What did you do for your Gold Award project?
For my Gold Award project, I created and hosted a half day therapeutic horseback riding camp for kids with disabilities in my community, focusing on kids from low-resource families who would not otherwise have an opportunity to try horseback riding as a therapy option. I partnered with two existing schools, Bal Swan and Twice Exceptional, to identify kids that fit the audience I wanted to target, and then invited them to participate in this camp. I solicited donations from area businesses for camp day snacks and T-shirts for all participants. 2BG Equestrian School in Broomfield donated the use of their arena and horses to host my camp. I gathered and trained many volunteers who donated their time assisting the kids to be safe in the saddle.
Everyone worked together to ensure this camp was a success!
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
I measured the impact of my Gold Award project by having each rider fill out a before and after camp survey. I asked if they had any experience with horses and how comfortable they felt around horses and to rate their experience at camp. I also asked for feedback, their favorite and least favorite part of camp, and what I can do differently next time.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
My project is sustainable as I have created a How-To Guide with directions and guidance on how to replicate my camp and shared this with several other riding barns throughout the Denver Metro Area. My project Advisor, Michelle L., has signed a Letter of Commitment agreeing to continue hosting this camp in the future. I have also created a Facebook page for my project, I Can Ride, to give it a platform on social media. Additionally, I shared my project at a recruitment event in my service unit as well as on Band, a leader discussion app.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
My project’s global and national connection is not only evident in my Facebook page, but also by sharing my project with No Barriers Summit. This is a summer camp held every year in Colorado for participants with various disabilities to try new events. It is my hope they will add some aspect of therapeutic riding to their program. It is also not unrealistic to hope that GSUSA will hear about the ability to address the needs of kids with disabilities and begin implementing changes to Girl Scout summer camps to enable Girl Scouts with limitations to participate safely in riding programs.
What did you learn about yourself?
Throughout my project, I learned that I can persevere. Three years is a long time to keep working at something, trying to see it to completion, and I did it. I also learned that I am capable of talking to many different people, organizing and training volunteers, and most of all, overcoming obstacles. For example, I had to change the date of my camp twice due to uncontrolled circumstances! Although this was frustrating and delayed my project, keeping a positive attitude helped and everything worked out in the end.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
I believe earning my Gold Award will impact my future by serving as a talking point on college, scholarship, and employment applications. I recently toured the University of Wyoming and discussed my project with the Equine Science Department and was excited to receive positive praise from them! Schools and potential employers will know that I can promote and host a big event and that I care about positively impacting those with disabilities, that I can create happiness and provide a challenge in their lives. I want to continue to connect with kids in my community at future camps and hopefully see them around the barn or hear about them continuing to pursue riding as a therapy option in their lives.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
The Gold Award was an important part of my Girl Scouting experience as it required all of the skills I have learned in the past 11 years: teamwork, leadership, initiative, goal setting, planning, and project implementation. So many of the community service projects I have been involved in because of Girl Scouting involved giving back to the community I live in, to serve others, and make the world a better place. The Gold Award is the capstone of all abilities and skills that Girl Scouting tries to teach a girl. I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to in the future because I earned the Gold Award.
How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
Earning my Gold Award helped me become a risk-taker because it forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to coordinate volunteers for an event, speak in public with confidence, and trust that this big idea was going to have a positive impact on my participants. I’ve been riding horses for 12 years, I take some of the hard skills of riding and caring for horses for granted. Breaking it down to my audience and focusing on the fun to be had was a risk to me, as I didn’t want my riders to be nervous or scared from lack of experience. Undertaking any large project is risky, but so worth it!
**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 email@example.com.