Carsynn Shilinga, 16, worked tirelessly for weeks through the summer heat to erect a brand new outdoor gathering space for the community at Son Valley Ranch as part of her Girl Scouts Gold Award project.
During the construction months, she would come to the ranch two to three times a week to dig holes, help supervise the operation of heavy machinery, or test the reliability of the structure. She wanted to build an outdoor gathering space that would allow people to continue spending time together, while still adhering to COVID-19 precautions, she said.
The open-top pergola she built features seven heavy wooden swings and a central fireplace, which will begin to be used as the temperature cools, she said.
“We love it,” said Glen Dry, Founder and President of Experience Excellence, the non-profit organization that owns Son Valley Ranch. “We love to create spaces where people can come together at the ranch, and it was just a perfect project to fit into that vision.”
Dry said the ranch already has two Boy Scouts Eagle projects, but this is the first Girl Scouts project.
The Gold Award is the Girl Scout’s final project, similar to the often better known Eagle Scout Award. However, some would like to change the perception that the Eagle Scout Award is more prestigious or difficult to obtain.
“This is a huge goal of the Girl Scouts Gold Award – how is it going to be maintained? You can’t just do a Gold project that has no plan for it to continue, ”she said.
That’s part of the reason Carsynn chose to build their project at Son Valley Ranch, where the nonprofit will continue to maintain it even if it moves.
Dry said the Carsynn project was the most expensive project on the property by Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts.
Overall, the project cost $ 3,000, of which two-thirds was raised through donations, the rest from funds raised through the sale of Girl Scout cookies. Carsynn also received discounts from Lowes and Homestead, as well as help from members of his church and Son Valley Ranch to bring his vision to life.
Although she has completed her final project, Carsynn plans to continue participating in Girl Scouts and helping young girls who are just starting out as Brownies, the second tier of Girl Scouts.
“She loves to prepare the prizes for their ceremonies,” said Cindy Shilinga, Carsynn’s mother. “(She) loves to volunteer to help teach younger girls… (She) really doesn’t care about earning a badge. It’s not about badges and the like.
Cat writes about the city and county government of Victoria. Questions, advice or ideas? Let me know [email protected] or (361) 580-6511