Edmonds scout youngest from non-male troop to earn prestigious outdoor achievement medal

Lily Johnson (Photos courtesy Doug Johnson)

Edmonds resident Lily Johnson has become the youngest scout from a non-male scout troop to be awarded the prestigious National Medal for Outdoor Achievement. A member of Seattle Scout Troop 681, Johnson completed 127 nights of camping, over 500 miles of hiking, 85 hours of conservation work, a wilderness first aid course, became a Leave No Trace level one instructor, earned four 50-miler awards and planned two outings for the scout troop – including one 50-mile backpacking trip. According to the Scouts BSA, this award is the “highest recognition” a scout can receive for exemplary achievement, experience and skill in the arenas of outdoor endeavors. 

“I always try to humble myself in thinking everyone gets this award, nobody gets this award!” Lily said. The 14-year-old, who uses they/them pronouns, believes this award highlights how much they love the outdoors. 

Lily has been a member of Scouts BSA for five years. They described that joining the scouts was “nerve racking” and pushed them out of their comfort zone, yet it has given them more than just an increased knowledge of outdoor-related pursuits. 

“You learn a bunch of new skills, you learn essential life skills too,” Lily said, “Leadership skills is one of the biggest ones out there, especially since our troop is very scout led.” 

Lily Johnson on the trail in pursuit of the Medal for Outdoor Achievement.

While in pursuit of this medal, Lily hiked a 650-mile Washington state section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with dad Doug Johnson. He described how he saw Lily’s confidence grow on trail, saying that at the beginning of their trip Lily was worried about completing 20 miles in a day and by the end it was just a normal day. 

“I’m just really proud of Lily,” he said. “I’ve had the chance to be there, we’ve been a team through some of these things, through the PCT hike we were a team the whole way. Having that kind of a shared experience with your child, that’s amazing.”

In May 2018, the Boy Scouts of America announced that both boys and girls would be allowed to join their ranks. This year, the organization’s name was officially changed from Boy Scouts of America to Scouting America to emphasize the group’s inclusion of girls. Johnson emphasized the positives the organization experienced because of this change. 

“It makes it more of a safe place, because then it’s a place where you can be safe to be who you are, it’s just safe in general,” Johnson said. 

The National Medal for Outdoor Achievement

The National Medal for Outdoor Achievement emphasizes leadership in scouting, highlighted by a requirement to plan an outdoor excursion for one’s troop. Lily planned a 50-mile backpacking trip along a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, one that Lily said increased their confidence in their leadership abilities. It also helped Lily in planning a future career. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher because I think it’s super cool to connect with kids, but I think it’s just made it stronger,” Lily said. 

Finishing their ninth-grade year at Meadowdale High School, Lily still has more than three years left in the scouts, yet has already earned one of the organization’s most prestigious awards. Johnson said he can’t wait to see what his child is able to accomplish in life after completing this at such a young age. Lily is currently a Life Scout, putting them one rank away from scouting’s highest honor — Eagle. Throughout the remainder of their scouting career, Lily hopes to complete more national outdoor awards in addition to becoming an Eagle Scout. 

Lily hopes to inspire other scouts.

“Once I get Eagle I want to just be a model for other scouts,” said Lily, who hopes to inspire other scouts to “do cool things.”

Lily isn’t going to let the outdoor adventures end when their scouting career is over. Lily plans  to complete America’s through-hiking Triple Crown, which includes completing the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide and the Appalachian Trail. The ambitious teenager hopes that throughout their life they can continue to see and protect the planet’s natural wonders and trails.

“These trails have given so much to me, I better give back to them,” Lily  said. 

— By Logan Bury

  1. We have since found out that Lily is the second to earn this award. However, Lily is certainly the youngest non-male to receive it. Thank you! Doug Johnson, Lily’s dad

    1. Congratulations to the 2 of you. With examples like you and Lily there are reasons to hope for a better future for the rest of US. Thank you.

  2. What a spectacular accomplishment for Lily! It takes incredible dedication to the outdoors and leadership to accomplish this feat. What a great example for other youth!

  3. As a mom of 2 Eagle Scouts, I congratulate you, Lily!! You are an inspiring role model to young women and men. It’s very comforting to see your dedication to the outdoor activities instead of screen time.
    Best wishes and continued success in your scouting path and your education.

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