Empowering girls with wilderness survival skills leads to Girl Scout honor for Rifle teen
Citizen Telegram Contributor
Annamarie Pritt was a shy little girl.
There are a lot of reasons the 17-year-old Rifle High School senior isn’t so shy any more, but one of them is absolutely the Girl Scouts, she said.
“I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was 5,” Pritt said. “I’ve definitely learned to become more self-reliant and more self-confident.”
She wanted to help other young girls find the same sense of courage and that goal ended up fitting well with a personal goal. Pritt’s brother became an Eagle Scout, achieving the highest possible rank in the Boy Scouts. Not to be outdone by her sibling, Pritt decided she would go for the Girl Scout’s prestigious Gold Award.
“I didn’t realize how much more work it was than the boys have to put in,” Pritt said.
In order to earn the Gold Award, a Girl Scout has to identify a community issue and develop a sustainable program to solve it that will live on after the Girl Scout.
“I had to start out by picking a topic of issue,” Pritt said. “I noticed there were a lot of girls who weren’t very self-confident and had no idea how to be self-reliant. I decided to focus on younger girls because you can help them develop those qualities early and then they can build on them.”
She chose to invite middle school girls between the ages of 11 and 14 to a wilderness survival camp she created.
Pritt had to find and recruit her own advisor for the project. She chose long-time family friend Amanda Jacobs, 22, who grew up in the Boy Scouts and had the wilderness survival skills Pritt wanted to impart to younger girls.
Jacobs had never been involved with Girl Scouts and didn’t know what was involved with the Gold Award project. It was quite an undertaking, Jacobs said, but a worthwhile one.
“Girl Scouts is really about trying to empower young girls and help them grow up to be empowered, self-confident women,” Jacobs said.
She was happy to help Pritt with her project. But she said her role was primarily one of support. Pritt did most of the work and led her troop to help her pull off the brand new wilderness survival camp for young girls at the Tepee Bible Camp, south of Rifle.
Pritt taught the girls to build a fire, although they didn’t get to start a camp fire due to a fire ban at the time. And she showed them how to cook on a camp stove and build a lean-to shelter.
“After I taught them those qualities, they went out and did it themselves,” Pritt said. “They went out and built their own lean-tos and slept in them overnight.”
The camp was a success. Pritt said she saw all the girls grow more confident over the weekend.
“There was one girl who would barely talk to anyone at the beginning of the camp,” Pritt said. “By the end, she was standing up in front of the camp, singing songs. I saw it the most in her, but all the girls did really well.”
The camp will carry on after Pritt leaves for college next year. And hopefully well into the future. Pritt said she expects to help another troop manage the camp and train the next group of Girl Scouts to run it next summer.
In addition to a great sense of accomplishment, winning the Gold Award offers Pritt additional opportunities and recognition. Colleges recognize that the award means Pritt is a leader who shows devotion to her community and toward doing good.
While the project hasn’t changed Pritt’s desire to study biology and marine biology, she knows she has learned a lot from the experience.
“I’m not a very patient person,” she said. “Working with the younger girls definitely gave me a greater sense of patience.”
Pritt is now working with a group of sixth-grade girls at her church and said she’s learned a lot about teaching and patience.
“Girl Scouts has definitely helped me with my leadership skills,” she said.
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