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Adult Recognition

Our volunteers work hard to create a safe and fun environment for Girl Scouts to learn how to lead. They spend countless hours juggling their volunteer duties alongside their own busy lives so our youth members can have an amazing Girl Scout experience. Showing appreciation for our volunteers is a great Girl Scout tradition! Anyone can nominate a volunteer to receive an award for their service.

Awards for Troop Volunteers

Troop Leaders: There are two official awards specifically for troop leaders. 

Outstanding Leader Award

The Outstanding Leader pin was instituted in 1987 by GSUSA and recognizes troop leaders who serve in that role for at least two years and demonstrate outstanding achievements in implementing a girl-led program appropriate to the Girl Scout level; communication with troop, family, service unit, and council; and membership development (meeting or exceeding troop size agreed upon by the leader and service unit team in accordance with service unit’s membership goals).

Focus of Service Troop Leader
Impact of Service Demonstrated outstanding achievements in the following areas:
  • Implementing a girl-led program appropriate to Girl Scout level.
  • Communication with troop, family, service unit, and council
  • Membership development (meeting or exceeding troop size agreed upon by the leader and service unit team in accordance with service unit’s membership goals)
Length of Service At least two years, which can include the current Girl Scout year. If the leader previously received a Jan Verhage Spirit of Leadership award, the Outstanding Leader pin must be at least two years after that.
Endorsements Required 2
Approval Required Association Recognition Committee
Presentation Purchased by association or service unit.
Presented at an association or service unit event, or other appropriate local event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership.
Must not owe any debt to council.

Jan Verhage Spirit of Leadership Award

The Jan Verhage Spirit of Leadership Award was instituted by Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital in 2010 in honor of Jan Verhage, the Executive Director of Nation’s Capital from 1985-2010. Jan’s commitment to the troop experience allowed many Girl Scouts to reach their full potential through our principals and tradition. Her legacy of selfless commitment has inspired many a youth and adult volunteer. To be honored with this award is to exemplify Jan’s outstanding courage, confidence, and character in leadership.  

Focus of Service Troop Leader
Impact of Service Demonstrated outstanding achievement in the following areas:
  • Empowers Girl Scouts to create and/or participate in meaningful program opportunities.
  • Inspires service to the community.
  • Leverages resources and programs available through the council and national offices.
  • Supports council goals with membership recruitment and growth.
Length of Service At least five years, which can include the current Girl Scout year. If the leader previously received an Outstanding Leader pin, the Jan Verhage Spirit of Leadership award must be at least five years after that.
Endorsements Required 3
Approval Required Association Recognition Committee
Presentation Purchased by association or service unit.
Presented at an association or service unit event, or other appropriate local event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership.
Must not owe any debt to council.

Volunteer of Excellence Award

Other Troop Committee Members: The Volunteer of Excellence Award was instituted in 2013 by GSUSA, replacing the Outstanding Volunteer award. It is awarded to an adult in a position other than leader, or in addition to leader, whose outstanding service benefits the troop, service unit or association. 

Focus of Service Benefits the troop, service unit or association in a capacity other than troop leader. A troop leader who also serves in other positions is eligible, but endorsements should focus on the roles other than troop leader.
Impact of Service Significant service above and beyond the expectations of the position(s) held. Recognizes volunteers who have contributed outstanding service while partnering directly with girls in any pathway to implement the Girl Scout Leadership Experience through the use of the National Program Portfolio or in support of the Council’s mission delivery to youth and adult members.
Length of Service At least two years, which can include the current Girl Scout year.
Examples of Possible Candidates
  • Troop committee members, such as troop cookie manager or troop money manager.
  • A troop leader who already received Outstanding Leader and/or Jan Verhage Spirit of Leadership but also serves with distinction in another troop role, like fall product chair.
  • A SU welcome specialist who plans to leave that role after two years so does not qualify for an Appreciation Pin.
  • A volunteer who received an Appreciation Pin and then a Sustained Service Pin for the role of service unit manager and has continued to serve for an additional 2+ years.
Endorsements Required 2
Approval Required Association Recognition Committee
Presentation Purchased by association or service unit.
Presented at an association or service unit event, or other appropriate local event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership.
Must not owe any debt to council.
Awards for Service Unit and Association Volunteers

Appreciation Pin

The Appreciation Pin was instituted in 1976 by GSUSA. It honors outstanding service performed by the volunteer which benefits at least one service unit or an association and which contributes to the goals and objectives of the council.

Focus of Service Benefits at least one service unit or an association
Impact of Service Significant service above and beyond the expectations of the position(s) held. Recognizes a volunteer’s exemplary service in support of delivering the Girl Scout Leadership Experience with impact on one geographic area of service.
Length of Service At least three years, which can include the current Girl Scout year.
Examples of Possible Candidates
  • Service unit team members
  • Association team members
  • Volunteers who repeatedly coordinate large events for a SU or association
  • Adult educators working primarily in one SU or association
Endorsements Required 3
Approval Required Council Recognition Panel

Presentation

Provided by council.
Presented at an association or service unit event, or other appropriate local event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership.
Must not owe any debt to council.

Sustained Service Pin

The Sustained Service Pin was established by Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital in 2017 and is given to an individual who has continued to volunteer at the service unit or association level an additional three years after receiving the Appreciation Pin. 

Focus of Service Benefits at least one service unit or an association
Impact of Service Demonstrated outstanding leadership in the following areas:
  • Empowers youth participation in meaningful programs
  • Inspires service and community partnership for troops
  • Significant service above and beyond position expectations
  • Supports council goals increasing membership and expanding growth through recruitment 
Examples of Possible Candidates Same as for Appreciation Pin but must be 3+ years after receiving the Appreciation Pin. Does not have to be the same service but must continue to benefit at least one service unit or an association.
Length of Service At least three years after receiving the Appreciation Pin.   
Endorsements Required 3
Approval Required Council Recognition Panel
Presentation Provided by council.
May be presented at the council annual recognition event, an association or service unit event, or other appropriate local event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership.
Must not owe any debt to council.

Nation's Capital Pin

The Nation's Capital Pin was introduced by the Council in 1975 and is unique to Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital. It recognizes dedication and significant service in support of outstanding program for Girl Scouts.

Focus of Service Benefits at least two service units
Impact of Service Significant service above and beyond the expectations of the position(s) held.
Examples of Possible Candidates
  • A volunteer who organizes multiple events for an association to foster teen Girl Scout retention.
  • A volunteer who is served on the leadership team of a day camp that draws participation from more than one service unit.
  • A volunteer who served one year as a association cookie manager and two years as an association chair who spearheaded programming for girls such as a cookie rally and teen-led programming for younger Girl Scouts.
Length of Service At least three years (which can include the current Girl Scout year) in one or more adult position/s.
Endorsements Required 4
Approval Required Council Recognition Panel
Presentation Provided by council.
May be presented at the council annual recognition event, an association or service unit event, or other appropriate local event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership.
Must not owe any debt to council.

Honor Pin

The Honor Pin was instituted in 1987 by GSUSA. It recognizes outstanding service performed by the candidate which benefits at least two service units and which contributes to the goals and objectives of the council. 

Focus of Service Benefits at least two service units
Impact of Service Significant service above and beyond the expectations of the position(s) held.
Examples of Possible Candidates
  • A volunteer who serves as SU money manager for more than one SU.
  • An association chair who exceeded expectations for that role.
Length of Service At least four years, which can include the current Girl Scout year.
Endorsements Required 4
Approval Required Council Recognition Panel
Presentation Provided by council.
May be presented at the council annual recognition event, an association or service unit event, or other appropriate local event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership.
Must not owe any debt to council.

Volunteer of Excellence Award

The Volunteer of Excellence Award was instituted in 2013 by GSUSA, replacing the Outstanding Volunteer award. It is awarded to an adult in a position other than leader, or in addition to leader, whose outstanding service benefits the troop, service unit or association. When used to recognize service at the SU or association level, carefully consider if one of the awards listed above would be a better fit. 

Focus of Service Benefits the troop, service unit or association in a capacity other than troop leader. A troop leader who also serves in other positions is eligible, but endorsements should focus on the roles other than troop leader.
Impact of Service Significant service above and beyond the expectations of the position(s) held. Recognizes volunteers who have contributed outstanding service while partnering directly with girls in any pathway to implement the Girl Scout Leadership Experience through the use of the National Program Portfolio or in support of the Council’s mission delivery to girl and adult members.
Length of Service At least two years, which can include the current Girl Scout year.
     
  • Troop committee members, such as troop cookie manager or troop money manager.
  • A troop leader who already received Outstanding Leader and/or Jan Verhage Spirit of Leadership but also serves with distinction in another troop role, like fall product chair.
  • A SU welcome specialist who plans to leave that role after two years so does not qualify for an Appreciation Pin.
  • A volunteer who received an Appreciation Pin and then a Sustained Service Pin for the role of service unit manager, and has continued to serve for an additional 2+ years.
Endorsements Required 2
Approval Required Association Recognition Committee
Presentation Purchased by association or service unit.
Presented at an association or service unit event, or other appropriate local event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership.
Must not owe any debt to council.
Awards for Council-Wide Volunteers

Thanks Badge

The Thanks Badge was instituted in 1912 by GSUSA. It recognizes outstanding service and is so significantly above and beyond the call of duty that no other award would be appropriate. 

 

Focus of Service Benefits the council or entire Girl Scout movement.
Impact of Service Continuous and outstanding service above and beyond the expectations of the position(s) held.  Exemplifies the Girl Scout Promise and Law in her/his daily life.
Examples of Possible Candidates
  • A volunteer who has mentored and revitalized SU teams in more than one area;
  • An adult educator who impacts the entire council by mentoring educators from other areas throughout the council
  • A member of a council committee who had a profound impact that improved processes throughout the council.
Length of Service At least five years in one or more adult position/s, which can include the current Girl Scout year.
Endorsements Required 4
Approval Required Council Recognition Panel
Presentation Provided by council. Due to the council-wide nature of this award, the Council Recognition Panel strongly recommends that it be given only at the council annual recognition event or another council recognition event. 
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership Must not owe any debt to council.

Thanks Badge II

The Thanks Badge II was instituted in 1987 by GSUSA. It recognizes continued outstanding service given by a Thanks Badge recipient. The quality of service performed is the same or surpasses that for the Thanks Badge: “It is truly outstanding, benefits the total council or the entire Girl Scout organization, and is so significantly above and beyond the call of duty that no other award would be appropriate.” Additionally, this award might acknowledge outstanding performance that surpasses the earlier achievement. It is a way of saying thanks again to an outstanding individual who has contributed greatly to Girl Scouting. 

Focus of Service Benefits the council or entire Girl Scout movement.
Impact of Service Continuous and outstanding service above and beyond the expectations of the position(s) held.  Exemplifies the Girl Scout Promise and Law in her/his daily life.  
Examples of Possible Candidates Same as for Thanks Badge, 10+ years after receiving the Thanks Badge. Does not have to be the same service but must continue to benefit the entire council.
Length of Service At least ten years since receiving the Thanks Badge in one or more adult positions with sustained, continued service or increased services to the council or the Girl Scout movement.
Endorsements Required 4
Approval Required Council Recognition Panel
Presentation Provided by council. Due to the council-wide nature of this award, the Council Recognition Panel strongly recommends that it be given only at the council annual recognition event or another council recognition event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership. Must not owe any debt to council.

Capital Award

The Capital Award is a singular award instituted by Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital in 1972.

It recognizes a distinguished degree of administrative performance by an adult whose superior contribution has created a positive and pronounced council-wide impact.

Focus of Service Benefits the entire council.
Impact of Service Demonstrates a superior level of administrative leadership, which has created a positive and pronounced council-wide impact of the highest merit. 
Examples of Possible Candidates
  • A board member who spearheaded the resolution of a complicated legal issue for the council.
  • A volunteer whose administrative leadership of the council family giving campaign over a six-year period resulted in a significant expansion of the council’s funding base.
Length of Service Such service will have been given over a significant period of time.
Endorsements Required 3
Approval Required Council Recognition Panel
Presentation Provided by council. Because of the significance and unique council-wide impact of this award, it must be given at the council annual recognition event.  The specific award is to be selected by the Council Recognition Panel.  
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership. Must not owe any debt to council.

Knox Award

The Knox Award was introduced by Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital in 1988 and is named in honor of sisters Lucy and Irene Knox, and their sister-in-law, Alma Knox. These amazing women showed lifelong dedication to this council and to the Girl Scout movement. The Knox Award honors individuals whose continuous service to Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital exemplifies the spirit, dedication and enjoyment of Girl Scouting and the principles of Juliette Low’s movement. 

Focus of Service Unselfish, dedicated, continuous service to the council that has benefited and enriched the entire Girl Scout movement.
Impact of Service Continuous and outstanding service above and beyond the expectations of the position(s) held. Exemplifies the Girl Scout Promise and Law in her/his daily life. Demonstrates respect for the spirit of the movement. Shares love of Girl Scouting through interaction with Girl Scouts, adults, the council, and the community. Is dedicated to the principles of Juliette Low’s Girl Scout movement.
Examples of Possible Candidates A volunteer who has served in multiple roles over several decades. Typically, the roles would include many levels of service including troop, SU, association and council-wide.
Length of Service Such service will have been given over a significant period of time.
Endorsements Required 4
Approval Required Council Recognition Panel
Presentation Provided by council. Because of the significance and unique council-wide impact of this award, it must be given at the council annual recognition event. The specific award is to be selected by the Council Recognition Panel.  
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership. Must not owe any debt to council.
Awards for Organizations

Certificates of Appreciation & Plaques of Appreciation

Certificates of Appreciation and Plaques of Appreciation recognize strong support from an individual who is not a Girl Scout volunteer, or a site or organization such as a house of worship, bank, or park service. Certificates of Appreciation will be mailed to the sponsor in a heavyweight paper certificate holder. Some volunteers purchase a frame for local presentation. Plaques are 8”H x 6”W walnut finish and mailed to the sponsor for a local presentation.

Focus of Service Significantly benefits any Girl Scout group within our council.
Examples of Possible Candidates
  • A bank branch that works with the SU money manager to make opening and closing troop bank accounts easier for volunteers.
  • A church that provides space for Girl Scout troops to meet and hold multiple activities.
  • A business owner who mentors Girl Scouts and regularly invites troops to visit their site to learn about entrepreneurship.
Length of Service Certificates of Appreciation may be given at any time. For Plaques of Appreciation, at least five years.
Endorsements Required 2
Approval Required Council Recognition Panel
Presentation Provided by council. May be presented by Girl Scouts on-site at the organization, or presented at council, association, or service unit events, depending upon impact of service. Certificates and Plaques of Appreciation that recognize council-wide impact may be presented at the annual council recognition event.
Longevity Pins

Membership longevity pins (numeral guards) recognize an individual’s total years of Girl Scout membership. Volunteers can calculate their longevity of membership by totaling years of youth and adult registration, in any Girl Scout or Girl Guide organization.

Volunteers submit their longevity information into our nomination form to provide information to the council and your association recognition committee. This creates a record of their Girl Scout membership history and allows their association recognition committee to include them in their local recognition celebrations. Volunteers celebrating 30+ years of membership will be provided the pin and a keepsake certificate free of charge by the council to express our gratitude for longtime commitment to Girl Scouting. In addition, they are eligible to have their pin presented to them at the annual council recognition event.

Most longevity pins are self-nominated; however, you may enter longevity information for other volunteers so the pin can be presented to them at an event. Many service units collect information about membership and enter it into the nomination form so all the volunteers in the SU can celebrate their milestone membership years together.

Longevity pins may also be purchased at the Girl Scout Shop.

Length of Service Five-year increments from 5 years and up.
Examples of Possible Candidates Any volunteer who has been a member for 5 or more years, including both youth and adult years in any Girl Scout council or Girl Guide organization worldwide.
Endorsements Required N/A
Presentation Longevity 5-25 are presented at association, service unit, or other local events. Longevity 30+ are provided by the council and are eligible for presentation at the annual council recognition event.
General Requirements Must have a current Girl Scout membership.
Must not owe any debt to council.
Commend Coins

The Commend Coin was instituted by Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital in 2013 to be awarded at the discretion of Service Unit Managers and/or Association Chairs. The Commend Coin can be presented to a Girl Scout volunteer for any reason, but most often would recognize special achievement for which there is no appropriate official recognition available. This may be because a volunteer has already been awarded the official recognitions specified for their role. It could also be presented to a volunteer who does not meet criteria for other awards but has still had an important impact on a service unit or association. Receiving a Commend Coin does not impact the volunteer’s ability to receive other awards in the future. Over time, a volunteer may be awarded several Commend Coins of different designs.

In 2022, the council introduced the first coin of a new series with the theme of our Girl Scout mission: “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” The first coin is the “Courage” coin.

Commend Coins are not for general purchase like a souvenir - they are presented to a volunteer to recognize their service. They are available for purchase in the Girl Scout shops upon presenting the Authorization for Purchase form signed by the SU manager or association chair and should be presented at an appropriate event, like other recognitions.

Focus of Service Any
Impact of Service Any
Examples of Possible Candidates Any Girl Scout volunteer, such as:
  • A troop leader who has already received an Outstanding Leader pin and a Jan Verhage Spirit of Leadership pin.
  • A volunteer who worked with multiple troops during the course of one year and does not meet the two-year length of service requirement for Volunteer of Excellence
  • A long-time SU team member who has received an Appreciation Pin and Sustained Service Pin and has continued to serve.
Length of Service Any
Endorsements Required None
Presentation Can be presented at association, service unit, or other local events.
Unofficial Ways to Show Appreciation

There may be times when you need to get creative to show appreciation for a volunteer! There are always options to help someone feel appreciated!

Written “Thank You” – A brief note, letter, card is always appropriate! Girl Scouts can each write a sentence describing a favorite memory or draw a picture showing it that can be compiled on a posterboard or virtual document. Build gratitude into your activities – for example, consider bringing simple craft supplies with you on your encampment so girls can make cards thanking adults who helped make it happen.

Personalized Certificate – Design your own certificate from your troop or SU recognizing service of a great volunteer!

Photo Memory Book – Compile photos from your Girl Scout experiences and give them as gifts for longtime troop volunteers. Troop members can participate in selecting or contributing photos and can help write captions.

Group Video – Use a group video program to compile short video clips of Girl Scouts talking about their favorite memories or explaining how a volunteer impacted them. Older Girl Scouts can take charge of the project using their phones to make video compilations that will be fun to watch for years to come!  

Girl Scout Gifts – Look at the Girl Scout Shop to see what gifts are available – a tote bag, reusable coffee mug, or t-shirt might be fun! There may be adult uniform components (scarves, pins) that would be a great gift. Ask for recommendations from our experienced Shop staff.

In-Kind Gifts – Provide pet sitting, babysitting, a car wash, or schedule at night to drop off dinner for the volunteer you’d like to thank.

Lifetime Memberships – Lifetime memberships are available for volunteers aged 18 or older. This can be a very meaningful gift for longtime volunteers.

Whatever way you show your thanks, remember the presentation is important. Let the volunteer know you are doing this because of the impact they have on their Girl Scouts and the adults around them!

Historical Awards

View historical recognition awards from our Council:

by Alphabetic Order | by Association

Frequently Asked Questions

Recognition FAQs

Can a volunteer receive the same award more than once? No, a volunteer cannot receive the same award more than once. Check list of historical awards prior to nominating.

Is it hard to get an award approved by the Council Recognition Panel? The Council Recognition Panel is committed to recognizing deserving individuals. Occasionally the panel will suggest a different award, or stronger documentation of exceptional service. The panel approves almost all nominations.

Should I wait until spring to nominate people? No, please do not wait. Submitting earlier in the year ensures that there is enough time to process the nomination prior to the date when it should be presented. Nominations may be submitted starting October 1. Nominations for awards to be presented at the Annual Meeting must be submitted no later than February 14. If you wait until spring to nominate someone, the award may not be approved until after the school year ends – and you will miss the opportunity to present the award at your end-of-year events.

What do I need to know to nominate someone for an award? You will need to know the nominee’s name, what specific role you want to recognize with this award (i.e. troop leader, SU manager, Gold Award panel member, etc) and the name and email of the 2-4 people who have agreed to submit an endorsement of the nomination. If you are submitting a longevity, you do not need endorsers, but you must know the number of youth and adult years of Girl Scout membership.

What questions will I be asked if I agree to endorse a nomination? The questions will vary slightly depending on which award has been selected, but here are the basic questions:
·        What has the nominee done to deserve this award?
·        Give some specific examples of how the nominee has empowered Girl Scouts and/or adult volunteers to take on a leadership role, expand their horizons or make a difference in the community.
·        Indicate if the nominee had a specific impact on a troop, a group of troops, a service unit, two or more service units, an association, two or more associations, or on Girl Scouts and/or adults throughout our council. If possible, include your best guess of the number of Girl Scouts/families/adult volunteers that were impacted.
·        Tell us a personal story about something the nominee did that impressed you.
·        What is your best guess as to the length of time the nominee has spent in this service?

How do you get the approved awards? The council level awards are provided by the council at no charge and are generally mailed to the award sponsor for an appropriate local presentation if they are not presented at the annual meeting. When local awards (Outstanding Leader, Jan Verhage Spirit of Leadership, Volunteer of Excellence, longevity 5-25) are approved by the Association Recognitions Committee, someone is designated to purchase the award from the Girl Scout Shop with a “Authorization to Purchase” form signed by the Association Recognitions Chair. The local awards are normally paid for by the SU – so it is important to account for this in your annual SU budget!

Where are awards presented? The most important consideration is that the presentation is meaningful to the recipient. Local awards (Outstanding Leader, Jan Verhage Spirit of Leadership, Volunteer of Excellence, and longevity 5-25) and the Appreciation Pin are presented at a local event – such as an association or SU appreciation celebration, an encampment, a SU meeting, or other appropriate event. Honor Pin and Nation’s Capital Pin can be presented at the council recognition event (annual meeting) or a local event. It is recommended that the Thanks Badge and Thanks Badge II be presented at the annual meeting because of the council-wide nature of this award, but in some cases, giving them at the association or service unit level may be appropriate. Because of the significance and unique council-wide impact the Capital Award and Knox Award, they must be presented at the annual meeting except in extraordinary circumstances.

Girl Scout volunteers in my area do not want to be recognized because they “do it for the girls”. Should I still nominate them? While volunteers do not serve with the expectation of receiving an award, they do appreciate appropriate recognition showing that their efforts are valued. When due recognition in the form of “official” awards or simple expressions of gratitude are given, Girl Scouts benefit from seeing “their” adults receive public approval from peers, and newer volunteers view fellow workers as respected role models.

Can I nominate myself for an award? You cannot nominate yourself for a service award. However, you may nominate yourself for a longevity pin – which recognizes your years of Girl Scout membership.

Is it good for my SU to keep a “schedule” of recognitions that active volunteers have received so that the “next” pin can be awarded when the required number of years are up? While keeping accurate and current records is a very good idea, awarding recognition should not be a “check-off” process. Simply serving in one or more positions for the prescribed number of years or even longer does not automatically warrant an award. Service must always be extraordinary, exceptional and above and beyond the expectations of the position held.

Are awards ranked and given “in order”? No, there is no hierarchy of awards, and awards may be requested in whatever order fits the focus and impact of a person’s service over a period of time. For example, a Thanks Badge recipient could receive an Honor Pin, or Outstanding Leader, or other official award later in his/her volunteer life.

Can awards be given posthumously? No, awards cannot be given posthumously.


Additional Questions?
Contact Mary Strauss at mstrauss@gscnc.org or 202-534-3776.