Six Oregon junior Girl Scouts found an appropriate setting for their bridging ceremony last weekend: next to a bridge in Jaycee Park where they debuted a new Little Free Library.
Members of Troop 1400 walked across the bridge to meet parents and community members and enjoy sweet treats while celebrating their project.
Troop 1400 completed a “journey” for their bronze awards, the highest honor a junior scout can receive, by installing the library on Sunday, July 28. Along the way, they learned about their community, compromise and consensus. And power tools.
“This journey is called ‘agent of change,’ so they wanted to bring about change in their community,” troop co-leader Jolene Wockenske said. “There’s three pieces, with the Girl Scouts in the center being the agent, but needing the team and needing the community to help.”
Aurelia Wochenske, one of the Scouts and Jolene’s daughter, said the troop had also discussed creating bridges for wildlife to cross roads but decided the library was more feasible.
“We had to find an issue in our community and find a solution for it,” she said. “We noticed that a lot of younger kids in our community like to read but a lot of the little free libraries in our community have a lot of adult books so we wanted to make a little free library for kids only books.”
Teamwork is central to the journey. They talked about the “power of one,” “the power of team” and the “power of community” as all coming together to achieve a goal. As individuals, the scouts all had a part to play within their team, which worked with other groups in the community to achieve its goal.
Jolene Wockenske and Jane Harner, the other troop leader, helped by guiding the scouts and making initial contact with the donating businesses, but the scouts were the ones directing and completing the project. Many of them emphasized consensus building as a big part of their learning experience.
“I learned how to work with a small group on a really big project,” said Rebekah Cooper, one of the scouts.
In March, the scouts approached the Village Board about finding a place for the library. The scouts wanted it in Jaycee Park, Wockenske said, but didn’t want to be affected by upcoming construction there.
“We talked with them a little bit about where the location could be,” Aurelia Wockenske said. “And we came up with an area by the bridge, kind of by the parking lot because they wouldn’t be doing that much construction over there.”
Trustee Jenna Jacobson and Park Board member Mark Miller attended the installation and bridging ceremony and pinned the bronze award on two of the scouts.
Each of the scouts had their own assignments alongside building and decorating the library. Some reached out to local businesses for donations or contacted media outlets.
The scouts contacted Dorn Hardware for paint and Fitchburg Farms for plants for around the library. Both businesses also had employees who participated in the ceremony.
“The way that you get the bronze award is by doing a journey but also a service project, together,” Jolene Wockenske said. “And the service project really is about looking at the needs in our community and how we help them, give back and how can we get a group together.”
At the installation, each scout talked about what she had learned over the course of the project. Some scouts talked about learning how to get things done in their community or learning news skills with woodworking and power tools.
“Of course building it was a challenge, none of us really knew how to do it, but we were still helping out and it was very tough,” Aurelia Wockenske said.
With their bridging ceremony complete, the girls are now cadet scouts, and they are already discussing what project to do for their silver award.