HUNTLEY – For Abby Covert, earning the Silver Award was a continuation of her family’s Girl Scouts legacy.
Covert, along with the five other members of Troop 40 – Ashley Faustrum of Lake in the Hills, Julia Perrone of Lake in the Hills, Amanda Caridei of Algonquin, Maggie Badgerow of Huntley and Samantha Caridei of Algonquin – all earned the Silver Award, the highest in their age group.
“It was a lot of work, but I think it’s better that it wasn’t easy,” Ashley said. “Because if it was, what’s the point in even doing it?”
Troop 40 leader Jenny Covert is Abby’s mom. Jenny, a third-generation Girl Scout herself, has led the troop for the past nine years following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, both of whom also served as troop leaders. The majority of the Cadettes, the name for Girl Scouts in sixth through eighth grade, have been in Troop 40 since kindergarten or first grade.
“It’s very unique that we’ve had this group for such a long time,” Jenny said. “I really think it’s cool how I’ve gotten to watch these girls grow up. It’s sort of like a family.”
To earn the Silver Award, the Cadettes first had to complete a Journey, a program that is taken on during each of the six stages in Girl Scouts. Troop 40 spent a year and a half completing the “a-Maze” Journey, which required tasks such as book work and discussions. During the fall of the Cadettes’ seventh-grade year, the girls put together their Journey project, a workshop for Junior Scouts, those soon to enter middle school and become Cadettes.
After completing this prerequisite, the Cadettes began working toward their Silver Award. Splitting up into pairs, the Girl Scouts spent another year and a half bringing their ideas to life and creating projects that could be sustained over time.
Julia and Amanda aimed to improve literacy by gathering books from various sources such as their school, their families and the community. Not only did the girls use donated gift cards to buy materials for Literacy Connection in Elgin, they also donated about 2,000 books to Open Books of Chicago.
“They almost didn’t fit in the truck,” Julia said. “It was full to the brim with books in these giant boxes.”
Abby and Ashley focused their attention on providing assistance to the community in the form of a butterfly garden. Together, they procured funds and volunteers to help install the butterfly garden at Heineman Middle School.
Maggie and Samantha raised awareness about animal shelter adoption by creating videos and posting them online. Motivated by their love of animals, they also volunteered at the Animal House Shelter in Huntley.
“I am so proud that they all did this, they stuck to it, they worked with their partner, and they worked in the community,” Jenny said. “It was a huge amount of work.”
Not only were the efforts of Troop 40 recognized with the Silver Award, all six Girl Scouts earned the nationally recognized President’s Volunteer Service Award. Each Girl Scout’s volunteer work exceeded the minimum 50 hours of service during a 12-month period, earning them one of the three categories of the award. Jenny’s volunteer service also exceeded the required 100 hours in the adult category, making her a recipient as well.
Earning the Silver Award and the President’s Volunteer Service Award served as a grand finale to the girls’ time as Cadettes. Next for the girls, who will be entering their freshmen year this fall, is the Senior program.
“I met them all through this troop,” Ashley said. “I think that the friendships I have made within this group have helped me grow as a person – and without Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t have that.”