FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS // PARTICIPANTS

General Registration

What are the age requirements for Wyoming Congressional Award?


The Congressional Award program is for youth ages 14-23 years of age. Participants can register when they are 13 ½ years old. However, they cannot earn their first Award until they are 14. All goals must be completed by their 24th birthday.




When can I begin counting hours toward my goals?


You may begin counting hours once you have submitted your registration form and your goals have been approved by your advisor. Because goals play such an important part in the spirit of the program, we don't allow past service, fitness, development, or adventures count. However, once you register, hours may be counted and carried to each level of the program. Think of it like this: your Gold medal is your final destination, but you'll receive recognition in the form of certificates/medals at lower levels along the way.




What if I can complete the hours in less months than required?


When earning an award, goals achieved by activities requiring intense hours over a short period of time should be extended over the requirement for the level (for example, 7 months at the Bronze Medal level), either with follow-up activities or by choosing a second goal. Part of earning the Congressional Award is making a commitment to your activities over a period of time. In order to earn an award, you must demonstrate that you have completed activities during at least the number of months required at your current level.




Can I pursue just one of the four program areas?


In order to earn a Congressional Award, participants must complete hours for all four of the program areas. You cannot choose to pursue only certain ones. The Congressional Award program is about exploring new and different activities, thus becoming a well-rounded and balanced individual.




What if I go over the required number of hours?


Please submit a complete Record Book that includes all of your hours for each of the program areas—even if you go over the minimum hour and time requirements. Remember that the minimum program requirements are just that—a minimum. All hours carry over from one level to the next, and we add them up in our database at the National Office. We want to be sure that you get credit for all hours that you accumulate throughout the program. Just remember to only list your new hours—not your total number that includes previous levels. We’ll already have that information in our database.




Can the time I spend at regular club meetings count toward an award?


Not usually. Hours accumulated by attending regular club meetings where regular business is discussed are unacceptable. It is the activities the club undertakes, not the meetings it holds that count toward the Award. For some goals, time invested in gaining leadership skills or planning award activities might be allowable. Speak to your advisor or Trista Ostrom if you are unclear if something works or doesn't.




Are adjustments made for persons with disabilities?


Yes. Adjustments to the requirements can be made to suit the individual needs of participants with physical or mental disabilities. However, the degree of challenge and effort required to earn the Award is not diminished.




Can a participant use the same activity in different program areas?


No. When earning the Award we encourage participants to complete activities that will challenge and push them. These activities, although challenging, must be different in every area. The participant cannot complete an activity in one area and use the same activity and hours to complete in another. However, you may choose a specific physical fitness activity goal to use as personal development; you just can't count that specific goal toward both areas.





Choosing Advisors and Validators

Can my advisor also serve as a validator for one of my goals?


Yes, but to do so he or she must be knowledgeable in the particular activity.




Who would make a good advisor or validator?


Teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, club leaders, and Scout Masters would all make excellent advisors and validators. The only guideline in choosing an advisor or validator is that they cannot be your parent, relative or peer. The Wyoming Congressional Award Council staff can assist you if you need help identifying an advisor or validator, but you will not be assigned one—you have to do the asking as part of establishing a mentor relationship!




Am I allowed to change my advisor?


Yes, you may change your advisor if schedules change or you need to for some other reason. All you have to do is note the change of advisor on your next Record Book submission.





Voluntary Public Service

Can I count my internship toward my Voluntary Public Service hours?


Your goal should demonstrate that your service is absolutely voluntary. Your activity should not be a requirement, you should not receive school credit, and you should receive no monetary compensation. Roles like internships (where you garner credit, career advancement) are not appropriate for Voluntary Public Service.




Can I count being a camp counselor toward my Voluntary Public Service hours?


If you are being paid to work for a camp, no. The hours must be strictly voluntary without compensation. When volunteering through an organization to complete service activities, the participant should ensure that the organization is a public, not-for-profit organization accessible to all. The organization should not be a private group that serves only a select population or is exclusive to those that pay a fee or have to meet specific requirements. Some schools and organizations that charge a fee or require tuition such as summer camps, sports programs, colleges and universities, may also provide scholarships, grants, and waivers to underserved populations. In these cases, participants may volunteer at these organizations if he/she can demonstrate that the group is serving a greater population and that everyone has access to these programs. If you are unclear whether or not the organization you have in mind fits, please consult with your advisor.




Does all of the time I spend in an organization count toward my Voluntary Public Service hours?


The bulk of your activity should be a direct service—engaging your community through hands-on service and interaction. No more than 25% of your total hours should be indirect service—training, planning meetings, or event preparation.




Can I count being a teacher's aide toward my Voluntary Public Service hours?


No. Even though you might be volunteering your time to assist in a classroom by grading quizzes, organizing papers, or other school tasks, those administrative tasks benefit the school vs. the community at large. Time spent assisting with children in a pre-school classroom or tutoring in a public setting would count, however.




Can I volunteer for a political campaign as part of my Voluntary Public Service hours?


NON-PARTISAN Voluntary Public Service must be non-partisan. You may not work for an elected official, promote a political issue or volunteer on a political campaign for Voluntary Public Service. This includes volunteering for entities with a partisan or issue-based focus.




Can I count volunteer service I earn through Girl Scouts, 4-H, Key Club, or a similar organization?


Yes—generally, as long as your volunteer work fits the parameters of the program (i.e. non-partisan, non-administrative, benefitting the community at large) you may count those hours toward your Congressional Award goal.





Personal Development

Can I count my part-time job toward my Personal Development goal?


Absolutely! Developing employment skills definitely fits within the personal development umbrella. To ensure you spread out your hours, please don't count more than 8 hours a day, even if you're a camp counselor working more than that as part of your responsibilities. If you're working full-time, you may count educational activities (i.e. studying for your GED, or taking a preparatory class in advance of applying for a community, vocational, or four year college, etc.) toward your goal. Your record book has a spot to mark whether your are employed, part-time or full-time.




Can I count hours spent working as part of a team toward my Personal Development goal?


As long as your activity meets the criteria for Congressional Award, you may count this time toward your Personal Development goal. For example—if you set the goal to become more knowledgeable at photojournalism, you may count time spent on a newspaper or yearbook staff toward your goal. However, the group achievement is not relevant when documenting your activity for a Congressional Award medal—your individual growth and learning is key.




Can I count a class I'm taking at school toward my Personal Development goal?


If you're receiving credit for the class, no.





Physical Fitness

Do I have to set my Physical Fitness goal for a sport I already play?


You can, but you don't have to! Choosing a Physical Fitness goal is intended to improve your health and fitness level, and that can be done in a brand new sport or in a sport or activity you already engage in. The only rule: you cannot get credit for physical activity that occurs in a Physical Education class at school.




I want to win a state championship in my sport. Is this a good goal?


It's a great goal! Sadly, it isn't a goal you can use for your Physical Fitness portion of the Congressional Award. However, you can choose goals that help you in your journey to #1: instead of stating you will win first place, set a measurable goal that will improve your overall skillset. For example, if you're a runner, you could set an achievable, measurable goal of shaving a specific amount of time from your personal best, then committing to do the work it requires to run faster (commit to run regularly, do interval training, etc.) You might be surprised when a measurable goal gets you both a Congressional Award and closer to your dream of a state championship!




What if I'm confined to a wheelchair?


Physical Fitness goals for persons with disabilities are given special consideration. Often an appropriate activity can be identified with the help of a physician. Remember, a fitness activity does not have to be strenuous in order to be challenging. Because the Wyoming Congressional Award is not a one-size-fits-all program, you can set goals that work for you.




I'm just not athletic. Can I skip the physical fitness portion and double-up on another program area?


The Congressional Award was created with goal of helping development well-rounded individuals, and physical fitness is part of that equation! No one in the program expects you to be a sports phenom headed to the pros, though. Increasing your physical fitness and health can be as simple as committing to walking a certain number of times a week with a friend or parent, or simply learning the basics of a new sport, or moving from a person who is afraid of drowning when standing near the edge of a pool to someone who can confidently enter the water and get back out again in one piece. Your goals should fit your needs, and be challenging and achievable for you. Everyone's definition of "challenging" and "achievable" is different.





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WYOMING CONGRESSIONAL

AWARD COUNCIL

314 East 21st St.

Cheyenne, WY 82001

(307) 514-2004

Sarah Compton, Executive Director, sarah@wcac.us

Sally Morse, Program Manager - sally@wcac.us

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©2019 Wyoming Congressional Award Council

The Congressional Award  was established by Public Law 96-114 and is a 501(c)(3) IRS-designated tax exempt organization.