In addition to rank advancement and merit badges, Scouting recognizes achievements, skills, leadership, and service by both youths and adults through a variety of special awards. Recognition has been a fundamental part of Scouting from its beginning and serves not only to celebrate commitment and achievement but also to inspire others to strive for success.

Nova Awards

The Nova awards recognize accomplishments in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). There are four Nova awards for Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Scouts BSA, and Venturers. Each award covers one component of STEM—science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. For their first Nova award, Scouts earn the distinctive Nova award patch. The next three awards are each recognized with a separate pi (π) pin-on device that attaches to the patch.

Beyond the Nova awards, Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, and Venturers are eligible to work on the more rigorous Supernova awards, which recognize more advanced work in STEM and recognized by a medal and a certificate.

Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts have one Supernova award each. Scouts BSA can work toward two: The Dr. Bernard Harris Supernova Bronze Award and the Thomas Edison Supernova Silver Award. Venturers have three available: the Dr. Sally Ride Supernova Bronze Award, the Wright Brothers Supernova Silver Award, and the Dr. Albert Einstein Supernova Gold Award.

International Awards

Several uniform insignia and awards are available to show a Scout’s involvement in the world Scouting movement: An emblem of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, the World Crest may be worn by all registered youth members and adult leaders as a symbol of their membership in a worldwide Scouting brotherhood.

Scouts are eligible to receive the World Conservation Award after completing the requirements for the following merit badges: Environmental Science, Citizenship in the World, and either Soil and Water Conservation or Fish and Wildlife Management.

For youth and adult leaders, the International Spirit Award seeks to broaden knowledge of international Scouting and increase appreciation and awareness of different cultures and countries. Requirements include earning the World Conservation Award, participating in Jamboree-on-the-Air or Jamboree-on-the-Internet events, raising funds for the World Friendship Fund, and seeking a number experiences to learning about Scouting in other countries.

The International Scouter’s Award encourages Scouters to broaden their involvement in Scouting through participation in world Scouting activities and recognizes Scouters for their contributions to world Scouting.

The interpreter strip recognizes Scouts who are able to carry on a conversation in a foreign language or in sign language, write a letter in the foreign language (not required for signing), and translate orally and in writing from one language to another.

Silver Beaver Award

Introduced in 1931, The Silver Beaver recognizes distinguished service to a BSA council by registered Scouters who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self-sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service. It is given to those who do not seek it.

To nominate an extraordinary Scouter within the Great Smoky Mountain Council, please complete a nomination form and mail, email, or deliver it to the council service center.

Religious Emblems

To encourage members to grow stronger in their faith, many religious groups have developed religious emblems programs. The Boy Scouts of America has approved these programs and allows the emblems to be worn on the official uniform. The various religious groups administer the programs and set requirements for study and service, completed under the guidance of a counselor. Contact the council service center or check the contact list at for additional information.

National Outdoor Awards

The National Outdoor Awards program recognizes Scouts BSA and Venturers who are tough and disciplined enough to hike or ride the miles, camp the nights, run the rivers or lakes, or do the work to conserve the land. This series of six badges can be earned by Scouts and Venturers who demonstrate exemplary knowledge and experience in high-level outdoor activities in the areas of camping, aquatics, conservation, hiking, riding, or adventure.

Beyond these six segments, the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement is the highest recognition that a Scout BSA or Venturer can earn for exemplary achievement, experience, and skill in multiple areas of outdoor endeavor.

Mile Swim

A tradition at Scout summer camps, the Mile Swim is a challenge that takes many Scouts several attempts to complete. The award requires not only swimming a measured mile without interruption but also participating in training and learning about the health benefits of swimming as exercise. The Mile Swim badge is worn on swim trunks rather than the official uniforms.