I am very proud of earning my Girl Scout Gold Award, but it almost didn’t happen. I hit many roadblocks during the process and I repeatedly questioned whether the award was worth it. Being on the other side of the project, having completed it, I believe that the process is worth all of the time and effort.
How I Chose My Project
A Girl Scout must complete a Journey before she is eligible for her Gold Award. Part of the Journey is completing a project related to your Journey’s topic. The other members of my troop and I completed the Mission: Sisterhood! Journey by making a book of one-page biographies of inspiring women. One of the women we included was Malala Yousafzai—an education activist.
Researching Malala led me to a greater awareness of just how lucky I was to go to good schools. I also realized how much of my school day was being wasted by students not answering a teacher’s questions. The lack of participation became particularly apparent to me in my seventh grade English class. I was the only person who regularly participated in class. I don’t particularly like talking in large group settings, but I try to speak up when no one else will. In this particular class, I ended up speaking a lot—to the point that the teacher would say “Tess cannot answer this question” and we would all sit in silence for a minute or two until one of my classmates worked up the nerve to answer.
My experience with my classmates made me realize that the lack of participation wasn’t usually the result of people not knowing the answers, not having an opinion on the topic, or not caring about school. People typically didn’t participate because they weren’t confident in their response, they thought excitement about school was socially unacceptable among our peers, or some combination of the two. So, I decided to start a book club for fifth and sixth-grade students with the purpose of giving them a space in which they could be excited about learning and gain confidence in their thoughts and opinions so they could bring these attitudes back to their classes.
The Day-to-Day Issues
I started holding the book club meetings during my junior year of high school. Though it had only been six years since I had been a fifth grader, I did a very poor job of remembering what I had learned in my reading classes by that point. I had been certain I had learned about imagery, symbolism, and metaphor, but when I tried to discuss the topics with the group of incredibly bright fifth graders, they had no idea what I was talking about. This realization forced me to think on my feet and change my plans not only for that day but also for the rest of the project.
Another big challenge I encountered was how much had changed at my middle school since I had left. When I attended, the only after-school club open to fifth graders was the student newspaper and all other activities took place in the evenings. When I started the book club, there were countless other organizations pulling for students’ time and I had to learn how to make the book club meetings something the students wanted to attend.
The Biggest Roadblock/Why My Mother is Amazing
The paperwork is ultimately what almost kept me from getting my Gold Award. I had completed my project and just needed to submit a final report for approval. The paperwork was over twenty pages long and was almost identical to the pre-approval paperwork I had submitted at the beginning of the project. The deadline for me to submit the paperwork was quickly approaching and I was still dragging my feet, so my mother kicked my butt into gear.
My mother was incredibly supportive during the entire process, but even more so in the final stages. She made me sit down and actually complete the paperwork. She helped me talk through my responses to make sure I was clearly communicating my ideas. I couldn’t have done it without her reminding me of how far I’d come and how close I was to the finish line. While I did the work on my Gold Award, I wouldn’t have gotten through the project without my wonderful advisors and support system, especially my mother.