Thursday, February 20, 2014

Back to Basics: helping children experience nature

Gold Award Girls

The following entry was written by Nicolette Newton about her Gold Award project-- a hands-on booklet to help children experience nature--and how she accomplished it. Keep reading to find out her motivation to stick with Girl Scouting through the years and the impact it has made in her life.


I started as a Daisy, at age five, not knowing at the time that Girl Scouts would have taken the course it did.
At first, Girl Scouts was all about earning badges, being with friends, and having fun, but then it became more; it was more about learning and growing. This was around the time that many girls were dropping out and saying it wasn’t cool, but I made my decision to stay. I remember reading an article in the newspaper about three close friends who earned their Gold Awards, which is so rare. I also remember thinking how cool it would be to stay in Girl Scouts and be as happy as they were in that picture. That was my “aha!” moment and my reason to stick with it. I think that was one of the first big decisions I made in life.
I chose to focus my Gold Award project at Candlelight Ranch because they have been an inspiration to me. CLR aids special needs and at-risk children, focuses heavily on the importance of the outdoors, and represents conservation in many of their projects.

My father is a member of the advisory committee for Candlelight Ranch and I have done many service camps at the Ranch, so the location was an obvious choice. Choosing my Gold Award project was another step along the path of my passion for helping others. It was a monumental goal, which I pursued enthusiastically. I’m also really handy with a computer and designing, so I wanted to pick a project that I could be very successful at. 

My goal was to create a hands-on booklet that helps children learn and experience nature. My goals were definitely met. 
I was faced with many challenges. My main obstacle was time management. It was my senior year when I focused on this project and time management was very difficult for me. One day, I spread all my notes out, organized layouts and buckled down. It was a very exciting and rewarding experience and I became very passionate about the outcome.
I’m glad I stuck with Girl Scouts for the adventure, fun times, learning experiences, and the discoveries I made about myself. I am so proud of having reached my goal, and completing my Gold Award. Not only did it enrich my past, but it will greatly impact my future. Being a Gold Award recipient is an honor and is well respected by colleges, employers, family and peers. It will open up opportunities, which would not have been accessible before. I believe this was a factor in my acceptance to Baylor University, where I am a freshman majoring in Graphic Design. 

I remember the days when I was selling cookies at Randall’s, going on campouts, wrapping presents at Brown Santa, designing and selling t-shirts, hosting a father/daughter dance, and so much more. It was a whirlwind of adventures and I wouldn’t take the experience back for anything. 

Advice I have for girls seeking their Gold Award is to have fun! Pursuing the Gold Award is a very rewarding and challenging experience. Keep in mind that organization, time management, budget and contacts are all important aspects of attaining a successful project. Most importantly, always believe in yourself, and just like the Olympic athletes, “Go for the Gold!”

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