Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - January 23, 2002

Five Girl Scouts earn Gold Awards

By Michael Jacobson

Gold Award winners Five local Girl Scouts received the highest award in scouting on Sunday afternoon.

Jennifer Bruntlett, Courtney Fuchs, Rachel Koehn, Krista Kotschevar, and Lisa Stanger - all seniors at Paynesville Area High School and members of the same troop - received their Gold Award.

Gold Award recipients: (left to right) Jennifer Bruntlett, Rachel Koehn, Lisa Stanger, Courtney Fuchs, and Krista Kotschevar.

Some of the girls have been in scouting together for 13 years, since kindergarten, and they have all been together since fourth grade, when Koehn moved to Paynesville with her family. They join the approximately six percent of senior Girl Scouts who earn their Gold Award each year, a total of 2,500 each year nationwide.

They are the first Girl Scouts to earn Gold Awards in Paynesville since 1997, when six girls earned the prestigious award.

Bruntlett and Kotschevar have been members of the Girl Scouts for 13 years, since kindergarten. Fuchs and Stanger joined in first grade. At that time, the number of girls in their class in scouting was too big for one troop. Normally a troop comprises all the girls in the same grade, but with approximately 30 girls out for scouting two troops were made.

Bruntlett, Fuchs, Kotschevar, and Stanger were in the same troop, which Koehn joined in fourth grade. Koehn has also been in Girl Scouts for 13 years, but she spent her first four years in Rochester.

Eventually, the number of girls reduced and the two troops were joined in junior high. "When you get older, you have fewer girls in your troop," said Koehn. "We were lucky to still have eight (in our grade)."

In eighth grade, the troop worked together to earn Silver Awards for all its members, which led into being a senior scout and earning the Gold Award. "After we did the Silver Award, we just started talking about it right away and started working," said Fuchs. "Once you start you don't want to stop."

The Gold Award, which demands more individual work, was time consuming and demanding. "The Silver Award was easy," Fuchs added. "It was nothing compared to the Gold Award."

"If I wouldn't have had it as a goal, I'm not sure I would have done it because it was so much work," said Bruntlett.

The Gold Award has five requirements, including earning four badges and a project that takes at least 50 hours to complete. They started on their projects in March 2001, getting approval from the district council in St. Cloud.

Bruntlett, the daughter of Brad Bruntlett and Michelle Bruntlett, and Koehn, the daughter of Ric and Barb Koehn, worked together to coordinate and lead Vacation Bible School during the third week of June at their respective churches, Nordland Lutheran and Grace United Methodist.

In the morning they would lead VBS at Nordland, in the evening they would lead it at Grace, and in between they would work out the kinks. They directed the curriculum, recruited teachers, organized supplies, made up and performed puppet skits, and thought up various crafts. "Even though this was a lot of work, it was worth it to see the kids enjoy themselves," said Bruntlett.

Fuchs, the daughter of Ron and Sheryl Fuchs, Kotschevar, the daughter of Mike and Jody Kotschevar, and Stanger, the daughter of Paul and Deb Stanger, worked to improve the trails at the city's Veteran's Memorial Park. First, they raised funds for their project, and then they built birdhouses and benches, erected signs, planted shrubs, and lined the trails with wood chips.

"We thought it would be nice," said Stanger, of their decision to improve the trails. "They're out there but all grown over. We thought it would be nice to have trails by the beach."

Their Gold Award projects were approved by the district council last fall, but the ceremony was delayed until after the holidays in December. With the completion of their Gold Award, the girls' scouting responsibilities are just about over, at least as scouts. They do have to help the other girls in their troop with their Gold Award projects. Melissa Bachman, Jennifer Monson, and Wendy Bennett are also working towards Gold Awards.

The thing they will miss most about scouting, they all agreed, will be spending time together. "I really like it," explained Kotschevar. "It's still fun. We're all still friends."

Through their years of scouting, the troop has tried to meet twice a month and to have one fun event each month, but in recent years, as the girls have gotten more involved at school and started working, meetings have been held once a month.

"This is the time for us to do something together," added Kotschevar, "because we all have different friends at school."

"They're really fun. They really complement each other. They're all different but they work together well," said Deb Stanger, their troop leader for the past nine years, since the girls were in fourth grade.

For Koehn, Girl Scouts has always been about making friends and having fun, except for the time in Rochester when an older boy teased her that he was going to eat her because she was a Brownie. And she believed him!

"I don't think I was thinking about (earning a Gold Award) in Brownies," she explained. "I was just running around, having a good time."

One of their last scouting activities will be a trip to Florida over spring break this year. The girls planned a trip to Florida as one of their badges towards their Gold Awards, and they plan to use all the money they earned fund raising, plus out-of-pocket funds, to spend a week in Florida together.

Paynesville Gold Awards
Linnea Louis, 1993
Kristin Freilinger, 1997
Sarah Lahr, 1997
Elizabeth McCarney, 1997
Molly Meagher, 1997
Lindsey Moser, 1997
Jen Wendlandt, 1997
Jen Bruntlett, 2001
Courtney Fuchs, 2001
Rachel Koehn, 2001
Krista Kotschevar, 2001
Lisa Stanger, 2001

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community