The Freedom Award is the highest honor a Trailman can earn while in the Trail Life USA program. It is not an easy task, and forethought is required to achieve this honor.
So you are thinking of going for the Freedom Award... Now what?
First, lets talk about who is eligible and what you can or cannot begin.
As you already know, there are various programs within Trail Life USA, those being Woodlands, Navigators and Adventurers. The Adventurer program consists of the oldest group of boys, being of high school age (grades 9-12). The Freedom Award is for Adventurers only, and you cannot start working on any part of the Freedom Award until you are an Adventurer.
The Adventurer program has three ranks or awards. Those awards, in order, are Journey, Horizon and Freedom. Most Adventurers will immediately earn their Journey Award within the first two meetings. The Horizon Award will probably take about two years to earn. And then there is the Freedom Award, the topic of this page.
I wanted to highlight the order of the Adventurer Awards because there are a couple of Freedom Award Requirements an Adventurer can work on after having earned their Journey Award, and before earning their Horizon Award. Those two items are the Freedom Experiences and the Worthy Life Award. All of the other requirements for the Freedom Award cannot be worked on until after you have earned your Horizon Award.
Another eligibility requirement item you need to be concerned with is that of the age limit. The Horizon Award must be earned before the Trailman turns 18, and the Freedom Award must also be earned before age 18. Only the Freedom Award allows for an extension of time in the year that the Trailman turns 18. This extension of time is only good through June 30th after the Trailman's 18th birthday. There is a flowchart in the Youth Trailman Freedom Award Procedure Guide that details the conditions that must be met in order for the extension to be granted.
One last eligibility requirement I want to mention is Troop participation and attendance. The Trailman must maintain a participation and attendance rate of 60% or better to be eligible for earning the Freedom Award.
Highlighting the Horizon Award Prerequisite
The Horizon Award is the stepping stone to the Freedom Award, and I want to highlight an important point about the Horizon Award. The Horizon Award is awarded only to Adventurers, but to earn it, there are requirements from the Navigators Program that must also be met. Most Trailmen will have completed these requirements as a Navigator prior to moving up into Adventurers. However, if you did not complete these requirements as a Navigator or didn't join Trail Life USA until you were in high school, you still must complete the Navigator requirements in order to earn the Horizon Award. The Navigator Program has 9 required badges and 5 elective badges that are required in order to qualify for the Horizon Award. The Adventurer Program also has and additional 6 required badges and 5 elective badges that must be earned while an Adventurer. In total, between the Navigator and Adventurer Program, there are 15 required badges and 10 elective badges. Elective badges are just that, elective. They can be in any subject, but you have to have 10 under your belt in order to qualify for the Horizon Award. Additionally, while participating as an Adventurer, a Trailman must participate in at least 8 Activities and serve in a leadership position in order to earn the Horizon Award. Your Adventurer Advisor can help you sort through any other requirements.
Now, I'm going to point out the major requirements you need to be aware of for the Freedom Award, but you must thoroughly read through the Youth Trailman Freedom Award Procedure Guide, the Freedom Servant Leadership Project Guide and the Freedom Servant Leadership Project Questions for Planning. These are the three key guides to understanding the Freedom Award requirements.
Must have earned the Horizon Award
Must be under 18, unless an extension is granted
Must complete 2 experiences in the same field
Must complete another experience in a second field, different from the first field
Must complete another experience in a third field, different from the first two fields
Maintain 60% attendance and participation
Complete 20 hours of Service for each year as an Adventurer
Participate in 8 more activities on top of the 8 required for the Horizon Award
Complete the Worth Life Award
Complete the Freedom Servant Leadership Project*
Assemble your Award Binder*
Complete your Advancement Conference
Complete your Board of Review
*Note, while items 10 and 11 don't sound all that serious, don't be fooled. You will probably spend at least 40 hours actually working on your project, and you will easily spend another 60 hours reading, documenting, filling out paperwork, and attending meetings, conferences and boards of review. The Freedom Award is a serious time commitment.
Be aware that prior to you doing any work, the Freedom Experiences and many steps in the Servant Leadership Project first require pre-approval from either your Adventurer Advisor or Area Advisor. DO NOT jump in and begin working on these without first declaring your intentions and talking to the appropriate Advisor and getting his approving signature in your book.
Then, following the conclusion of various steps in the Servant Leadership Project or upon the completion of a Freedom Experience, you will need to meet with the appropriate Advisor as a part of an after action report and have them sign off again. Don't forget this. In the past, I have turned down requests to recognize a Freedom Experience because a boy had failed to declare the experience first. You see, first declaring an experience or project means you have to think about it and plan for it. It means I will ask you questions about what you plan to get out of it. And I will give you suggestions on what you might want to consider as you are completing your experience or project. My goal is to help you learn something from doing this experience, and I can't do that if you come to me having already completed it.
If you need help coming up with a project idea, refer to the Servant Leadership Project Examples pdf.
There are a number of checklists and applications required for your binder, and I have put links to those items on this page.
Always defer to www.traillifeconnect.com as your source of information and requirements for the Freedom Award. If something is in conflict between this page and material directly from Trail Life USA, then the Trail Life USA information should be relied upon as authoritative.
I hope that this has helped you understand some of the requirements for the Freedom Award. If you choose to go forward with attempting to obtain the Freedom Award, then I pray that God blesses you and brings success to your endeavor.
Freedom Award Useful Links
Below is a list of useful links to the various Guides, Catalogs and Checklists related to the Freedom Award.
The Freedom Award and related requirements are copyrighted material of Trail Life USA, and as such the links below will direct you to Trail Life USA's official member site (www.TrailLifeConnect.com).
In order to view this material you must be:
1. A member of Trail Life USA
2. Logged into Trail Life Connect
Experiences & Worthy Life
Checklists & Application