Stars and Stripes

Posted: August 9th, 2011 under American Heritage Girls.
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Veteran's Day Parade 2008

Wow, have I been busy!  But it has been a good kind of busy.  Last week my oldest daughter was awarded the Stars and Stripes Award from the American Heritage Girls.  It was quite an honor; it is comparable to an Eagle Scout award for Boy Scouts.

 

 

 

 

My "Stars and Stripes" daughter

Stars and Stripes Award Ceremony

American Heritage Girls is a Christian, character-development,  scouting organization that is very similar to the Boy Scouts of America.  In fact, it now enjoys a formal relationship with BSA.  The organization is quite new – only 16 years old.

Flag Ceremony

When our troop, GA2007, was chartered by the local homeschool support group four years ago, my daughter and I were eager to participate.  At that time I was pregnant with my seventh son, and she and I were feeling, well,  rather surrounded by boys.  I am not sure many can understand that feeling.  We were quite outnumbered.

Perhaps there is no place that demonstrates our plight like the choice in family read-aloud books.  My husband reads to the children from literature several nights a week when possible.  He has read most of the great classics:  Les Miserables, Huck Finn, Moby Dick, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy…  There are notable, gaping holes in our selections.  Forget Pride and PrejudiceWuthering HeightsJane Eyre!   No, for us it is always Count of Monte Cristo, Three Musketeers, or even Crime and Punishment.  I think my husband read one page of Anne of Avonlea, one paragraph of Heidi, and only opened the cover of Little Women. Well, at least he tried.

My American Heritage Girl!

My daughter and I were delighted for an opportunity to spend time with girls pursuing feminine activities.  It has been a resounding success!  Four years ago I volunteered as a unit leader for the Patriots, the high-school-aged girls.  For two years I have combined my Patriots with the Pioneers, the middle-school-aged girls.  Together we have worked on earning badges and performing service projects.  The badges are a great idea for so many reasons.  They encouraged us to learn new things, such as Needle Arts, Space Exploration, or Geology.  Some of the required badges ensured we learned essential life skills.  For Emergency Preparedness, we had to learn self-defense and get certified in CPR.  Home Repair required the use of power tools and basic home maintenance.  Several of the badges were downright difficult.  Fishing required the cleaning of a fish.  Outdoor Skills required us to learn knots and lashing techniques, and to construct a useful structure.  I had the greatest pleasure seeing the girls earn the Canoeing Badge.  It was challenging.

Getting wet

 

It required the girls to get in the water (so we had to find an alligator-free lake), to pull each other out, to swamp their canoes, and to pass the flooded canoe over another canoe before turning it upright and climbing back it.

Emptying the canoe

It was difficult, but they accepted the challenge, and when they succeeded their faces beamed with delight:  “I did it!”

Genuine smiles!

 

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the American Heritage Girls is the emphasis that is placed on having the girls serve their family, their church, their community, and one another.  So many of the badges require a girl to teach or demonstrate a skill to younger girls.  Those younger girls adore the teens.  One of the strengths of homeschooling is that it encourages children not to be dependent on their peer group.  AHG has a similar effect, allowing girls to bond with others who are not their age.  I love that.

Beautiful young ladies of all ages!

To earn the Stars and Stripes Award, my daughter had to plan and implement a sizable project that would require 100 volunteer hours.  For several years she had visited an Alzheimer care facility to play her harp for the patients.  For her project, she designed and constructed  a  garden to be enjoyed by Alzheimer’s patients and their families.  The raised garden is wheel-chair accessible and filled with  aromatic plants that  can be used in therapy for the patients.  Apparently, the sense of smell is one of the first to diminish in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.  Her project was not without complications! Her winter was filled with college applications and harp auditions, lots of paperwork and bureaucratic obstacles.  Then finally the week that the garden was to be installed, the week before her 18th birthday (the deadline), the heavens opened up and poured rain for days and days.  I was so proud and thankful to see American Heritage Girls of all ages, their brothers, mothers, and fathers turn up to help get her garden constructed and completed before her deadline.

Raised aromatic garden at Alzheimer care facility

The Stars and Stripes Award ceremony was wonderful!  It was both solemn and joyful.  I was proud of my daughter and all that she had achieved.  She set a goal, she reached for it, it stretched her, and she grew.

Her father places charm around neck.

The ceremony would not have gone so smoothly without the time and commitment of the other AHG leaders.  I am so grateful for their time and efforts.  Mothers are busy people, and I daresay homeschooling mothers are busier than most.  But these gracious women gave their time and creative energy to write and implement a Stars and Stripes Award Ceremony that was both meaningful and lovely.  I am so thankful.

Affirming the oath

My daughter was the first to earn the Stars and Stripes Award in our troop, the third in the state of Georgia, and the fortieth nation-wide.  I now hold in my arms another daughter, only one year old.  It is my hope that she may follow in the footsteps of her older sister, to reach for the Stars and Stripes Award and embrace the AHG Mission: “Building women of integrity through service to God, family, community, and country.”

 

15 Comments »

  1. Cindy,

    That is so beautiful and poignant. I know you are quite proud of Catherine, and rightly so. She is a lovely and talented young lady. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about her here. What a treasure our daughters are! Congratulations, Catherine!

    Comment by Miranda — August 9, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  2. Our family was so blessed today by your testimony. My daughter is an Explorer (TX1230) and I’m the Treasurer. We are looking forward to the day she also receives her highest AHG honor. I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty of posting a link to this blog post on our Troop Facebook page. Other Mom’s will be thrilled to see the end result of their hard work. We haven’t had anyone complete the Stars and Stripes award yet. Congratulations to your daughters diligence, integrity and hard work.

    Comment by Lacey Bankhead — August 10, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  3. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. And thank you for sharing my post. I have nine children (seven are boys!) and we enjoy traveling very much. For years people have said “you ought to write a blog”, and so finally I started one. There is always a bit of me wondering, “Is anybody reading my stuff?” I have a mug which reads: Blogging – Never before have so many with so little to say said so much to so few. Ouch!

    Comment by admin — August 11, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  4. Cindy..
    How inspiring your story is! My daughter is going to be working for the Stars and Stripes award here! Your story.. and your daughter’s story have inspired us both!
    God Bless and Congratulations, Catherine!

    Comment by Stacey and Hannah — August 10, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  5. Thanks you for your kind words! I am always inspired by people who set noble goals. Best wishes to your daughter!

    Comment by admin — August 11, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

  6. Congratulations!!!! I am the Troop Coordinator for IN1931, and I love hearing about other girls’ success. What a beautiful project your daughter chose, born out of a demonstrated and continued commitment to those most of society has forgotten. May God richly bless your daughter in the years to come. You did an excellent job, in discipling her! Again, congratulations!

    Comment by Anni W — August 10, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  7. Thank you for your kind words! It was a huge learning process for all of the AHG leaders here, and because my daughter’s project involved an Alzheimer care facility, we had enormous bureaucratic hurdles to jump. Five of us actually had to submit to TB tests, drug screens, and hours of training about avoiding cross-contamination and the philosophy of hospice. Whew.

    Comment by admin — August 11, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

  8. It’s great to read about your daughter. I’m a board member of an AHG troop in North Carolina and we have our first girls working toward their Stars and Stripes! I’m thrilled to share your story with them to encourage!

    Comment by Meg D. — August 10, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  9. Oh, I love North Carolina! Brevard is a special place for our family. I am so glad that you were encouraged by Catherine’s experience. She inspires me because no matter what she undertakes, she pursues excellence. She has such a heart of service and is loved and adored by her eight siblings.

    Comment by admin — August 11, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

  10. I have a daughter going for her Stars and Stripes this year. I too am a PiPa leader. Our troop just started last year, so if my daughter completes this, she will be the first from our troop as well. We are in Florida. Did your daughter go to camp last month? Please pass along our congratulations to your daughter!

    Comment by Paula — August 10, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

  11. I so wish my daughter had been able to attend, but she has learned that she can not be two places at once! She had already committed to attend a harp camp when we learned the date of Camp Wannacombac. (LOVE THAT NAME!)

    Comment by admin — August 11, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

  12. Thank you for sharing. I’m part of troop CA1012. This is encouraging.

    Comment by Marci — August 11, 2011 @ 10:46 am

  13. My involvement in American Heritage Girls has been so worthwhile! I hope you, too, will be greatly blessed!

    Comment by admin — August 11, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

  14. Home schooling is really an exquisite journey plus can easily help bring you very close with your own small children, thanks friend a lot for telling your story, it helps to pass on the word so additional individuals and their families could become much closer!

    Comment by The Unschooling Mama — August 19, 2011 @ 1:04 am

  15. Great story, my daughter just started as a Tenderheart here in Idaho as we started our new AHG troop this month ID2911 and having a blast as mom took on as the leader of the Tenderhearts and likely to move to the liason for BSA-AHG for our region. Keep up the great work girls

    Comment by Tyson — February 22, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

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