Making the world a better place? That’s a job for a Girl Scout. When girls go for the Silver Award—the highest award Cadettes can earn—they get the opportunity to use their leadership skills to create change in their communities. With the help of their troop leader or trusted adult, they’ll identify an issue in their community, explore why it’s happening, and work to effectively address the problem in a sustainable way. Here are four tips to help guide your girls through the Silver Award journey and get their project approved with ease.
Choosing an Issue
The first and most important step to any Highest Award project is choosing an issue to focus on. Ensuring that your girls feel invested and interested in their project is going to make it a more enjoyable experience for all! Sit down with your girls and think about some problems that they have seen in their community. It could be an issue that takes place in their school, the outdoors, or something they notice in the public.
Some girls might declare, “We want to make blankets for children in the hospital!” but help your girls take a step back to see the bigger picture first. Make a list of the possible reasons this issue might be occurring. Identifying the “why” to a community issue is called the root cause—it’s what the girls will work towards finding a solution for. Do the girls have an issue in mind but aren’t quite sure why it could be occurring? This is a great time to help them reach out to a professional expert in the area they want to focus on to get some more insight.
Go Beyond Community Service
As much as we love to see girls show excitement about building a little free library or making toys for animals at the shelter, the Silver Award aims to challenge girls to look at these issues with a deeper lens. The work girls do for their Silver Award should extend beyond fulfilling the immediate needs of a community and instead focus on how to make a lasting impact. If girls are concerned about literacy rates, what is something they can do to directly support it? Could they start a book club or after-school tutoring group? If they are concerned about the number of animals that end up in shelters, how can they educate their community on pet adoption or the importance of spaying or neutering pets? Could it be an annual event they put on with a local shelter? Community service is wonderful and can be incorporated into a project, but help your girls see the bigger problems that need to be tackled!
It might not seem like it, but you and your girls will save yourselves a lot of work by making sure they’re submitting the correct proposal paperwork. Although girls may be working as a team, each girl needs to respond to the reflection questions in her own words and get the appropriate signatures from her adviser and parent or guardian.
Read. Read. Read.
I can’t stress how helpful it is to go through the guidelines with your girls. To ensure a speedy approval, it’s critical for girls to have a firm understanding of the criteria before submitting their proposal. For example, prerequisites are required before turning in a Silver Award proposal. Girls should complete a Cadette Journey and Take Action project and attend an in-person workshop or watch the online training video no more than six months prior to submitting their proposal. Did you know there are several brainstorming sheets found throughout the Silver Award Guidelines? Make it an interactive experience and have them fill it out together as they work through their ideas!
Each Silver Award is going to be a different experience. Whether girls plan on teaming up or working as individuals, and whether they chose to focus on a topic surrounding the environment or mental health, each award project has the potential to make a long-lasting impact on their community. Although the Silver Award journey isn’t always easy, be there to support your girls when they face challenges or have frustrations. Help them brainstorm if something isn’t working out or they hit a wall. Be their cheerleader and assure them that they can carry out their project as long as they feel committed to it! When in doubt, reach out to us with your questions. We want your girls to have a fun experience as much as you do!
Cara Johnson – Cara is a Program Coordinator at Girl Scouts River Valleys, where she supports girls working on their Highest Awards. She earned her B.A. in Communication Studies from Hamline University. In her free time, she loves watching movies, traveling, and trying out new Pinterest recipes.