Cincinnati Country Day School graduate, Natalie Kaminski, started her experience in the Girl Scout program when a family in her Mason neighborhood expressed interest in starting a troop. She ended up spending 13 years with this troop, earning her Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
“When I was younger, after my troop completed both the Bronze and Silver awards, I always had a thought in the back of my head that it would be cool to complete a Gold Award, but it seemed so far out of reach,” Natalie tells us.
Young girls begin the Girl Scout program as Daisies and Brownies. As Juniors they earn the Bronze Award by teaming up to complete service projects in their towns. Cadettes earn the Silver Award by researching an issue, making a plan, and taking action to improve their communities. The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouting, usually earned by Seniors and Ambassadors.
“Throughout high school, I continuously wanted to begin a project, but I was never able to settle on an idea. I was grateful when an opportunity presented itself,” Natalie shares.
It began when her mom came across a Facebook post about the Charles Young Buffalo Soldier National Monument needing troops to help with certain projects on the property.
“After speaking with a contact from the park, I learned their needs were significant enough that I could create a Gold Award project,” Natalie explains.
This national park, located in Wilberforce, Ohio is under restoration and part of this process includes bringing wildlife back into the area. To meet this need, she decided to install four bat houses at the Charles Young Buffalo Soldier National Monument, which would help ensure a healthy ecosystem.
To execute the project, Natalie assembled a team of 18 people. This team consisted of members of the National Park Service, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, a younger troop, her current troop, friends and family. The six-month process included several trips to the national monument to figure out requirements for the houses, trips to the hardware store, a building day where the team assembled the houses and finally an installation day at the park.
After the project ended, Natalie also spoke on a National Park Services panel discussion about youth volunteering, attended by more than 1,000 people.
Out of all the activities that Natalie engaged with in scouting, her Gold Award project was her favorite experience of all.
“This project taught me many new skills in leadership, organization, planning and building that I will be able to use in the future,” Natalie explains.
Even though she has received all possible Girl Scout honors, she still plans on being involved indefinitely.
“Girl Scouts has been an extremely important part of my life and it will continue to be as I am a new lifetime member,” Natalie tells us.
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio: GSWO.org
“This project taught me many new skills in leadership, organization, planning and building that I will be able to use in the future." -Natalie Kaminski
Mason resident Adam Weaver began his scouting experience when he joined the Cub Scouts in first grade.
“I stayed in Scouts through the transition from Cub Scouts to Scouts BSA because I made friends in the program, and the skills I learned were interesting and fun,” Adam explains.
Scouts join the program and work first toward earning the Tenderfoot rank, followed by Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and then finally the highest rank of Eagle. To earn the rank of Eagle the scout needs to plan and successfully complete a service project that benefits their community.
After helping with a fellow scout’s Eagle project at Mason Intermediate School, he decided he wanted to also do a project for a local school.
“I spoke with the principal of Mason Early Childhood Center (MECC), and learned that the courtyard would constantly flood and be unusable after any amount of rain,” Adam tells us.
Though he originally planned on creating a sensory path, he expanded the scope of his plan to create a sensory courtyard for MECC.
The 3,000-square-foot courtyard transformation began with transitioning a weed-filled, mud-covered area into a rock garden where kids can paint their own rocks. A tetherball pole was repaired and a 10-station sensory path was installed.
Once it was completed, the project included placing 2500 square feet of astroturf, 3 tons of sand, rocks, gravel and more than 10 gallons of paint. Fortunately, Adam was able to acquire a $5,000 grant from the Mason Schools Foundation, which covered the entire cost of renovating the courtyard.
One of the main requirements for an Eagle Scout project is to demonstrate leadership. Adam did this by recognizing where he needed to consult with others.
“I recognized that I can’t be an expert in everything, therefore I worked with experts from the school to design the stations for the sensory path,” Adam explains. “I learned from the professionals at Motz Turf Farm how to best install astroturf and I received advice from my scout leaders about how to lead a project of this scale.”
Over the course of the project, Adam’s team of troop members put in more than 800 hours onsite.
“From a planning perspective, the project really highlighted the value and necessity of breaking down large projects into smaller more manageable sections,” Adam tells us.
In general, Adam is most thankful for the life skills he learned while working towards the Eagle Scout ranking.
“Part of becoming an Eagle Scout is completing 21 merit badges that teach you about money management, the importance of health, effective communication and so much more,” Adam explains. “Scouting has also provided me with numerous opportunities to discover and perfect my leadership skills.”
Moving forward, Adam plans to focus most of his time on college but hopes to return in the summers to volunteer as an adult leader for high adventure programs with his troop.
Scouts BSA, Dan Beard Council: DanBeard.org
“Scouting has also provided me with numerous opportunities to discover and perfect my leadership skills.” -Adam Weaver