National Outdoor Challenge Unit Award
The National Outdoor Challenge is a unit award that recognizes troops that maintain or increase the amount of outdoor activity when compared to the previous year.
The recognition is a streamer for the unit's flag.
(The actual streamer may be different than this image)
With the release of this award, the National Camping award has been discontinued.
To earn this award, the unit states on the application that it has:
- Developed an annual plan for the current year.
- Conducted 10 outdoor trips or activities with at least 50 percent of the registered youth participating OR increased the number of outdoor trips or activities compared to the previous year.
- Attended long-term resident camp or a local/national high-adventure experience of at least six days/five nights.
- Conducted at least one outing with a Webelos Scout den.
- Earned at least one outdoors-related* merit badge per Scout.
- Conducted at least one Leave No Trace program during the calendar year for a minimum of 50 percent of the members.
Note: Outdoors-related merit badges are: Archery, Astronomy, Athletics, Backpacking, Bird Study, Camping, Canoeing, Climbing, Cooking, Cycling, Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Science, Farm Mechanics, First Aid, Fish and Wildlife Management, Fishing, Fly-Fishing, Forestry, Geocaching, Geology, Hiking, Horsemanship, Kayaking, Landscape Architecture, Lifesaving, Motorboating, Nature, Oceanography, Orienteering, Pioneering, Rifle Shooting, Rowing, Safety, Scuba, Shotgun Shooting, Skating, Small-Boat Sailing, Snow Sports, Soil and Water Conservation, Sports, Sustainability, Swimming, Water Sports, Whitewater, Wilderness Survival.
The unit leader completes the National Outdoor Challenge application and submits it to the local council camping committee.
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Mar 12, 2013 - Lowell Stokes
50% participation at every outing times ten outings is beyond challenging for a large troop. We have 55 scouts ranging from our ten-year old crossovers to scouts about to "age out" this month and next. We're doing good when we have 15- 25 come out on any given trip. While I can see how the requirement could be interpreted as a participation rate for all ten outings, I believe it means, "offer at least ten opportunities and get at least half of the scouts to enjoy the outdoors." I know many troops that would be challenged to do ten outings at all, let alone having a majority of their scouts attend any.
I also seek clarity on the MB requirement. I read it as an average count of one per scout, not a requirement that every scout has at least one. My question is what's the time frame for the MBs? Within the past twelve months? During a specific timeframe? Or throughout the careers of the scouts registered?
Since earning this award is a requirement for the Scoutmaster Key, I'm surprised there's not been more discussion and clarification on this award. At least not that I can find with my Google machine...
If your statement about "offering opportunities" was correct, a troop of 55 scouts having just 3 scouts attending each of 10 outings, and each scout attending only that one outing for the year, would fulfill the requirement because 30 scouts got outdoors at least once. Doesn't sound correct to me.
There is currently no specific wording saying that the merit badges need be earned in a certain time frame. If a scout earned Archery two years ago, he has still earned it.
In the end, "challenge" is the key; 50% or 10 outings are both pretty arbitrary. Is it a challenge to get three scouts to go on all ten outings if your troop only has three members?
We have several scouts that go on every trip, some scouts that hardly ever go on any, and most scouts are somewhere in between. I'll consider it an improvement if every scout attends at least two or three outings in a season. We do plan for ten in a year, so my own arbitrary numbers should achieve the award's goals.
I plan to raise this question at my district's Roundtable, but I was curious what other people's thoughts were.
This weekend I'll be at Waywayanda State Park in New Jersey with 15 scouts and three other scouters. We'll be doing orienteering. Wish me luck on getting back to the campfire!
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