A typical sixth grader may not be thinking about how he or she can help the local community and make a community park safe, but Alice McHale is no typical sixth grader.
McHale, a student of Moorestown Upper Elementary School, recently completed her Bronze Award with Girl Scouts Moorestown Troop 25288. The Bronze Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve and focuses on bettering the community. McHale chose to help her local park, Pompeston Woods.
McHale was asked to come up with an idea to receive her Bronze Award; McHale’s first thoughts were of Pompeston Park and its safety issue.
“I was thinking, when I came home after my meeting where we discussed the Bronze Awards, what could I do to cut down some of the vandalism, get people in volved and get people to come to Pompeston Woods? I thought hopefully with a map, more people would come, and that is how I came up with the idea,” McHale said.
For the Bronze Award, Junior Girl Scouts are to spend 20 hours working on their project. McHale set out right away. First, she went to STEM to ask for permission to do the project. She set up a meeting with some of the members and met in the woods. She told them how she would make it, the wood she would use, the size she was thinking about and other information they might need about the project. STEM told her she had to speak to the council to get approval. So McHale went to her first Moorestown Township Council meeting where she asked for, and received, permission to make the map.
After the project was approved, McHale worked to get the map made. She mostly worked independently. However, her dad, Michael, helped her with the technical stuff.
“I worked as a Girl Scout independently. My dad did help me with the technical stuff like getting the woodwork done. It’s harder than it looks, and my dad did help me with a lot of that stuff,” McHale said.
McHale’s second part of her project was to mark the path of the Pompeston Woods trail, also known as trail blazing. She said that was her favorite part.
“My favorite part was the second part of my project, blazing the trees. I thought if I blazed the trees to show people where to go, they would try not to stray off the path,” McHale said. “It gave me a sense of pride to be able to make a contribution like that and have it be there, hopefully, for a long time.”
Overall, her project took 22 hours. After all her hard work, she finally received her Bronze Award.
“I felt very happy at the end, when I achieved it. I was working on this for a long time, and it gave me a sense of pride and happiness mixture,” McHale said.
McHale, who started as a Brownie and is now a Girl Scout, is starting her fifth year as a part of the Girl Scouts. She started because she thought it would be fun and a friend was doing it, too. Now, McHale is experiencing things she wouldn’t have without joining.
“My favorite part is probably getting to do and experience new things that you usually wouldn’t be able to do. Like the town council meeting, I wouldn’t have been able to do that as a sixth grader. It gives me new life experiences,” McHale said. “Some people don’t want to join because it seems like it’s all business and selling Girl Scout cookies. The real fact is there is a lot of fun stuff and life skills that you can take with you through all of your years and help you with whatever you want to do when you grow up.”
McHale is looking forward to continuing with the Girl Scouts and starting her next project. Now as a cadet, she gets to work on her next award, which is the Silver Award. McHale hopes to make a bigger accomplishment for her next project. She wants to put something new in the town or contribute to something. But, McHale has awhile to think about it.
For those interested in the Girl Scouts and Troop 25288, be sure to check out their Facebook page called Moorestown Girl Scouts. You can also learn more about the organization at www.girlscouts. org.