The journey to gold

PV sophomores reach highest Girl Scout level


Matt Austin

Julia Scozzafava and Kate Ng are pursing their Gold Award projects to reach the highest level of Girl Scouts. Girls Scouts normally complete two Journeys by learning about an issue and finding a way to take action.

Pascack Valley sophomores, Julia Scozzafava and Kate Ng, have been involved in Girl Scouts for over 10 years.

“Girl Scouts gives you opportunities to learn about various topics, so when we go on trips we learn new things and give back to the community,” Scozzafava said.

Girls Scouts is a development program that allows young girls to give back to their communities while enhancing their leadership skills, according to, and both Scozzafava and Ng are working towards earning the “highest and most prestigious award” within this program: the Gold Award.

The Gold Award is a national community service project in which high school Girls Scouts partake in. They are tasked to choose an issue and bring awareness to the problem by coming up with long-lasting solutions.

“[The Gold Award] is a great way to give back to the community and get involved with community service and projects that involve other people in the community,” said Ng. “Projects like the Gold Award project really help you with preparing with life after school and after college where you’re going to have to network and get support for stuff you’re working on.”

Girls Scouts normally complete two Journeys in which a girl would learn about an issue and devise a Take Action Project in order to earn their Gold Award. A Girl Scout has to earn a Silver Award, an award available to middle schoolers, before a Gold Award.

“Once the Journeys are done, they explore who they are, and what matters to them. Then, they each pick a community issue, a social problem, that they’re going to research,” said Patricia the awards program manager for the Girl Scouts in northern New Jersey. “Then, they are going to see who they can partner up and then they decide how they’re going to take action on that social issue to make a sustainable change.

Girl Scouts often take 20 hours to complete their Journey. They have to research a social project that they are passionate about and find resources or partners within their community that can help them.

“My biggest advice is to find that community issue that you really care about,” said Patricia Christie. “Spend time to think about who you are and what truly matters to you because if you choose something you really care about, that will be the gas in the car that will keep them going.”

Girl Scouts have until Sept. 30 after they graduated from high school to complete their project, however the process typically takes about 100 hours to complete. When the girls have completed their project, they must turn in a final report which details the objective of their project was, what they could have improved on, and who benefited from their project.

Scozzafava organizes dog show

Scozzafava, who has completed the process and has been approved to receive a Gold Award, chose to solve overpopulation in animal shelters. She organized a dog show for the Hillsdale Festival back in September of 2018.

“In my dog show, I provided informational pamphlets, and I also invited an animal rescue organization that brought a few dogs that could be shown to the public to get adopted,” Scozzafava said.

Scozzafava partnered up with PEACE4PAWS, a nonprofit charity based in northern New Jersey, to help more dogs get adopted. She had 23 dog owners participate in her show with an additional 40 people in attendance.

“PEACE4PAWS, as well as other local rescue organizations, gained exposure and recruited volunteers and the community was very supportive,” said Scozzafava. “When I went to a council meeting, the town council people were very supportive and some even promised to show their support for my dog show by making an appearance at the dog show.”

Scozzafava also hosted a library program at the Hillsdale Public Library to promote awareness of the issue. she also invited a therapy dog during the program to educate other about overpopulation in animal shelters.

Ng designs collars  

Ng is hoping to complete her Gold Award by the summer of 2019. She decided to dedicate her project to finding runaway cats and helping people to distinguish indoor and outdoor cats.

“Cats who run away are found at a much lower rate than lost dogs because a lot of times when you see a cat outside, you think it’s an outdoor cat and you ignore it,” said Ng. “A lot of times you see a dog outside, you know that dog is lost because there are no outdoor dogs.”

Ng found a project called the Kitty Convict Project which was created by Exploding Kittens, a company that creates card games centered around cats, too solve this problem. The project campaigns to put orange collars on indoor cats so that they can be distinguishable from outdoor cats.

“I’m going to print out and hand out flyers about information about my project because the root of my problem is awareness,” said Ng. “Not many people know about this issue, so I’m also going to make organ collars out of bandannas and I’m going to go to different animal shelter, veterinary offices, and pet stores to hand out the flyers and collars.”

Ng has also created an Instagram account with the handle of @kittyconvictcollars to raise awareness for the Kitty Convict Project by posting information about the issue, the project, and directions on how people outside the community can help solve the issue.

“Having seen girls for sixteen plus years go through the process, [earning the Gold Award] is really about how the girls grow as people and the skills they develop,” said Christie. “All of these girls are developing problem solving skills and project management skills. They’re learning how to work with a team and a lot of skills that they’re going to need in the future. That’s the most important thing that I see — how they grow.”