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!
@Paul, just like you say there is no specific wording requiring the mbs be earned in a certain time frame...there is also No specific wording saying that 50% of the scouts have to attend each outing offered.
If Dave's troop of 55 scouts has 28 or more scouts at 10 or more outdoor trips in a year, then it has fulfilled requirement 2 of this award. If the troop also fulfilled the other 5 requirements, then it should be rewarded with this award.
We have a high adventure opportunity - only 7 can go.
Our Troop is 82 Scouts. 50% of 82 is 41.
So we now need 34 more unique Scouts to attend an event we host through the Troop.
Since the goal is to increase outdoors opportunities, once a troop is doing 10 they don't really need to add more but can work on participation. At some point, a troop just won't be able to add more whether that's 10, 15, or 365, so increasing participation helps there. I guess a troop could plan to earn this every other year by having Z outings one year and Z-1 the next - every Z year meets the requirement.
I was ready to rely on 2b, increase the number of outings from last year. That too is a challenge for us because we normally have an outing per month (give or take). Sadly, we had to cancel one due to logistics (site availability) and we will be cancelling another this weekend due to low participation (3 scouts including the SPL).
As Scoutmaster, I'm conflicted. I am proud of our scout- led program and the trips (now cancelled) were the PLC's plan. I will do a reflection and help them to see where they are missing the mark on overall interest within the troop and let them learn from all this. But that also means no Scoutmaster Key for me this year, and maybe never if that's not where their interests lie.
Hopefully, you will have increased outings for 2017 since 2 did not happen in 2016. You earn the challenge once in the 3 year period if I remember correctly. Good Luck.
btw. I also think that a troop offering 12-14 camp outs a year with at least 15 to 50 on every single camp out has EARNED the award! The requirements do not EACH camp out, but 50% overall. I guess out council agrees, but I have turned in those kinds of numbers year after year, and the award has been approved. The High adventure trips we offer each year alone blocks the 50% at each rule because half of them are not old enough. Good Luck!
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