Eligibility Guidelines

Girls and boys in grades 1-12 associated with Protestant and Independent Christian Churches are eligible to participate in the P.R.A.Y. program series. Students are required to have original workbooks and present their work to the pastor for final approval. The program must be completed under the auspices of the church.

  • All youth – even if they do not belong to a scouting group – are eligible. This means that Sunday school children and youth group members may earn this award.
  • Grade guidelines – please adhere to the grade guidelines for each level. Children are to jump in at their appropriate grade level and not go backwards to earn younger awards.

    God and Me – Grades 1-3
    God and Family – Grades 4-6
    God and Church – Grades 6-8
    God and Life – Grades 9-12
     
  • Final review by clergy – Children and families do not have to have official membership in a church to be eligible to earn a P.R.A.Y. award, but they do have to present their work to clergy and get it signed off. This final review is not done by parents or scout leaders or counselors, but by clergy.
  • Children are required to have original workbooks. The curriculum is copyrighted. Please do not copy the workbooks. All candidates must complete the core requirements outlined in the booklets.
  • Register All Recipients – Students who successfully complete the P.R.A.Y. program must register with P.R.A.Y. even if they do not want to purchase an award. Students must register after EACH program they complete. Registration may be completed through the P.R.A.Y. online store or by mailing in the application/order form.
  • Four Star Award – Young people who have earned the P.R.A.Y. awards in the correct order while in the appropriate grade (as evidenced by the P.R.A.Y. database) are eligible for the Four Star Award.
  • No Child Left Behind – Families do not have to wait for a church to offer a P.R.A.Y. class. The P.R.A.Y. program can be done at home. Be sure to talk to the pastor ahead of time because the final review will have to be done by the pastor.
  • The P.R.A.Y. awards have been approved for wear on the official uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and American Heritage Girls.

The Role of the Pastor

Pastors are often “caught off guard” when Scouts approach them about earning their religious award. Sometimes a pastor doesn’t know about the P.R.A.Y. program until a Scout wants to earn it. What is the role of the pastor in the P.R.A.Y. series? Is the pastor automatically the counselor? What are realistic expectations for the pastor when setting up the program? What options do pastors have?

What is the pastor required to do?

The P.R.A.Y. program requires pastors to oversee the program and conduct a final review with the participants. As a church program, the P.R.A.Y. program requires the signature of the pastor – not the parent, unit leader, or instructor. This is to ensure that candidates complete the P.R.A.Y. program under the auspices of the church and meet with the pastor in order for them to receive their church badge.

What do most pastors do?

Most pastors choose to get more involved than just interviewing the children at the end of the program. There is a wide range of involvement by pastors, but it basically boils down to whether pastors prefer that the young people work individually at home with their parents or whether the young people attend a P.R.A.Y. program class at church.

How are pastors involved when the candidate works at home to complete the requirements?

Pastors typically meet with the family prior to starting the curriculum. They walk through the requirements, explain their expectations, make suggestions, and set deadlines. Depending on their preference (or depending on the family and their church background), pastors may require candidates to meet with them after every section, but many just require a mid-point check up or a final review at the end of the program. In this type of set up, the time with the pastor is not so much instruction, as it is discussion and reviewing the candidate’s work. Regardless of how many (or how few) meeting times, families have appreciated this one-on-one time with the pastor and the personal investment in their child’s faith development.

How are pastors involved when the church offers a P.R.A.Y. program class for young people?

Sometimes pastors have taught the class themselves. This is most often the case with small classes or when an established group (such as a Brownie Troop or Cub Scout Den) approaches their pastor. With the God and Church program for grades 6-8, some pastors have incorporated the curriculum into their confirmation classes so that all confirmants are eligible to receive the award.

When a church sponsors more than one P.R.A.Y. class (either they offer more than one level or their enrollment is so big that they have multiple classes at each level), the pastor most often approves a coordinator who handles the scheduling, supplies, adult volunteers, paperwork, etc. The pastor can then choose the level of involvement, which can range from visiting different classes, teaching a session, or attending the “party” at the end of the program. The very least that the pastor would have to do is conduct the final review at the end of the program and get to know the children and connect with them in this way.

How do pastors conduct the final review?

Some pastors interview each child. Others do the final review in a group setting with the entire class. The purpose of the final review is not to quiz or “stump” the children, but to dialogue with them and help them express what they have learned. The final review is not a “test” but rather an opportunity for the child to get to know the pastor and have a conversation on faith issues at the child’s level.

How do pastors know what to ask during the final review?

If the pastor hasn’t been involved in teaching the children, there are sample questions for the final review available on line. The pastor should ask the counselor/teacher if there are any particular lessons or insights that should be brought up during the review. 

How can pastors build a P.R.A.Y. ministry or Scouting ministry in their church?

The pastor is a key person in interpreting the Scouting program as “ministry,” but the entire congregation – from the church council to the building committee to the newsletter publisher to the outreach committee – must embrace this concept. Click here to read how all the components of the church are involved in a Scouting ministry.

The Role of the Counselor

The Counselor is the person who “teaches” the P.R.A.Y. curriculum. This person should be an active member of a Christian congregation and willing to give of time and self to help young people grow in Christian faith. Resources and curriculum cannot replace the impact that a dedicated adult Christian can have on the lives of young people.

Expectations of the Counselor:

  1. You have been appointed / approved by the pastor to teach a P.R.A.Y. Program.
  2. You will read and study the Counselor Manual to prepare to teach the program.
  3. You will view the teaching video in the Resource Library for your specific program.
  4. You will abide by the child protection guidelines outlined by your church and/or scouting program.
  5. If your class will be open to youth from different churches, you will not bypass the child’s own congregation, but send a letter home with the children to give to their pastors and thus seek to strengthen the child’s connection to his or her own congregation
  6. If your class will be open to scouts in the community, understand the potential of the P.R.A.Y. program for evangelism and make preparations for any unchurched youth in your class and help them connect to your congregation.
  7. If you incorporate the mentor curriculum into your program, you will work with parent mentors to strengthen their relationship with their own children.
  8. You will arrange for the pastor to do the final review with the young people.

The Adult Mentor Program

Parents have the option of enrolling in the Adult Mentor Program. In this program, the parent is an active learning participant alongside the child. The parent would have lessons and projects to complete in the Mentor Workbook just like the child, and then both parent and child would work on the student curriculum together. The mentor program is designed to provide the adult/parent with additional opportunities to model his or her Christian faith and to help a young child talk about his or her belief in God.

What is the difference between a "counselor" and a "mentor?"

The counselor is the pastor (or other adult assigned by the pastor). The counselor serves as an instructor who gives assignments to the young people, and it is the young people who do all the work.

Mentors are parents who have chosen to work alongside their children on the P.R.A.Y. curriculum. Mentors are active learning participants (students) with lessons to complete in their own workbooks just like their children. Both mentors and children work under the supervision of the pastor or counselor.

What are the Adult Mentor Workbooks like?

The Adult Mentor Workbooks are designed to help parents focus on their faith and their relationship to their children. The lessons are patterned after the student curriculum so that the parents are studying the same topics and scripture as their children, but at an adult level. For example, in the God and Me program, when the children read the story in the Bible about Jesus blessing the children, they will talk about how they are important to Jesus and how they are loved by him. Their parents, on the other hand, may discuss other questions: Have you ever acted like the disciples? When has “important” work kept you away from your children? What can you do to bring your children closer to Christ? Children will understand how important it is to grow in faith when they see their parents doing their “homework” (reading the Bible and answering questions).

How do you incorporate the Adult Mentor component into a program?

Parents need to complete their work in the Adult Mentor Workbook prior to working with their children. After completing their own lesson, parents will then focus on helping their children complete their work in the Student Workbook.

Churches that offer P.R.A.Y. programs for children can encourage parents to serve as mentors. Parents are encouraged to attend classes with their children. At some point in the class, parents will meet separately to discuss the lessons in the Adult Mentor Workbook and share their thoughts with other parents.

Can parents serve as both "counselors" and "mentors?"

Yes, parents can “wear two hats” and serve as counselors and mentors. When the pastor asks the parents to work on the program with their children at home, the parents are in essence serving as counselors, i.e. they are “teaching” their children and helping them be successful in completing the requirements. At the same time, they can also choose to be “mentors.” Being a mentor is an entirely different role. A mentor has to answer questions and complete the requirements in the Adult Mentor Workbook. Parents who choose to participate in the Adult Mentor program are challenged to model their faith and share their faith with their children. They are showing their children that it is important even as an adult to always seek to grow in faith.

Can the adult mentor pin be worn on the adult uniform?

It depends on the youth agency. GSUSA and Camp Fire USA allow the pin to be worn on the uniform, but BSA does not (BSA permits the patch to be worn as a temporary patch, but not the pin).

Does the Adult Mentor Program qualify an adult to receive the BSA universal religious square knot?

No. The only way that an adult can receive the square knot is to be nominated for one of the national adult recognitions.

What is the difference between the adult mentor pin and a national adult recognition?

The mentor pin may be worn by parents who have successfully completed the Adult Mentor Program. This is a program for parents to work on while they lead their children through the P.R.A.Y. Series. There is an adult workbook that must be completed.

The Adult Recognition Awards are by nomination only (they are not work/study programs like the youth awards). These are honors given to worthy adults for their outstanding service to youth through both their church and one of the national youth agencies. Most of the awards require a minimum number of years of service. Recipients of these awards are unaware that they are being nominated: an outside party must nominate them to receive an award by submitting the required application, letters of recommendation and resume. Please check on specific eligibility requirements by visiting adult-nominations and clicking on the appropriate adult brochure/nomination form.

Setting Up a Class

There are numerous settings in which the P.R.A.Y. program may be completed. You may be working with one child or with twenty, or you may be conducting a class for one or more mentor pairs. Your class may be made up of youth from one denomination or many. You may be meeting once or twice a week or only once a month. It is impossible to provide a separate counselor guide for each situation, and we would not want to suggest only one format in which the program could be completed. Please modify and adapt the program for your specific needs and situation.

Regardless of how you set up your class, please note that the P.R.A.Y. program requires that the final review be done by a pastor.

Here are some basic steps and items for your consideration to help you set up a class. Keep in mind that if you have been approached by a specific group, such as a Cub Scout, Girl Scout, or AHG group,some of the following steps may already be decided and may not be applicable in your situation.

  • Review the eligibility requirements. Please note that the final review must be done by a pastor (not a parent or scout leader).
  • Decide which program(s) you will offer. If this is your first time to offer the P.R.A.Y. program, it may be a good idea to start with just one or two programs the first year and expand it from there. Some congregations alternate the programs, i.e. one year they offer God and Me, and the next year they offer God and Family. Take into consideration the number of potential youth and the number of adult volunteers needed to run such a program. It is a good idea to start small. A quality program will grow quickly just by word of mouth.
  • Choose the dates. The number of class sessions will depend on the program that you are offering. Sample schedules are in each Counselor Manual. They are also available online. These schedules consist of an introductory session and one meeting for each lesson. Please feel free to modify these schedules to fit your particular situation. Do not overlook other important dates: teacher training, registration deadline, final review with the pastor, a party (optional), and the award ceremony.
  • Consider whom you will invite to participate in your class. Will it involve only youth from Boy Scouts of America? Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.? American Heritage Girls? Will it be open to all youth from your church? Your community? Other denominations? Review eligibility requirements.
  • Publicize your class. Find out the deadlines to submit articles for your church newsletter, your local council newsletter, or other appropriate publications. Be sure you make these deadlines.Find sample articles and church bulletin inserts in the online Resource Library.
  • Make a budget. Your budget will need to include the costs of booklets (each child is required to have a Student Workbook), awards, and supplies. Some churches charge a fee to cover all these costs. Others find a sponsor (such as a men’s or women’s group) or require each family to purchase the book and awards on their own. (In some cases, the Cub Scout Pack or Girl Scout Troop for example will pay for the cost of the award for their members.) Decide what is best for your situation and plan accordingly. Visit the Webstore for current costs.
  • Recruit and train adult counselors/teachers. Find someone who will be in charge of teaching the curriculum and/or coordinating the teachers (depending on the size of your program), and someone who will serve as a registrar (to process the paperwork, follow through with parents, etc.). Although you will undoubtedly be able to recruit parents to assist with the lessons, please do not wait to find your core teacher and your registrar.
  • Review lesson plans in Counselor Manuals and make a Class Schedule with Assignments. The Counselor Manuals for each level contain lesson plans. Review these lesson plans and decide what will be done in class and what will be assigned to be completed at home. Indicate these assignments on the Class Schedule/Assignment sheet for distribution to students. A sample schedule sheet is provided in the back of each of the Counselor Manuals and also on the P.R.A.Y. web site.
  • Review the supply list and gather materials. The lesson plans in the Counselor Manuals include supply lists. Review these lesson plans and the corresponding supply lists and start gathering some of the materials (e.g. pizza boxes, cardboard circles, etc.).
  • Consider if you will offer the Adult Mentor component. Parents have the option of enrolling as Mentors and working side by side their children in the program. The mentor completes the Mentor Workbook and attends meetings with the student. If you will be working with one or more mentor pairs, you will need to become familiar with the material in the Mentor Workbooks. You may also want to build time into your schedule to allow mentors to meet together to discuss the questions raised in their workbooks.
  • Order booklets. If your local Scout Shop does not carry the P.R.A.Y. booklets, you can order booklets directly from P.R.A.Y. Please allow enough time for delivery via media mail through the post office.
  • Order the recognitions and plan an award ceremony. After the candidates have completed the requirements and a pastor has reviewed their work, it is time to order their awards and plan the presentation ceremony. Visit www.praypub.org for current prices and online ordering (or the Application Order Form found in the back of the P.R.A.Y. booklets may be submitted by mail or fax).

Independent Study vs. Class Setting

The age old debate about the P.R.A.Y. program is whether or not to require individual instruction with the pastor/counselor, or to teach it in a classroom setting to a large group of children. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it. Here are some thoughts on this issue.

There is no better motivation for a young person than having the pastor personally involved in teaching the P.R.A.Y. programs on an individual basis. The P.R.A.Y. program will have the biggest impact in this independent study setting. At the younger levels, individual instruction can also make for great family ministry. Children will complete the bulk of the curriculum at home with the help of the parents, and then bring their work to the pastor for review. Parents welcome the opportunity to share their faith with their children and are often surprised by their children’s eagerness to learn more about God. In larger congregations, this individual approach may not be feasible. It is very time consuming and can limit the number of youth a pastor can teach. Scheduling can be an issue.

Offering structured classes requires more organization and adult volunteers. It requires lesson plans, craft supplies, and a 4 to 6 week time commitment for the younger levels and an 8 to 12 week time commitment for the older programs. But it also has the potential of attracting more youth and becoming an outreach ministry to Scouts in the community.  Structured classes do not necessarily eliminate parental involvement in the program. Pastors can choose to require parents to attend, and even require parents to complete the Adult Mentor curriculum. Some families need this type of structure in order to complete the program. A larger group setting also allows for greater synergy and peer learning and sharing.

Choosing to take the children through the program individually or offering structured classes depends on your individual situation. A pastor or congregation does not have to be pigeonholed into doing the P.R.A.Y. program one particular way. The P.R.A.Y. program is flexible and offers a myriad of choices to fit your circumstances and needs.