In the 11 years I’ve been a Girl Scout leader, the question I get asked the most, aside from “Do you have any Thin Mints?” is, “Do Girl Scouts have anything like the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Award?” Although it’s unfortunate that so many people are unaware, this question gives me the chance to talk about the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in the Girl Scouts. Our Gold Award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through community service projects that have a sustainable impact on our community and beyond.
Originally called The Golden Eaglet, this award has been a part of the Girl Scouts since 1916; more than 1 million young women have earned the award. To execute a Gold Award project, a girl must first identify a local issue that she feels passionately about, one she wishes to be positively affected by her program. She must identify the root cause of the issue and create a plan to address it. While working on her project, she also must educate people about the issue and inspire them to get involved. Finally, her project must be sustainable, continuing once her efforts are complete.
Just like the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Award, the Gold Award often plays a critical role in the college acceptance and scholarship process. Girls can enter the armed forces one rank higher than other recruits, and recipients usually have higher success rates when applying for jobs.
In 2017, three Cherokee County girls were among 93 in the Greater Atlanta area to earn a Gold Award. Olivia D. created the exCHANGE Club at Cherokee High School, which bridged the communication gap between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking students. Alayna D. traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to help administer free vision screenings to 350 students at Machakos High School, resulting in 87 children receiving free prescription eyeglasses. Claire C. coordinated and performed classical musical concerts at nine assisted-living facilities in Cherokee County. For their efforts, Olivia received a $7,000 college scholarship and Claire was given the Council Young Women of Distinction Award by Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta.
This summer, two Cherokee High School seniors will work toward their Gold Awards. Emily H. will create a lesson plan for Cherokee High School photography classes that will teach the students portrait-taking techniques. These new skills will be used by the students to provide senior photo services to fellow students in need. Maddie A. will create a video program to educate parents of school-aged children about head lice prevention and what to do if their children get lice. She also wants to provide every elementary and middle school nurse in Cherokee County with a lice-prevention kit.
In 2019, three juniors currently at Woodstock High will be ready to complete their projects. Catherine W. will create a lending closet of formal band attire for the school. Lilli G’s goal is to educate middle-school students about the advantages and benefits of choosing JROTC as a high school elective, while dispelling the myth that being in the JROTC means a military commitment after graduation. Alyssa S. plans to work with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to create a support system for families of children going through cancer treatment.
The Girl Scouts mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place – and our local Gold Award Girl Scouts truly exemplify this goal. They see a problem and then do their part to make a change, while encouraging others to take action. We all benefit from their efforts. With less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earning this award nationally, Cherokee County is definitely a great place to strike Gold.
For more information about Girl Scouts, visit www.girlscouts.org.
– Gloria Avillar