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Paynesville Press - August 23, 2006

Local grads attain Girl Scouts' highest award

Addi Larson

With a ceremony last week, Amanda Skalicky and Lauren Vaske, both 2006 PAHS graduates, celebrated earning Girl Scout Gold Awards, the highest award to be attained in Girl Scouts.

The Gold Award requires 65 hours of community service along with previously receiving the Girl Scout Silver Award, which requires 30 hours of community service. Among other pre-requisites, also required is the earning of four Girl Scout patches, the career exploration pin, the senior leadership pin, and the senior challenge pin.

Gold awards Another requirement of receiving their Gold Awards was the completion of their chosen projects, which first needed to be pre-approved by the award council in St. Cloud. Completion needed to take place no later than the end of August, after their senior year of high school.

Amanda Skalicky and Lauren Vaske, pictured with council member Lou Louis, both received their Girl Scout Gold Awards at a ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 16, at St. Louis Catholic Church in Paynesville. The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts.

For her project, Skalicky designed a kiosk with benches and a map to be located along Highway 55 at Old Lake Road, for use with the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail that will be paved nearby. Skalicky said the kiosk will not be finished by this September; however, she has already provided over 65 hours of service and was approved by the council to extend the date of completion.

When Skalicky first envisioned the kiosk, it was a smaller project. But after speaking with public works director Ron Mergen, and city council member Jeff Bertram, her kiosk developed into a resting area with a concrete foundation and three-sided, plexiglass-covered maps that can be changed according to the seasons. "The city wanted it to look very nice," Skalicky said.

This also sparked city plans to possibly create more kiosks with maps along the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail in the future. In addition to amassing donations of concrete, labor, lumber, and other supplies, Skalicky has raised $1,000 for the project thus far.

"I like the outdoors," Skalicky said, "and with so much going on with the new trail, I think it will benefit the community by new attractions and new people."

Vaske, for her project, created a Girl Scout patch shaped in the outline of the state of Minnesota, which is available for Minnesota Girl Scouts to earn beginning this year. Vaske outlined requirements to earn the patch, acquired her information from surveys of scouts, and traveled to different Girl Scout regions throughout the state.

Vaske also held a design contest. The winner, Rachel Ampe of Paynesville, designed the Minnesota-shaped patch.

Vaske said she joined Girl Scouts in the first grade, because she wanted to spend time with her friends who were scouts and make more friendships through her time and involvement. Girl Scouts start as Daisies from ages five to six, then bridge to brownies, cadets, juniors, and, finally, seniors by age 17.

In addition to earning patches and pins, Skalicky and Vaske participated in outdoor activities, traveling, working with youth, and spending time with the elderly.

Both Skalicky and Vaske said they stayed in Girl Scouts because of their mothers' encouragement and discipline and because they wanted to take part in trips to different places throughout Minnesota and the United States. Skalicky's mother, Laura, and Vaske's mother, Shelby, are the two troop leaders for their Girl Scout troop.

Vaske said a highlight of Girl Scouts was seeing Tom Cruise while in Los Angeles for a five-day visit in 2005. Both also traveled with their troop to Washington, D.C. in celebration of the 95-year anniversary of Girl Scouts, and Vaske traveled with the troop to New York City in June. For Skalicky, a highlight in Minnesota was a tour of Lanesboro, where she slept in a barn-turned-inn and tubed down Root River.

Skalicky said of being a scout, "I learned a lot about networking and getting out and talking to people." She added that a lot of time was spent over the last year asking for money and explaining her Gold Award project to people, which has been a challenging and valuable experience. Public relations are among the skills she will take from the scouting experience in addition to building her resume, she said.

They both received their Gold Awards on Wednesday, Aug. 16. According to Press records, nearly 20 Paynesville Girl Scouts have earned Gold Awards: Stephanie Louis and Michelle Monson in 2004; Mindy Meagher and Heidi Steinhofer in 2002; Jen Bruntlett, Courtney Fuchs, Rachel Koehn, Krista Kotschevar, Lisa Stanger, and Melissa Bachman in 2001; Kristen Freilinger, Sarah Lahr, Elizabeth McCarney, Molly Meagher, Lindsey Moser, and Jen Wendlandt in 1997; and Linnea Louis in 1993.

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