As my Girl Scout troop approaches the high school years, we’re becoming acutely aware that college is on the horizon.
One of the things I’m trying to do as a parent and Girl Scout leader is to empower my scouts to take a proactive approach toward college and scholarship applications.
Instead of panicking as juniors in high school, they’re working to document experiences for a larger record of their accomplishments.
Silver and Gold Awards
One of the easiest things to track and record are the Silver and Gold Award projects. Encourage your girls to have a digital tracking log like a Google Document to track hours throughout the Silver Award and Gold Award processes. While the council’s documentation shows the project completion, the hours documentation is a reminder of skills and steps as part of the process.
Organizing Service Hours
Organizing and tracking community service hours is a huge challenge for teens. We had a “practice run” when my girls had confirmation preparations, which included documenting 30 service hours to church, home and community. Often papers were lost and hours forgotten.
If you have scouts who are busy in small ways (versus a Silver or Gold Award project, which has required documentation and a known amount of minimum hours), it can be just as important to document the small, reoccurring sessions of service. You can download free templates to track hours for the Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards here.
We assisted my setting aside time in our meetings to add to their folders what community service they may have completed since the last troop meeting. This allows them that ongoing record to help them later.
Community Service Bars
We also built community service bar tracking sheets for each grade level. You can download and personalize here.
Presidential Volunteer Service Award
The Presidential Volunteer Service Award is a national community service award based on recorded hours of service during a 12- month period determined by the certifying organization. (For our troop, we use the start of the school year.)
The PVSA recognizes service hours as cumulative, meaning a scout could claim 3 hours for Honor Flight service, 20 for a Service to Girl Scouts Award, 20 from wrapping up Silver in that time frame, and 5 for helping out at the animal shelter.
Like with the Girl Scout awards we log time in on our sheets in our folder.
The Presidential Volunteer Service Award is open to all and is not a GSUSA honor, so honors could be counted for both Girl Scouts and PVSA awards.
Presidential Volunteer Service Award recently amended its application process. Whereas troops used to be able to be a certifying organization, they now have to be associated with a nonprofit. It’s great if your council facilitates this, not so much if they don’t.
For our troop, the workaround was to partner with the church we are associated with. By partnering with them, we are able to provide the service for both our Girl Scout troop and the Boy Scout troop and Venture Crew as well.
Other Scouting Experiences
“Does Girl Scouts count for college?” Absolutely.
Through Girl Scouts a longtime member could claim a 5, 10 or even 13 year commitment to an organization.
Through Girl Scouts a girl may have learned a skill through a badge or other activity that sparked a greater idea for learning.
Through Girl Scouts they may have learned business skills such as budgeting, organizing events, time and financial management, leading teams and meetings, and sales and “elevator pitches” through the cookie sales.
Through Girl Scouts there are also the soft skills of working together for common cause, negotiation, perserverance and patience with others.
By helping them with through the skills and learn to demonstrate what they’ve learned, you can go a long way.