Saturday, August 27, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Soda Bottle Greenhouse

Gabriella, a Chesapeake Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Gabriella constructed a greenhouse made entirely of recycled soda bottles at Yorktown Elementary School. Gabriella also made laminated teaching aids for students to use in the greenhouse to help them learn the parts and lifecycle of plants. Teachers at the school will be incorporating the greenhouse and teaching aids into their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum for students to have the opportunity to learn in creative, hands-on ways outside of the classroom.

“A teacher at Yorktown Elementary was looking for someone to build a greenhouse at the school to enhance their STEM program,” Gabriella said. “Now, with this outdoor learning space, students will be able to grow plants all year round.”

After completing the greenhouse, Gabriella created a video about how to create a soda bottle greenhouse that she placed online for anyone to use as a guide. She also gave a presentation at the Virginia Living Museum to talk to members of the community about building a soda bottle greenhouse.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Gabriella to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Erase the Waste

Sorenna, a Williamsburg Girl Scout, has earned the Silver Award, the second highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

Sorenna, who is a student at Lois S. Hornsby Middle School, noticed that a large amount of recyclables was being placed in trash bins at her school. For her Silver Award project, Sorenna implemented a recycling program at her school, which included a recycling center in the cafeteria, recycling bins for each classroom and monitored recycling at school events, including dances and plays. To promote the new program, which she titled Erase the Waste, Sorenna hosted a recycling poster contest and displayed the winning entry in the school.

Sorenna was inspired to make an impact on the environment when she worked on completing the Girl Scout Breathe Journey and learned about pollution and what can be done to prevent it. She wanted to find a place in her community where there was an opportunity to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill.

“At Hornsby, a little more than 900 kids were disposing recyclables the wrong way,” Sorenna said. “I wanted to change that one recyclable at a time.”

Sorenna also started a Recycling Club at her school, and the members will be responsible for monitoring the recycling program, collecting recyclables from classrooms, making posters to promote recycling and making sure that recyclables are collected at special events held at the school.

“My project impacted our community by lowering the amount of recyclables being put in local landfills and also impacted my school by helping it be more environmentally friendly,” Sorenna said. “It also helped students and staff have a different thought process each time they throw away a recyclable.”

The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest award earned by Girl Scouts in middle school. To earn the award, Girl Scouts have to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action Project to address the matter through leadership work.
The winning entry of Sorenna's poster contest

Monday, August 22, 2016

Building a Stronger Bond

Last winter when Girl Scout Troop 365 in Moyock visited the Currituck House, an assisted living facility, they realized visiting the center and helping residents wasn’t the only service the Currituck House needed. While putting a smile on residents’ faces during a holiday craft activity, they noticed two children who were there visiting their grandmother. They were just itching to get into the action. Looking around, members of Troop 365 realized there wasn’t much in the activity room to entertain children visiting, so they began brainstorming ideas to change that.

The troop decided that they would like to build some shelves that they could fill with games, books and DVDs that would not only keep children occupied during visits, but also facilitate more enjoyable interactions across generations. After gaining permission to complete their project from the activities director at the Currituck House, the girls sprang into action. They visited local hardware stores, learning about wood and materials they would need to build shelves. They took multiple trips to the Currituck House to measure the space, keeping in mind that they would need to leave plenty of room for wheelchairs and walkers to get around in the activity room. The troop members ended up designing and building three low, rectangular shelves.

“Talented parents and family members brought their tools to show the girls how to measure, cut, sand, prime and paint,” Brittany Orosco, the leader of Troop 365, said. “The shelves took the girls and the help of their parents every weekend from April until June. Every meeting was a lesson in effort and doing a job well.”

To collect items to stock the shelves, the member of Troop 365 placed boxes in their schools and asked people to donate gently used books, games, puzzles and movies.

On June 16, after the final clear coat on the shelves had dried, the troop moved the shelves from Orosco’s garage to the activity room at the Currituck House. The girls brought in all of the donations they had collected and organized everything to neatly fill the shelves.

“Through the project, the girls learned the value of hard work, networking and community service,” Orosco said.

For their project, the members of Troop 365 earned the Bronze Award, which is the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back to School, Back to Troop

By Shirley Bergstrom, guest blogger

Shirley with her daughters, Marcelina and Gabriella
I have two daughters. One is a first year Junior and the other is a first year Cadette, and they have both been a Girl Scout since kindergarten. Girl Scouts has been such a great experience for them and maybe even more so for me because I have been able to help not just my girls, but a whole troop of girls, grow and expand their horizons. Some of my daughters' most memorable experiences wouldn’t have happened if they weren't Girl Scouts... camping, friendships, learning about conserving resources, serving their local community and who could forget about igniting their entrepreneurship fire!

We’ve only been in Girl Scouts for a few years but here are a few tidbits for getting back into the swing of things with Girl Scouts and school I’ve learned along the way…
  • Renew your membership! It will make things easier for your troop leader to get ready for Fall product sales.
  • Stay in touch with your troop’s co-leader(s). Ask for a schedule of meetings for the year, at least up to Christmas. My daughters are in the same troop with girls from Daisies to Cadettes. I keep in touch with each level’s co-leader.
  • Get Girl Scout bag to carry your daughter’s Journey books and Guides to Girl Scouting.
  • For newly bridged girls, have the vest ready to go with all your patches and troop numbers and patches earned during the summer. The GSCCC shop staff is very knowledgeable with handling all our vest/sash and uniform needs. And, if you’re new and can’t remember your troop number, the shop staff can look it up for you!
  • I could go on and on about ideas for organizing everything, but having your Girl Scout meetings and events scheduled into your calendar (paper or electronic) with location is important! I like to color code my calendars to distinguish work, personal, Girl Scout and family events.
  • Sign up as a troop helper or driver! This gives co-leaders extra helping hands to make meetings and events run more smoothly… it takes a village!
  • Read all publications and emails from Council. I'm always sure to keep up with the monthly enews, Volunteer Connection and the GSCCC blog. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Carolyn F. Bernard Stadium Renewal Project

Juliette, a Chesapeake Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

To earn the Gold Award, Juliette completed a renewal project at the Carolyn F. Bernard Stadium at Grassfield High School. The first part of her project was to create a memorial garden out front of the stadium honoring Anne McKim, the first athletic trainer at Grassfield High School, who passed away in 2010 at the young age of 29. Juliette assembled a team of volunteers to place native plants in the garden and arranged to have organizations at the school maintain the garden. She also chose a special stone that she had a memorial message engraved in to mark the garden as a place of remembrance.

The second part of Juliette’s project was founding and implementing a recycling program at the stadium. She installed signs about the recycling program throughout the stadium, and with the help of the Ecology Club at Grassfield High School, Juliette placed bins out for the football games. She conducted waste audits after the games to weigh the amount of trash and recycling to show the impact that her project is having on the environment. She collected approximately 20 percent of the waste as recycling and hopes to increase that number during the upcoming football season.

Juliette also worked with staff at Grassfield who knew Anne McKim to create a memorial book about her, and Juliette created guides about how to start a recycling program and about how to maintain the native plants in the garden at the school.

“I chose this project because I feel strongly about the need to recycle, and I felt it was important to remind future Grassfield students about the legacy of Anne McKim,” Juliette said.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Juliette to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Brick Dedication at A Place for Girls

Nearly 30 guests gathered at A Place for Girls, the regional Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast program center and headquarters, on August 18 to dedicate a plot of commemorative bricks purchased by donors in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the building. The Buy a Brick campaign was launched in April, and nearly 60 thoughtful donors purchased bricks. Many of the bricks were purchased to honor volunteers, girl members and alumnae.

Kay Byrd, a volunteer from Ahoskie, was surprised with a brick of honor. When her daughter Melanie heard about the Buy a Brick campaign, she contacted her fellow troop members from years ago, and they purchased a brick in Kay's honor. Kay's daughters Melanie and Jennifer, along with six girls from Troop 1702, the troop Kay currently leads, told Kay to dress in her Girl Scout uniform and picked her up for a surprise trip to A Place for Girls for the brick dedication ceremony on Thursday.
The members of Girl Scout Troop 615 from Virginia Beach pooled their money to purchase a brick for their troop leader, Beth Goldblatt. The troop members, who are all in high school, told their leader that they purchased a brick for her at their bridging ceremony. They waited until the dedication ceremony to reveal the brick message, commemorating her as the "Best Troop Leader Ever."
Avery Berge, a member of the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast board of directors, commemorated her family's Girl Scout history on a brick. She had the names of her grandmothers and great aunt, all three of whom were Girl Scouts, printed on a brick. Avery said that all three women were very influential on her upbringing and she thought that a brick in their honor would be a special way to recognize their impact on her.

The dedication ceremony was followed by a reception and social with the Council's Board of Directors.

If you were not able to purchase a brick for someone special this year, you'll have another chance next year. The Buy a Brick initiative will be an annual effort!

View a list of the 2016 brick donors here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sea Turtle Endangerment Awareness

Carsan, Virginia, Abby, Maggie, Ava
Five Williamsburg Girl Scouts from Troop 1270, Abigayle, Ava, Carsan, Margaret and Virginia, have earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. For their project, Troop 1270 focused on raising awareness about sea turtle stranding and what can be done to protect sea turtles in our region. The girls were inspired to do this project after a trip to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Facility.

To raise awareness about sea turtle, Troop 1270 planned and hosted an activity night for Daisies, Brownies and Juniors to teach them all about sea turtles. During the event, Troop 1270 shared what they’ve learned about sea turtles over the past year, including their visit to the Virginia Aquarium. They then read an informational book about sea turtles and led the girls at the event in an educational game about sea turtle eggs to show them how most eggs do not survive in the wild.

Next on the agenda, Troop 1270 led the girls through activity stations, which included decorating a sea turtle cupcake, making sea turtle crafts and creating a sea turtle mural that will be hung at the local library. During the event, Troop 1270 also had the girls sign a thank you card that they had created for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team volunteers.

The Girl Scout Bronze Award requires girls to make a difference in the community through leadership work. It is the top achievement earned by Girl Scout Juniors—fourth and fifth graders.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Receives $50,000 Grant from Alcoa Foundation

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast received notice on August 16 that the organization will receive $50,000 from Alcoa Foundation to fund STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities for girls in southeastern Virginia. Leadership from Alcoa Foundation will present the check to Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast on September 10 during the Volunteer Kickoff.

Over the past three years, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast has received funds from Alcoa Foundation that they have used to provide enriching STEM experiences to at-risk girls living in Hampton, Va. With this year’s increased funding, Girl Scouts will expand the success of that program throughout the region, intending to serve 400 girls in grades K-12 through “fun with a purpose” STEM programs. Activities are designed teach girls flexible and practical approaches to problem solving, as well as encourage them to develop critical thinking and teamwork skills. Funding will also allow Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast to connect girls with community partners who offer STEM opportunities, including Nauticus and Norfolk State University, and provide STEM learning kits for troops to use at meetings.

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast will continue to use funding from Alcoa Foundation introduce girls in at-risk communities to STEM. The United States Census Bureau reports that 11.3 percent of the population in Virginia lives below the poverty line, and Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast serves several cities in Virginia where the number of individuals living below poverty line are much higher. According to Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, girls who participate in Girl Scout programs, even for a brief period of time, report that the experience had a significant, positive impact on several key indicators, including sense of self, leadership, community involvement, commitment to social causes and civic engagement. Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is dedicated to reaching out to girls in at-risk areas of the community to offer them supportive role models and leadership opportunities framed in the STEM programming provided through Alcoa Foundation funding.

Alcoa has a long history of supporting Girl Scouts, starting with a national partnership formed in 2012 to honor the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts. Alcoa gave a major gift to support Forever Green, an environmental initiative encouraging Girl Scouts to complete projects focused on waste reduction, energy conservation and rain gardens. Since then, a special Gold Award scholarship has been instituted and more funds to support special STEM program have been presented to councils.

In today’s world, where only about 25 percent of STEM careers are held by women, it is more important than ever to expose girls to a world of possibilities through STEM. In the comfortable, all-girl environment of Girl Scouts, girls are more likely to ask questions, try new things and take risks. With funding from Alcoa Foundation, Girl Scouts will be able to deliver STEM activities framed in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, which allows girls to discover what they are capable of, connect with one another to work as part of a team and take action as resourceful problem solvers to make a difference in the world.

In addition to the funds from Alcoa Foundation, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is challenging donors and friends in the community to help match the $50,000 gift. To contribute, contact Stacy Nixon, philanthropy director for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, at or 757-549-0641.

About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States, with assets of approximately $480 million. Founded 64 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $635 million since 1952. In 2015, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2015, 47 percent of Alcoa employees took part in more than 1,000 events across 24 countries, benefitting more than 300,000 people and 400 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit or follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Girl Scout Bronze Award Garden

The members of Newport News Girl Scout Troop 1539 are on the mission to make the world a better place, one project at a time. Recently, the girls earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the third highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouts, for their sustainable gardening project at the Newport News Family YMCA. The YMCA had received a grant from to create gardens that the facility’s new spray park, and the girls partnered with a troop member’s older brother, David Wells, who was working on his Eagle Scout project, to make the garden plans a reality.

While Wells worked on designing, building and installing four raised garden beds, Girl Scout Troop 1539 got to work learning about native plants, drought tolerant landscapes and animal habitats with the help of Amy Henry, the health and wellness program director at the YMCA and a Virginia Master Naturalist. The girls studied a variety of plants and learned about their uses. They decided to create a theme for each of the garden beds—sensory, wildflower, edible and butterfly.

Next, some of the troop members visited a local nursery to pick out the plants. When planting day arrived, the girls arranged each bed and learned how to properly plant the greenery. After the beds were planted, the girls made diagrams of each, recording the plant names and types. The diagrams were used to make teaching cards that are now used to explain the characteristics and benefits of the plants to preschoolers and campers at the YMCA. Watering duties have been taken on by the preschoolers at the YMCA, who also pick and enjoy the fruits and vegetables from the garden bed with edible plants.

In addition to earning the Bronze Award for their project, the troop members also earned the Flowers, Gardening and Animal Habitats badges.

The Girl Scout Bronze Award requires girls to make a difference in the community through leadership work. It is the top achievement earned by Girl Scout Juniors—fourth and fifth graders.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sertoma Club at Camp Apasus

A dip in the swimming pool, yoga under the shade of trees– Girl Scouts know how to have fun at camp while staying cool! Last week at Camp Apasus, more than 50 Girl Scouts enjoyed a week of fun and adventure in the outdoors, including a special celebration in honor of National S’mores Day on August 10.

As part of the celebration, campers welcomed guests from the Sertoma Club of Norfolk for a luncheon program. The Sertoma Club is a long-time supporter of the camp, and Girl Scouts host the club annually to thank members for their contributions and support of the camp During the luncheon, Girl Scouts announced their newest cookie flavor, Girl Scout S’mores, and campers shared some favorite songs with guests. Mayor Kenneth Alexander joined everyone for lunch and enjoyed hearing the campers talk about their best camp experiences.

After lunch, Bobby Baker, president of the Sertoma Club of Norfolk, presented Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast with a check for $5,000.

“We thank you for what you do for girls,” Baker said. “We value being a part of the outdoor experiences for girls at Camp Apasus.”

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast plans to put the funds towards building a new shelter at the camp, after they receive approval from the City of Norfolk. Over the years, funds from the Sertoma Club of Norfolk have allowed Girl Scouts to make updates and repairs to the camp, build fire pits, purchase a new pool and more.

Before the end of the event, guests were invited to make s’mores around the fire and take tours of the Camp Apasus property.

Since the 1930s, Girl Scouts have been attending Camp Apasus, where they make lasting friendships, have new experiences, develop leadership skills and gain self-confidence as they try new things. Thanks to the generous support of the Sertoma Club and other community organizations, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast can continue to serve girls, building courage, confidence and character among them, one girl at a time.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Camp Fury Chesapeake

The Chesapeake Fire Department has a group of young recruits this week—20 local Girl Scouts are taking part in Camp Fury, a firefighting and emergency preparedness camp for girls. This is the first time that the Chesapeake Fire Department has hosted the camp, which is made possible through a partnership with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast.

On Monday, August 8, the girls kicked off camp with an introduction to fire service, learning how to don turnout gear and forming squadron groups for the week. By the afternoon, the campers were taking on real firefighter challenges, including an aerial climb on a ladder truck, using a Halligan bar to make forcible entry through a door and carrying and operating a fire hose. The girls also took part in a first aid session, where they learned about caring for injuries and dealing with emergency situations, including wounds, sprains and anaphylactic shock.

“Getting to do the aerial climb on the ladder truck has been my favorite part so far,” Mackenzie Tate, a Chesapeake Girl Scout, said. “But there’s so much more we’re going to be doing this week, it’s hard to say what the best part will be.”

Later in the week, the campers will get the opportunity to try rappelling, take part in fire extinguisher training, participate in a vehicle extrication demonstration and spend a night at a fire station. The girls will also be introduced to nontraditional careers for women outside of firefighting through a tour of Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, a visit from Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance and guest speakers from the military.

The goal of Camp Fury is to introduce girls to firefighting as a career and give girls the chance to meet women in fields typically dominated by men, as well as give girls the opportunity to try new things and build self-confidence and teamwork skills. During the rest of the week at Camp Fury, girls will take part in search and rescue and fire extinguisher training, tour Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, get a visit from Nightingale, and hear from guest speakers from the FBI, Navy and more.

Camp Fury was brought to Chesapeake by Firefighter Paramedic Mandy George with the Chesapeake Fire Department. George volunteered at Camp Fury Hampton for the past three years and wanted to create a similar opportunity for girls on the Southside.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New Cookie Announcement

We have some exciting news to share!

Today, National S’mores Day, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) announced, in celebration of 100 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies, the introduction of a new Girl Scout S’mores commemorative cookie. Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast will be adding the cookie to the 2017 lineup, where it will join classics—Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils and more. The new cookie, which will be available starting in January in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, is a crunchy graham cracker sandwich cookie with creamy chocolate and marshmallow filling. This is the latest new cookie since the introduction of gluten-free Toffee-tastics in 2015.

“We are so excited for our girls to be able to introduce the Girl Scout S’mores cookie to their cookie customers,” Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller said. “S’mores has strong ties to our organization’s history, and this cookie brings a new and delicious way for consumers to support girls.”

The new cookie is made with specialty ingredients and was created with emerging consumer trends in mind. It contains no artificial flavors or colors, high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils. Like other similar consumer products, the s’mores cookie will be priced higher than other Girl Scout Cookies, reflecting the cost of production. For the 2017 Girl Scout Cookie Program, the classic varieties will be $4 per box, and both the Girl Scout S’mores cookie and the gluten-free Toffee-tastics will be $5 per box. All proceed from the cookie program support local Girl Scouts.

In addition to announcing the new cookie variety, Girl Scouts around the country are celebrating National S’mores Day online by sharing how they “s’more” on social media using #NationalSmoresDay and tagging @GirlScouts.

The tradition of making and enjoying s’mores in the outdoors was popularized by Girl Scouts as early as the 1920s. The organization was one of the first to publish the iconic recipe under the name “Some More” in a 1925 issue of Girl Scout Leader magazine, and then as “somemores” in an official 1927 Girl Scout publication. Learning outdoor cooking, including how to make s’mores, is just one component of Girl Scouts’ longstanding commitment to the outdoors, a cornerstone of the organization that plays a vital role in girls’ leadership development.

In fact, the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) reported in their 2015 More than S’mores study that there is a clear connection between outdoor experiences and girls’ understanding of their leadership potential. Girls who spend time outdoors through Girl Scouts eclipse their peers in environmental stewardship, more readily seek challenges and are better problem solvers, all of which are traits needed for 21st-century leadership.

To learn more about the Girl Scout S’mores cookie, visit

Friday, August 5, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Second Bloom

Linda McGowan, a Virginia Beach Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Linda started a program to deliver flower arrangements to patients undergoing cancer treatment at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. She collected flowers that had been used at weddings, funerals and other events and recycled them into new flower arrangements that she delivered to the patients each month.

“I did this project in honor of my great grandfather who was a long-term hospital patient and always expressed how he loved kind gestures like flowers, cards and visits,” Linda said. “Through my project, I was able to use flowers that would normally be discarded after their first intended use to uplift cancer patients and brighten their room.”

Linda has arranged for a group of women in her community to continue her project when she leaves for college. They will continue to make flower arrangements and deliver them to the hospital on a monthly basis.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Linda to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Crohn's and Colitis Community Connection

Samantha, a Yorktown Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. 

For her project, Samantha focused on raising awareness about inflammatory bowel disease and creating a support network in her community for people with the condition. This project was especially important to Samantha since she has Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract.

Samantha founded a support group that meets monthly at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News. At the support group meetings, inflammatory bowel disease patients and their family members have the opportunity to socialize with others enduring similar health challenges, find answers to questions and seek emotional support. Once Samantha heads off to college, the support group will continue to meet under the leadership of Anita Petit, the nurse at Grafton High School, who also served as Samantha’s advisor for her Gold Award project.

To raise awareness about inflammatory bowel disease, Samantha hosted a table at a local health and wellness fair, where she handed out information from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and a scavenger hunt that she created to engage children in information about the disease.

“I think it is important for people suffering from this disease to feel like they have support from others affected,” Samantha said. “Also, it is important that people not affected are aware of the disease. This disease affects a lot of people, but does not get public attention, which is why I wanted to help get the word out.”

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Samantha to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.