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Local girls receive
scouting's top award


"Shilo and Shannon have just been invaluable to us." Donna Love


by Suzanne Vernon
For the Pathfinder
August 6, 1998


Shilo Anders, left, and Shannon Anderson at a recent ceremony where they received Girl Scouting's highest award.


Two Seeley Lake teens recently earned the highest awards in Girl Scouts. Shannon Anderson and Shilo Anders received their Gold Awards at a ceremony held here in July. According to local leaders, the girls began earning their awards three years ago, and have donated hundreds of hours of time in the community.

"I'll bet they've got 350 hours into these awards," Shauna Anders, senior troop leader and parent, said recently. "It was a 'bazillion' hours of work," she laughed. By earning their Gold Awards, she said, both girls have shown that they have leadership skills and that they can take on a project and take on a challenge. The Gold Award in Girl Scouts is similar to the Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouts, she said.

The familiar blue Girl Scout uniform vests couldn't hold all of the badges, pins and awards earned by these girls during their scouting careers. They earned so many awards, they had to fashion tote bags which display the extra honors.

Shilo and Shannon both graduated from Seeley Swan High School this spring. Shannon was accepted into the Air Force, and left for boot camp in mid-July. According to Shauna Anders, the Gold Award helped her enter the service at a higher rank, and with higher pay.

Shilo will be attending college this fall, majoring in education. She loves basketball, and in fact earned several college scholarships, and looks forward to helping with local Girl Scout activities in her spare time.

These senior scouts have helped with dozens of successful programs in Seeley Lake during the 12 years that scouting has been organized here. This year, they worked on specific community projects50 hours worth eachas the grand finale for their Gold Awards. Shilo completed a large map of Seeley Lake that will be displayed at the Chamber of Commerce office. Shannon created visitor information signs that will also be displayed in Seeley Lake. Last year, they worked on projects such as the recycling bin at Valley Market. Shilo has also traveled to New York, and Minnesota, where she participated in leadership and outdoor recreation programs. She enjoys meeting new people, and says that getting together with friends is one of the best parts of scouting.

These active teens are highly regarded in the community.

"Shilo and Shannon have just been invaluable to us," Donna Love, one of six troop leaders in the community, said recently. "They were always doing the extra things that make our troop special, whether it was the father-daughter dinner, the mother-daughter tea, or the Thanksgiving baskets, they were always there to help," she explained, then added, "Shilo and Shannon did all the legwork that made each of these activities possible. They were the reason for our success this year."

And success is what scouting is all about, according to Martha Madsen of Placid Lake. Scouting, she said, is usually regarded as an outdoor program, but it's more than that. It encourages girls to explore career opportunities and prepares them for successful adult lives, she said. Madsen, former president of the Big Sky Council of Girl Scouts, currently serves on the board of one of four international councils of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (the Cabaña council in Mexico). The Girl Scouts, she explained, is the largest international women's organization in the world, and boast 136 member countries. Scouting, she said, develops character and promotes good values which help young girls learn leadership and patriotism. "Scouting helps girls achieve their fullest potential and develop into fine women," she said. Scouts who achieve the Gold Award, she said, "are wonderful kids who have worked hard."

Madsen explained that Girls Scouts is a community service organization, and one of the strengths of the program is that it teaches girls to work together successfully as a group.

Local troop leader, Donna Love, agrees. The girls in her troop did learn to work together. Their motto last year was Team Up & Win. "Through cookie sales, camp, and whatever program we did, my girls got to see that at a very personal level," she said.

She credits Shauna Anders for a good deal of the success of the local scouting program. Shauna started the Girl Scout program here when Shilo was in first grade, and has remained committed to it ever since. She currently is the Senior troop leader, and also the service unit leader. "She is just remarkable," Love said. "She is a team leader of other leaders. I just can't praise her enough."

Shauna is humble about her role, but is quick to praise the scouting program. She credits Girl Scouts for helping local girls develop leadership.

"Shilo and Shannon were able to take on some heavy-duty leadership roles," she explained. Both girls were involved with Girl Scout planning boards statewide, and traveled once a month to meetings last year. They are also involved in a number of other community and school groups. It's been fun, Shauna said, to watch the girls mature by earning various awards in scouting programs.

Locally, there are six Girl Scout troops, and several dedicated leaders who are helping to make the program a success. Troop leaders last year included Kim Friede, Kathy Teague, Maggie Doherty, Donna Love and Lisa Blackburn.

Shilo and Shannon are the first Seeley Lake scouts to achieve their Gold Awards. Troop leaders are confident that there will be others. "It will continue," Shauna Anders said. "The girls need something, and earning badges is really important to them."

Local scouting service projects have included planting flowers at the Veteran's Memorial and at the Post Office; singing Christmas carols to shut-ins; cleaning up a section of the highway each year; maintaining the recycling bin at Valley Market; helping prepare the food baskets distributed by the Lions Club each Thanksgiving; participating in the Winterfest and 4th of July parades; collecting food for the firemen's pantry; helping other local service groups with projects; and helping sew flags used for community events.

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