SILVERTHORNE – For years, Nicolette Bouchard has kept the fact she’s a Girl Scout a secret held tight to her chest.But the Summit High School senior now wants the world to know, particularly since she’s just earned the prestigious Gold Award, the highest honor one can receive in the organization.Bouchard got her start in the Girl Scouts in Brownies, where she began earning what would turn into scores of badges.”In Brownies, it was like, ‘Feed your pets,’ and you’d get a badge,” she said of the younger troop. “Now to get a pet badge, it takes three or four months. It gets harder as you go.”Her blue vest sports dozens of badges – music, women in history, fashion to fitness, sea to seashore, travel, cooking, child development and the coveted leadership badge among them – representing the work she’s done in the past 12 years.
Bouchard progressed through the ranks, to Juniors, Cadets and now Seniors, where she has spent the past two years figuring out what project she wanted to do to attain the Gold Award. Initially, she wanted to clear out a weed-choked lot in her neighborhood and turn it into a park, but she couldn’t reach the landowner. Then she thought she might do a holiday craft fair with the seniors.But when she heard that the Family and Intercultural Resource Center needed its food bank restocked, Bouchard decided to take that endeavor under her wing.She advertised on radio and in the Summit Daily News. She lined up other Girl Scouts to help. She put boxes in grocery stores. She got permission to use parking lots as drop-off sites, organized van drivers, distributed flyers and went door-to-door soliciting for canned food items.By the time she was done, on Nov. 20, she’d collected 2,500 pounds of food and filled a pickup truck with items for the thrift store.”And people are still dropping things off,” she said. “Overall, I consider this a huge success. It feels so good to help so many people.”So did the Gold Award committee, to whom she had to apply and interview before getting started. The group will give her the award next spring.
The award is the equivalent to the boy’s Eagle Scout, but few people know it exists.”It’s kind of insulting,” Bouchard said. “Everyone knows about the Eagle Scouts. Nobody knows about the Gold Award. Nobody even knows older Girl Scouts exist. That’s one of the reasons I’m advertising it.”Having attained that, Bouchard reflected on the past 12 years in Scouting.”It was very fun up until middle school – just a blast,” she said. “All my friends were in it, we’d go on campouts, take field trips, sell cookies. By the end of fifth grade, though, everyone decided to quit. They tell you middle school is really tough, that the homework’s insane, you can’t balance homework and sports and your social life …”And there was the “cool” factor to consider, as well.
“Everyone hides it,” she said of her troop’s membership. “We’d meet in a classroom, and if anyone came in and asked what we were doing, we’d say we were just hanging out.”That was, until they took a trip to Savannah, Ga., the birthplace of Juliette Low, who founded the Girl Scouts.”After Savannah, it didn’t matter,” Bouchard said. “This year, I totally advertise it. I’m not a dork, I’m not popular, but it’s my senior year. I don’t care what people think.”She’s found most people take it in stride.Other projects she’s undertaken include picking up trash in Breckenridge, helping seniors, assisting with Silverthorne Elementary School’s rummage sale, playing violin for the church choir, holding presentations about Low to the younger Girl Scouts, and teaching third-graders in her church.- Jane Stebbins
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