Only a fraction of nationally eligible Girl Scouts earn the organization’s highest honour: the gold award badge.
It’s no surprise, then, that 16-year-old Natalie Fox only knows of a local Girl Scout or two who had completed a gold medal project, centered on meeting a community need.
When she joined the organization’s elite company last year and won a gold badge for her ‘A Love for Literacy’ project, she wanted the chance to share her work with young Girl Scouts and to be someone they could emulate.
Girl Scouts of Frederick County celebrated the 110th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts of the USA on Sunday at the Francis Scott Key Mall. With nearly 300 girls registered for the event, Fox had plenty of opportunities to inspire future gold badge holders.
“A lot of girls came up to me asking how I did,” said Fox, who is a junior from Middletown High School, as she stood next to a table displaying a presentation of her project. “And I love kids, so I like talking to them.”
Organizers said the event – which they called the Girl Scouts 110th Anniversary Party – was not just a day to celebrate. It was also an opportunity to raise money for the organization and bring attention to the impactful service projects that members like Fox have done.
“It’s to make Girl Scouts visible,” said Hilda Vanover of the 37 County Girl Scout Association.
The event began with a flag opening ceremony and included a silent auction with more than 50 baskets, tables with information about vendors who partner with local Girl Scouts and a chant in the centre’s central courtyard commercial. Organizers also collected toiletries to donate to local food banks.
Fox’s project, aimed at improving literacy rates for children in his community, was among a number of gold, silver and bronze level projects showcased at the mall on Sunday.
While most of the Girl Scouts who completed the projects were unable to attend, Fox said she made it a point to be there for the younger members of her organization. She knew it would help others hear from her, firsthand, as she explained what it took to reach the gold standard.
Fox spent 110 hours – 30 more than necessary – to complete his project, which included presenting a 20-plus-page proposal to a council in the Girl Scout Nation’s Capital.
She received council approval and her efforts resulted in the construction and installation of small free libraries outside Zion Lutheran Church in Middletown and an event table at the Heritage Festival. from the community. Her table at the festival offered passers-by the chance to decorate bookmarks, get reading recommendations, play “learn to read bingo” and join a book circle with a local children’s book author.
Most of Fox peers into her Girl Scout troop until high school to complete their gold medal project. Fox said her troupe had 25 members when she joined the sixth grade, but that number had dropped to six by the time she launched “A Love for Literacy.”
Fox, however, saw too many benefits to leave the organization. Many of her friends were also Girl Scouts, and she understood that any community service she undertook would stand out on resumes and college applications.
Plus, she really had fun along the way.
“I knew it would help in college,” Fox said. “And that was really fun.”
Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan