The 50-Miler Award honors Scouts who are going places

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; a journey of 50 miles can begin with a step, a J-stroke or even a “giddyap.” The BSA’s 50-Miler Award recognizes Scouts and adult leaders who travel 50 miles over five or more days without the aid of motors. The mileage is defined, but the opportunities are unlimited.

WHAT MODES OF TRAVEL COUNT FOR THIS AWARD? Options include hiking, boating, canoeing, bicycling, and riding horses, mules, donkeys or llamas. Motorized transportation doesn’t count, so leave the hoverboard at home.

Photo by W. Garth Dowling

HOW LONG MUST A TRIP LAST? To qualify, a trip must last a minimum of five consecutive days. There’s no upper limit.

ARE THERE ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS? Yes: The group must make a complete plan for the trip, including the possibilities of advancement, conservation, leadership and service. Participants must complete at least 10 hours of service work related to the trail or waterway they’re using.

WHAT KIND OF SERVICE PROJECTS COUNT? Possibilities including clearing trails, cleaning up shorelines, improving waterways, cleaning up campsites and leaving a firewood supply. Think of how your group could enhance the experience of future trail or waterway users.

Photo by W. Garth Dowling

I’M NOT SURE WE CAN COMPLETE 10 HOURS OF SERVICE IN FIVE DAYS OF BACKPACKING. ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS? As an alternative, you can complete a similar project in your home area. In fact, if you complete a trek at Philmont Scout Ranch, you’ll probably need to do most of the work back home: Philmont crews typically complete three hours of service during their treks while meeting all the other award requirements.

GOING 50 MILES IS A LOT EASIER BY BIKE THAN ON FOOT. WHY NOT SET DIFFERENT LEVELS? Keep in mind that mileage is just one requirement. The award recognizes the entire experience.

WHO CAN EARN THE 50-MILER AWARD? The award is for Scouts, Venturers, Sea Scouts and their adult leaders. Members of a troop, crew, ship or provisional unit (like a council contingent to Northern Tier) are eligible.

WHO APPROVES THE AWARD? The unit leader or tour leader.

Photo by Walter P. Calahan

HOW DO WE APPLY FOR THE AWARD? Complete the 50-Miler Award Application(No. 430-067) and submit it to your local council service center.

WHAT RECOGNITION ITEMS ARE AVAILABLE? Three items are available: an embroidered emblem (No. 191), a decal (No. 32261) and a staff shield (No. 14131). The emblem can be attached to a tent, pack or patch blanket; it’s not designed for uniform wear. The decal can be attached to a boat, paddle or plaque.

CAN AN INDIVIDUAL EARN THIS AWARD MORE THAN ONCE? Yes.

WHAT ELSE DO WE NEED TO KNOW? Be sure to apply the Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety, as well as the activity-specific rules found in the Guide to Safe Scouting (No. 34416).

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