Overcoming obstacles

HVA Girl Scout wins Gold Award by filling virtual camp needs

Hardin Valley Academy junior Kathryn “Katie” Bush exemplified leadership and resilience as she planned and completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Katie knew that now more than ever, children needed activities to keep them active and engaged,” Brooke Conner, Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians social media and content coordinator, stated in a press release. “With the goal to address mental and physical health during summer break and the coronavirus, she created stay-at-home, safer-at-home camp kits.”

Initially, Bush, who is a member of Troop No. 21156, planned in February 2020 to partner with her “beloved’ Girl Scout day camp she had attended as both a camper and counselor, to create guidelines for future leaders. COVID-19 then hit the nation the following month, shaking up her Gold Award project plan, which is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. With summer camp canceled, she pivoted and decided on an online camp — including creating a website with tutorial videos and camp kits for at-home fun.

Bush chose activities encouraging learning new skills, creativity, physical exercise, and more: building bird houses, making butter and cajeta (a Mexican caramel), a compass activity, basket weaving, along with additional gaming and song videos.

She applied and was accepted for the Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant to pay for materials to include in the kits.

Bush didn’t expect the outpouring of interest in her project. Offering the take-home kits to Daisies, Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes in her service unit in West Knox County, there were overwhelming requests. Her website with the activity tutorials has received more than 700 hits from all over the world.

“She was a great example of being an innovator because so quickly after (the shutdowns) happened, Katie was very ready to revamp her project,” said Sarah Hinton Miazza, programs manager at GSCSA. “And I know that she provided a huge service to parents who were scrambling for things for their kids to do because the response was so huge. She’s a go-getter, sees something that needs to happen and does it.

“Quarantine made gathering supplies and asking for donations difficult,” Conner said. “Plans to work with other female leaders in her community were not possible. But seeing the faces of the girls during their Zoom calls and during kit drop-offs made the efforts and the changes worth it.”

Bush said during the project she learned how to take charge and listen to and incorporate people’s ideas.

“This whole project was a plan B, but it turned out amazing,” she said. “I learned how to be flexible and more of a problem solver.”