The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Seniors and Ambassadors work towards earning their Gold Award by taking on issues they feel passionate about and making a difference in their community. Not only is earning the Gold Award an amazing achievement on its own, but it can also open up doors for those who earn it, through scholarships, college and career opportunities, and more. The Gold Award year runs a little differently than our typical Girl Scout year, and our most recent Gold Award earners are in the class of 2021. The most recent Gold Award year ran from April 2020 to April 2021, and we are so excited to celebrate with the class of 2021 virtually this May.
We have had so many amazing Girl Scouts earn their Gold Award in our council. This year alone we have 58 Gold Award Girl Scouts throughout GSHPA! In reflection, and as a fun way to share some Gold Award experiences, I connected with a few council staff members to ask them about their Gold Award projects. Caroline Jaeger, our Product Program Outreach Specialist, earned her Gold Award in 2013, and Gina Naticchi, Volunteer Support Coordinator in the Scranton area earned hers in 2003, and both were kind enough to tell me about their experiences!
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your Gold Award project?
Caroline: My Gold Award project was titled Laxin’ Legacy. I played lacrosse from a very young age and knew I’d be going on to play in college when I was thinking about what my project would be. I knew I wanted to combine my passions and decided to have lacrosse be incorporated into my Gold Award. I arranged a mentorship program between the high school girls lacrosse team and the local rec team. Once per week during the spring season, myself and a group of high school girls from the lacrosse team would go over to the rec team’s practice to coach/run their practice. During this time we would do two things: 1) teach an advanced lacrosse skill to help them for when they reached high school tryouts, and 2) sit down and have a conversation about what to expect when you get to high school – not just athletically, but socially and academically – and answer their questions to prepare them for a successful and easy transition to high school. At the end of the season, I gave them a manual of everything we coached them on, and the high school team continued to run this program after I graduated.
Gina: I put on a huge flag retirement ceremony in my town. There had never been a flag retirement held in my town before and I felt that with all the buildings that had flags outside, it was a great idea to hold one so businesses had a way to properly dispose of old flags. I ended up contacting and collecting old flags from businesses and set up collection boxes all around town for people to drop off old flags. I then planned an entire ceremony that involved several local organizations, including Girl Scout troops, Boy Scout troops, fire departments, American Legions, VFW’s and local politicians.
2. What is something you learned from your project that has stuck with you into adulthood?
Caroline: When you combine your passions in life with whatever you are working on or working toward, you will have success and you will enjoy the journey. This was true when combining my love of lacrosse with my Girl Scout Gold Award, and it is true now with having a career in an organization that I am passionate about.
Gina: One thing I learned is how quickly the community was willingly to help me. I specifically remember I was hoping to get a local priest or pastor to do a small prayer at the start of the flag retirement ceremony. I called a local church that I wasn’t a member of, to see if they would be willing to do the prayer at the ceremony, and the church immediately said yes. At the time, I figured since I had no connections and wasn’t a member of the local church, they would say no. The fact that the church went out of their way to help me, really showed how my town was willing to help each other out when asked. It’s such a small detail, but clearly it means something to me when I remember it from almost 20 years later.
3. What skills did you learn from earning your Gold Award that help you today?
Caroline: There were so many skills that I learned and grew during my Gold Award that help me today, and most of them are centered around leadership. Some of these skills include planning, public speaking, and time-management. The skill of leading my peers was a significant one. At the high school age it is easy to be a follower or just hide in the crowd. Doing my project forced me to rally my peers – my teammates – to help me out and get them just as excited about this impactful project as I was.
Gina: Leadership, communication, and organizational skills. It doesn’t sound like it would be a lot of effort, but putting on a successful flag retirement ceremony took a lot of time and work. At the time, I had only been to a few flag retirement ceremonies, and I would go, help put old flags in a fire and would leave. Because I wanted my project to involve the entire community I spent a lot of time reaching out to businesses about collecting flags. I also spent a lot of time planning the actual ceremony itself because I wanted to make sure that I involved local organizations as speakers. Even something as simple as finding a location was difficult because I had to make sure the area was large enough for the ceremony but I also needed to make sure that the fire dept had easy access in case something happened.
4. In your opinion, why should girls want to earn their Gold Award?
Caroline: Girls should be driven to earn their Gold Award because it gives them an opportunity to make an impact on this world in a way that they decide, and it sets them up with a foundation for success at such a pivotal time in their life.
Gina: Girls should want to earn their Gold Award because it’s the highest achievement you can earn in Girl Scouts. I love knowing that I started Girl Scouts when I was in Kindergarten and continued it through High School and was able to earn the highest award. Very few girls earn their Gold Award and I love being part of the elite club of Gold Award recipients. It also feels so good knowing I did a successful project that helped my community. Participating in product program, going camping and earning badges is a huge part of Girl Scouts, but helping the community was always my favorite part.
Earning a Gold Award takes a lot of time, hard work and passion. I think the best way to see that passion first hand is to take the time to talk to a Gold Award Girl Scout near you! You can also view our Class of 2020 and learn about their projects at the bottom of our Gold Award website page. Keep an eye out for the Class of 2021 coming soon! Have you earned your Gold Award? Let us know in the comments!