By making a difference in their communities and the world beyond, Girl Scouts are able to gain valuable life experience, skills, and earn Girl Scout’s Highest Awards. These special recognitions are the result of taking initiative and creating lasting change, all while supporting issues girls care about. Juniors are eligible to earn the Bronze Award, for which they team up to learn important leadership skills, discover new passions, and watch how small actions can make a big difference. Cadettes who set out to earn their Silver Awards focus on an issue they care about, learn the facts, and take action to make a change. The Gold Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve, during which Seniors and Ambassadors make the world a better place by tackling issues they’re passionate about and driving lasting change in their communities and beyond.
A lot of work is put into each and every Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award project. To help our Girl Scouts and their dedicated leaders as they embark on this process, we’ve put together of the Dos and Don’ts of Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards!
Choose a Topic That Excites You
Maybe you’re an advocate for the arts, a climate change champion, or an education enthusiast! Whatever your passions may be, is there an unmet need in your community that you can use your skills and knowledge to benefit? Once you’ve identified an issue, start investigating by doing your research, seeking out community members in those relevant fields, and finding ways to contribute!
Create a Budget
What kind of materials will you need to make your project possible? This may include anything from flyers and brochures to raise awareness, to soil and seeds for a community garden. By identifying your needs early on, you can create a game plan for how you will fund your project. Take into account the proceeds you’re able to earn from Product Programs, donations from your friends, family, troop, or community, and money-earning opportunities such as bake sales, dog walking, collecting cans, or babysitting. Be sure to check with council for money-earning and donation approvals.
Map out a Timeline
Girl Scouts are busy people, and balancing school, family, friends, sports, and other extracurricular activities can be overwhelming. By creating an upfront timeline for achieving each step in the process of your award, you will be better able to manage your time and set a date for completion.
Make Your Project Proposal Clear
Approvals for Silver Award projects can be delayed if not all parts of the questions on the final report are answered. For the Gold Award, your project must be a proven community need, your research complete, and your project proposal thoroughly completed before your initial presentation to the Gold Award Committee.
Submit the Right Reports
Bronze Awards are group projects, and each troop earning a Bronze Award should submit one report for the whole troop submitted by the Troop Leader. While Silver Awards can be individual or team projects, each girl earning a Silver Award must complete her own final report in her own words.
While your troop leader, parents, Gold Award Committee, and Project Advisors are there to support you, the process of earning a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award is the perfect opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and demonstrate your leadership skills. Rather than having your mom contact council for questions about your project, take it as a learning opportunity and make that contact yourself.
Do Something That’s Already Been Done
Pick a problem in your community that you can develop a project to fix. While other projects may serve as a great source of inspiration, no two communities are the same and therefore no project will address its unique needs in identical ways.
Solely Plan a Drive or Collection
While collecting and donating makes for a great service project, it does not meet the standards for a highest award project because it is a one-time event and therefore the impact is not sustainable. However, you can incorporate a drive or collection as a component of your final project. For example, if you’re planning on creating pet beds to donate to a local animal shelter, it’s perfectly acceptable to hold a t-shirt donation drive to collect your materials and repurpose them.
Wait Until Last Minute to Submit Your Paperwork
In order to get proper feedback and quicker processing on your project from council, stay ahead of schedule! Bronze and Silver Awards are processed quickly, but keep in mind the other reports that may have been submitted before yours. The Gold Award Committee puts forth tremendous effort to give insight and assist every girl, but consistent project revisions may slow down this process.
Plan a Project Less Than the Minimum Hours
Highest Awards should be one complete project, not a combination of smaller, individual projects. Keep in mind the minimum hours for each award, which is 20 hours per girl for the Bronze Award, 50 hours per girl for Silver, and 80 hours per girl for the Gold. In order to help you keep track of your hours, set up an activities log for yourself early on in the process.
Plan a Fundraiser
Planning a project that is a fundraiser to donate to organizations is not allowed in the Bronze, Silver, or Gold Awards. In addition, Girl Scouts under the age of 18 are not permitted to set up donation pages such as GoFundMe and “restaurant nights” are only permitted as Service Unit Fundraisers when they benefit the entire unit and are submitted by an adult. Talk to your Service Unit about specific guidelines!
Looking for inspiration for your Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award project? Check out the amazing things other Girl Scouts in your council are doing here!