Three Girl Scouts from Breckenridge earn group’s highest achievement
Becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout is hard. Really hard. The award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts, requiring tireless dedication and an exceptional commitment to community service. This year, only 40 of the over 22,000 Girl Scouts in Colorado will earn the Gold Award, and three Breckenridge teens — Geneva Ascher, Nicole Choma and Lilli Tobias — are the first to earn the award in Summit County since 2010.
To earn the award, Girl Scouts must be high school students who have already proven extraordinary dedication to the organization and their community. They must have completed two Senior or Ambassador Journeys, service projects based on a set theme, or a combination of a Journey and earning the Silver Award — the second-highest Girl Scout achievement.
Once the prequisites are met, the path to the Gold Award is even more challenging. A potential Gold Award Girl Scout must identify an issue affecting their community, investigate it thoroughly, create a plan to spark lasting change, present the plan and gather feedback on how to execute it, take action to achieve that change, and then present their achievements to the Gold Award Committee for approval.
The suggested minimum time to complete these steps is 80 hours, on top of regular commitments Girl Scouts have to their troops, schools, communities and families. Girl Scout Gold Awards are rare in Summit County, with the last Gold Award being earned by Elizabeth Champion of Frisco back in 2010.
Keystone resident Maggie Murray serves on the board of directors for the Girl Scouts of Colorado and is on the Gold Award Committee that approved the Gold Awards for these girls. She is a Gold Award Girl Scout herself, and understands how challenging and rewarding the process of becoming one is.
“It’s harder than becoming an Eagle Scout,” she said. “It’s not only a great opportunity for these girls to make a difference here in the local community, but also to discover more about themselves and what they want to do in life.”
Troop leader Kari Killberg is immensely proud of Geneva, Nicole and Lilli, lauding their accomplishments and commitment to the community.
“They are amazing girls, and they’ve done amazing things as Girl Scouts here in the county,” Killberg said. “They’ve been at the forefront of leadership in their community, and I can’t wait to see the great things they’ll accomplish as adults.”
Nicole Choma, a Summit High School rugby player, set up a recurring after-school rugby camp at four local elementary schools — Dillon Valley, Frisco, Silverthorne and Summit Cove.
Nicole conducted the program through Summit’s after school CATCH program. Nicole wanted to introduce younger girls to the tough sport, one that requires teamwork, leadership, hard work and commitment. She succeeded in teaching about 100 elementary school children how to play the sport through drills and coaching. The rugby after school program will be sustained through Summit School District for five years with the help of Summit High coach Karl Barth.
Geneva Ascher worked with mentors and teachers at Summit High to teach high school students how to self-test for breast and testicular cancer. Geneva taught the cancer self-test program to five classes, training young adults in a significant but easy way to detect and prevent cancer. Lilli’s program has been incorporated into Summit High’s health curriculum going forward, and has the potential for saving lives in the future.
Lilli Tobias partnered with the Colorado Haiti Project and traveled to Haiti to set up an entrepreneurship program at St Paul’s school in the rural coastal town of Petit Trou de Nippes.
Lilli recognized the need for individual business skills in Haiti, which has a 61 percent literacy rate and only about 20 percent of the eligible population go on to receive a secondary education. Lilli taught class about how to set up a business, how to negotiate with lenders to take out a loan and how to pitch a product.
Her students then took what they learned and set up a market festival where they marketed and sold their products to the community. St. Paul’s School will sustain the program for five years, and Lilli is also trying to set up a similar program in Honduras.
On April 9, the three scouts will be honored at the Denver Capitol. There will be a public celebration of these Gold Award Girl Scouts as well as Silver and Bronze Award Girl Scouts across the mountain region on May 11 at 6 p.m. at the Silverthorne Pavilion.
Murray congratulated Nicole, Geneva and Lilli on becoming Gold Award Girl Scouts, and sees their efforts as a shining example of the positive impact Girl Scouts have in their communities.
“On behalf of the Girl Scouts of Colorado, we’re incredibly proud of the hard work they’ve done,” Murray said. “For these girls, the impacts they have in Summit County and globally will be pretty long-lasting. Hopefully, the contributions they’ve made create momentum, like pebbles rolling down a hill and starting an avalanche of change.”
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