Caroline Boardman is going for the gold - the Girl Scout Gold Award to be specific. The Gold Award is the highest honor in Girl Scouts in which young women tackle issues that are dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. In Boardman’s case, she is running a “Young Changemakers Conference” on Saturday, November 20 on Zoom for middle school and high school girls to cultivate their leadership skills through workshops and group discussions.
Boardman started Girl Scouts as a Daisy in kindergarten and developed deep friendships with her troop so she continued with the program. She enjoyed the experience, earning a collection of badges and ‘journeys,’ more interactive and focused experiences such as clean water and air and women’s health concentration. She counts her time kayaking as one of the more memorable Girl Scout journeys which required research and a journaling element where she logged how much water she used over a given time period.
For the Gold Award, an 80-hour, long-lasting action project, Boardman reflected on a gap that she recognized in her community - women’s leadership. “For me, I thought about leadership and young girls which is something that I didn’t have, and I am still trying to figure it out on my own. When I was in middle school, I would have liked someone to sit down with me and discuss the various ways you can be a leader. Speak up. Sit up,” she said.
Boardman finds inspiration from the women that surround her including her mother who works for Travelers and her troop leader. She respects how her mother leads her associates and work. “I grew up with Michelle Obama on Disney channel, and I think that made a big impact, too, ” she said.
“Leadership is taking action and being present for something. Confidence. Assertiveness. And a dedication to seeing something through really makes a great leader. One part of my project explores how can you be a leader without being the center of attention. There are different ways and styles to lead a group.”
For Boardman’s project, she has created a slide show in two sections. The students rotate through a series of workshops with a particular focus such as leadership styles and working in a group. The second half is an open discussion where the students discuss issues in their community and the various thing that hold girls back. “There’s going to be a lot of brainstorming. Here is an issue. Here’s what can we do about it,” she said.
Boardman believes that building confidence takes time. She said, “Once you have it, it’s really powerful. It’s the little things like being talked over in class. Through some of the research, I discovered that boys tend to shout over girls in the class, and just being conscious of that is a big deal. How to stand up for yourself. Knowing when to say something and who to say it to.”
Boardman hopes to have 30-50 attendees for each session, and she is also working on booking a speaker for the event. She is clearly a 'doer' and wants to make our community a better place. In other words, she's a leader.