I just survived the Bronze Award.
I mean, my Juniors just completed their Bronze Award project. I’ll admit I never felt more relief than when I emailed their paperwork to council.
The Bronze Award is a new animal to me, as I’m an old-school Girl Scout who didn’t have that option and earned her Gold for her work at a local camp.
I thought the journey experience itself was tough. Bring on the Bronze.
It started out well. We had a group of bridging Cadettes who came to share their Silver Award project with us. The girls were jazzed and even wrote on their dream poster top “earn the Gold Award.” I told them baby steps, let’s do th Bronze Award first.
It nearly felt like the last time they’d get along.
Which brings me to:
Bronze Award Lesson 1: Getting a consensus is tricky. Keeping a consensus is even harder.
It took multiple meetings and a couple Bronze Award project days to even get our little group of six to agree on a project. It hearkened back to the days when we were just exhausted at the end of the meeting. I loved their passion, but I just couldn’t oversee two projects, and I knew my co was having a challenging personal year. Finding something that everyone could agree to took a lot of brainstorming, persistence, and a bit of prayer.
Bronze Award Lesson 2: Get support.
For your Bronze (or any other leadership award), you need support. Support from your fellow volunteers. Support from your parents. Support from the organization you’re helping. Having an outside leader I could vent to safely about the process was beneficial too!
We were blessed too that as soon as we had an idea, we reached out to partners to make it happen. Our Bronze Award project would not have been nearly as successful if our school principal hadn’t let the girls promote it (and the needs in our county) for a special out of uniform day. Nor would it have been as successful if the local homeschool group (one of our scouts is homeschooled) had said there’s no place in it.
Talking about our project, even in an off-handed way, reaped benefits I hadn’t anticipated. Several friends donated items for the girls’ project, without being asked, because they saw a need and had a solution. It allowed the girls to extend their resources much farther than they could have done alone.
Bronze Award Lesson 3: Be Prepared for Battles.
What we didn’t anticipate is girl drama. As these girls work together in a team environment, particularly in a long-term project, it brings out the good and the bad. Roles would be backed out of. Minds would change. “You’re being bossy” was invoked on more than one occasion.
There will be fires for leaders to fight. One of the best things we did, and I thank my coleader for this bit of inspiration, was that we stopped work one bad afternoon, got out paper, and made signs for each girl where each of their teammates wrote a compliment or thing that they admired about each other. It changed things. The rowdy girl was shocked we applauded her energy – because when she channeled it for good – great things happened.
Bronze Award Lesson 4: Be Ready to Change Direction.
In real life, scope on Bronze Award projects change as our circumstances do. Don’t be afraid to evolve the project based on circumstances. We initially trimmed back our project due to some factors (the girls weren’t comfortable doing public speaking at our church, eliminating the word of mouth there) but then were pleasantly surprised when our school donation drive exceeded expectations – and we had more to work with than anticipated.
Bronze Award Lesson 5: Celebrate Success.
Your Juniors worked hard. Frankly, so did you. Make sure you build in time to celebrate the awesome work you did and what you overcame. And do it beyond just attending a Bronze Award ceremony.
On our “big night,” when we completed our project, we made it well known we were going to the beloved ice cream shop down the street to celebrate our hard work. It was just what we needed to get over our last few hours. And the smiles were worth it.
What tips do you have on Girl Scout leadership awards? Share them below!
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[…] to admit this past year has had its ups and downs. My troop’s year-long experience with the Bronze Award was painful – as it brought personality clashes to the surface during the process. And over […]
We’re just starting out on the Bronze Award path and I thank you for this posting! I’m going to try to stay positive through it all as their leader!
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[…] our troop focused simply on survival, overcoming tough dynamics and helping the girls who wanted Bronze Award achieve […]
I am fortunate! I have 3 5th grade Juniors in a multi-level troop, and they ALL get along so well, even though they have been going to different schools, and 2 of them are from split families. We meet in a church, and the girls wanted to do something to help the church, so they talked to the trustees, came up with a great project of scraping, sanding, a picnic table, and sanding and re-staining 2 outside benches. They came up with the supplies they needed, went to a hardware store, and bought the supplies, today, they washed and rinsed the table and benches, and Sunday they will sand and paint, and stain. They have worked closely with the member of the church, and have found a way for the younger members of the troop to help. At the end they are going to make a story board showing how they did their project, write thank you notes to all who helped and CELEBRATE. No drama , no tears, just friendship and cooperation. I’m sure it would be much harder with more girls.