Presenting Volunteer Recognition in Scouting

How to make honours and awards more effective

By Scouter Liam Morland, January 22, 2007

Effective volunteer recognition is an essential part of a successful volunteer organization. It is one important way that associations show veneration for the efforts of their volunteers. Volunteers who feel truly valued and who feel that their efforts are having a positive impact on the world will be encouraged to continue to give their time and effort. As well, public recognition holds up role models for all to see, encouraging others to follow the lead of those being recognized. The effectiveness of an award is impacted greatly by how it is presented to the recipient.

Who Should Present the Award

Care should be taken in selecting the person who will present the award to a Scouter. In almost all Scouting adult award presentations that I have seen, the award is presented by a commissioner or group committee chair. Consider what would be the most meaningful for the Scouter. Scouters do not give their time to Scouting for the benefit of other adults. They give it because of a belief in what they can do for young people. When a Cub says the simple words, "Thank you, Akela", it is far more meaningful than anything an adult can say.

A good speaker, an adult or possibly an older Scout or Venturer, should narrate the presentation ceremony, describing the meaning of the award and the Scouter's accomplishments. But the presentation itself should be done by a youth member who was directly affected by the Scouter's work.

Some care should be taken in selecting this youth member. It must not be someone selected at random or someone who happens to be standing nearby. Consider who would be the most meaningful person from whom to receive the award. It could be a youth member who has completed a challenging project with the assistance of the Scouter, such as a recent Chief Scout's Award recipient. It could be a young person who has benefited more than most from Scouting and the Scouters' contribution. In many cases, the Scouter's own child would be the best choice.

Some Scouters are not involved with a program section, such as group committee members or commissioners. In this case, an appropriate adult can present the award. Consideration should still be given to whom would be the most meaningful person to make the presentation.

Multiple Presentations

Many Scouting awards come with more than one part, such as a letter with uniform emblem, a certificate, and a medal. These can be presented separately to create more opportunities to thank the Scouter and to more widely showcase to others the Scouters' contribution. For example, the medal could be presented by a youth member at a group banquet and the certificate presented at a larger local function. The youth members should present the medal since it is something they recognize more so than a certificate.

The Scouter's Spouse

A married Scouters' contribution to Scouting is partially the result of the support they receive from their spouse. This support should be recognized along with that of the Scouter. Consider making your own certificate or using the Scouters' Spouse Award that is available for this purpose at Scouts Canada Scout Shops.


Adult recognition is an important part of Scouting and any volunteer organization. Taking care when presenting recognition will make it more meaningful for the recipient.