"Heroism" is defined as conduct exhibiting courage, daring, skill, and self-sacrifice.
"Skill" is defined as the ability to use one's knowledge effectively in execution or performance. Special attention is given to skills earned in Scouting.
Lifesaving awards may be presented with the evidence shows that the indiviudal saved or attempted to save life under circumstances that indicate heoism and risk of his or her own life. These awards are:
- Honor Medal With Crossed Palms. Has demonstrated unusual heroism and extraordinary skill or resourcefulness in saving or attempting to save life at extreme risk to self.
- Honor Medal. Has demonstrated unusual heroism and skill or resourcefulness in saving or attempting to save life at considerable risk to self.
- Heroism Award. Has demonstrated heroism and skill in averting serious injury or saving or attempting to save life at minimum risk to self.
The court will give consideration to resourcefulness and to demonstrated skill in rescue methods. In no case shall recognition be given where it appears that the risk involved was merely in the performance of duty or the meeting of an obligation because of responsibility to supervise and give leadership to the person or people whose lives were saved. It shall be wholly within the discretion of the National Court of Honor to determine from evidence presented which lifesaving award, if any, shall be made. Awards are issued in the name of the Boy Scouts of America.
Meritorious Action Awards
Meritorious Action Awards may be presented when the evidence shows that a significant or outstanding act of service of exceptional character was performed. The awards are:
- Medal of Merit. Has performed an act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.
- National Certificate of Merit. Has performed a significant act of service that is deserving of special national recognition.
The action taken need not involve attempts of rescue or risk to self but must put into practice Scouting skills and/or ideals. Recognition shall not be given where it appears that the action involved was merely in the performance of duty or the meeting of an obligation.
Any one desiring to make a recommendation for one of these awards should fill out the Recommendation for Lifesaving or Meritorious Action Award and submit it to the Council advancement Committee. The Council Advancement Committee will investigate the case, obtain additional information as necessary and make recommendations to the National Council based upon a full knowledge of the facts within 30 days of the receipt of the recommendation. Unless there are unusual circumstances that account for the time lapse, no application may be considered after a lapse of six months from the deed without a written explanation from the Scout executive or adviser to the council committee.
Separate applications are required if more than one member is being recommended for recognition. It is recommended that no case be forwarded to the National Court of Honor without the endorsement or statement of an eyewitness. All recognitions are reserved for registered members, and no such member should be encouraged to submit an application on his or her own behalf.
Caution is urged not to submit weak cases (in terms of meaningful action or documentation) to the National Court of Honor. Deliberations are conducted by the court, not only to recognize deserving individuals but also to preserve the historical integrity of the awards.
Note: If the situation is deserving of merit but does not qualify for a national award, the local council writes a letter conveying the recommendation of the committee. The Local Council Certificate of Merit is used for this purpose.