By: Allison B.

A Girl Scout award isn’t just a cool badge on a vest or sash, or getting to hang out with friends. It’s much more than that, especially when it comes to Silver and Gold awards. Most of us have already completed our Bronze award. Completing the Bronze award was one of the best feelings I bet you’ve ever had, but the Bronze award is at the bottom of the awards mountain. It’s just the woodsy terrain that covers the valley and base of it. But the Silver and Gold take you on a bigger climb up that mountain, with bigger challenges and experiences, more fun, more learning, and more community service. If you want to go forward and complete the wonderful and helpful tasks of Silver and Gold awards, you’ll first need to know the basics.
Our Council’s Girl Leadership Specialist, Brook Shelton, has these three important tips that all Girl Scouts starting their highest awards should follow:
1.   Be COMMITTED: Before you begin, make sure you investigate what is involved in completing the Silver or Gold Award. There will be many challenges along the way and before you begin, be committed to completing the project and rely on that whenever the going gets tough.
2.   Familiarize yourself with the process: Know the deadlines you will have to meet and allow yourself some “cushion” in case something happens to delay your original timeline. Girl Scout Cadettes have until September 30th of their 8th grade graduation to file paperwork.  Girl Scout Seniors/Ambassadors have until September 30th of their high school graduation year to complete final reports, but they should begin with a project proposal much earlier (like 2-3 years).  Know which forms and documents will be required and keep copies for yourself.  Do not assume the paperwork made it to the appropriate destination; ask for confirmation if you don’t hear from someone in an appropriate length of time (1-2 weeks). Understand each and every step and guideline to keep yourself on target.
3.   Develop a Quality Project:  One of the most important steps in the process is identifying a community need.  If you do a project that is fun for you, but will not help people in the community, you have not made an impact.  The point of Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards is to make a positive impact on the community.  So be adventurous and reach out to people in the community who are helping make a positive change and recruit them as your guides and teachers.  Ask them to help you identify needs and brainstorm possible solutions. You can incorporate your own interests to make it more fun for you; just remember to keep your project focused on making a community impact.
Visit these two pages from our Council’s website for more information on the awards to make sure you cover all your bases:

Sometimes it takes girls a long time to come up with ideas for their award project, so here are some ideas that girls that I know have done for their Silver Award:
     Kathryn, troop 3034, and her troop built a six-stable horse barn for the miniature horses at the Rescue the Horse Foundation in Cumming, GA.
     Abby, troop 1747, and her troop made a peace mural for a special needs horse farm and helped plant a big garden there.
     From Troop 3348, I’m going solo on my Silver award while the rest of my troop sews vests for dogs up for adoption. I am building a stone path on a community beach, so the older folks can get to the shore safely.
Here’s a website with more Silver Award ideas:

And sometimes, since you do it by yourself, it can be even harder to come up with ideas for the Gold award. Haley from troop 575 coordinated a blood drive.
Here’s a website with more Gold Award ideas:

         Now that you know the basics, and have some good ideas to help get you started, you can go out on your mountainous journey to change your community. The benefits from completing these awards are more than anyone could ask for. For both awards, you help the community, make friends, and change lives. As a bonus, when you’ve completed the Gold Award, you get to apply for wonderful college scholarships for the work you have done to help make for a better tomorrow for everyone. So go out there, make a team, and change the community. It’s more than just fun!!!

Girl Scout troop 1747 poses with their finished mural.

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