The U.S. Congress presents this award to young people who set and achieve goals in the four program areas above. To earn the Award, you'll work with an adult advisor to set individual goals and plan activities to reach those goals. The Congressional Award is a way to get more involved in something you already enjoy or something you'd like to try for the first time. You move at your own pace - on your own or with friends.
To register for the Congressional Award, review this page and the page about each of the four activitiy areas. Then work with an adult advisor to complete the registration form (you can download that here, or off the main page, using Adobe Acrobat, which you can get free from the Adobe site:
Then a booklet will be sent to you, so you have all the information from this site in printed form for your reference. It also tells about the "Certificate" - which is kind of a "Congressional Award Lite" - which you can also earn, with less work than it takes for a medal.
So now, find an adult advisor, who will help you set up a person to help with each of the four areas (a "validator"). With your advisor, decide on your goals, and start filling out the record of your activities. (That's a .pdf file, too). When your goals are complete, you send in those record sheets and other stuff you've recorded (journal, pictures, logbook, or whatever) so you can recieve the award in a nice ceremony.
The advisor's job includes helping the young person discover appropriate activities, evaluating them to see that they meet the requirements of the CA program, and helping the young person find adult validators for each area. The advisor helps the young person select general areas of appropriate activities for each area, based on what will help the young person grow and develop, what is possible given finances and other parameters, what will serve the community at large, and so on. The activities should be challenging, "do-able," and result in increased awareness, capability or achievement on the part of the young person. The advisor may also be a validator for one area, but that is something we like to avoid. The advisor functions best when he or she is able to keep an even view of all activity areas, assisting the young person in maintaining focus and interest throughout the process.
For each activity a validator necessary - an adult who is knowledgeable about the particular activity. The validator doesn't have to be a recognized expert, but should be someone who understands the activity and can evaluate the young person's initial level of proficiency and evaluate his or her achievement as the young person works in the activity area.
Typically the advisor and the young person will have to explain the CA program to each validator. Validators help the young person define the goals closely, and while the young person is working to fulfill those goals, validators need to be aware of what the young person is setting out to accomplish, and how that is progressing. It is of course not necessary (or even desirable) to be intimately involved with or present for all the young person's work toward the particular goal. On the other hand, an occasional motivational "nudge" from the validator (perhaps a simple query: "How's it going?") can help the young person keep his or her focus. At the close of the activity the validator certifies its completion.
If you are in Idaho, Kansas or Wyoming, those states have Congressional Award Councils - you can get help from them. In any case, send your registration to the national office.