BETWEEN SENIOR Girl Scout Troop 856 leader Barb Breeden and her assistant, Kris Smith, the two women have been Scout leaders for nearly a quarter of a century. In that time, they've watched their young charges grow from first-graders to high school seniors.
In spring, while seven members from Troop 856 were busy with final exams before graduation, they had one more bit of Scouting business to take care of -- receiving Girl Scouting's highest honor: the Gold Award.
"People compare the Gold award to the Boy Scout Eagle Award, but it's very different," Breeden says. "It exemplifies the way today's [Girl] Scouting places an emphasis on preparing to use the service and leadership skills they learn in Girl Scouts in all areas of their lives."
It is no simple achievement. To qualify to begin the 50-hour project that is the culmination of work for the Gold Award, a girl must be in ninth grade and have earned a leadership award requiring 30 hours of service, a career development pin, four interest-project badges related to her eventual project, as well as complete a five-part Girl Scout challenge.
"The process takes at least two years," says Breeden, a reference librarian at the Naval Academy and mother of Kelly Breeden, one of the seven recipients.
The others are: Marisa Baldwin, Jennifer Brown, Anne Marie Gilliland, Kathryn McQuade, Elizabeth Reed and Katherine Wood.
The seven are in college now, but what the young women did to earn the award shows how much they have grown through Scouting.
Marisa, a freshman at the Johns Hopkins University, created a cultural awareness display and activities on Honduras for the Rhythms of the World Festival for the nonprofit Chesapeake Children's Museum in Annapolis. Deborah Wood, the museum's executive director, was her adviser.
Kelly, who has enrolled at East Carolina University, conducted a workshop for Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts to earn their "Your Best Defense" patch. The event included staff from East Coast Martial Arts and Christine Brown, coordinator for the county's Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. Kelly's adviser was Kris Smith.
Jennifer, at Clemson University, taught Junior Girl Scout Troop 1138 how to care for and monitor baby oysters, a skill she learned from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Sarah Bodor, head of the foundation's Student BaySavers program, was adviser.
The joint project of Anne Marie, at St. Mary's College, and Kathryn, at Allentown College, was the creation of an oral history of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland for its archive center. To conduct interviews, the two consulted Paul Stilwell, director of the U.S. Naval Institute's oral history program. Lee Wolf-Silver was adviser.
Elizabeth, a student at the College of William and Mary, created a nature garden at the Naval Academy Primary School with the help of volunteers from Severn School's environmental club, InterAct. They also helped Elizabeth plant 50 trees at the academy's nature preserve. Adviser was Tina Lorentzen, academy project manager.
Katherine, at Mary Washington College, landscaped at Sarah's House, a shelter for displaced families at Fort Meade. She and her friends planted flowers, trees and shrubs donated by Homestead Gardens and Arnold Farms. Mary Pat Marzulla of Sarah's House was adviser.
Another member of Troop 856, Erin Smith, daughter of Kris Smith, earned her Gold Award last year and is a sophomore at Frostburg State University.
The latest seven were presented the Gold Award in April during a Girl Scouts of Central Maryland banquet in Baltimore.
At a community ceremony May 16 at St. Margaret's Church, attended by all of the Broadneck Scouts, they received citations from the state legislature presented by Sen. John C. Astle and from Naval Academy Professor John Ertel of the Military Order of World Wars.
Randolph Purdy, president of Branch 24 of the Fleet Reserve Association, gave each recipient an American flag.
All also have received the Bridge to Adult pin -- a final Girl Scout honor.
"I tell the girls they'll wear their Girl Scout pin while they're Girl Scouts," Breeden says. "But they'll wear the Bridge to Adult pin the rest of their lives."
Sadly, the graduation marked the end of Troop 856. But plenty of other troops are around the area.
Girl Scout information: 800-492-2521.
Pub Date: 10/21/99