Sunday, June 5, 2011

What I was looking for.....

I am going to get a little wordy here, but I really can't help it. I'm about to share about a wonderful organization that we've had the privilege to be involved with and honestly I'm being brief here tonight. Click on any of the RED underlined words and it will take you to their website where you can learn more.

My older boys were involved in scouts from a very early age and all three went on to become Eagle Scouts. I loved the Boy Scout program and always wished that I could find a similar organization for Kristin. Yes, I know the Girl Scouts are out there....but for various reasons I just wasn't comfortable with being a part of their organization. So, we never joined. About 8 years ago, I read about an organization that had begun a few years earlier that sounded exactly like what I wanted. Alas...there were no groups in my area.

A few years ago a friend, who has boys in Boy Scouts plus a younger girl, mentioned her desire to find a good program for her daughter. I shared with her the group I had read about. She looked them up and program in our area. Fortunately for me, this friend never lost hope and kept checking the website on and off. One night last August, she called me up barely able to contain her excitement. YES, finally a new group was going to start that wasn't too far from us and WE were going to join!

So, this past school year, Kristin and I joined the American Heritage Girls. This program has been everything I wanted for her. She has met new friends, been encouraged to grow in leadership, gained confidence, learned and earned many badges, been exposed to new experiences and has found that she loves more things than she thought. This past year she went on her first camping trip, paddled her first kayak, built her first fire by herself, led her first Color Guard, performed in her first campfire skit, and for the first time had opportunities to speak in front of an audience larger than her family. There were many other firsts too numerous to mention, but all were positive and in one way or another helped my little girl mature.

Badges are a part of the AHG experience. They are broken down into 6 frontiers (Our Heritage, Personal Well Being, Family Living, The Arts, Science and Technology, and Outdoor Skills) and the girls are encouraged to work in all 6 areas. This way they are exposed to various topics and skills and often find that they are interested in something that they really didn't know about before. At the same time, they can work on badges that they already know they like, but are encouraged to explore a little further and to share that knowledge with the other girls. Kristin worked hard on her badges and set goals for herself. She had a notebook with all the badges she wanted to work on and a little schedule of when she would spend time on them. Later this week, I promise to share (with pictures!) her work on the Home Decorating badge. Wait until you see her project. I think you'll be impressed. I know, I was!!

AHG is a Christian based organization and they do not hide that fact. There are opportunities for the girls to work on religious awards for their denomination, they are also encouraged to serve in their community and some of the badges even have the girls dig deeper into their faith and their relationship with the Lord. Meetings begin and end with girl led prayer and the leaders have all signed a statement of faith. Like I said, they do not hide it.

The girls move up levels according to their grade/age. At each level they have an opportunity to earn what is called a level award. Normally, the girls have 2-3 years at each level to earn this award. (they receive it as they are bridging up to the next level) However, this was the very first year for this troop. Amazingly though, several girls still decided to work extra hard to earn this award. Kristin was one of those girls. She had to earn at least one badge in each of the 6 frontiers that I shared above. She also had to perform service hours, attend special events, visit the older girls' meeting and she had to plan and carry out a special event for her troop. Kristin joined up with one of her new friends, Rachel, and together they planned, organized, promoted, carried out and cleaned up after a Memory Maker Badge day for the troop. What an incredible learning experience for them.

We are very proud of her accomplishments this year and I can tell that she is as well! Tonight was the Troop MD 1208's Court of Awards. As much as I love my girl and as hard as I work to help her learn and grow, I couldn't have given her that self esteem and sense of accomplishment on my own. This evening, she stood a little taller than her 5'6" body normally allows, she smiled a little wider than usual and she had a bit more confidence in herself as she received her badges, service stars, patches and Lewis and Clark Award.

Like I said at the very beginning, I have so much more to share about this program, but then I run the risk of scaring everyone away with a super long post. Instead, I will just share along the way as Kristin moves towards her goal of earning the Stars and Stripes Award. I have only great things to say about American Heritage Girls and would like to encourage everyone that has a girl....or knows a check into this program and spread the word.

Now, no more words.
Just take a look at some of our wonderful AHG girls enjoying each other, learning new skills and sharing a camping experience together.


pencechristmastreefarm said...

Sounds like a wonderful organization)))

Courtney said...

Love the pics of the girls! Looks like they had a blast. I found your link over at thesitsgirls! I'm loving the challenge and trying my best to do the assignments. Check my blog out if you want

Keiko said...

Here via SITS31DBBB: hi!

What a wonderful accomplishment for your daughter and such a valuable lasting experience for her. I was a Girl Scout way back in the day and I hope to become a troop leader should I be lucky enough to have a daughter one day. Whether it's a religious based organization or not, I think empowerment, learning, leadership programs like GS or AHG or even the Rainbow Girls (through the Masons) are important and valuable opportunities for young women. They build character, skill, teamwork, self-esteem, and a host of other important lifelong lessons.

My blog: Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed

Marcy (Too Timid) said...

What a great experience and organization. It is wonderful when girls can try so many new things in such a supportive environment. I am visiting from the SITS group.

Anonymous said...

I have no girls (only one son) and I am too old for this myself. LOL. It sounds wonderful!

P.s. found you via SITS forum! (31 day challenge. Day 3, I believe.) :)

Anonymous said...

My daughter has just completed her second year of AHG. It is absolutly wonderful. I have volunteered for different things during the meeting times, and I am going to be an assistant unit leader this coming year.
I encourage anyone with girls to check into it. Anyone can visit for two meetings without joining to see how they like it.
God has blessed our family with this wonderful organization.

SmallWorld at Home said...

Glad you found AHG!! We started the first troop in TN 8 years ago and have continued to be abundantly blessed in so many ways.