Girl Scouts ‘bridge’ to highest level


Encinitas Girl Scout Troop #1030 began back in 2003 with 20 wide-eyed kindergarten girls.

Fast-forward 11 years, and these girls are now entering the 11th grade. Over the years, the troop has narrowed to eight girls, but that is a large troop for Girl Scouts at the high school level.

This month, the remaining eight girls in Troop #1030 are re-registering for the final level of Girl Scouting. The Ambassador Scout level is the highest level of Girl Scouts, and only about 5 percent of Girl Scouts in all of San Diego-Imperial County are at this level.

A Girl Scout does not have to attend a bridging ceremony to reach the next level of Girl Scouts, but for Troop #1030, it became a ritual many troop members looked forward to planning and attending.

Under the leadership of Linda Goldsmith, Troop #1030 had a long-term vision; Keep the Girl Scout Promise, live the Girl Scout Law, help the community, keep it fun, and have bridging ceremonies at each Girl Scout level to mark each rite of passage and denote the new responsibilities expected of the girls. The bridging ceremonies went from in their own town, to city, to state, to nation, to out-of-country.

The troop bridged from Daisy Scouts (kindergarten and first-graders) to Brownie Scouts (grades 2 and 3) in their town of Encinitas. They crossed the bridge at their local elementary school of Park Dale Lane. This was a troop event.

Next, they bridged from Brownie Scouts to Junior Scouts (grades 4 and 5) in their city of San Diego. They crossed the bridge in Balboa Park with more than a thousand local Girl Scouts. This was a San Diego-Imperial Girl Scout Council event.

After Junior Scouts, the troop traveled to San Francisco to bridge to Cadette Scouts (grades 6, 7 and 8). They crossed the Golden Gate in their state, with about 5,000 other Junior-to-Cadette Scouts from across the nation. This was a nationwide Girl Scout event.

Next, they planned their own troop event to New York City to symbolically bridge from Cadette Scouts to Senior Scouts (grades 9 and 10). Six scouts from Encinitas crossed the Brooklyn Bridge in their nation. This was a troop event.

To complete the troop journey, three of the girls went on to bridge from Senior Scouts to the highest level offered with Girl Scouting, the Ambassador level (11th and 12th graders). On Aug. 9, these three tenacious teenagers crossed the Capilano Suspension Bridge out-of-country in Vancouver, B.C. This, too, was a troop event.

“When I told the girls that they can bridge from Ambassador Scouts to Adult Member Girl Scouts after they graduate high school, one of them said, ‘We need to do an out-of-continent bridging trip!’ I think we’re going to London in 2016,” said Troop Leader Goldsmith with a smile.

Troop #1030 has eight registered Girl Scouts, all of them bridging to the next level of Ambassador Scouts in 2014: Capri Goldsmith, Carina Julig, Emily Kimball, Elisabeth Pickrell, Jenna Soenksen, Julia Cochrane, Madison Jones, and Summer McEvilly.

Only three of the eight girls went on the bridging trip to Canada. Those girls were (L-R) Julia Cochrane (Canyon Crest Academy), Madison Jones (Canyon Crest Academy), and Capri Goldsmith (La Costa Canyon High School).

When asked what she liked about her bridging trip to Canada, Julia Cochrane said, “Airplane, sky train, bus, cab, shuttle, Amtrak, water taxi. You name it, we rode it!”

Asked about her bridging experiences, Madison Jones reflected, “This trip to Canada to bridge was very emotional and impacting for me, and knowing that I paid for it all, made this even more memorable. I’m proud to say that I reached the highest level of Girl Scouts with the help of my family, friends, Girl Scout leader, and all those boxes of cookies that helped me get to where I am now!”

Capri Goldsmith said, “So many people think Girl Scouts are just the girls in green uniforms who sell cookies. They don’t realize how many different levels of Girl Scouts there are and how many amazing things we do besides sell cookies. It has shaped my life in many ways.”

Capri Goldsmith quoted Beyonce and said, “Who runs the world? Girls!”

Goldsmith was a Girl Scout throughout elementary school and high school as well. “Girl Scouts had a tremendous impact on who I am as an individual, how I view myself as a part of my community, and helped me on many levels to develop my self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect, and self-confidence. My leader’s name was Mary Alice McMahon back in Indiana, and I have always valued the Girl Scout world she exposed me to. I can only hope that I lived up to the kind of leader she was for me.”

The Girl Scouts were started in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Lowe and the movement has spread across the entire world in the past 100 years. To date, Girl Scouting has more than 2.2 million youth members and almost 900,000 adult members.

GSUSA aims to empower girls and to help teach values such as honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, strength of character, sisterhood, confidence, and citizenship through practical skills activities, camping, community services, etc. It is described as the world’s pre-eminent organization dedicated solely to girls. To donate to the San Diego-Imperial Girl Scout Council, call 800-643-4798.