Achieve Your Goals with The Congressional Award

Did you know that Lion’s Heart is now one of nine organizations certified for The Congressional Award?

The Congressional Award is a national award program that was established by congress in 1979 to recognize initiative, service, and achievement in young people.

The award is about challenge and is a fun way for young people to become more involved in activities they enjoy. After registering for the award, participants set goals in four areas–Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration. Participants self-select an adult advisor to guide them as they work towards their goals and are also required to have their activity hours validated upon completion. The typical participant is generally between 14 and 23 years old.

Voluntary Public Service
Sharing your time and talents for the benefit of others is an important part of the Congressional Award program. This requires sensitivity, perception of need, determination, perseverance and dedication. Voluntary Public Service activities must be performed without pay, compensation or school credit. You should provide a direct service, rather than focus on issues. When setting your goals, identify activities that benefit the community at large. Keep in mind that political activities are not eligible for voluntary public service.

Personal Development
Expand your horizons while developing individual interests, social and life skills. The Congressional Award challenges you to pursue a new interest or advance to another level in an ongoing interest, through Personal Development activities. In your Record Book, be sure to include your present level and then identify specific skills or new knowledge, which you will achieve.

Physical Fitness
Improve your quality of life through participation in fitness activities. The Congressional Award challenges you to set and achieve a measurable goal in a physical activity. Both team sports and individual activities are acceptable as long as the activities lead to an improved performance or greater physical fitness.

Expedition/Exploration
Challenge yourself through an interaction with the wilderness or by immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture. The Congressional Award allows you to choose between an Expedition and an Exploration.

The aim of your Expedition or Exploration should be to develop a spirit of adventure and discovery. Organizing, planning, training and completing the Expedition or Exploration requires self-reliance, determination and cooperation.

The Expedition or Exploration is a one-time experience that you plan and execute. It is not an event you attend that someone else has planned. You should learn to be responsible for yourself while learning more about our world, through first-hand experience in the wilderness or in a new and different culture.

Many activities are acceptable for the Expedition or Exploration, but your activity will need to involve a significant amount of planning that you will complete independently.  Expeditions and Explorations are neither designed nor intended to be expensive. For example, participants should work together to secure the necessary equipment, but should not have to purchase tents, sleeping bags, etc. Some participants even make their own camping equipment!

By their nature, Explorations can involve fairly high expenses. This is something you must consider if you choose this type of activity. You may wish to explore sponsorship or scholarships. Although participants are to be self-supporting and self-sufficient, an adult supervisor oversees the venture.

The adult supervisor observes the activities, but the actual participants are responsible for carrying out the Expedition or Exploration.

Learn more about The Congressional Award via congressionalaward.org and register to participate online for $15. Financial support is available for those who qualify. You can also download their Annual Report to Congress for an overview of program activity and highlights of events.

Lion’s Heart members can access the program booklet and additional supporting materials in their Member Toolkit. Over the next year we will continue to release additional supporting materials to help members set and achieve their goals as they progress through the program.  We will also work closely with Class Coordinators and Chapter Presidents who are interested in serving as Advisors.

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