My Path to Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award

Luisa Banchoff

Luisa Banchoff, Guest Blogger

Last spring, I walked through the front doors of my former elementary school, armed with plastic bags labeled nouns, verbs, metaphors waiting to happen, each filled with dozens of slips of paper bearing words and phrases. I headed straight to the library, where an expansive bulletin board awaited me.

Over the course of my junior year, I embarked on my Gold Award project, entitled “In Between the Lines.” In an era of texts and tweets, I wanted to challenge my peers to embrace poetry as a living process. Through a poetry workshop at my former elementary school and a series of poetry displays at three local schools, I brought poetry to the students in my community.

While exploring potential topics for my project, I had been at a loss. How could I dedicate some 80 hours to a single endeavor, ensuring that my efforts were sustained in years to come? My enthusiasm for both writing and social justice — a passion that has grown through my years of scouting — led me to combine the two. The goal of my project was to reawaken a sense of creativity in my generation and promote a means of expressing that creativity through the lines of a poem.

As I had hoped, the students’ words came to life. Each time I visited the bulletin boards, the words and phrases had shifted. Once solitary words were velcroed together into lines of haikus, couplets, and runaway free verse, always leaving me more surprised at the various new meanings expressed each week.

Girl Scouts has come to define much of my childhood and young adult life. I have truly found my niche among girls who pursue their own passion — whether it be science or song, politics or poetry — but all share a fundamental desire to help others find their voice. As I look forward to college and beyond, few things are set in stone, but I know that wherever I find myself in several years, I will be channeling the spirit of Girl Scouting: the courage to seek out a difficult problem in my community, the confidence to work with others in finding a solution, and the character to encourage girls to pursue their passion with the same enthusiasm I have found as a Girl Scout.