Scouting religious awards help youth keep the faith

by Kathy Loney


Eagle Scout Gabe Bartunek sports both the Light of Christ Cub Scout badge and the Boy Scout Ad Altari Dei award. (Paul Braun/New Earth)

A Boy Scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion. This is a part of the Boy Scout oath.

The Catholic Church and several denominations have developed wonderful religious award programs for those who are in the Boy Scouts. From the time a boy enters scouting as a Tiger Cub, he can be earning his religious awards. The boys can wear their emblems on their scout uniforms forever!

The different religious awards for Roman Catholic Boy Scouts are:

The Light of Christ for 1st and 2nd graders, Tiger Cubs and Wolf Cubs. This program helps scouts develop a personal relationship with Jesus, to see Jesus as a real person and as his friend with the active participation of his family.

Parvuli Dei for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts. The scout explores a wide range of activities designed to help him discover God in his daily lives. The activities in this program are simple and family oriented so that the success of the program depends upon the parents or other adults who act as advisors to the scout.

Ad Altari Dei is for those who have completed the 6th grade. There must be a trained religious emblem counselor working with the scout to accomplish this religious award. The most important aspect of the program is that the scout grows in his spiritual experience of his relationship to God and the church.

Pope Pius XII is for high school and college-level students. This program involves discussion and sharing in a group atmosphere. The candidate examines how being a Christian affects daily life in the real world, and challenges his own personal talents and abilities in light of a possible choice of lifestyle, vocation, or ministry. The program gives the candidate an opportunity to share faith and to practice his religion among peers, while receiving guidance and feedback.

Within the Girl Scouts of American and the American Heritage Girls, those that belong to the Roman Catholic Church, have several religious award opportunities as well, including:

Family of God for 2nd and 3rd graders, helps girls discover the presence of God in their daily lives as members of their family and parish, and to understand that they are special in their family’s eyes and, most importantly, in God’s eyes.

I Live My Faith for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, to help girls appreciate more deeply the place that God and religion occupy in their daily lives.

Mary, the First Disciple for 7th through 12th graders, to enable them to “proclaim the greatness of the Lord.” It is also a unique opportunity to develop new insights into their personalities, friends, parents, and the world around them. They will grow in an appreciation of Mary and in understanding of themselves.

Spirit Alive for high school students or mature 8th graders, assists them in discovering how the Holy Spirit moves in their lives, calling them to a great participation in the church’s history.

These are just a few of the religious programs that girls who are in a scouting troop can master and earn patches when completed.

All of the religious award programs are a beautiful way to help scouts further their education of their faith and grow closer to Christ!

I had the opportunity to visit with a young man who began his scouting career at a young age. Gabe Bartunek earned the Light of Christ emblem, the Parvuli Dei emblem, the Ad Altari Dei emblem, and is currently working on the Pope Pius XII emblem. He mentioned he has enjoyed working on these religious emblems and has had help from several different people, help him recognize how important his faith really is to him.

“I enjoy the time my dad and I have spent working together on the Pope Pius XII religious emblem,” said Gabe. “It’s an opportunity to talk about my faith with my dad, and I truly learn from the good examples my dad has shown me through his faith.”

Charles (Chip) Bartunek, Gabe’s father, gives a parent’s perspective on working with his son on these religious awards. “It is great to actually find the time to spend with my only son talking about our faith together, and it also allows us the opportunity to talk more about life in general and how faith helps us along our life journey, during good times and not so good times.”

If you have a son or daughter that is in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or American Heritage Girls, take a look into what religious emblem you can work together on to help your child along their spiritual journey.

Contact Kathy Loney at the Diocese of Fargo, Youth and Young Adult Ministry Department at (701) 356-7902 to purchase the books and emblems mentioned.