Girl Scout Traditions: Highest Awards

Girl Scout Traditions: Highest Awards

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It’s almost awards ceremony time in the Southern Appalachians!

If your Girl Scout has earned her Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award in the past year – she can be recognized at this spring’s high awards ceremonies if ALL of her final paperwork (reports/interviews) is completed and turned in by March 1.

If she’s thinking about earning these awards, but need some help getting started, never fear! Here’s some helpful info about each award, project inspiration, and award FAQs!

The Bronze Award

This is the highest award a Girl Scout Junior can earn. Girls look around their community to see what issues are present and then they decide how to Take Action! Girls can work as an individual, in a small group, or with their entire troop!

The details

Who can earn it: Registered Girl Scout Juniors

Prerequisites: Completing a Junior Journey

Number of hours: We suggest that the project take a minimum of 20 hours

Training: Our council offers an optional Bronze Award 101 training that will inform and inspire girls who want to get started! It’s a free training and you can register on our website. It is also available by request.

Need inspiration? Check out these local projects!

  • Jeordie and Alexis from Troop 20321 earned their Bronze Award by creating and improving benches at Whitesburg Elementary School in Morristown, Tennessee. They created a brand-new Buddy Bench, which is a place for students to meet new friends or old friends on the playground. They also restored an old wooden bench with a fresh coat of paint and a reminder to “be kind!” The girls chose these projects to leave an impact on the school before they began middle school this year!
  • Troop 20890 from Jefferson County earned their Bronze Award by making cuddly blankets for local children in the foster care system.
  • Marie T. earned her Bronze Award by working with her 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Rice, to improve students’ productivity. Mrs. Rice told Marie that her students lose momentum during the day because they don’t have sharpened pencils. So Marie became The Pencil Fairy! She ordered custom pencils, erasers, bags, and a pencil sharpener. Every week, Marie made sure everyone’s pencils were present and sharpened. She also made this project sustainable by training two new Pencil Fairies for the next year. Marie is a member of Troop 28004 in Little River Service Unit.

Award Pro Tip: When it comes to choosing projects, it’s tempting to take a project already in process in your community/at your church, etc. and have your troop adopt it. Sometimes this might be what the girls actually want to do, but the point is for girls to go through the process of identifying the community’s needs and choosing the project themselves. This is an important step to follow.

The Silver Award

The Silver Award gives Cadettes the chance to do big things and make their community better in the process. It also puts them one step closer to Gold!

The details

Who can earn it: Registered Girl Scout Cadettes. When girls work on their Silver Award, they have the option to work on their own or in a small group setting.

Prerequisites: Completing a Cadette Journey, Taking Silver Award 101

Number of hours: We suggest that the project take at least 50 hours.

Training: Silver Award 101 training is required, and it’s available both online and in person. It’s a free training and you can register on our website. It’s also available by request.

Need inspiration? Check out these local projects!

  • Troop 20316 earned their Silver Award by completing projects at Family Promise shelter. They installed curtains inside the shelter and built a gate for the outdoor play area.
  • Camryn from Troop 40290 earned her Silver Award by completing a book drive for her community. She used posters and words of mouth to advertise the drive.
  • Emily H in Troop 20134 earned her Silver Award by creating and building two Free Little Libraries. She placed one at a community nonprofit and the other at her school.

Award Pro Tip: While there isn’t an awards police, make sure that girls know to adhere to important guidelines. This is where attending training comes in handy! For example, they can’t hold fundraisers for other organizations, or have a parent serve as their award adviser. Training helps with specifics like these, and you can also check out these handy What To Do and a What Not To Do blog posts from a sister council!

The Gold Award

The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouting and it’s been around for more than 100 years! From the Golden Eaglet in the early years, to First Class and the Curved Bar later in the 20th century, to today’s Gold Award, Girl Scouts who earn the highest award not only set themselves up for success for years to come—they carry with them a life
long love of service and desire to make a difference in the world.

Girls who earn this award show perseverance, dedication, hard work, and loyalty. They are eligible for local and national college scholarships, and should they choose to enlist in the military, they enter one rank higher than other new recruits.

The details

Who can earn it: Registered Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors; girls work on their projects on their own.

Prerequisites:

  • Completing two Senior/Ambassador Journeys OR The Silver Award + one Senior/Ambassador Journey
  • Taking Gold 101 Training; this is offered online or in person; it’s also available by request
  • Registering for a Gold Award Interview

Number of hours: We suggest that the project take at least 80 hours

Training: Gold Award 101 training can be completed online or in person. It’s required because the training explains money-earning processes, general guidelines, and how to “finish” the project. It’s a free training and you can register on our website.

An interview is required before beginning work on the Gold Award. It’s more like a conversation about her project, and it’s with a committee of people who want to see her succeed! The committee might even be able to give her ideas of things she could incorporate or how to avoid/remedy possible obstacles.

An interview is required once she has finished her project, too. This one is to celebrate the amazing accomplishment of earning her award!

Need inspiration? Check out these local projects!

  • Erin S. earned her Gold Award this year by completing a literacy-based project for the Blount County Foster Parent Association. She held a book drive for the children, and sewed 120 pillows so that each child could receive one with their books. To ensure continued literacy support to the foster care community, Erin plans to make children’s books available at the Blount County Foster Care Parent Association clothing closet.
  • Kestrel T. designed her Gold Award project to connect dedicated volunteers to the youth in her community. She interviewed Great Smoky Mountain National Park volunteers and created videos from their interviews. The volunteers, most who have served more than 10 thousand hours, tend to be individuals who have one or more successful careers, bringing a wealth of experience and ideas to the management of a national park for conservation, education, and recreation.
  • Stephanie D. earned the Gold Award with a project focused on the planting of a community garden in Corryton, Tennessee.
  • Mansi B. earned the Gold Award by establishing a clothing closet at Greeneville High School.
  • Cassidy G earned the Gold Award by collecting school supplies for children in the Dominican Republic. She hosted a road race with donations as entry fees. Cassidy was able to deliver some of the supplies in person on a church mission trip.

Award Pro Tip: Each award requires a degree of sustainability in its project. Or, how will the project keep going when the troop/girl is “finished?” A focus on education and raising awareness is one way to make sure a project is carried on. Workshops and hands-on learning sessions can inspire others to keep the project going. Another way to create a sustainable project is by collaborating with community groups, civic associations, nonprofit agencies, local government, and/or religious organizations to ensure the project lasts beyond a girl’s involvement.

Awards FAQ

Why are Journeys prerequisites to earning the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards?

The Journeys let girls experience what they’ll do as they work to earn Girl Scouting’s highest awards. The skills girls gain while working on Journeys will help them develop, plan, and implement Take Action projects for their Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award.

How do girls know when a Journey is “completed?”

A Journey is complete when a girl has earned the Journey awards, which include creating and carrying out a Take Action project.

What makes the guidelines for Girl Scouting’s highest awards different from those for the Journeys?

In contrast to Journey Take Action projects, which give girls themes on which to base their projects, high award Take Action projects have no pre-designed theme. A girl selects her own theme, and then designs and executes a Take Action project.

Can Take Action projects for the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards focus on Girl Scouting?

Yes and No.

Take Action projects for the Girl Scout Bronze Award may focus on service in support of the Girl Scout movement, while Take Action projects for the Girl Scout Silver Award and Gold Award are expected to reach into the community to “make the world a better place.” So, yes to Bronze, no to Silver and Gold.

The award progression offers younger girls the opportunity to develop their planning and leadership skills within the comfort and familiarity of Girl Scouting. As they mature in Girl Scouts, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors are ready to move beyond the Girl Scout family to share their leadership skills with the wider community. It’s in exploring their communities that older girls exemplify the Girl Scout mission to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”

How can we make sure that Girl Scout awards represent quality projects?

The best way to make sure a girl is working at the best of her ability is to ensure that both she and her project advisor receive orientation about the award and understand the difference between a one-time community service opportunity or event and a Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award Take Action project. It’s the responsibility of the troop/group volunteer, council staff member, and Gold Award committee to work with the girl to ensure she meets the quality requirements of the award.

Need MORE info? Check out our hand High Awards Tip Sheet! 

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