Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Buck Harris Award

Since the Buck Harris Award launched in the '80s, it has gone to more than 40 Girl Scouts. To qualify for the award, a girl must be nominated by the girls in her troop, group or service unit, or by an adult who is aware of her qualifications. Girl Scouts must meet the criteria of: being an active troop member who has helped make troop meetings and activities more enjoyable during the past two years by participating in, or helping, to make service unit events and/or Council events better during the past two years. Special consideration will be given to girls who have participated in or assisted with outdoor events; have been active in school, community and/or church, synagogue, temple activities during the past two years; and have participated in Council events.

The award is named after Georgie (Buck) Harris who served as the executive director of what was then the Virginia Tidewater Area Council of Girl Scouts, (now called the Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast), and was director of Camp Matoaka, a Girl Scout camp in Suffolk, until she retired in 1972. When the award was initiated, the following was written: A person strong in the spirit and the adventure of Girl Scouting, Buck Harris has left a legacy to our Council. Her gentleness, love and stewardship of our land and campsites, her infinite store of nature’s knowledge have been given freely for the Girl Scouting she loves.

Buck was a dedicated Girl Scout who did much for the movement in our region. When she graduated in the late 1920s from Randolph-Macon Women's College, she focused on a teaching career and had no thoughts about being a camp director; however, it was the early years of the Depression and jobs were scarce. She was a substitute teacher when a Camp Matoaka staff opening was posted. The job offered free room and board, $5 in travel money, but no salary. When interviewed in 2006, she said she never camped a day in her life up until then.

Lucky for us, Buck took the job and was a quick learner during the first four summers she worked at camp while keeping her job as a teacher at a Courtland Elementary School. In 1934, she left teaching to become a professional Girl Scout, a field director for Portsmouth, Norfolk and Princess Anne County. She recruited and trained Girl Scout volunteers, but continued to spend her summers working at the camp.

In 1937, she was named executive director of what would become the Greater Tidewater Council of Girl Scouts, a job she held for almost 30 years. After she retired, Buck continued to be active as a trainer and an adviser. Throughout her Girl Scout career, she made and kept Girl Scout friendships that impacted many.

After Camp Matoaka closed in the 1980s, a wildflower garden that includes flowers from Camp Matoaka was planted at A Place for Girls by some of her former campers.

Find information on the award and details on how to nominate by clicking here.