Most of us across these United States are familiar with the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America and have even been scouts ourselves. Similar to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout rank, the Gold Award is the highest award to which Girl Scouts aspire. And this past March, four female students from Alexander Hamilton High School in Morristown proudly earned the Girl Scouts Gold Award. The Gold Award winners were Anna Cliche, Nya Federoff, Christina Ledford, and Kylee Strasser. Presenting the awards were Dr. Betty Simmons, chairperson of the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, and Girl Scouts of America’s CEO, Betty Garger.
The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America are well-known organizations for young people – both voluntary and non-political – and are open to everyone, regardless of financial background, race, or religion. Being a scout means to take action and develop one’s own character to fully achieve intellectual, social, and physical potentiality, and to rise up to be the best one can be while learning to become a responsible citizen.
The Gold Award is the Girl Scouts’ top honor, and, like the Boy Scouts’ Eagle award, it is the most prestigious and most challenging award to earn. In fact, less than six percent of Girl Scouts receive the Gold Award each year.
“The Girl Scouts Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn and requires the completion of a leadership project of at least 80 hours. Each girl must discover an issue in the community, connect with experts and community members, and take action to effect positive change,” explained Girl Scouts public relations director, Lynn Apolinaro.
There are seven steps to earn the Gold Award which include identifying an issue: the scout picks a community issue that she cares about, investigating that issue thoroughly by using the scout’s sleuthing skills to learn everything possible about that issue, building a team to help and support the scout’s efforts and take action, creating a plan after identifying the root cause of that issue and use that plan to overcome the issue, presenting the plan and gather feedback, then submit the Project Proposal Form to your Girl Scout council for approval, taking action and lead the team to see it through and educating and inspiring others by sharing your story and its results.
The Zonta Club of Morristown, which plans service projects to benefit women and women’s issues, named Ms. Betty Simmons chairperson of the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, as well as its 2018 Woman of the Year. Ms. Simmons’ is also a member of the Morris County African American Wellness Coalition, the Morris County Human Relations Commission, and the Morristown Juvenile Conference Committee, to name just a few of her achievements. Ms. Simmons was also, of course, a Girl Scout herself.
“The Girl Scout Gold Award is an extraordinary honor earned by girls who take a look at their community and take action on a project that truly makes the world a better place,” Ms. Simmons explained.
To be a scout means to further your education and career, distinguish you on college admissions, help you to earn scholarships, enter the military one full rank higher than a non-scout, and of course, to gain valuable life skills. Being a scout also means you are seen as a role model with great leadership skills who can help make the world better by helping your own community. Furthermore, a scout uses her vision for change, both locally and globally, to strive for long-term, sustainable solutions to many of the world’s difficult issues.
Being a Gold Award Girl Scout means being part of an elite group of young women who work hard to find their own inner greatness and potential while sharing their passions with and helping their local communities.
“The memories you have, the friendships you have made, the trips you’ve taken, the skills you have learned, all these great experiences you’ve had in a girl-led program, with the support of your fantastic troop leaders! You have accomplished so much already in your lives – I am in awe. I look forward to hearing about all you will accomplish in the future,” Ms. Simmons said in her speech to the winners and all assembled.