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Gold Award Project Refined By COVID-19

katie bush

Girl Scouting creates women of character, leadership, and resilience. Kathryn “Katie” Bush exemplified these characteristics as she planned and completed her Gold Award project during a global pandemic. Katie knew that now more than ever, children needed activities to keep them active and engaged. With the goal to address mental and physical health during summer break and the coronavirus, she created stay-at-home, safer-at-home camp kits.

A Girl Scout since she was a Daisy and now in her junior year of high school, Katie knew she wanted to earn her Gold Award at a young age. The 16-year-old looked up to camp counselors when she was younger and wanted to be a role model for younger girls.

Having gone to and seen the benefits of day camp, Katie planned in February 2020 to partner with her beloved Girl Scout day camp that she attended as both a camper and counselor to create guidelines for future leaders. COVID-19 then hit the nation the following month, shaking every aspect of day-to-day life, including her Gold Award project plan. With summer camp canceled, she pivoted and decided on an online camp—including creating a website with tutorial videos and camp kits for at-home fun.

Katie chose activities that encouraged learning new skills, creativity, physical exercise, and more: building bird houses, making butter and cajeta (a Mexican caramel), a compass activity, basket weaving, along with additional gaming and song videos. Katie applied and was accepted for the Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant to pay for materials to include in the kits.

She didn’t expect the outpour of interest in her project. Offering the take-home kits to Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes in her service unit in West Knoxville, there were overwhelming requests. Her website with the activity tutorials has received over 700 hits from all over the world.

“She was a great example of being an innovator because so quickly after [the shutdowns] happened, Katie was very ready to revamp her project,” said Sarah Hinton Miazza, Programs Manager at GSCSA. “And I know that she provided a huge service to parents who were scrambling for things for their kids to do because the response was so huge. She’s a go-getter; sees something that needs to happen and does it.”

Quarantine made gathering supplies and asking for donations difficult. Plans to work with other female leaders in her community were not possible. But seeing the faces of the girls during their Zoom calls and during kit drop-offs made the efforts and the changes worth it. Katie says that during the project, she learned how to take charge and listen to and incorporating people’s ideas.

“This whole project was a plan B,” she says, “but it turned out amazing. I learned how to be flexible and more of a problem solver.”

Gold is purified and refined by being put through fire. Katie was put to the test when earning her Gold Award—the highest award a Girl Scout can earn—and came out stronger than ever, with skills and confidence to take with her wherever she goes.