I spend a considerable amount of my time leading three Girl Scout Troops. One of the biggest gifts that the program gives girls is the opportunity to lead, in ways that other organizations simply don’t. Since there are fundamental differences in the ways in which girls and boys interact with the world, I think that it’s important to have leadership programs that are aimed at both genders. It encourages them to step out of their comfort zones, and try new things.
As a leader, I take the opportunity to encourage girls to lead very seriously. This year, 8 girls in my Cadette troop earned their Girl Scout Silver Award. The silver award is the second highest award that girls can earn in Girl Scouts. It is the highest award that they can earn at the Cadette level. The highest award is the Gold Award, which can only be earned at the Senior and Ambassador levels. The silver award has a prerequisite of one Journey, that typically takes 3-6 months to complete. The silver award project is a minimum of 50 hours.
Each of these girls came up with a unique community service project that was also sustainable, after their involvement ended. My daughter built a platform at the Tiger Rescue for a bobcat named Maggie. Two girls made dresses for girls in Africa. They taught other girls to sew in the process, as well as educated them on the need for proper clothing in other parts of the world. One girl built a number of activities for Horse and Buddy. Yet another took up donations for RUFF- a local rescue organization, and set up semi-permanent donation bins that will be taken care of after her project is done. Each project is as unique as the girls themselves.
Each project taught the girl age-appropriate lessons about leadership, project planning, execution, and report writing. The Girl Scout Silver Award is also a pre-requisite to the Girl Scout Gold Award. I’m hoping that these girls decide to pursue the award as they enter high school. We try to break the projects up into small chunks so that the girls get the idea that they can achieve great things if they break them up and do a little bit at a time. You can eat an entire elephant one bite at a time. It’s all about encouraging girls to lead, encouraging girls to do great things. By giving them opportunities at an early age, they get to practice and hone those skills as they grow into adulthood.
It is a wonderful responsibility and opportunity. It’s one I thoroughly enjoy.