As the capstone for each Section, youth are given the opportunity to challenge themselves with the “Top Section Award”. Please note this award is not a requirement for a youth to move on to the next Section; rather, the Top Section Award is a goal some youth may want to set for themselves. Youth pursuing their Top Section Awards will find that the associated criteria support personal development and provide a structure to their Scouting program they may find helpful.
Top Section Awards Flow Chart - for reference
There are four components to achieving the Top Section Award, which are common to all Sections:
- A personal progression review
- Completion of a set number of “Outdoor Adventure Skills”
- Completion of a set number of community service hours
- A youth-led capstone service project
The four components of the Top Section Award are to be completed in the last six months a youth is in the Section (though youth should begin accumulating service hours and Outdoor Adventure Skills before this time). Requirements for the Top Section Award should be fully completed prior to moving up to the next Section.
The Top Section Awards are an opportunity for youth in each Section to attain a meaningful accomplishment that is widely recognized and understood.
There are four components to the Top Section Awards. They are common to all Sections, but are increasingly challenging according to each age group.
For more information on the Top Section Awards, see page 60 of the Canadian Path Scouter Manual.
A youth who believes that he or she has achieved the Top Section Award should make a presentation to the “Section Leadership Team” to explain how he or she has fulfilled the Top Section Award’s criteria.
The Section Leadership Team (made up of youth) approves a youth’s application for the Top Section Award. Scouters should be present for deliberations to answer any questions the Section Leadership Team may have. Scouters may also provide the best advice they have to offer; however, the final decision of whether or not a youth has achieved the Top Section Award should rest with the Section Leadership Team. For more information on the Section Leadership team please see the “Section Leadership Team and Patrol System FAQ”
There are two different sizes of badges so that youth can continue to be recognized for their accomplishments after they’ve earned a Top Section Award in another Section. Youth should always wear the most recent Top Section Award they earned, but can add the smaller badges to their uniform as they remove a Top Section Award badge to replace it with a newer one they’ve earned.
For example, a Scout who has not yet achieved her Chief Scout’s Award but who has achieved both her “North Star Award” and “Seeonee Award” would wear the large Seeonee Award on her Scout uniform, along with the small North Star Award. Uniform badge placement information can be found on each Section’s uniform diagram, located on each Section’s Personal Achievement page.
See the Scout Uniform Diagram for an example.
The difference between Community Service hours and A ‘Meaningful Service Project’ or ‘capstone project’ is whether the youth joins it or owns it.
Community Service is volunteer time committed to an organization or project that youth join. After community service hours are completed, the organization or project likely continues after the youth stops volunteering.
A Top Section Award Project is are not joined, but rather a project the youth owns.
It is something that the youth decides on, does the work to get it going, completes the work and then ends the project with a review. The project is a temporary endeavour that is entirely owned by the youth.
For community service hours, a senior youth may volunteer with a Beaver Colony, and specifically support the Colony with some of its goals, such as progressing in the Outdoor Adventure Skills and attending a Beaveree. The youth may only volunteer for a season or two, and the Colony will carry on after the senior youth leaves.
Examples of Top Section Award Projects include:
- Build a bench for a local park.
- Organize and participate in a clean-up of a local park.
- Organize a sock drive for a local shelter.
- Knit hats to donate to a local shelter or charity.
- Start some sort of campaign at school (healthy lunches, anti-bullying, etc.).
- Build water filters for third-world countries.
- Organize and lead a local emergency preparedness kit campaign.
- Organize and lead an anti-vehicle-idling campaign at school or at another community building.
Community service hours can be cumulative within a Section, or can be reasonably completed within a single year. Service hours from previous Sections do not count towards the current Section’s Top Award.
No, the OAS stage requirements for Top Section Awards are wide open. As long as a youth reaches the required number of stages, the requirement is fulfilled. Youth can be “specialists” (achieving many stages in a few skills) or “grazers” (achieving fewer stages, but in more skills) depending on their own interest. Either is acceptable.
Either option is perfectly acceptable. It is entirely up to the youth to decide whether she wants to work towards the old requirements or the new requirements. If she decides to switch to the new requirements, she should take the time to review her experiences and accomplishments from her first three years as a Scout. Her Scouters should help her to focus on what she learned and how she has personally progressed, and this reflection should touch upon the Outdoor Adventure Skills, leadership and community involvement. The document “Top Section Awards: Requirements and Transition” is a great resource that walks both youth and Scouters through this change.
No, the hours devoted to a capstone service project should not be included when counting the community service hours required for the Top Section Award.
If the Section Leadership Team approves a youth’s application for the Top Section Award, the Group Commissioner or Group Registrar should be notified. A Colony Scouter may do this on behalf of a “White Tail Council”, and a Pack Scouter may do this on behalf of a “Howler Council”. Troop Scouters, Company Scouters and Crew Scouters should notify Group Commissioners or Group Registrars themselves.
Unlike some aspects of The Canadian Path, Outdoor Adventure Skill competencies and Top Section Award requirements are fixed and apply to all youth members. A youth who has a physical disability is eligible to earn a Top Section Award, but the youth must achieve the required number of OAS Stages and other requirements. The Personal Achievement Badge framework provides the flexibility for all youth to set and work towards their own goals, enhancing their personal development.
Chief Scout’s Award and Queen’s Venturer Award certificates will continue to be available from your Council Support Centre.
Scouts or Venturer Scouts may need to show their Chief Scout’s Award or Queen’s Venturer Award certificate to their school counsellor or principal to receive their credits. A letter from the Council will also be provided.
It’s common that multiple youth in a Section will earn their Top Section award at the same time, because they’ve participated in similar activities. When this is the case, each youth should still make a presentation to the Section Leadership Team; presentations should focus on the activities that were completed individually, like the capstone project. If the Scouters feel that the Section Leadership Team can’t be objective, they can ask all or part of the Section’s remaining youth to help with decision.
The length of each youth’s presentation will vary greatly between Sections. While a Beaver Scout’s presentation may only be a few minutes, a Rover Scout may have a half-hour slideshow. What’s important is that the youth express their accomplishments to the Section Leadership Team in an age-appropriate way through their presentation.
The capstone project may be completed individually or as a group, as long as everyone is challenged, contributes meaningfully and has the opportunity to put a good effort into the project. The project plan is approved by the Section Leadership Team and the Scouters.
Who can purchase Top Section Award badges from the Scout Shop?
Top Section Award badges can be purchased from the Scout Shop by any Scouter. Some Councils provide a Chief Scout’s or Queen’s Venturer Award badge to recipients as part of their existing process, and Scouters should confirm with their local Council as to whether that process will continue.
Still need help? Please feel free to contact the Scouts Canada Help Centre