Going for the Gold in scouting
Rebecca Rodriguez, who turns 17 next week, has been in Scouting since she was a toddler in a stroller, remembering those trips her older brother and sisters took her on to meetings and events. Last week, hosting a "Safety Smarts" rally at Lydiksen Elementary School, she took her last leap toward achieving the coveted Gold Award, the top award in the Girl Scouts and the equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle Award.
Several hundred turned out for the event including representatives from Pleasanton police, the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, ValleyCare, the Esteller Martial Arts studio on Main Street and more. Her mother Karen, a specialist with the Herzog Agency, brought the firm's fingerprinting equipment to offer "Safety Smarts" ID registration to young children for parents to have on hand if they're ever needed.
Rebecca is a junior at Foothill High School who credits Scouting for giving her interests and friendships she might not have had otherwise. Just staging Friday's event required the management and promotional skills she says she gained from the Girl Scouts, where she has earned the Bronze and Silver awards leading up to a chance to qualify for the Gold. Of course, as a Daisy and younger Scout, Rebecca was one of the hundreds we see this week selling cookies throughout the city, part of an overall effort by the organization to instill public fortitude and sales experience.
Even today, as she files the final paperwork to show she logged in at least 80 hours on the "Safety Smarts" projects, she's one of the Scouts walking the neighborhood and standing in front of grocery stores to sell the 1,200 boxes of Girl Scout cookies she signed for. Cookie sales provide an added benefit: She can keep a portion of the sales money to pay for summer camps, where Rebecca spends much of her summers. This summer, she qualified for a spot on a Scout trip to Costa Rica and then will be back for Camp Butano Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which her mother manages. Karen Rodriguez also is the leader of Girl Scout Troop 30986, which includes Rebecca and 24 other girls.
Tuesday night, the Pleasanton City Council honored Karen and her troop with a special proclamation marking the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts and as "the largest, longest running and most effective leadership program for girls in the world."
In its proclamation, the council notes that the first Girl Scout meeting was held in Savannah, Ga., and that since then more than 50 million girls have participated in the Girl Scout movement during their childhood.
There are currently 47,000 girl and 32,000 adult members in the Northern California Girl Scout Council and 3.2 million members in the U.S.
In praising Karen and Rebecca Rodriquez for their efforts on behalf of the Girl Scouts, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman noted that 69% of the women Senators and 65% of the women in the House of Representatives were Girl Scouts as children.
Rebecca's dad, David, was a Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts as her brother Michael worked his way to the Eagle Scout award. Her sisters Deborah and Michelle also earned Gold Awards in Girl Scouts, and they drove here from Chico State University to help their younger sister earn hers.
The Rodriguez family is well-known at Lydiksen, which all four children attended. The parents ran the school's science fair there, endearing them to school Principal Colleen Henry. At Friday's event, Henry made the multi-purpose room available and also allowed vendors to use computers in the school library to demonstrate online safety courses.
All three of Rebecca's siblings will graduate from college this June as she starts her last year of knuckling down to more AP courses in preparation for college and a teaching career.
"Scouting has brought my family together in a very special way that's continuing," Rebecca told me at her "Safety Smarts" event. "I can't imagine my life without it."