Bonnie Anderson of Harrisville earns highest award in Girl Scouting
HARRISVILLE, NH – Bonnie Anderson has understood since she was young how important making connections to others can be. The current pandemic, she said, has exposed and magnified a struggle across the world with loneliness, so she decided to take action and try to create a sense of community with her Warm the Soul Campaign.
Anderson, 18, of Harrisville, is now a Gold Award Girl Scout, having earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor with her work. Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 are eligible for the award, spending at last 80 hours on a project to make the world a better place.
The COVID-19 pandemic struck just as she was about to embark on a different effort to earn her Gold Award, so she quickly developed a new plan to address how lonely so many people were feeling during the lockdown. She realized it doesn’t take a lot to change a person’s day and give them a smile and decided to give people happy surprises.
“I created a website and campaign designed to build a sense of community and remind everyone involved that we are all in this together,” she said. “The website allows the recipients to reflect on the feeling of being included, and the reflections submitted help those who create and distribute surprises know the effect.”
Anderson and her team, which included Girl Scouts in Troop 10078, wrote letters or drew pictures to send to people who were ill, painted rocks with cheerful messages, and even painted snow with happy thoughts. She also organized a parade for a longtime Harrisville family that was moving and created a collage for them to keep.
She hopes more people will get involved in her Warm the Soul campaign, and anyone can do so. To learn more visit https://saltee152.wixsite.com/warmthesoul-1, where you can suggest a surprise or name someone who could benefit from a surprise.
World and U.S. travel has played a large part in shaping the views of this caring and ambitious young woman. Her family has encouraged travel, and through Girl Scouting she has visited the Grand Tetons, a Georgia horse ranch, London, and participated in a giant jamboree called Poacher in England, where more than 8,000 Girl Scouts, Girl Guides, and Boy Scouts gather for a week. That 2016 trip required some political savvy, but also created strong friendships.
“It was a time of political unrest with other countries in 2016, so we ended up being one of two Girl Scout troops from U.S. who went,” she said. “It was really cool. I’m still super close with those girls.” They even had the opportunity to travel with some of the same girls on a trip to Iceland with Girl Scouts.
She was also able to visit one of Girl Scouting’s World Centers, Pax Lodge, in London, which she called “the greatest honor.”
When Anderson spent her summer camp days at Camp Farnsworth in Vermont, she was interested in the camp’s horse program, where she heard about Girl Scouting’s Destinations travel program. It also sparked her interest in becoming a veterinarian specializing in large animals.
“My mom grew up all over the world,” she said. “It was important to her that we travel. We found out that Girl Scouts is a great way to travel. It’s really easy to see now that the easiest time to travel is when you’re in high school. Grades are important, but you’ll be shaped for the rest of your life by travel. Group trips with Girl Scouts are a great way to do it and make friendships that will last a very long time.”
Her mother, Lisa Marie Anderson, was also her troop leader, and continues to run multi-level Troop 10078 in Harrisville.
Currently Anderson is finishing her freshman year at the University of Maine, where she is in the pre-veterinary program. She plans to do her senior year at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, where she will both finish her undergraduate work and get a head start on her veterinary degree. As a high schooler, she graduated with her International Baccalaureate. Having grown up in rural New Hampshire, she grew up raising pigs, and looks forward to returning to New England to help farmers with their livestock.
Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better, they change it for good. The Gold Award is earned by girls in grades 9–12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership in developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges. Since 1916, Girl Scouts have answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change. They earn college scholarships, demonstrate high educational and career outcomes, and are active in their communities.
Bonnie Anderson has answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change, and her Gold Award is a testament to her remarkable dedication to improving her community and the world. The Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable.
About the Girl Scout Gold Award
- Gold Award Girl Scouts on average spend one to two years on their project.
- A Gold Award project must be sustainable after the girl’s involvement ends.
- The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
- Since 1916, more than 1 million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
- Gold Award Girl Scouts are entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade when they join the military.
- University research indicates that noting you are a Gold Award Girl Scout on a college application is influential in the admissions decision-making process.
- Eleven young women from New Hampshire and Vermont earned their Gold Award in the 2019-2020 membership year as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
- The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable!
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.