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The first award that my Girl Scouts could earn was certainly worth the effort.

The first award that my Girl Scouts could earn was certainly worth the effort.

I’ve been a Girl Scout leader since Big Girl was in kindergarten. It is something I consider one of my favorite and most challenging things to do. It’s not always easy, but nights like tonight make all the planning and all the time investment worth it.

Tonight a group of 17 girls got their Bronze award. I must admit: I teared up a bit. I’ve watched all of these girls mature and grow over time. Every one of them has grown immensely. The Bronze award, however, would require them to stretch themselves and take ownership of a project that was immense in size. These girls had to commit to learning about an issue or problem, putting together a presentation that would educating others about the topic.

My co-leader and I, over the years, have spent a lot of time corralling and directing bodies. It’s a lot of girls, a lot of personalities, and a lot of craziness – but good craziness. But we knew that in order to earn this award we had to turn over the control to the girls and let them make their own decisions and learn to work together as a well-oiled machine.

The first planning meeting realized instantly that we really had nothing to worry about. The girls spent that first hour coming up with a list of amazing ideas. The best part: They were really working together as a group from the start. We provided the framework and they took it from there.

As a leader, this required me to quell my tendency to…well…lead. But I did it because this experience belonged to them. It was purely optional. No one had to do it. And yet all 17 girls decided they would give up Sundays to spend time at the library researching and stop doing fun trips and crafts at our meetings, instead writing plays, figuring out what they wanted to teach and handling the logistics of a really large project.

Tonight was just the awards ceremony. We do the actual event tied to our project — a fire safety event — next Friday. At the end of the day, though, those girls have already earned their awards. At least in my book

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