“To encourage more individuals to embody the spirit of volunteerism that makes this country so great” is the goal of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Jeff Ye, a Patrol Advisor with Boy Scout Troop 55 from Great Falls, worked with the Troop 55 leadership and introduced the award to the Boy Scouts this past Fall. Several Scouts were inspired to track their many hours of community service through Troop 55 activities and other interests.
The President’s Volunteer Service Award began in 2003 as a way to thank and honor Americans who inspired others to engage in volunteer service. Until age fifteen volunteers must earn a minimum of fifty hours of community service to earn the bronze medal, and over one hundred hours for the gold medal. At age sixteen, the requirements are more difficult. Volunteers must earn 100 hours for the bronze medal and over 250 hours for the gold medal. The hours must be completed in a twelve-month period.
TROOP 55, chartered by St. Francis Episcopal Church, participates in many community service activities throughout the year, providing opportunities to earn hours. This year, Troop 55 Scouts collected litter along Walker Road in Great Falls, organized and executed the inaugural First Time Camper’s Program at Wolf Trap National Park, assembled and staffed the very popular haunted house at the Great Falls Village Spooktacular, served as the Honor Guard at the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C., served as the Color Guard for the Great Falls 9-11 Memorial Service, the Hunter Mill Civil War Dedication and the Great Falls Memorial Day Service. Scouts also assisted St. Francis Church with their annual Country Fair and supported their fellow scouts with multiple Eagle Scout projects. In addition, recipients accrued additional hours in service projects outside of Scouting by providing volunteer service for schools, churches, science fairs and regional community events.
Six Troop 55 scouts received the President’s Volunteer Service Award at the most recent Court of Honor on Jan. 7, 2014. Corey and Nick Hodge received the bronze medal, James Ye received the silver medal, Daniel Reuss, Wesley Pan and Mitchell Pan received the Gold medal. Several additional Troop 55 scouts will be awarded at the April Court of Honor, as they continue to work toward the required hours. Daniel Reuss, 15, earned many of his hours at the “Lift Me Up” therapeutic horse riding program. According to Reuss, “The award is pretty cool. I think every Scout should try and earn it. I’m hoping to earn it again in 2015.”
THE CONGRATULATORY LETTER received by the six scouts from President Obama stated, “Your volunteer service demonstrates the kind of commitment to your community that moves America a step closer to its great promise." The letter continues, “Thank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great Nation.”
Gary Pan, Scoutmaster for Troop 55, noted how the award has motivated the Scouts. According to Pan, “Our Scouts have always participated in community service activities, as it is an important component of Scouting. But having a tangible award to recognize their many hours of service has been a great addition to our Scouting program.”