Troop 3512 from Kennewick, WA recently launched a boating safety initiative in collaboration with Washington State Parks, earning them their Girl Scout Silver Award. Their project aimed to address river safety issues on the water, specifically targeting kayakers and paddleboarders.
The inspiration behind the project spurred from a real-life experience during a Girl Scout outing. Troop leaders, Erin Lee and Karen Dunlap, took the girls out to the river one day to kayak and paddleboard when a jet ski flew by them, disrupting their stability and compromising their security. Through research, troop members - Jessica, Mia, and Sophia discovered that jet skis and larger watercrafts were regularly producing wakes near designated 'No Wake' areas on the Columbia River, creating an unsafe environment for less maneuverable watercrafts. "We decided we needed to do something about it," said Erin. Springing into action, Troop 3512 devised a way to help alleviate the issue and ensure the safety of all paddlers alike.
After developing a partnership with the Benton County Sheriff's Office, the girls worked with Deputy JP Benitez to create a Quick Response (QR) code with the notation, "Know the rules of the river. Keep our community safe!" The QR code links to a boater safety page on the Washington State Park's website that educates visitors of local and practical safety guidelines in association with recreational boating. They then attached their handmade tags to safety whistles and handed them out at the Benton County Fair, informing fair-goers of their mission to make the river both a fun and safe place to engage in water-related activities. "The highlight of the whole experience, for me, was getting to be around people and explain to them what we're doing," said Sophia Lee. "We're hopeful that our project encourages people to follow the rules and avoid harming people and wildlife."
Once the Silver Award project has been completed, it's encouraged that awardees reflect, share their story, and celebrate. "I enjoy sharing our project with other friends and how we used our different skill sets to accomplish a goal," said Jessica Dunlap. Troop 3512 is satisfied with their achievements and pleased to have contributed to society in the way that they did. "When we were first brainstorming ideas, we wanted to do something about the ocean because it is so large and there are so many things we can do to improve it," said Mia DeGarmo. "But, we're happy to have focused on impacting the local area, where we live."
"Think globally, act locally" is a mentality that urges people to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in their own cities - which is just what these three young women did. It's no secret that they've made a profound impact on their community and should be proud of themselves for earning one of the highest awards in Girl Scouting - but, they're not stopping anytime soon. "We've started talking about what we're going to do for our Gold awards," said Sophia. "We're already making plans."
Click here to read more about Girl Scouting's highest awards.