Calvert Girl Scout troop's awards set gold standard
Thursday, July 8, 2010
The annual provisions of Thin Mints and Tagalongs probably should be enough to earn every Girl Scout a lifetime achievement award, but Girl Scouts set their own standards.
To earn the Gold Award -- the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of the USA -- Scouts must spend more than 135 hours on leadership work, career exploration and a community service project. Slightly more than 5 percent of eligible Girl Scouts received the award last year, according to the organization's Web site.
So it was with some distinction that June 26, Troop 3034 celebrated the Gold Awards received by all six of its members. The six girls, all of whom are 2010 high school graduates, including five from Northern High School, have been members of the troop since it formed in 2004. Each completed a Gold Award project in the past two years.
Each also crafted an acceptance speech for receiving the award. A common theme ran through each: They all strongly considered quitting the Girl Scouts at some point.
"Back in middle school, I seriously wanted to quit, because I thought Girl Scouts was lame and only for little girls," said Laura Belkofer, who received her award for "Everything Equine," a booklet geared toward new county residents with information on the barns, stables and tack shops in Calvert County. She plans to begin her pursuit of a mechanical engineering degree in the fall at the College of Southern Maryland.
Becky Aikman thought joining the Girl Scouts was really cool but, "I soon found out not everyone thought it was cool. But once people started telling me it was lame, I was already having too much fun," Aikman said.
Aikman won her award in November for her work with the Project ECHO homeless shelter in Prince Frederick. Her project, "Pocket Pillows," made 25 fleece pillows with book pockets for children at the shelter. She will major in business management at Towson University.
Tierney Guido was the first member of the troop to receive her Gold Award, in September 2008, for her project, "Sunshine Field," a three-day camp to teach children about exercise and healthy living. Guido, the captain of Northern's varsity girls' lacrosse team this past season, plans to attend Elon University and become an occupational therapist.
Mallory Clites also received her award in November. Clites, the co-captain of Northern's field hockey team, led a three-day camp for young players called "Golden League Field Hockey Camp." She has received an engineering scholarship to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Amanda Davidson and Sarah Turner, the two Huntingtown High School graduate in the troop, completed the sweep by earning their Gold Awards in March.
Davidson held a ceramics class, "Dynamic Ceramics," for middle school students; she will study architecture at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Turner's project, "Tiles for Smiles," had children paint ceramic tiles that were used as tabletops in "Ryan's Playroom" at Calvert Hospice. A volunteer at the hospice, Turner is planning to receive a nursing degree and will attend Anne Arundel Community College in the fall.
Whether through peer pressure from fellow Scouts, advice from parents or the encouragement of Troop Leader Lisa Belkofer, Laura's mother, each of the girls decided to stick with scouting, a decision for which each is thankful.
"It was challenging to get them all through, but I'm just so proud of them," said Lisa Belkofer, who decided to hold one large ceremony after the entire troop had earned its awards rather than six events.
Calvert County Commissioner Linda L. Kelley (R-At Large) and Sheriff Mike Evans (R), both frequent guests of Girl Scout and Boy Scout ceremonies, were on hand to commend the troop for its accomplishment.
Each Scout received a proclamation and county flag from Kelley and a plaque and sheriff's salute from Evans. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) sent certificates.
"I see the way young people come up in this community, and I don't ever worry about the future," Kelley said.