COVID-19 & Award USA: Information and Resources

Award USA and the Award family around the world are coming together to navigate this uncertain time due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The health and safety of all Participants and adults involved with The Award are of the utmost importance to us, and we recommend that everyone abide by the national, state, and local guidelines and precautions put in place to protect communities.

Here, you will find answers to some frequently asked questions about how to adjust your program and continue to work on the Award. This information is meant for Award Leaders, Coordinators, Volunteers, and Participants. We will be updating this page with additional resources periodically.

Currently, any changes to Award requirements will be effective through December 31st, 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Participants continue working on their Award?

Yes! We encourage Participants to continue working on their Award. Award USA remains open and available to help. We will continue to share updates and resources with Award Leaders and Participants via email and through our website.

Do Participants need to change their activities and SMART Goals?

Not necessarily. Even if the section goal or activity was something that the Participant was working on outside of the home or with a group, there might be a creative way to still work on it. If there is a similar activity that can be done at home, this would be the best course of action. Participants should talk to their Award Leaders about continuing with their current SMART goals.

For example, if a Participant was working to improve their conversational Spanish skills by meeting up with a tutor once a week, they might now meet with their tutor by phone or video call, or work on their language skills independently or online if their tutor is no longer available. Their Assessor will be an important resource in helping to make these adjustments.

If both the Participant and Award Leader agree that the activity is no longer feasible in any way, Award USA will allow the Participant to start a new activity and still receive credit for the hours already completed. Participants and Award Leaders should communicate to determine a new activity, SMART goal, and Assessor. If the Award Leader is not available at this time to approve a Participant’s new activity, they may directly contact the Program Officer that works with their Award Center.

How does a Participant add a new activity in the Online Record Book?

In each Award section, there is an option in the “Overview” tab to “Add Additional Activity.” Select this option.

There will be a popup that says, “If you are selecting more than one activity, please discuss this with your Award Leader first.” If you have already received your Award Leader’s approval to add a new activity, you will be able to select “Add Activity” at the bottom of the popup. If you have not, select “Cancel” at the bottom of the popup and get in touch with your Award Leader.

Once you select “Add Activity,” you will enter the activity information. Remember to make your goal SMART. Start logging under your new activity.

Set a SMART goal: The setting of realistic and achievable goals is essential to undertake a purposeful and challenging activity. Goals should be set in consultation with a relevant subject matter expert, normally the Assessor.

Specific: Be specific about your goals.

Measurable: Is your goal measurable?

Achievable: Is it achievable?

Realistic: Is it realistic?

Time: How much time will it take?

What if the Assessor is no longer able to witness a Participant’s Award activity?

For many Participants, they should be able to continue working on their SMART goals with few to no modifications. The main thing that might change is how they go about achieving their goal. If an Assessor is no longer able to witness a Participant engaging in their Award activity, the Participant should provide updates by phone or email. They should also take pictures or create other forms of evidence to share with Assessors to demonstrate continued progress.

Whenever possible, Assessors should not be family members. It may be anyone that knows the subject better than the Participant. In some cases, an Award Leader may be able to act as an Assessor.

How do Participants communicate with their Award Leaders and Assessors?

Many of our Award Centers have transitioned to distance learning or are otherwise staying in touch with Participants remotely. We encourage Award Leaders and Participants to remain in contact via email, phone/video call, or any other communication platform typically employed by their school or organization.

Additionally, in-person contact with Assessors is likely not occurring at the moment. If Participants are continuing with their activities from home, they should provide updates by phone or email, and take pictures or create other forms of evidence to share with Assessors to demonstrate continued progress.

Will Participants still be recognized with an Award Ceremony?

Yes! We held a virtual Award Ceremony in October 2020 to recognize participants at all of our Award Centers. Many Participants are slated to complete their Award by the end of the school year and receive their certificates and medals. It is our hope that they will still be able to complete their Award in this time frame, but depending on the Award Center, it might not be possible to hold any local Award Ceremonies. We have resources available to Award Centers hoping to host virtual ceremonies, and hope that they will again be able to hold in-person ceremonies in the future.

If a Participant is continuing with their Award Center past this spring/summer, we anticipate that they can participate in a future Award Ceremony there. If a Participant is moving, graduating, etc., we will collect this information from Award Leaders and ensure that we have the correct address on file to which we can mail the Participant their certificate and medal.

How can Participants work on their Physical Recreation Section?

No matter what a Participant’s physical recreation goal is, there are ways to stay on track through strength training, skill building and refinement, cardiovascular exercise, and a variety of other activities! Below are some resources that might help Participants continue working on this section. Be sure to check in with Assessors for advice specific to your activity.

If Participants (or Award Leaders!) want some extra motivation, listen to Award USA’s Motivational Playlist while you get active!


How can Participants work on their Skills section?

For many participants, it is the strategy for achieving their Skills goal that will need to be adjusted at the present time rather than the goal itself. Whether Participants are looking for remote instruction opportunities or need to find a new activity for this section, several online learning platforms are offering free or low-cost courses through partner universities that might be a great option.


How can Participants work on their Voluntary Service Section?

We recommend checking in with the organizations Participants volunteer with to see if there are ways to support their mission and operations remotely. Do they need help running their social media accounts? Are there resources Participants can create to support their work? Are there fundraising projects Participants can put together?

If this is not feasible, Award USA will accept volunteer hours spent supporting Participants’ families and communities at this challenging time, including but not limited to:

What should Award Centers and Participants do if their Practice and/or Qualifying Adventurous Journey was cancelled?

Many of our Award Centers and Participants have had to cancel their Adventurous Journeys. We recognize how difficult this is. We hope that it will be possible to reschedule these trips once travel and group activities become safe once again.

In the meantime, Participant teams can discuss alternative locations and routes if necessary and continue to increase their preparedness remotely with the guidance of their Adventurous Journey Supervisors. They might consider the adaptations to the AJ section described in more detail below and plan a different AJ experience.

For Participants that have not yet started working on this section, this is a great time to dig into the Training and Preparation section. Look through the list of topics in the Training and Preparation section of the AJ in the ORB and make sure that AJ teams feel fully trained and ready for their trips when the time comes! Below are some training resources:

Have the Adventurous Journey requirements been changed to accommodate trips right now?

We want to ensure that all Participants experience an Adventurous Journey that is safe and allows for the learning outcomes of the section to be achieved. Whenever possible, we advise our Award Centers and Participants to delay their journeys until they are able to make them in alignment with the 15 Conditions of an Adventurous Journey.

If timing does not make that possible, there are a few ways to adjust this section of the Award to still allow for a safe and meaningful experience:

  • The requirement for a Bronze practice journey may be waived, or where a practice has already been completed, it may be counted as the qualifying journey. The option to forego the practice journey should only be taken if the AJ Supervisor is confident the group is able to do a qualifying journey based on a thorough health and safety risk assessment of the AJ; the team demonstrating acquisition of the required knowledge and skills and training and preparation; and the team having successfully come together the establish their roles and norms. A previously completed practice journey should only be counted as the qualifying if the AJ Supervisor believes that the 15 Conditions were met and the learning outcomes of the group and individuals were achieved on that trip.
  • The Silver practice journey may act as the Bronze qualifying AJ, and the Gold practice journey may act as the Silver qualifying AJ. In this instance, Bronze Participants may continue to their Silver level without the AJ section completed, and they will be awarded their Bronze Award once the Silver practice journey is completed. Same thing goes for Silver Participants moving onto the Gold level.
  • AJs may be organized in a familiar environment. If travel to an unfamiliar environment is not currently possible or safe, AJs may be conducted in a local area that is familiar to participants. This option is most likely suited to urban explorations.
  • It is permitted for participants to use a home, school gym, etc. as accommodation during the Adventurous Journey, or for a group’s accommodation to be physically separated, e.g. participants all sleep in separate tents of accommodations. This allowance is intended to enable AJs to move forward with social distancing in place. AJ groups may stay in touch with one another electronically and engage in team activities while still maintaining a healthy distance.
  • Virtual AJ options are available at both the Bronze and Silver levels. Reach out to your Program Officer for more information.

What if a Participant had to cancel their Gold Residential Project?

Like the Adventurous Journey, we know that some Participants have had to cancel plans to complete their Gold Residential Projects or are unsure whether their future plans will soon be cancelled. If you are in this situation, please be in touch with your Award Leader about the status of your Gold Residential Project.

At the core of this Award section is building community with new people in an unfamiliar environment. Our present circumstances eliminate the opportunity to do this in full but we are open to virtual options over a longer period of time that do not require spending the night in an unfamiliar location. Participants can start to research and plan what they may be interested in doing for their Gold Residential Project, reach out to potential locations or interest areas, and work with their Award Leaders to explore alternative options. Participants nearing their 25th birthday may request an extension to complete the Gold Residential Project at a later date.

What if a Participant is moving/graduating from their Award Center after this Spring/Summer?

If a Participant will no longer be with their Award Center after this spring/summer, either because they are graduating or moving, or they are aging out of the Award program, they should share their concerns directly with an Award Leader. The Award Leader will either help to work out a plan to still finish the Award or put the Participant in touch with the National Office to continue working on the Award outside of their current Award Center.

What if a Participant is aging out of the Award Program and unable to finish before their 25th birthday?

For all Participants due to reach their 25th birthday soon, they may reach out to their Award Leader to inquire about a potential extension to complete their Award.

This is all stressful and seems like a lot of work. What are some examples of how Participants can ensure their personal well-being?

We understand that many Participants may be experiencing stress and anxiety as the future remains unclear. It is essential that everyone takes care of themselves. Below are some resources with tips and activities that can be helpful in making that a priority.


Although our daily lives are in a state of transition and we have new restrictions on the activities we can partake in, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award has always been a flexible and adaptable program. As such, we believe that it is both possible and beneficial for our participants to continue with their Awards to the extent that they are able.
We are here to support you and hope to stay connected as you navigate your Award journey during this time. Please tell us how you are continuing with your Award by sending anecdotes and pictures to or sharing them on your social media and tagging us @TheAwardUSA.
Last updated: 10/29/21
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