the different tiers of Gold Devices.
July 22, 2019 at 8:42 am #231208Philip SkinnerGuest
Thanks to all contributing to this discussion. I’ve been dealing with similar questions as to the ambiguity of the wording in some of the requirements.
Maybe my questions are more comments where I feel the written requirements are against the spirit of the award. Anyway….
“Complete 25 days and nights of camping—including six consecutive days (five nights) of camping (Sea Scouts may be on a boat)”. Does that mean only Sea Scouts can count boat nights for their five nights, or only Sea Scouts can count boat nights at all? TBH why limit boat nights to Sea Scouts – is it not equally outdoors and adventurous for land scouts to be an overnight sailing trip?
Q2) I’m in agreement, the 25 hours should be in a single activity, to try and gain expertise. For example, one of our scouts got the kayaking merit badge and just spent all week at a whitewater kayaking camp, where he completed all the requirements for whitewater along the way. I think that time counts.
Q3) Along those lines, the “under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America” phrase. I think it would be against the spirit of the award to say that a scout had to fulfill this on troop or other official BSA activities. If they want to go backpacking themselves, register it with the scoutmaster, and better still if they are using that trip for a merit badge, then that should count imo. Don’t penalize them because they are supplementing the opportunities provided by the troop.
Q4) Adventure “A backpacking trip lasting three or more days and covering more than 20 miles without food resupply” I wish this requirement something that recognized that altitude gained could substitute for mileage, I think a rule of thumb in the High Adventure Awards is typically 1000ft of ascent=2miles. As an example, a Rim to River backpack in the Grand Canyon (S Kaibab to Bright Angel) is 17 miles, typically 3 days, 2 nights, but about 4000Ft of ascent. If a Grand Canyon Rim to River backpack does count as Adventurous enough (but 20 miles around a flat meadow would) there is something wrong.
Lastly, I love these awards (and the High Adventure ones). I would just love BSA to help clarify these questions and perhaps refine them where they perhaps weren’t written in the best way.
July 22, 2019 at 3:56 pm #231806Philip SkinnerGuest
Q5 Adventure: “Attend any national high-adventure base or any nationally recognized local high-adventure or specialty-adventure program.” I wonder what qualifies vs not for a nationally recognized local high-adventure or specialty-adventure program.
Would a High Adventure Program at a local council Scout Camp count?
Would a multi day kayaking/rafting/rockclimbing/snowshoeing course at a non BSA affiliated adventure centre count? (eg the aforementioned 4 day whitewater kayaking camp)
I do really wish Scouts BSA had a way to qualify these questions vs leaving them open to interpretation. Maybe I need to talk directly with Eric Hiser 🙂
July 27, 2019 at 8:22 am #233129Jay the AntelopeGuest
This is my second posting on this topic/thread. I’ll share that I’m confused by some of the interpretations I’ve read.
Here’s the matter at hand from my POV:
I agree that some of the segments are probably too challenging to be earned within a standard Scout program. And, I think that’s okay.
“Under the Auspices” does include the Cub Scout program in its listing. That said, I’ll remind everyone that Cub Scout has an Outdoor Activity Award. It troubles me that I’ve read so many posts on this thread that seem to push leaders to include every activity the Scout has ever done in the name of receiving this award.
I feel that the many authors on this topic who think a Scout should receive credit for a camping trip they did as a Cub when applying for this award are missing the point of the award entirely. While I agree First Class is not a prerequisite for beginning work towards this award, they do need to earn merit badges. Camping, for example is a MB that should be earned only after a Scout is First Class. The nights camping (20) required can be achieved before earning the Camping MB, but the badge itself seems to lend itself toward a First Class Scout. Do your unit’s patrol leaders and SPL hand the new Scouts a MB pamphlet for Eagle required badges when they cross-over into your unit? How hands-on are your adults when it comes to advancement, and/or the earning of special awards? It seems very adult lead when I read many of these posts.
Consider the requirements of the First Aid MB, in which requirement #1 reads:
“Demonstrate for your counselor that you have current knowledge of first aid requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class.”
Or, requirement #7a: “…Then, demonstrate proper CPR technique…”
Is it realistic to say that a TF Scout can complete these and will earn the Camping segment of this award before becoming First Class. I do not think it’s possible. Who is signing this off for the Scout? And, why?
I’d caution those who wish to decorate 11 year olds/younger Scouts with such prestigious awards too soon. The program is graduated and increases the complexity of the skills and tasks to achieve proficiency and mastery of the skills within the core curriculum of the program. Take a minute to reflect on what the goals of the program are.
These queries aimed at making the awards easier to achieve serve no one except those who have aims at checking all the boxes and awarding everyone whether they’ve learned and earned the skills they’re being awarded for having.
That’s my take.
To me, it’s clear that for a Scout to meet that requirement, they must be at least a First Class Scout. Tabulating their every action on a scorecard only lessens the value of their experiences in Scouting. Let them enjoy the program and the awards will come.
Jay the Antelope
August 13, 2019 at 4:17 pm #247652SteveGuest
@Jay the Antelope, your post is full of terrible misinformation and opinions which are directly at odds with the Guide to Advancement and the stated intent and purpose of the NOA Segments.
“It troubles me that I’ve read so many posts on this thread that seem to push leaders to include every activity the Scout has ever done in the name of receiving this award.”
As previously referenced, including every activity a Scout has accomplished throughout their career is the intent and purpose of these awards.
“I feel that the many authors on this topic who think a Scout should receive credit for a camping trip they did as a Cub when applying for this award are missing the point of the award entirely.”
Your “feelings” on the topic are irrelevant and also completely at odds with the scope of the award. No one is allowed to change Advancement Requirements because they “feel” like it.
“Camping, for example is a MB that should be earned only after a Scout is First Class. The nights camping (20) required can be achieved before earning the Camping MB, but the badge itself seems to lend itself toward a First Class Scout.”
This is false. There is no requirement for First Class Rank to earn the Camping Merit Badge. I would report any Leader to their Council for withholding properly earned Merit Badges.
“Is it realistic to say that a TF Scout can complete these and will earn the Camping segment of this award before becoming First Class … Who is signing this off for the Scout?”
No one. It is impossible for a Tenderfoot Scout to earn the NOA Camping Segment. First Class Rank is the very first requirement for all six NOA Segments as well as the Medal.
“I’d caution those who wish to decorate 11 year olds/younger Scouts with such prestigious awards too soon.”
See above. Once again, it is impossible for an 11-year old Scout to earn ANY of the NOA Segments or the Medal.
“Tabulating their every action on a scorecard only lessens the value of their experiences in Scouting.”
August 14, 2019 at 12:59 pm #248339jay the antelopeGuest
Thank you for your feedback, Steve. It’s clear you haven’t read my post in its proper context, and you are certainly entitled to your stance on this. It’s clear that you’ve gotten the wrong idea from my reply. I would love to discuss this topic, rich in replies and “misinformation” over a cup of coffee.
To you points though, I’ll clarify that I didn’t say a Scout “couldn’t” earn the Camping MB, I said it was one that “shouldn’t” be earned before first class. And, it seems odd that so many on this thread would credit cub scout activities for a boy scout level award. Instead of criticizing the way I’ve interpreted the award, maybe you should put my “terrible” replies to this blog forum in the context in which they were written. Here’s the text from the BSA:
Camping. A Scout, Sea Scout, or Venturer may earn the National Outdoor Badge for Camping upon successfully completing the following requirements:
Earn the First Class rank, Sea Scout Apprentice rank, or complete Venturing Ranger Award requirements 1–6.
Complete the Camping merit badge requirements.
Complete the requirements for two of the following three: Cooking merit badge or Ranger Cooking core; First Aid merit badge or Ranger First Aid core; Pioneering merit badge.
Complete 25 days and nights of camping—including six consecutive days (five nights) of camping (Sea Scouts may be on a boat), approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America—including nights camped as part of requirements 1 through 3 above. Scouts must complete six consecutive days (five nights) of the 25 nights at a BSA accredited resident camp.
Also, since you’ve misreported on the quote you included, I’ll advise you to re-read my posting. I didn’t write anything stating I changed requirements. I actually take exception with your rewriting that implies I have. I’d gladly discuss that with you. You certainly have an odd idea of what an “accomplishment” is versus what is deserving of an award. Maybe instead of referring me to the Guide, you reconsider what you’ve read in its pages.
I’ll also ask that before you start typing adjectives to someone’s reply, you make sure you read the thread and its words fully.
August 8, 2019 at 10:00 am #242894KariGuest
Question on recording Aquatics —
If a Scout has completed the canoeing merit badge as an example, do I record BOTH the “paddling miles” that he canoed and the “on the water” hours it took to complete it? Or is it the Scout’s choice to decide if they want paddling miles or on the water hours reflected?
I’ve seen instances where for motor boating, the mileage was awarded (like 40 miles) plus 6 hours “on the water” time.
Thanks in advance!
August 14, 2019 at 9:20 am #247714SteveGuest
Except for the 50-miler Award, there’s no such thing as “paddling miles.” The Aquatics Segment requires “hours.” The Riding segment allows for motorboating “miles” (not canoeing).
September 15, 2019 at 6:55 pm #272154Larry RoweGuest
I’ve read this whole discussion but it didn’t answer my question.
My question relates to the NOAA for Conservation. I have boys that are in the OA and our OA does alot of conservation related service. I’m wondering if I can count these hours toward the NOAA requirement of having 50 hours of conservation work.
I’ve read other opinions on double dipping and I do not want to count hours for Ordeal for this requirement because they are basically earning their membership to the OA through this service. But, my Chapter does not have a service requirement for Brotherhood and the service they do is strictly voluntary meaning any service after Ordeal is not mandatory for advancement or continued membership in the OA. The Chapter’s requirements are based strictly on participation meaning did you come to the Summer, Fall, Winter, or Spring events. Therefore, I don’t personally have an issue with counting conservation hours, performed during an OA event or not, toward this requirement because the Scouts could have very well paid their way into the event and not done any service at all.
Given these circumstances, what are your feelings toward counting OA service both toward service in general and toward conservation-related service for the purposes of the NOAA in Conservation.
Counting OA service for rank advancement has not come up simply because most of the rank requirements for service have been met prior to OA service and the only OA service I have seen at that point in a Scout’s career was for Ordeal which I have stated that I would not count for rank advancement. For every possible time this could have occurred, the Scout has had other opportunities to fulfill the rank requirement without even considering OA participation. But, since the requirement is 50 hours under the auspices of BSA and OA is definitely a BSA function, this question has now arisen and there are differing opinions within my Troop.
Thanks for your help.
November 19, 2019 at 3:11 pm #309987SilvaGuest
Somebody mentioned that this conversation seemed to be mostly adults so I thought I would chime in for once.
I’m a Star Scout, OA member and Rayado Trek participant. I’m looking into earning NOAA, since I’ve already completed all the hiking required, finishing Backpacking MB in a few weeks, and generally done way more high adventure than the average scout. However, since I’ve spent so few years in BSA, under circumstances not in my control, it’s just not possible to camp 125 nights. I camped ALL summer (Jamboree+Philmont) and only have 70 night. However, I’ll be participating in a NOLS 30 day trek in the Rockies that would give me enough nights. So here’s my question: Does the “under the auspices” language apply to the devices? More specifically, should this NOLS trip count towards NOAA?
Would appreciate input from all, but even more so from somebody who has the authority to say, since my Scoutmaster wants to hear it from the top.
November 22, 2019 at 7:29 pm #310577QGuest
Great to have a youth voice on any thread!
Strangers on the Internet won’t convince your SM. You two should get in touch with your Council Advancement Chairperson and ask if NOLS counts. I think it should.
But if it doesn’t try to enjoy your month trek even if it doesn’t end with the patch that you’d like!
December 2, 2019 at 10:28 am #312760Philip SkinnerGuest
In our Troop that would qualify, especially if you told your SM about your intentions beforehand. Where the NOA award requirements are ambiguous we always try to think of the intent. Going to a weekend camp out with your parents, not so much. But something like this? Absolutely.
December 2, 2019 at 10:30 am #311362SilvaGuest
My Scoutmaster contacted the Council Advancement Chair, who wasn’t familiar with the award, and got “no” as a reflex answer. However, I was able to discuss the issue with my District Scout Executive and clarified that I’m attending a NOLS trek. He’s going to look at the issue again and hopefully reconsider.
I don’t backpack, camp, and hike for a patch or metal. What would the point be? I use the badges as a way to focus my adventures so I have fun but also get recognition.
December 2, 2019 at 10:28 am #312764Philip SkinnerGuest
I don’t see anything in the requirements against double dipping. Your 20 nights of camping for the camping MB count towards your Camping segment. Likewise if they do Conservation during Scouting events, it should count. Could be for their Life Scout or other tank advancements, for Citizenship in the Community or other MB requirements, or could be for OA. Count it!
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