Girl Scout Camryn More from Salinas has recently earned her Gold Award. Recognizing the ill-functioning water fountains at San Benancio Middle School, Camryn went to the Washington Union School District Board to initiate change within her community.
Not only did the lack of functioning fountains have a negative impact on students, but it was also damaging to the environment. Camryn noticed that San Benancio Middle School students had to drink bottled water from a dispenser using disposable paper cups, creating excessive waste. According to the school principal approximately 100 paper cups were used daily, in addition to the plastic water bottles thrown away or recycled by students.
Camryn approached San Benancio’s Principal Carnazzo and the WUSD school board with her concerns, both of which approved and supported her project. She then presented at three different Rotary organizations in order to educate members on environmental awareness, the negative impact of plastic waste, and the benefits of drinking water.
Additionally, Camryn spoke with influential members of her community and set up informational booths at community events where she passed out flyers about her project and the benefits of reusable water bottles. Her family members loaned her funds in order to purchase 250 reusable water bottles, which she filled with educational flyers and distributed to San Benancio Middle School students.
Camryn’s flyers were full of information regarding the usage of single-use plastic bottles, such as the fact that the average American uses 167 disposable bottles annually, but only recycles 38. Producing bottles to meet the demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, which is enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year.
Earning over $4,500 from Rotary foundations and members, Camryn then researched and purchased two water fountains/bottle refilling stations for the middle school. Two weeks after installation, Camryn followed up with the school’s principal, who stated that the students were very excited about the new fountains and were coming to the office less frequently to get water.
On completing her project, Camryn said “I believe the students of San Benancio Middle School directly benefited from this Girl Scout Gold Award project. They were taught about the environmental benefits of reusable bottle usage and the health benefits of drinking more water. The students were able to see that they could make a difference in the environment by simply refilling and reusing their water bottles instead of getting a new plastic bottle every day.”
Camryn’s fountains will continue to be looked after by the middle school, who has agreed to take on the responsibility of changing the filters with support from the principal and district superintendent. Costing about $100, the filters will need to be replaced once a year to keep the fountains in proper working condition. To thank her for her hard work, the school placed an engraved, brass plaque above the fountains to indicate that they were a result of Camryn’s Gold Award project.
Camryn believes that this process has greatly contributed to her growth as a leader. “By doing this project, I’ve learned that I can overcome obstacles and come up with new solutions when I am told no,” she said. “I found that I had created relationships with many of the people I interacted with at Rotary meetings, one-on-one’s with community members, or while passing out flyers at WUSD events. These people were very supportive and grateful that my project would be benefitting the students of our community.”
She sees the completion of her Gold Award project as a learning opportunity for her future career, and encourages other girls to seek positive change within their communities. “I know that my confidence has grown in myself,” she said. “I can picture myself in my professional career taking on bigger projects that will follow similar pathways to completion as my Gold Award Project. I highly value the name of Girl Scouts and all the strong values that it stands for. I want my community see how Girl Scouts has had an impact on my life, and that as a Girl Scout I am ready and capable of giving back to my community.”
If you are interested in learning about the Gold Award, you can find more information here!