Canyon Crest Academy senior earns Congressional Gold Medal

Max Meinert, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy, was recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
(Samantha Dillon)

Max Meinert, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy, was recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for youth.

The Congressional Award honors young people who have achieved personal goals focused on volunteerism, character development and fitness. To earn the Gold Medal, candidates must rack up 400 hours of voluntary public service, 200 hours of personal development, 200 hours of physical fitness and complete an educational exploration over a two-year period. Max earned his gold medal through his experiences as an Eagle Scout, learning to golf, becoming an accomplished bass guitarist and learning about California history.

A Carmel Valley resident, Max is an Eagle Scout in Troop 766 in Rancho Santa Fe, serving as a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. Max made Eagle Scout when he was just 14 years old in 2019—for his Eagle Scout Service Project he constructed four benches for the Helen Woodward Animal Center. After earning Eagle Scout, Max spent lots of time as an active Arrowmen in the Order of the Arrow, a special part of Boy Scouts focused on cheerful service and camping.

To complete the 400 hours of voluntary public service, Max served as a “campmaster” at a local Boy Scout camp called Mataguay Scout Ranch in San Ysabel. During the 24 months and 580 hours spent as a campmaster, Max helped approximately 1,200 people have a safe and enjoyable time at the camp.

“I really enjoyed helping out the campers as well as teaching them important Scouting skills,” Max said. “It was also very interesting for my Scouting experience to come full circle in a sense. I had gone camping at Mataguay Scout Ranch as a Cub Scout and as a Boy Scout I attended their summer camp four years in a row. It felt very good knowing that I was giving back to the same camp which was an integral part of my life and Scouting career.”

Max Meinert played electric bass with the CCA rock band.
(Jon Meinert)

Learning to rock the electric bass was part of his 200 hours of personal development. Max already played the classical guitar but wanted to try something new—his goal was to become proficient on bass and play as part of a band in front of a live audience. He took lessons from Dean Smith at the American Music Exchange, practiced the bass at home and performed with the Canyon Crest Academy rock band.

To complete his physical fitness hours, Max learned how to play golf, taking lessons from Heather King at the Miramar Memorial Golf Course. He regularly practiced at the driving range and tested his skills at local golf courses with his friends. Over the 24 months and 228 hours, Max was able to improve his golf skills and has achieved a greater appreciation for the sport. He hopes to continue playing golf in the future.

To meet the gold medal level expedition qualifications, Max explored the history and culture of California and wrote up a report on all he discovered. He toured the California Surfing Museum in Oceanside, virtually explored Yosemite National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge, analyzed the movie “Milk” about American gay rights activist Harvey Milk and even learned how to make flour tortillas.

“I started playing guitar, and now bass, since I was nine years old, I started Scouting when I was six years old, and I started participating in athletics when I was just almost six. Three major areas that have been a part of my life seemingly forever all played a role in earning this congressional award,” Max said. “So this award really means more than just what I have done over the past two years, but also gives me a great sense of accomplishment for what I have been doing my entire life.”

At Canyon Crest Academy, Max carries a cumulative weighted GPA of 4.19. He is still awaiting college decisions and wants to study business with a concentration in marketing and entrepreneurship.

“I hope that my recognition for this award can inspire others to do something similar,” Max said.