Module 5 - Policy on Religious Awards and Counselors

While this may repeat information you have already seen, they are important points. Much effort has gone into the creation of this policy to achieve two goals that are very important:

Scouts and their parents must feel secure in the religious emblems program. The religious emblems are not awards from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) or Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA). Rather, they are Church programs which are recognized by GSUSA and BSA.
Ensure the quality of the work of Scouts through qualified counselors and facilitators.


We must ensure that Catholic Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have an opportunity to achieve the best possible faith experience from earning religious awards, and that they work on those awards in an environment where they are secure and protected. We must promote and observe the youth protection guidelines of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and the safety guidelines of the Girl Scouts of the United States (GSUSA).

Adult Roles

There are four distinct roles for adults assisting scouts with religious awards.

Parent: There are religious medals that are designed to be earned within the family, with the parents as the “counselors”. These are Family of God, Light of Christ and Parvuli Dei. When a parent works with his/her own child, there is no diocesan ministerial role or youth protection requirement.

Religious Emblems Coordinator: The role of a coordinator is to assist parents who are working with their own children in processing and understanding the awards and their requirements. The coordinator promotes the awards. The coordinator does not work with the scouts, either individually or in a group. If a coordinator calls together or is present as a leader in a group meeting to discuss or process the medal requirements, and that meeting includes the scouts even if their parents are present, the coordinator has changed roles into one of a counselor or facilitator. However, an informational meeting to promote the awards, at which the parents of the scouts are present with the scouts, is still within the coordinator role.

Counselor: The role of the counselor is to directly assist and advise a scout in meeting the requirements of the award. The counselor works with the following awards: I Live My Faith, Marian Medal, and Ad Altare Dei. The counselor may work with individual scouts or groups of scouts.

Facilitator: The role of the facilitator is to work with candidates in a group to help them work together. The facilitator’s responsibility is to observe, guide, and help the candidates to ask questions and seek answers rather than ready-made answers to them. The facilitator works with the following awards: Spirit Alive and Pope Pius XII.

Requirements for Adults

The Sacrament Diocese prefers, but does not require, that adults who will serve as counselors or facilitator be registered as adult members of GSUSA or BSA. SDCCS will attempt to recruit counselors or facilitators who are registered with one of these organizations.

All adults serving as coordinators, facilitators, or counselors must comply with the Youth Protection Policies of the BSA.

All adults serving as facilitators, moderators, or counselors must complete this training program on Religious Awards offered by SDCCS.

Adults serving as coordinators, facilitators, or counselors should be practicing Catholics. A person who is not a Catholic, after completing these requirements, may serve as a coordinator, facilitator, or counselor if they are working together with a practicing Catholic who has met the requirements specified in A,B, and C above. All adults who wish to serve as a coordinator, facilitator, or counselor must complete an application form provided by SDCCS.

Requirements for Earning Awards

All steps or requirements specified in the scout workbook/manual must be completed satisfactorily. If a Scout cannot complete a step or requirement as stated because of a special need or disability, a proposed modification should be submitted to SDCCS for approval. SDCCS can provide advice on modifications if requested.
If the award requires review by the Scout’s pastor or pastoral associate, that review must take place prior to submitting the request for the award to SDCCS. Where a format for acknowledging that review is in the workbook/manual, that format must be completed.

Upon completion of all requirements, a meeting with Board of Review/Panel of Assurance must be scheduled for Scouts who wish to be awarded the following religious awards: Ad Altare Dei, Marian Medal, Pope Pius XII, and Spirit Alive. The Board of Review/Panel of Assurance will meet in or near the parish or meeting location of the Scouts, to the extent possible. The role of the Board/Panel is to encourage the Scout to share the Scout’s experience in earning the emblem, and to validate that that the proper procedures and steps were followed. It is not a detailed examination on the content of the requirements.

A Board of Review (also referred to as a Panel of Assurance), is generally put together by the religious emblem coordinators, facilitators, or counselors for youth who have completed the Ad Altare Dei, Pope Pius XII, Marian, or Spirit Alive Awards. They can be made up of people such as Religious Emblem Counselors, Scout leaders, Scouts who have already earned the Awards, priests, deacons, religious, lay ministers, etc. as well as by one or more members of SDCCS if they can make it. If they cannot make it, a Board of Review can still take place. A Board of Review should consist of at least three people.

The main purpose for a Board of Review is to give the Scouts an opportunity to show off what they have learned in a relaxed format that promotes discussion among all the participants. It is NOT meant to be a test like an oral exam or a grilling where the Scouts are peppered with questions they must answer or else they fail. Those on the Board should therefore attempt to ask questions on the main topics covered in the various chapters in the book in a way that promotes a lively dialogue among all who are present in order for everyone to come away having learned something new. Once the Board is completed, the medals can then be ordered through SDCCS.

Availability and Presentation of Religious Awards and Materials

Manuals/workbooks are available from the Golden Empire Council Scout Shop. They may be ordered by phone, mail, or email.
Upon completion of the requirements and submission of the appropriate forms (pdf submitted via email) the awards may be ordered by SDCCS. Payment is preferred through the SDCCS website via Paypal. Otherwise, it may be possible to arrange payment through a direct banking deposit. Payment instructions will be given after SDCCS receives the emblem application. Counselors, facilitators, coordinators, or parents are urged to seek funding for the awards from the Scout unit, parish, or a Catholic fraternal organization.

Failure to Follow Policy

SDCCS cannot authorize presentation of a religious emblem or award if this policy is not followed. Special attention should be paid to the requirements for a counselor or facilitator, as well as to all review requirements.


Our Catholic Scouting Websites:

Important Catholic Scouting Websites:

For Information on Non-Catholic Religious

Boy Scouts District Religious Emblem Coordinator:


To Pastors and Scout Leaders of Catholic Chartered Units

Scout Crews, Troops and Packs belong to and are owned by the parish (i.e. the chartered organization) that charters them. Each year parishes receive a national charter to use the Scouting program as part of their youth work. Boy Scouts of America chooses religious, educational, civic, fraternal, business, labor, governmental bodies, and professional associations to charter troops and packs that it sees as having goals compatible with those of its own.

Each chartered organization using the Scouting program provides a meeting place, selects an Advisor, Scoutmaster or Cubmaster, appoints a troop committee of at least three adults, and chooses a chartered organization representative. The troop committee works on behalf of the chartered organization and the troop must be operated within that organization’s policies. The troop committee is also responsible for supporting the Scoutmaster in providing a quality troop program and handling troop administration. The chartered organization (parish) is responsible for approving all adult leaders. While the Boy Scouts of America provides the program and support services, it is the parish that provides the adult leadership and uses the program to accomplish its goals for youth in its parish and community. For more information regarding this relationship, consult the Troop Committee Guidebook published by the Boy Scouts of America.

There is, therefore, no such thing as an independent Scout Troop that merely uses the facilities of a parish like an outside organization. While some troops and parishes may unfortunately seem to operate in this fashion, this is not the way it is or should be. Troops and parishes are meant to be united in their outreach and service to youth in the parish and wider community. Scout Leaders are parish youth ministers and are thus responsible for knowing the policies and expectations of the parish and SDCCS regarding child protection.

Regarding Girl Scouts, parishes provide a safe space for the girls to meet because they see the program provided by the Girl Scouts as consistent with their own. Please be advised, however, that adults who work with girls on earning religious emblems must attend the training, since these are parish based rather than Girl Scout based programs.

Please click 'Next' to continue to Module 6: Religious Emblems and Award Steps