Pretty much my whole childhood was spent in Girl Scouts. I always knew I was going to do the Gold Award. But the Gold Award was always just a light at the end of an endless tunnel. It always seemed infinitely far away. But then it hit me, I realized I would have to start pretty soon. And I couldn’t really start if I couldn’t come up with an idea. So I actually had to sit and think about what I would do for my project.

What is the Gold Award, though? Most of the time, people describe it as the Girl Scout

equivalent of the Eagle Award. And that is true. It’s a bit sad that it has to be described as the

equivalent of a better known project. To be honest, I’m not really sure why the Gold Award is so obscure compared to the Eagle Award. Hopefully it can become more well known one day. It’s really a respectable service project. It really is.

So anyways, I thought quite a bit about what I was going to do. It seems as though everyone

always does a garden project or generic collection project. But I wanted to do something original and related to technology. I wanted to challenge myself to create an original project. Outside of the project I’m pretty interested in computers and video games. My dad works with computers too, so I suppose I knew what I was going to do. I discussed a project about Internet safety with him, and he wanted me to do an ambitious project about protecting investors’ funds. I told him that was too broad, so I decided to do a more focused project raising awareness about Internet safety for kids and families.

Now I definitely did grow up in an Internet centric world. However, the rise of smartphones

and tablets have made it much easier for kids and families to access the Internet . This obviously has positives and negatives. On the one hand, during the course of the project I was impressed to learn about how parents did know about Internet safety. I guess that’s definitely a positive to having easier access to the Internet. However, on the other hand, with the Internet now being such an essential part of our lives, it is easier than ever for criminals to attack individuals. I learned that even well-meaning parents may not know everything they need to know in order to protect their children.

So I did complete the Girl Scout Gold Award project proposal application process, and I had

an interview. My project was without conditions, and I was allowed to start my project right

away. To raise awareness about Internet safety, I needed to have a concrete and measurable

goal. My goal was to share a Powerpoint presentation about Internet safety that I presented

throughout Los Angeles, \various schools, libraries, churches, Boy Scout troops, and Girl Scout

troops. I also directed and produced a video about Internet Safety. After the video, I created a

website about internet safety.

I started the project towards the end of the school year last year, but I completed most of it

during the summer. At first the project seemed pretty daunting, but in the end, I realized it really was not. I just went with the flow and tried to have fun with it. And I suppose it was kind of fun.

Throughout the project, I developed leadership and public speaking skills, as well as time

management strategies. I also learned how to do something actually productive over the summer instead of completely wasting my time. I encourage all Girl Scouts to stay in Girl Scouts until high school to have the opportunity to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award it is an amazing leadership and community service experience.

By Abby Brown

Abby Brown is a Santa Monica Girl Scout