When most people think of Girl Scouts, they probably only think of young, pigtail-wearing girls traveling door to door to sell their delicious Girl Scout cookies. While this is true, and a large part of the Girl Scout experience is selling cookies, what many people do not know is how much work Girl Scouts do for their community. No matter the age or rank of the scout, girls spend their years doing community service, helping other students and families, and teaching others how to be “friendly and helpful, considerate and caring,” as the Girl Scout Promise states.
When girls are just beginning middle school, they are able to start a personal project to help their community. If they meet the project guidelines and complete their projects, they can win three awards: the bronze award, the silver award, and the gold award. The bronze and silver awards can be started in fifth and sixth grade, but the gold award, the highest award that can be earned in Girl Scouts, cannot be started until high school. The gold award project, while in the end being rewarding for the scout and her community, is not an easy process. After coming up with a project that will help to deal with an issue in their area, a scout must complete 40+ hours of work on their project, plus writing up reports about the process. The whole project takes well over a year to plan and execute, and in the end, the Scout will earn her gold award. Not only do gold award winners have their own spotlight at an award ceremony to present their projects, but completing the project and earning the gold award also makes Scouts eligible for college scholarships.
Troop 40063, one of three troops in the Williamstown/North Adams/Lanesborough area, has been running for years. In fact, the troop is one of the largest groups of senior Girl Scouts in the Berkshires. The Senior is the highest rank in Girl Scouts, and in Troop 40063, one senior has just wrapped up her gold award project.
Lily Edge, a junior at Greylock, just finished her project last week on November 15th, when the Sweet Brook Residents Library was opened at the Sweet Brook Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Williamstown. Edge built this library for her project and for the residents of the center. Her mother, who works at Sweet Brook and was a Girls Guide in the U.K., was her inspiration. When asked about how she came up with her project, Edge answered, “I have done a lot of volunteer work at Sweet Brook and through this I had noticed that they didn’t have any library and I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience another world through books.” She worked with family and the staff at Sweet Brook to make the library, which is a homey space filled with a great variety of books, including audio books for residents who are blind or may not know how to read. Edge has also put in place a schedule for monthly reading sessions, where a volunteer will stop in and read to residents in the library. These sessions will help to sustain her project and keep it moving forward in the future.