The Girl Scout Gold Award. You’ve heard of it, right? It’s the highest award a Girl Scout can earn and is the culmination of Girl Scouts’ time-tested, 100-year-old, world-renowned leadership program which has launched countless girls into a world of college, relationships, career paths, entrepreneurial endeavors, running for public office at the local, state, and federal levels, rocketing into space with NASA, designing robots for global companies…you get the picture!
The Gold Award gets girls ready for life. It’s not the shiny gold pin, or the certificate, or the congratulatory letter from the CEO. It’s the journey a girl takes on her way to Gold. It starts early with badges and sit-upons, camp and outdoors, cookies and travel. She might work through her Bronze Award with her troop, then move on to Silver, all bolstered by practicing with a few Journeys complete with Take Action projects along the way. She might volunteer at a local animal shelter, collect food and clothing with her troop or classmates to donate to disaster relief, or participate in a buckthorn pull at her local county park. These experiences get her interested in serving her community and help get her ready for the big one—her Gold Award project.
The Gold Award is steeped in tradition and integrity, dating back to the first years of the Girl Scout movement. Girls look at their community, find out what makes it tick, then coordinate their school, neighborhood, place of worship, trusted adults, and other Girl Scouts to dig out a real problem by its roots. It’s big stuff!
One of the biggest challenges for girls (and their parents/guardians and troop leaders!) can be that long list of requirements. We know! It’s hard! But as you help your girl work through the lengthy, seemingly endless, sometimes painful task of coming up with a great project and getting it approved, we hope you keep a few things in mind:
- The paperwork is a process she’ll come across again as an adult! Think college applications, job interviews, and term papers.
- All this money stuff, why is it so hard? Ok. It’s easy for a girl to set up a Kickstarter or Go-Fund-Me page, send it out to her family members, and raise a ton of money. Right? But we’re going for the learning experience (not to mention rules about non-profits, taxes, and how minors can raise money). When a girl has to put together a thoughtful presentation, contact the head of the local Lion’s Club, show up to an evening meeting in her full uniform and talk about how she’s going to make her community a better place in order to receive funding, doesn’t that sound like a great experience? Or having to build a relationship with a local hardware store owner in order to secure in-kind donations of lumber, paint, and perennials for the garden boxes she’s constructing. Doesn’t that sound like something she’ll remember down the line?
- Budgeting—we all know that’ll come in handy! Think credit cards, grocery bills, college loans, and first jobs in an accounting firm or non-profit.
- Timeline—most of us could use some practice when it comes to time management, and this is a great way for her to show off her hard work, dedication, and community involvement in a way she can look back on later.
- Concepts like active leadership, sustainability, and measurable impact are huge things for teenage girls to be thinking about! These are skills she’ll use again and again and are concepts that come up every day in the news, environment, politics, and her classes in school.
When people outside of Girl Scouts ask about the Gold Award, you can tell them proudly that it’s not just another award, it’s a giant leap that’s building girls into women who will lead the world with courage, confidence, and character.
Thank you for supporting your girls by being a cheerleader as they put into practice all the skills they’ve learned through their years in Girl Scouting! Although she’ll lead every step herself, as her troop leader, you can be her biggest fan and a member of her project team! Remember to keep it girl-led—wait for her direction to see how you can best be of assistance for her project.
Idelle Erickson – Idelle is the Camp and Program Services Coordinator at River Valleys, where she works with volunteers to help girls have great outdoor experiences. Idelle has a background in outdoor education and loves to spend her time hiking, canoeing, camping, and exploring Minnesota and Wisconsin’s beautiful city and state parks. Idelle’s other interests include music, cooking, travel, and her big fluffy cat, Marley!