National Appointment presented to Mike Wallace and Peter Buss at Hidden Valley, PA, October 2023Awards are a great way to recognize our patrollers for their outstanding performance and dedication. Yet, many patrols either don’t have an awards advisor or don’t submit awards because they find the award process daunting. Making these five mistakes is the biggest source of frustration to patrol awards advisors, especially new advisors.

1. Waiting until the last minute – The process of writing an NSP award application can be intimidating. It’s easy to put it off until the last minute. Awards have their busy seasons – fall refreshers, spring end-of-season events, and the end of February when the Outstanding awards are due. To be a successful award writer, you need time to prepare, research, and write the award application. The fall and winter are too busy. The best time to start is in the summer when fewer distractions exist. If you have a presentation date in mind, be sure to submit the award application at least 50 days before it’s needed. During the busy award season, it’s a good idea to allow even more time.

Tip: Step one should always be the re-reading of Chapter 12 — the Policies and Procedures (P&P) manual on the website to learn the rules and requirements for each award. Step two is to read about the Eastern Division Awards available on the Awards page of

2. Trying to do it all by yourself – The research needed to write a successful award application can be intimidating. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Ask your shift or team supervisors for background information about the nominee. A best friend or spouse can be a great source of information that will help the application stand out among the others. The Outstanding Awards require a lot of information. Recruit a team of 2 to 4 people to help you. Outstanding awards are due no later than March 1st, though some regions have earlier deadlines to allow for review and corrections.

3. Using an out-of-date form – Nothing will stop an award from moving up the line faster than using the wrong application form. Even if you wrote an award recently, always check to make sure you’ve got the most current version. Get the National award forms from the Documents page or get Division award forms from the Awards page every time.

4. Spelling errors – The second fastest thing to kill an award is poor writing and bad spelling. You don’t have to be Hemingway. Just put the facts into a story that’s interesting and compelling. The award application forms don’t have spell check. Nominations must be submitted in WORD format. Write your nomination, spell-check it, then copy and paste it into the form.

Tip: Before starting to fill in the nomination form, put the cursor behind the grey box and click the backspace button twice. This will remove the grey box and make it easier to return to make corrections.

5. Starting with the toughest award first – Everyone wants to go for the gold – Outstanding awards – first. Start with the easier stuff and learn the award process – Years of service, the Patroller Cross for an injured patroller, the Patriot Star for a patroller with military service, and the Patroller Achievement award. Then, move up to Merit Stars, which require more research and documentation.

Outstanding awards are the toughest to write and the least rewarding (pun intended.) We’re lucky to have so many great patrollers in the division. Your nominee could be great, but they are competing with many other wonderful people. I’ve been an award judge. Everyone looks good, so the judge makes the best decision he or she can. If your nominee doesn’t win, don’t be discouraged. Gather more information, rewrite the award, and try again next year.

Should you have any problems or questions, a good source of information is your region awards advisor. You can find a list of advisors and their contact information on the Eastern division website under Programs, Awards.