Religious Emblems FAQ
What are the Religious Recognitions Programs and who creates them?
The Religious Recognitions Programs (also called religious "emblems" or "awards" programs) are programs created by various religious groups for their children and youth who are also members of national youth agencies (i.e. Boy Scouts of America, Camp Fire USA, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and American Heritage Girls). It is important to remember that although BSA, CF, GSUSA and AHG may have approved of these programs and even allow the recognition items/awards to be worn on their uniforms, they did not create them. All Religious Recognitions Programs are created by the religious groups themselves, not the youth agencies.
How do I find out which religious groups have created Religious Recognitions Programs?
The Search By Faith tool lists all the different Religious Recognitions Programs available by denomination. In addition, the national youth agencies provide charts listing all the different religious recognitions programs available to their members. I have a troop with children of all different faiths. How can I include the religious recognitions programs for my troop? The religious recognitions programs should be presented to the children and their families as an optional program for them to complete in their churches or synagogues with their appropriate religious leaders. Religious instruction must always come from the religious institution, not from the troop leader. Parents need to be informed of these programs and told where to get the information for their faith group.
Do boys and girls do the same program?
It depends on the religion. Some religions have created programs that are used by both boys and girls. Other religions have created separate programs for members of each separate youth agency (BSA, CF, GSUSA, AHG).
Do the children have to belong to a youth agency?
It depends on the religion. Some religious programs are created specifically for members of a specific youth agency. For example, there is a Jewish Boy Scout program, a Jewish Girl Scout program, and a Jewish Camp Fire USA program. Other religious programs are open to all youth of that faith regardless of membership in a youth agency. For example, the God and Country program is open to all Protestant youth (whether or not they belong to BSA, CF, GSUSA or AHG), so that members of Sunday School classes, Vacation Bible Schools, Confirmation classes and other church groups are eligible to earn the God and Country award.
Do the children have to belong to a church or synagogue?
It depends on the religion. Some programs, like the Eastern Orthodox program, require that all recipients are communicant members in their church. Other programs, like the Protestant God and Country Program, do not require official membership in a congregation, but require that a pastor oversee the program and sign the application form. In the case where a family is not religiously oriented, it is best to secure the written permission of the parents or guardians of any child who wishes to participate in a religious recognitions program to make sure that the child is enrolled in the appropriate program. It needs to be understood that when one participates in a religious recognitions program, one must abide by their guidelines and curriculum requirements and wear their particular award.
Why doesn't my church or synagogue know about the Religious Recognitions Programs?
Although the Religious Recognitions Programs are created by the religious bodies at the national level, the local church or synagogue may not be aware of these programs. It may be helpful to write for more information or even obtain a copy of the curriculum to give to your pastor or rabbi.
If the religious growth program for my faith has more than one level (for the different grade levels), may I earn all of these levels?
Yes. Students can earn all levels of their religious growth series. However, students must be in the appropriate grade when they start each level, and they may not go backwards and earn younger programs.
How do I start my child on these programs?
First, buy the appropriate materials based on your religion and grade. (The child is required to have a Student Workbook. Some religious programs also offer a Counselor Manual for the pastor and a Mentor Workbook for the parent.) Then meet with your pastor or rabbi and set up a schedule to complete the program.
Where can I obtain the materials?
They are available at the local Scout Shop for some faiths. Or write directly to the address provided as the contact for your religious group.
How long does it take to complete a program?
It depends on the program and the grade level of the child. Some programs can be completed within two months. Other programs may take up to a year.
Who may serve as counselor?
It depends on the religious program, but most programs require the pastor to serve as counselor. Some programs may allow the pastor to designate a lay leader or other adult in the church to teach the course. The God and Country Program has a Mentor program.
What is the difference between a counselor and a mentor?
The counselor is the pastor (or someone appointed by the pastor). The counselor serves as an instructor who gives assignments to the young people, and it is the young people who do all the work. Mentors are active learning participants (adult students) with lessons and projects to complete in their own workbooks just like their children. Both mentors and children work under the supervision of the pastor or counselor.
How do I order the recognition items? Where do I get the award once I finish the program?
Each religious program has its own award. Follow the instructions in your curriculum workbook because the awards come from different places. Most of the awards will not be available locally. Be sure to allow enough time to order your award through the mail. (These awards will not be available in your local council store!)
How is the award presented?
The award should be presented in a religious ceremony in the child's church or synagogue. Some awards come with a sample presentation ceremony to help your pastor plan a meaningful service.
Where is the award worn on the uniform?
Boy Scouts of America - above the left shirt pocket (pinned over the Universal Religious Square Knot).
Camp Fire USA -
Girl Scouts of the USA - Either on the badge sash below the membership stars, or on the right side of the uniform level with the membership pin.
What are the Adult Awards? Can adults earn religious recognitions just like the children?
The Adult Recognition Awards are by nomination only (they are not work/study programs like the youth awards). These are honors given to worthy adults for their outstanding service to youth both through their church and one of the national youth agencies. Recipients of these awards are unaware that they are being nominated: an outside party must nominate them to receive an award by submitting the required application, letters of recommendation and resume. For information on specific eligibility requirements, see the Adult Award Brochures (with nomination forms).