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Nominate a Scout or Scouter for a Lifesaving or Meritorious Action Award

For many BSA members, the practice of a daily Good Turn leads to a lifetime of service to others. But on what may start as an ordinary school or work day, an emergency may occur when a Scout, Venturer, or Scouter uses his or her Scouting skills, initiative, or heroism to save or attempt to save the life of another person or perform an exceptional action.  The Boy Scouts of America has several awards to recognize Scouts and Scouters who demonstrate the high ideals of Scouting and service to others.

Two characteristics differentiate the various BSA awards: the character of the service, and the level of risk to the life of the Scout, Venturer, or Scouter. These awards from the most to the least prominent are:

Honor Medal with Crossed Palms

  • Unusual heroism and extraordinary skill in saving or attempting to save the life of another
  • Extreme risk to self (The key words are “extreme” vs. “considerable” in the next level.)

Honor Medal

  • Unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save the life of another
  • Considerable risk to self

Medal of Merit

  • An act of service of rare or exceptional character reflecting an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.

National Certificate of Merit

  • A significant act of service deserving of special National recognition.

Local Council Certificate of Merit

  • The situation does not meet the criteria for a National award but the act is deserving of recognition. The case is not extraordinary, did not call for unusual skill and was not exceptional in nature but was of outstanding service and did reflect the high ideals of Scouting.


  1. Persons not eligible include BSA employees and persons performing in the line of duty (doctors, nurse, trained lifesaver, lifeguard, first responder)
  2. Signed statements from the nominee and eyewitnesses must accompany the prescribed nomination form, and these must be submitted within 36 months of the incident.

Award Process:

Nominator does not need to decide which award is appropriate -- the council has a Meritorious Action Awards committee consisting of professionals who are trained in and deal with emergencies, including our council camping chair, a Red Cross professional, and a county sheriff, who will meet to determine the level of recognition.

The nominator completes a “Recommendation for Lifesaving or Meritorious Acton Award” (online form).  After obtaining the required signed statements (more witnesses are helpful to the committee), the nominator submits the form and statements to the Council Service Center in a single packet. The council advancement chair and the Meritorious Action Awards committee will handle the processing and approvals from that point onward, and recognitions will be scheduled by the council.

Recent recipients in our council:

2010    Carl Peterson, Honor Medal

2014    Max Nunley, Honor Medal (rescued a drowning 2 yr. old boy)

2016    Ryan Imschweiler, Honor Medal (acted to protect an on-duty Sebastopol Police Officer)

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