Gary Horton | Beyond the Cookies: Girl Scouts Rock

It’s not just about the Thin Mint cookies, you know.

“Girls Scouts” is about the meaningful lives and the accomplished women they build. From young girls just starting out, into capable, confident, high-achieving women. That’s the Girl Scouts.

The quintessential cookie sales are just the most public manifestation most casually observe. The real work goes largely unseen by the public; out of view, in lessons, challenges, achievement, service, commitment, honor — all bringing everyday girls from everyday places, to their personal best excellence.

And so, I cannot adequately express how moved I was this past Saturday to be part of the “Gold Award” ceremony for two Acton Troop 6302 Girl Scouts, Grace Barjam and Becky Singleton. Indeed, I walked into their newly personally renovated church facilities not knowing what to expect – and I left, fully “blown away” at what these two girls, just 17 and 19 years of age, had accomplished in their Gold Award efforts.

Both girls have been long-term Girl Scouts. Both are of faith, connected with the Acton Faith Bible Church. Both are among only 50 girls in our L.A. area this year to earn the “Gold Award.” Both decided to aim their Gold Award efforts toward improving the lives and experience of the public and congregants visiting the Acton Faith Bible Church. And, both heartily earned their awards, multiple times over.

Grace came up with the idea to improve the exterior of her church’s facilities. Her church had met in modular buildings positioned on gravel — with no lights, landscape, hard surfaces, or shade structures to provide a welcoming experience. Grace decided to hardscape, landscape and light-scape the facility – so as to make it welcoming, cool and safe

Becky saw the need to update a primary building itself, with a complete “Extreme Makeover,”– from bathrooms to flooring, wall finish, to new ceilings and lights. Becky set her sights on providing an up-to-date interior for their church’s guests.

Neither of these projects are for the novice. No, it demonstrably turns out that Girl Scouts achieve great things. Grace and Becky first conceived, then managed, these two projects providing nearly $80,000 in construction value to their church’s facilities!

I first met Grace Barjam in our company conference room. Grace visited us and others in the outdoor trades for advice, contributions, and assistance. Grace made her pitch to our company with a well-directed PowerPoint presentation and we were powerless to resist. We would supply various landscape materials. Grace nailed down designers, tradesmen, and other material suppliers. Her fellow Girl Scouts and church friends kicked in the labor.

Ditto with Becky. Like Grace, she laid out her project plans, lined up vendors and contributors, and oversaw the project management of her building interior endeavor. I didn’t meet Becky in the planning stages, but I was blown away with her finished project…

Grace and Becky started their Gold Award projects as Girl Scouts. They finished as seasoned construction project managers — a skill that will serve them and others for their lives…

And so, at the award ceremony, the building exterior was beautiful, safe and inviting, and the interior thoroughly modern and fresh. The entire place showed wonderfully. Grace and Becky nailed a very professional-scale “design-build” construction project. And the place was packed with enthusiastic and grateful volunteers and supporters.

Grace is just 17 and is graduating high school this year. Becky is 19 and an award-winning scholar in her first year at Loyola Marymount University. Both delivered their acceptance speeches with a comfort and confidence seldom seen in any public speakers – let alone young girls their ages. The two capably expressed humble gratitude for those who’ve led and helped them and tremendous joy for their experiences in Girl Scouting. By the end there were few dry eyes inside the facilities they’d just improved.

Part of the ceremony was their public commitment to the “Girl Scout Challenge.” Below are a few sentences of the challenge, highlighting the ethics and values Girls Scouts aspire to:

“Remain honest and fair in all your dealings in this world. Never sell out and never give less than your very best. Remain true to yourself. Always guard your honor.”

“Be friendly and helpful to everyone you meet as you go through life. Celebrate the diversity of your fellow human beings. Give service freely, expecting nothing in return.”

“Be considerate and caring to all living things, human and animal. Always being mindful of those in need, and the feelings of others. Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

“Stand strong in the face of adversity and share your courage with those around you, especially those smaller and weaker than you.”

“Be responsible for what you say and do. Think before you speak and act. Be sure everything you say and do reflects well on you and your family.”

“Respect yourself, so you may respect others. Strive for excellence in all you do and recognize the accomplishments of others.”

“Follow the laws of your country and nature. Be mindful of your rights as well as your responsibilities as a citizen of this great nation….”

“Use your talents to better the world, and to protect our planet… leave this world in a better condition than you found it…”

“…Help younger girls to reach the top as you have.”

Who wouldn’t want their daughters to live the embody the Girl Scout Gold Challenge? Who wouldn’t want their young daughters to grow up like Grace and Becky?

What a great thing to be a part of! “Girl Scouts” is community, lived in real life. “Girl Scouts” is helping one another, hand in hand, day to day, year over year, in the grand circle of personal growth and giving back to others. 

Thank you, Grace and Becky, for allowing us insight into the wonderful vision and purpose of Girl Scouts. Boy, do both have a giant head start as they jump into the world of adulthood.

Girl Scouts Rock!

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006.

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