Gold Award Girl Scout: Keaton Maring, Arvada, “Dress for Success, Grab a Jacket!”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I built a life jacket loaner station at Standley Lake where people who visit the lake can borrow life jackets for kids 12-years-old and younger for the day. I also spoke to 7th and 8th graders at Excel Academy Charter School about water safety and the importance of wearing a life jacket. I completed this project because Colorado law is that children 12 and younger must wear a life jacket while on the lake, but there are numerous people who ignore the importance of water safety. In the United States, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-14, according to the CDC.  The CDC says “potentially, half of all boating deaths might be prevented with the use of life jackets.”

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

I created a survey about the life jacket loaner station with five questions, asking how people felt about the station being there, if they thought it was beneficial, if and how many times they used the station, and if they’d like to see more stations like this one around the community and in other places. The survey will be attached to the permits for the 2019 season, so I will have more detailed information about the impact. So far, there have been more than 10 life jackets donated from members of the community, bringing them in when they visit the lake. Overall, people were very excited to see the life jacket loaner station become a reality.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?

The life jacket loaner station is a stand alone structure at Standley Lake Regional Park and will be sustained by the park rangers working there, as well as Carmen Babcock, head coach of Jeffco Hurricanes swim team in Arvada. Ms. Babcock has committed to talking about my project and its importance in the summer newsletters sent out to the team and will continue asking for life jacket donations as well. The rangers will also continue asking people who visit the lake about donating any life jackets they no longer use to the station, so the station remains full even though people have been bringing them in on their own.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

I have emailed and been speaking to several parks and recreation districts around Colorado and neighboring states like California and Utah. I also made a “how to” manual that gives details about the project and how it was completed. It includes what materials were used for the station at Standley Lake Regional Park, how we got the supplies, pictures before, during and after the build, statistics on drowning, and more.

What did you learn about yourself?

From this project, I learned that drowning is a bigger problem than I had initially thought. I knew from growing up in Colorado and being a swimmer that drowning is a big problem all over the world and is preventable in most cases. But looking at the statistics, I was shocked. I also learned how to communicate with people of all ages using a variety of mediums. I learned that I am capable of so much more than I previously thought. I know now that I can achieve anything I want if I give it my best effort and want it enough.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

Achieving the Gold Award has been an incredible experience I have been looking forward to since I was very little. I will be proud to tell people about my project and all the work I put in to achieve the Gold. Because few girls earn the Gold Award, I can put it on my resume because it distinguishes me from other candidates and makes me stand out as a hard worker..

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

My troop leader, Jan Shoup, who is a Gold Award Girl Scout as well, always pushed us to go on and get our Gold Award so I am very proud that I have achieved this great honor. Girl Scouts has had such a positive impact on my life and has provided me with numerous opportunities to grow as a person. Completing the Gold Award was definitely one of those opportunities that has allowed me to go out of my comfort zone and expand my abilities while also making a difference in the community and hopefully inspiring other young women to do the same.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)? 

I definitely became a better leader and a more confident risk- taker. I had to put myself and my idea for this project and sometimes, when asking for donations or about growing the project outside of the Arvada community, I was rejected. I also learned how to talk on the phone and email adults with different backgrounds and careers which I never would have done without completing this project. By putting my idea out there and asking others to contribute to this project, I took a risk. By organizing people into teams and composing numerous emails, letters, flyers, presentations, etc I became a better leader.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email highestawards@gscolorado.org