Lines to a Golden Eaglet
I would wish you the range of the eaglet's eye
And the strength of his wings, that your spirit may fly
Over all of life's turmoil, your purpose held high.
I would wish you the courage to walk unafraid,
Wearing proudly the symbol of your accolade.
-Birdsall Otis Edey, National Presidents of Girl Scouts of the USA 1930-1935, from Builders: Poems by Birdsall Otis Edey, 1940
The Unstoppable Shine of Gold Award Girl Scouts
Gold Award Girl Scouts radiate G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM strength. Recipients of one of the most prestigious awards in the world for girls, by the time these G.I.R.L.s put the final touches on their seven-step Gold Award projects, they’ll have addressed, with measurable results, a significant problem in their community—not only in the short term, but with a plan to sustain the work for years into the future. They’re also eligible for exclusive college scholarships and to enter the military one rank higher than non–Gold Award Girl Scouts.
These ambitious leaders are part of an elite group of young women that has its origins in 1916, when Girl Scouts first started answering the call to pursue the organization’s highest award. Since then, approximately 1 million girls in grades 9–12 have earned it, and although the name has changed over the years—Golden Eaglet of Merit from 1916 to 1919, Golden Eaglet from 1919 to 1938, the First Class from 1938-1940, Curved Bar Award from 1940 to 1963, the First Class from 1963 to 1980, and the Girl Scout Gold Award from 1980 on—its essence has endured. Put simply, the Gold Award represents girl leadership + civic engagement to the nth degree.
A push to end child marriage in New Jersey. Self-defense workshops to address the reality of violence against girls. A swim program for low-income families, which are disproportionately impacted by drowning accidents. A residential-scale wind turbine to promote renewable energy and demystify it for the average person. Community-wide presentations on the far-reaching impact of the honeybee population decline. All of it the work of Gold Award Girl Scouts. And it’s just a fraction of what our girls have collectively achieved by seeking the greatness within themselves to benefit their communities and the world.
Considering everything “going Gold” entails—selecting and thoroughly investigating a community issue to tackle; assembling a project team; creating, presenting, and carrying out a project plan; and educating and inspiring others to continue the work—it’s no wonder Gold Award recipients benefit beyond their time in Girl Scouts. As reported in Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, those who’ve earned Girl Scouts’ highest award express more confidence and evaluate their success in life as greater compared to other Girl Scout alums and non-alums. They place more importance on having fruitful careers and financial security and on being leaders overall—and they report comparatively more success in reaching their goals in education, career, leadership, friendships, volunteer work, financial circumstance, and political involvement. Talk about gold.