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Congressional Award: Do you know kid's who've been involved?

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DS has been plugging along with this over the past year. The volunteering, fitness and personal development aspects have been moving along nicely but the exposition/exploration component has been SO hard! We've brainstormed as a family and thrown around a variety of ideas but they don't seem right. Perhaps we're not clear on what is involved.

 

For exploration #1 ds decided to try something foreign to him--birdwatching. Okay, we live 40 minutes from the nation's largest bird refuge so he packs his binocs, a camera, bird guides, lunch etc. and we head for 6-8 hrs on the hottest day of the year. Where are the birds? Huh! Is this for real? A local resident points us to the building that houses the local Audobon Society and D's gets material on summer birds and a group that meets on Wednesday mornings to watch together. So now we're set up for a little training by the experts. The date is 2 weeks from now and he has time to familiarize himself w/ birds of New England. Then he'll spend time on his own! Now...all this work and we're not even sure this will be approved! LOL! Learning at its best though!

 

Here are other possible ideas:

Spend a day observing a daycare center setting(never been in one)

I think this would go great coupled by a day observing a senior daycare! He won't consider that though & it's his award.

 

Spend a day on a lobster or fishing boat.

Spend a day on the job with the town maintenance department.

 

See what life is like for a deaf person.

 

Any suggestions? Is he/are we on the right track?

 

There is no preapproving ideas so it makes things difficult.

 

Suggestions and experience appreciated.

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The book on the website says:

 

"If you have any questions about a Goal or Activity, you may email 

information@Congressionalaward.org. While we can review your goal, 
we will not approve anything until we receive your actual Record Book."
 
Although it doesn't guarantee approval, it might put you at ease if you email them. No advice on the actual activity though - we're struggling with that too!
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The son of our good friends did this, and our oldest son just signed up in April.  Our friend's son planned a camping trip for his family for his exploration part, and that is what my son is planning.  I know he didn't give it much thought at all, certainly not to come up with great ideas like you have!  I don't have any idea what other things would get approved, though.

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Hi Claire!

Was the camping trip at a campground or in the wilderness? The bronze certificate expedition requires 1 day and the silver certificate requires 2 days, the gold certificate an overnight. We have a few ideas for the gold certificate overnight. The day experiences are the harder ones IMO. Do you have examples of things that have been approved?

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Hi Claire!

Was the camping trip at a campground or in the wilderness?

I am not Claire, but my oldest received the Bronze Medal last year.  He did an overnight camping trip at one of our state parks.

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My 16 yo DD has submitted her program book for the silver medal, but hasn't heard from them yet.  She and another teen in the program planned and led a 6 day / 5 night camping trip where they made all the decisions within certain budget and other guidelines.  My other daughter and I along with 3 other people were also there, but as I mentioned the two teens did everything.  She had to submit a detailed plan.  She chose a walk-in camping site in a state park several hundred miles from our home.  The state park was in a fairly isolated area.  Frankly, this was the best camping trip ever, because I didn't have to do anything but drive!!!

 

She's working on her gold medal exploration now.  For the gold medal, she wants something much more challenging, but hasn't decided on her goal yet.  

 

ETA:  For the certificate levels, she planned several different day and overnight trips.  One was canoeing in a local river coupled with identification of the wildlife she observed.  The overnight was a local state park camping trip with star gazing.  We live in an urban area with light pollution.  Getting away from the city is wonderful.  All her explorations have been outside; she's not done anything that falls in the expedition category.   I don't think the congressional award people are that critical of the certificate level explorations / expeditions.  In my daughter's experience, the expectations are higher for the medal levels.

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Hi Claire!

Was the camping trip at a campground or in the wilderness? The bronze certificate expedition requires 1 day and the silver certificate requires 2 days, the gold certificate an overnight. We have a few ideas for the gold certificate overnight. The day experiences are the harder ones IMO. Do you have examples of things that have been approved?

 

Well, our friend's son got the bronze medal, and his camping trip was at a state park.  It wasn't even that far away!  I haven't really looked at the requirements for certificates.  I think my son is planning on the bronze medal, and possibly the silver.  Like I said, camping trips are the only thing on his radar screen!

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We do know a girl who earned the highest level; i.e. Gold (?).  I don't know what fits where, but she taught ballroom dancing, basically developing her own business with that, as well as participating in and winning numerous competitions,  and she visited a friend in another part of the state and attended public school for a week.  She had never been to any type of school, and I don't think she even took many co-op classes, so the experience was different than her life as a homeschooled student.

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Bumping this.  I recognize some of the previous posters as current posters, and I would love some BTDT experiences!

 

My son has recently enrolled in the program, and I am helping him set his goals.

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Bumping this. I recognize some of the previous posters as current posters, and I would love some BTDT experiences!

 

My son has recently enrolled in the program, and I am helping him set his goals.

My son just enrolled too.

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Well, Bobby Soxer, maybe together we can help our kids figure this thing out. :)

 

My son's advisor does not live near us, but he had the chance to meet with her in person last month. Before the meeting, he wrote up his goals. They will correspond through email for the most part.

 

The hardest part for us (him) is finding consistent opportunities for Voluntary Public Service. Rather than I will volunteer with Organization X, he has written some umbrella goals. I hope that the goals will be OK. It would be nice to be sure.

 

Have you been in touch with your Regional Program Manager? We have emailed ours with questions. Some of the questions got answered, and some did not. I wish there was some sort of forum to go to with questions.

 

Here is one of my questions: DS volunteered at a place that is used to having teen volunteers. They will happily sign off (validate) his work there. But he will have a new validator paper with a new signature every single time he goes. It would not be possible to get a validator to sign off that - yep, he volunteered here for 60 hours over the last year. Instead, he would have 20 signed slips of paper saying that he volunteere there 20 times for three hours each session. Is that going to be a problem?

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We use OneNote for school.  I am going to make him a page in OneNote for the Congressional Award so he can keep track of his goals, ideas, and hours.

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Thanks Penguin, having a support system would be great. It is strange that a forum does not exist.

 

DS has a local organization that he loves. If he had signed up for this award program earlier he would be close to the silver medal. It makes me sad that he missed that opportunity because we were not aware it existed. Now this local group might fold due to funding issues.

 

Maybe you could present the 20 separate slips of paper to one validator at the end of his goal. They could sign one paper validating all the others.

 

Good luck and keep us posted!

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Here is one of my questions:  DS volunteered at a place that is used to having teen volunteers.  They will happily sign off (validate) his work there.  But he will have a new validator paper with a new signature every single time he goes.  It would not be possible to get a validator to sign off that - yep, he volunteered here for 60 hours over the last year.  Instead, he would have 20 signed slips of paper saying that he volunteere there 20 times for three hours each session.  Is that going to be a problem?

We have a similar situation.  My kids save their records of attendance, and their mentor has been the one that signs the form that is submitted to the Congressional Medal folks. 

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Another validator question;  What would you do to have a running program validated?  He is running with his Dad for one of his physical goals .  Do I have to get somebody else involved to act as validator, or can his advisor sign off? Relatives can't validate, so DH is out.

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Another validator question;  What would you do to have a running program validated?  He is running with his Dad for one of his physical goals .  Do I have to get somebody else involved to act as validator, or can his advisor sign off? Relatives can't validate, so DH is out.

My kids also have a part of their programs that they do with my husband.  The kids keep a log, and the advisor validates it.

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Thanks, snowbeltmom. It is possible that I am making this harder than it needs to be. We are still looking for volunteer ops that are the right fit. Ideally, he will find one or two things to really become passionate about.

 

But in the meanwhile, if anyone knows of virtual volunteer ops for teens I am "all ears" but will probably start a new thread about that.

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I am new to all this, so please bear with the newbie questions. Does she need a different advisor for each category or one for everything? I'm trying to understand how much is expected of advisors. I am reluctant to ask someone to spend lots of time on this, her mentors give so much of their time already...do they just sign the paper?

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For my daughters, most of the activities were signed by the people supervising them.  For example, their zoo volunteer hours were validated by the volunteer coordinator.  There chorus hours were validated by the choir director.  The advisor is over the entire program.  Frankly, my daughters' advisor hasn't spent much time with either girl.  Usually, she just signs the paper after talking with them about the hours they are claiming.  My older daughter is working on the gold medal slowly.  She will likely need more time with her advisor as she finalizes her exploration / expedition plan.

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My daughter applied for the bronze medal first simply because we procrastinated.  Her next step was the silver medal.  She has all the requirements for the gold except the exploration / expedition.   Both my girls have some ongoing activities such as singing for personal development, zoo for volunteer hours etc.  They get the record book forms validated several times a year depending on the activity.  Each girl has a notebook for the forms and logs of time spent such as physical fitness for my older daughter.  My younger daughter studies karate and has decided to use those hours for physical fitness instead of personal development.   

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One advisor. Ds asked someone to be his advisor, and he sent her the advisor handbook. It is not time consuming for the advisor, but it would be good if you have someone who will be a bit thoughtful about it. DS emails her once in a while, and she sends a thoughtful reply. He met with her in March (which was when we started) to go over his goals.

 

I hope he gets the Gold medal, but I will have him submit the paperwork at each level. Why wouldn't I? Sincere question.

 

Finding volunteer opps is much harder where we live than it is in the states. Now that he finally has one steady one, he is keeping a log and having it initialed each time. The submittal paperwork is a one-time validation: Yes, this person was here X hours between Month A and B. Depending on the situation, there might not be a single person who witnessed all those hours. If you take a look at the Record Book forms, what I am trying to say might make more sense!

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For my daughters, most of the activities were signed by the people supervising them.  For example, their zoo volunteer hours were validated by the volunteer coordinator.  There chorus hours were validated by the choir director.  The advisor is over the entire program.  Frankly, my daughters' advisor hasn't spent much time with either girl.  Usually, she just signs the paper after talking with them about the hours they are claiming.  My older daughter is working on the gold medal slowly.  She will likely need more time with her advisor as she finalizes her exploration / expedition plan.

This is how it works for my kids as well.  My kids meet with their advisor to go over their goals in each category.  They then meet with the advisor again when they have achieved their goals to show him all of their record logs and then the advisor adds his signiture before sending in the documentation.

 

The advisor also wrote supplemental college letters of recommendations.

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Thanks, everyone! Your posts prompted me to look at the website more closely. I was obviously confused about a few things! 

 

It makes total sense to turn in the work at each level. I don't know where I got the idea that you could only make one submission.  :confused1:  Clearly not from the site. It is actually recommended that work be submitted at each level, although it is not required. Our plan is to submit at each level. It will probably be motivating and encouraging to have smaller goals and rewards along the way.

 

I think I now have a better understanding of validators and advisors. This is starting to seem doable.

 

Thanks, again, for your posts! Our plan is to send in the registration ASAP and be all set with everything else by the end of summer. 

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My daughter applied for the bronze medal first simply because we procrastinated. 

This was the first level that we provided the documentation for as well.  In addition to the bronze medal, they also got the certificates that they would have been awarded had they turned in the documentation for the lower levels.

 

Imo, if your kids plan of going for a medal, it isn't worth the effort to fill out the paperwork for the certificate levels.

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This is an old thread, but there have recently been questions about the Congressional Award, so I thought it might be helpful to bump.

 

I also have a question for those who didn't submit paperwork at each level. For those that went straight for one of the medals, did your teen submit several goals and signed papers for each category? For example, in the physical fitness category was there a signed sheet with one goal for the bronze certificate, a signed sheet for silver certificate etc.? Or for each category did your teen just submit one paper with one significant goal with all the hours up to the medal? 

 

I'm asking because my daughter has been accumulating hours in all categories, but needs to get caught up with expedition/explorations. She could technically skip a couple levels at this point. If she is able to do the expedition/explorations relatively close together, it seems it would make the most sense just to send in for the highest level she qualifies for at the time. (Her goals build, so she could submit the smaller goals on various pages, or just list the overriding goal and the smaller goals on one sheet.)

 

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

 

Thanks!

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Interested in hearing the responses, as we're one who have been asking lots of questions about this of late. We plan to start Jan 1 (9th grade) and hope to achieve gold medal by end of junior year. Always love to hear more details!

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Bumping. :-)

 

We plan to register by Monday. Just need to figure out an advisor. I could (a) go the easy route and choose a friend of the family, fellow homeschool mom/dad or (b) go the community network route and try to choose some type of teacher/principal/counselor/superintendent with whom we have been in some contact with of late. I'm leaning toward 'keeping it simple, stupid' and going with a friend of the family. Any thoughts?

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We plan on asking our neighbor (who is on vacation until March, retired HR counselor) to be our dd's main advisor, dd's softball coach for fitness goals, music teacher for personal goals, and supervisor for community volunteering.  My dd is very anxious to get started but she doesn't turn 14yrs until May however she can sign up at 13 1/2yrs but we need to wait for our neighbor to return.

 

Wishing everyone well on their CA journey....share your stories.

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Bumping. :-)

 

We plan to register by Monday. Just need to figure out an advisor. I could (a) go the easy route and choose a friend of the family, fellow homeschool mom/dad or (b) go the community network route and try to choose some type of teacher/principal/counselor/superintendent with whom we have been in some contact with of late. I'm leaning toward 'keeping it simple, stupid' and going with a friend of the family. Any thoughts?

 

The advisor plays a more significant role than the validators. I would suggest finding someone who has a genuine interest in helping your teen long-term. In my daughter's situation, one could quickly tell from responses to inquiries about being an advisor or validator who viewed the process as just another item on their long list of students needing help for college applications and those who were mainly concerned about making a difference in the life of a teen. That helped my daughter make her decision.

 

Good luck!

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We just submitted our paperwork and DD is working on scheduling a meeting with her advisor: a 25 year old dance instructor who is also a public school teacher and family friend.

 

Our DD has a few ideas:

 

Volunteer- teen program at a local hospital (our daughter is interested in the medical field)

 

Personal development- something to do with her sign language courses, maybe sign the national anthem at a sporting event, join a club, attend deaf meetings, etc

 

Physical fitness - the first goal might be as simple as strength training to do push ups, or a dance goal, perhaps a mini marathon (her advisor is extremely fit so we have a feeling she'll come to the table with ideas too)

 

Exploration- explore the historic sites (including courthouse tour) in our county, one state park has great caves and we've never gone, shadow an aquarium/zoo employee for the day, visit our state capitol, Key West

 

I'd love to hear from others. We're excited about the program but also nervous.

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We are still deciding whether or not to attempt this. It sounds fantastic, but we have concerns about finding an advisor. My son won't be 13-1/2 until May, when he would be eligible to register. For Personal Development, the plan would be to continue with chess training and attending chess tournaments, with a goal of improving his chess rating. For Physical Fitness, his dad is researching something called Spartan, which is hiking or walking. Apparently there are meets throughout the country. You don't have to be fast, just finish! Still thinking about Volunteer and Exploration.

 

I like your ideas for Exploration. I had hoped to use Civil Air Patrol for the volunteer work, but they don't have a cadet program in our area.

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It is nice to see this thread revived. I hope that people will periodically post updates.

 

Here is what my son is doing right now:

 

Physical Fitness: Fencing. He'll probably go back to fitness walking as soon as it is no longer bitter cold. And will be getting a SCUBA certificate before the summer.

 

Voluntary Public Service: We just moved here in November, and he doesn't have a place to volunteer yet. The move took its toll on us - he hasn't even looked yet. This is an action item for January :) But he already has about 100 hours so that is Ok.

 

Personal Development: He banked a lot of hours at a two-week residential science camp last summer. He will be there this summer for three weeks, and I think that will actually get him to just about 200 hourse. But he is in theater classes, and could use that.  

 

Expedition/Exploration: He has only done the 1 day for the Silver certificate.

 

The move really impacted his momentum, ugh.

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Do you mean for the Bronze or has he done one for the Bronze certificate and one for the Silver?

Oops, I meant Bronze certificate. Thanks for catching that.

 

I don't quite get the cumulative nature of the Explorations/Expeditions.

If one submits for the first time at, say, the Bronze medal, what does one have to have? Three individual day things plus one overnight? Or just one overnight? All the other aspects, you could just read down the column: 100 hours of service, 50 hours of personal development, 50 hours of physical fitness.

 

--

And for those just getting started, I have emailed our regional coordinator with questions multiple times. I have just realized that I probably have to switch to a different coordinator now that we are in a different state.

Edited by Penguin
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We're in the process of signing up. I reached out to 3 local community educators (local HS principal, local guidance counselor & friend/in charge of independent study program in area) - and all 3 said Yes. We're going with the local HS principal for an advisor - and meet with him tomorrow, to make sure we get the official yay. While he'll be less 'advising' I am sure than the guidance counselor, really, I plan to help ferry my son along to begin with and the benefits of long-term networking with our HS principal (in a very homeschool unfriendly district) and potential LOR writer, is too great an opportunity to pass up.

 

I'll post here tomorrow, when we do the official registration.

 

We've worked hard on our 4 areas for ideas, and plan to pursue the Bronze medal first (7 months)

Service - Library Work, Volunteer at charitable golf tournaments

Development - Golf, maybe math competition practice

Fitness - Baseball (short-term), Maybe Marathon running/walking/jogging longer term

E/E - Undecided as yet

 

If we are going for the Bronze to begin with, what do we need to complete for this? Just the 1 overnight? If so - likely a camping trip this summer... 

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My daughter has just signed up too. We are still working on her goals, but this is the tentative plan going into her meeting with her advisor (the senior member from her Civil Air Patrol squadron who told her about the program).

 

Physical - Figure Skating, passing Intermediate Free and Junior Moves by 16th birthday (which would enable her to coach at her club) would be the curent goal, but eventually passing all the tests.

 

Personal Development - Flying, earn pilot license by 17th birthday (CAP programs help with this)

 

Community Service - Red Cross, volunteer at local office and maybe look into starting a high school club. Start donating on her 16th birthday. Her CAP involvement has made her aware of their role in Emergency Response, and she wants to support that.

 

Expedition - winter camping trip. She has a friend who can mentor her through this because it won't be me â„ï¸ðŸ˜†!

 

I hope we continue this thread. I'd love to hear what everyone does!

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For my son's one day expedition, we went to another city. He did all of the planning, which is the key. He chose the itinerary, figured out the train schedule and how to buy the tickets, bought and packed our lunch, led the way around with street map in hand, etc.

 

He is a pretty experienced traveler, but I am usually the one doing all that planning stuff. It rained and his paper map got wet and fell apart, and he had to figure out an alternative means for not getting us lost :)

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I thought it might be a good idea to start a fresh thread since this one started in 2013. Here is the new thread: http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/634455-congressional-award-discussion-questions-updates-etc/

 

It also occurred to me there are some really good updates and questions in the recent posts of this thread. I reposted my question in the new thread. Feel free to repost updates and questions!

 

Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

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