Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Congressional Award Program for Youth

Have you ever wondered how you can get your teen recognition for doing good things, even if these things don't include finding a cure for cancer, developing a new technology, or writing a NYT best seller before the age of 16 ?

Then you should check out The Congressional Award Program.


Two of my kids did this program and received the Congressional Gold Award.  This included ceremonies in DC, meetings with senators and congressmen, internship opportunities, and membership in a community of youth who are on the road to success.  My 3rd teen is in the middle of earning this award now.  The youngest eagerly awaits his turn.

Students must be 13.5 years old to begin.  Enrollment costs $15.   It takes a minimum of 24 months to complete the program.  The good news is that most of what a student needs to do to earn the Gold Award falls into the category of stuff they are probably already doing.

To achieve the Gold, a student needs to log 200 hours of physical fitness, 200 hours of personal development, 400 hours of community service and a few days and nights away from home immersed in a culture different than his own. (You do not have to go far; you just have to do something that challenges you.)

This program really does teach a teen how to set goals and stick to them.  At a time when so many outstanding teens maneuver to check all of the boxes for extraordinary (and somewhat clich├ęd) activities on their march toward acceptance to the universities for the best and the brightest, this program focuses on the straightforward work of sticking to some goals over a period of a few years.

The other students we met at the award ceremonies were all stand-outs and most of them were actually headed to good schools.  No surprise - it turns out that a kid who hangs in there, working on goals over a long period, also has what it takes to gain entry to his top choice school.  But the Congressional Award Program is not an achievement test.  Top grades are not uncommon among the candidates, but they are by no means required to earn the Gold Award.  What a teen does need to get the Gold Award is sincerity and resolve.

                                 Here's John getting his gold medal in 2011 from the only
                                 Congressman who can make him (John) look short (!)

Below is Nora getting her gold medal in 2013!

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