Advisors are a critical component of the Congressional Award program. While any 13 1/2 to 23-year-old may pursue a Congressional Award, it takes the commitment of volunteer adults to help them realize their potential. Advisors guide participants through the goal setting process in each of the four program areas and monitor their progress toward the Congressional Award.
Any adult may serve as an Advisor with the exception of parents, relatives or peers of the participants. It is the responsibility of the participants to identify their advisor. The State Office encourages participants to reach out into their communities to select an adult that they feel comfortable working with to help them set goals within each of the four required program areas. Potential Congressional Award advisors include teachers, Scoutmasters, guidance counselors, coaches, neighbors and youth leaders.
One pillar of the philosophy behind the Award is that it is designed to bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood. Working with adults is one way this can be achieved. Most participants will work with five or more adults throughout the program – one advisor and four or more validators – providing them with the opportunity to learn from adults outside of their family who share their enthusiasm, skill and experience.
By working with adults, the Congressional Award program encourages young people to establish new links within their community. These links allow young people to explore new areas while learning more about themselves and the world around them. We encourage each participant to step outside of their comfort zone in hopes that there will be a possibility for new relationships to develop. Participants may inherit new values, come to understand the contributions they can make in the community, and build self esteem through the relationships with the advisor and validators.
Advisors meet with the young people while they set personally challenging goals, stay in touch while the participant pursues the Award, and provide assistance with the record book detailing their goals and activities.
Role and Responsibilities
- With the participant, review the Congressional Award requirements and guidelines as provided in the program booklet.
- Assist the participant in setting goals that are personally challenging, achievable, worthwhile, measurable and fulfilling.
- Complete the Summary of Goal Plan and Expedition/Exploration Plan with the participant.
- Help the participant identify appropriate activities and qualified validators for each goal.
- Maintain periodic contact with the participant while he or she works toward the Congressional Award.
- If the participant needs to revise goals, help him or her set new goals and find activities to achieve them.
- Encourage the participant to obtain written comments and signatures from his or her validators as soon as an individual goal has been met.
- Once the participant has completed the set activities for a given Award level, review his or her records and help complete the record book.
- Please be sure to provide written comments. Advisor comments are often used to show progress that youth are making.
- Make a copy of the record book for the participant.
- Once the participant has mailed in the record book, work with him or her to set new goals and begin working on the next level of the Award.