Welcome to the Open Award Center!

The Open Award Center is our virtual program option for independent participants.

Your next steps to officially get started on your Award journey are as follows:

  1. Review the Participant Handbook and watch the Open Award Center webinar recording to learn more about the program and its requirements. The webinar access password is AwardUSA20!. We want to ensure that the Open Award Center is the right fit for you and you feel prepared to participate! Please note that viewing the webinar is required prior to registering for the program.
  2. We also encourage you to review the Guide to the Independent Adventurous Journey outlining your options to complete this section, including during COVID. We do not have any active Registered Activity Providers this year, so virtual participants will do an independent AJ. We also have ideas for virtual activities in the different Award sections here.
  3. If you believe that you can meet the requirements of the Open Award Center and wish to officially enroll, follow the instructions starting on page 25 of the Participant Handbook to register for the Online Record Book. Once your registration is complete and you have viewed the webinar, you will connected with you with your Award Leader to schedule a time to meet over a video call. They will reach out to you via email.

If you require financial assistance for the registration fee or to participate in any other part of the Award, please complete this application prior to registering for the Online Record Book.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Jenny Power at jpower@usaward.org.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Open Award Center?

The Open Award Center is our virtual program option for independent participants. The Award program is often delivered by schools, universities, and other youth-serving organizations. However, if it is not available in your community, we still want to provide you with access to the program! The Open Award Center is run through our National Office and is open to any young person ages 14-24.


How can I do the program virtually?

You will work on your Award activities in your community, put together your own Independent AJ, and find opportunities for the Gold Residential Project at the Gold level. You will work with an Award Leader remotely. They will meet with you on video calls or by phone to help you select activities, set goals, and make continued progress toward completing your Award level.


If my school or another organization I am affiliated with offers the Award, should I register with them or do the virtual program?

If you have access to the Award program locally, we recommend that you pursue that opportunity first in order to save space in the virtual program for young people without a local Award option.


Who is my Award Leader? Do I have to find my own?

As part of your registration process, Award USA will match you with an Award Leader who is a staff member of our organization. They are trained and vetted for this role. Your Award Leader will reach out to you (and your parent if you are under 18) to set up a meeting and support you in getting started with the Award. They will be your main point of contact and will continue to provide you guidance on your journey.


How often will I meet with my Award Leader?

The Award is meant to be youth-driven, and so the frequency of contact with the Award Leader will be determined by the participant. Your Award Leader will check in with you by email regularly and offer times to meet. Participants will then have the responsibility to schedule a meeting when they would like one, as well as to initiate contact with their Award Leader for as-needed support. You may discuss communication preferences with your Award Leader during your onboarding call.


Who is my Assessor? Do I have to find my own?

For each section of the Award, participants must identify an assessor. An assessor is an adult that has knowledge and expertise in the activity you are participating in. Their role is to provide you with content-specific feedback on your SMART goals, support you in progressing toward achieving your goal, and submit a brief report confirming your Award activity through the Online Record Book when you have completed the required hours for your level.

Participants are responsible for finding their own assessors. Example assessors are coaches, instructors, volunteer supervisors, teachers, family friends, and community members. You should request their assistance as an assessor when you are setting up your Award in the Online Record Book. You may use this Assessor Introduction to the Award. You will include their name and email address in the Online Record Book so that they will receive a link to complete their report when you finish your hours. If you are unsure of who can be your assessor for an activity, your Award Leader can help you think through some options.


What if I would like to do the Award program through my school or another local organization rather than virtually?

The Award is always looking for additional partners to expand access to the program. We encourage anyone interested in starting the Award within their community to visit our page for providers. There, they can find information on our current partners, the benefits of integrating the Award framework into existing organizations, and the process to become an Award partner. If the interested individual completes the form at the bottom of the page, they will hear directly from an Award USA staff member with additional information.


I have not yet resumed my regular activities outside of school due to COVID-19. Are there virtual activity options for the Award sections?

Absolutely! On our COVID-19 Resources page, you will find ideas for virtual activities for each of the Award sections.


How can I do an Adventurous Journey on my own?

Planning and executing your own Adventurous Journey might seem like an intimidating task, but have no fear! With the guidance of your Award Leader and our AJ resources, we will ensure that you embark on an Adventurous Journey that is feasible, meaningful, and fun! The Guide to the Independent AJ takes you through the steps of choosing the best AJ option for you. There are a number of special accommodations in place through December 2022 due to COVID-19, including virtual Bronze and Silver AJs. The guide also provides you with ideas of Adventurous Journeys that other participants have done this past year to give you a sense of these accommodations in practice. If you have specific concerns that you would like to address prior to registering for the Award, please reach out to Jenny Power at jpower@usaward.org.


The Adventurous Journey is a team activity, but I am an independent participant and do not know any other Award participants. How can I put together an AJ team?

AJ teams do not need to consist solely of Award participants. They should consist of a group of peers in your age range who commit to participating in a trip that meets the requirements of the Adventurous Journey. Therefore, it is the responsibility of you and your AJ Supervisor to bring them up to speed on what an AJ is and lead them through the steps of fully completing one.

For your AJ team members, if they would like to register for the Award too and count your trip together for their AJ section, they are more than welcome to! They should complete the form at the bottom of this webpage to get started.


Who can be my Adventurous Journey Supervisor and Assessor?

AJ Supervisors and Assessors must, first and foremost, be competent in the chosen mode of travel, feel confident in their ability to fulfill the role as described in the Participant Handbook, and agree to Award USA’s Safeguarding Policy and Volunteer Code of Conduct.

Examples of people who might fill these roles include known community members with outdoor experience, family friends or neighbors, parents of AJ team members, extended family members, or the participant’s parents. Whenever possible, the AJ Assessor should not be a participant’s parent, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, we understand that they might be the only option in some circumstances.


I am going on a backpacking trip through another organization that meets the requirements of an Adventurous Journey. Can that count for this section?

Unless the trip is being offered through a Registered Activity Provider in the United States or abroad, it is not guaranteed that the trip will meet the requirements of the Adventurous Journey. Bring the opportunity to your Award Leader for their feedback and approval.


Does Award USA offer any Adventurous Journeys I can join?

The Award partners with organizations to serve as Registered Activity Providers, meaning they offer open Adventurous Journeys that our participants can join. Participants are responsible for the trip fees to these organizations, as well as travel to and from the trip location. Need-based financial assistance is available to participants to support their Adventurous Journey needs. Due to COVID-19, our Registered Activity Providers remain inactive and are not currently offering trips. Therefore, all virtual participants will do Independent Adventurous Journeys.

If a participant travels to a country where the Award is also offered, they may do their AJ through a Registered Activity Provider in that country. For example, some virtual participants have completed Adventurous Journeys through approved organizations in Canada. Anyone wishing to pursue this option will need to run it by their Award Leader first.


How do I find opportunities for the Gold Residential Project?

The Gold Residential Project is a capstone Award experience only required at the Gold level. Participants live and work on a meaningful endeavor with others who they did not previously know. It is an opportunity to broaden outlooks and get outside comfort zones.

The Participant Handbook features additional information on how to choose an activity and provides examples. This resource helps participants reflect on whether an activity will meet the requirements of the section. Award Leaders are also available to provide support in finding opportunities for the Gold Residential Project.


I would really like to participate in the Award, but between the registration fee and the costs of my activities, I don't think I can afford it. Do you offer any financial assistance?

Yes! Award USA offers participants need-based financial assistance for their registration fee and activity costs. For more information and to apply, click here.


I began my Award journey at a community-based Award Center or abroad, and did not complete my current Award Leader. I am now transferring to the Open Award Center to continue. How can I transfer my profile and logs in the Online Record Book?

If you registered and began your Award outside of the Open Award Center, please let Award USA know so that we can transfer your profile and logs. Send an email to Jenny Power at jpower@usaward.org with the name of your Award Center, the name of your Award Leader, your current Award level, and how far into your Award progress you currently are.

If you fully completed a level of the Award outside of the Open Award Center and are hoping to complete the next one now, you may register through the Online Record Book per the instructions in the Participant Handbook. Your profile does not need to be transferred. You will simply note in your registration the level you completed previously and where.


I would like to start my Award now, but know that I will soon be very busy and might not be able to work on my activities at all for a short period of time. Should I still register?

Absolutely! The Award is meant to be flexible, and participants have until their 25th birthdays to complete their activities. If you anticipate any periods of inactivity, it is the participant’s responsibility to talk that over with their Award Leader and contact them when they are ready to re-engage.


We are here to support you and hope to stay connected as you navigate your Award journey! Be sure to follow us on social media @TheAwardUSA.
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