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Gold rush in Grantsville

Published April 27, 2011 4:44 pm

Recognition • Five Grantsville teens earn coveted Gold Award, the top honor for Girl Scouts.
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Grantsville might not be a big city, but it's home to nearly half of the Girl Scouts who earned the Gold Award in Utah this year, five of the 12 recipients.

In the world of Girl Scouting, the Gold Award is, well, the gold standard. It's the top honor a Scout can receive and requires young women to complete an elaborate service project, which can take months, sometimes years, to plan and carry out.

"I've always had a goal to earn my Gold Award," said Grantsville High junior Jessica Gunderson, who was honored at Girl Scouts of Utah's 2011 Recognition of Excellence ceremony April 16. "To be able to earn it gives me a sense of accomplishment. It makes me think I can achieve anything I want to."

Gunderson and fellow Grantsville student Christina Cox organized and hosted Camp Discovery, a two-day summer camp for teens with disabilities, for their Gold Award project. They raised more than $3,000 and enlisted the help of 31 volunteers before holding the camp for 16 young people last summer.

"My favorite memory was seeing other volunteers be so caring and compassionate toward the campers, and making them feel just like everyone else," said Gunderson, who was inspired to create the camp by her brother, Cameron, who has autism. "I love Cameron, and I always like to see him happy and smiling." The girls will run another session of Camp Discovery in July.

Another Grantsville teen, Aimee Linton, created a 17-minute video for physical therapy patients, which demonstrates several exercises that will help them recover more quickly. Linton, who plans to study sports medicine in college, performed the exercises while a physical therapist narrated and her dad served as cameraman. She made 50 copies and gave them to two physical therapy offices. Linton, who has suffered a torn knee ligament and a separated kneecap, remembers wishing there had been a video she could watch that would aid in her recovery.

Like most girls striving for the Gold Award, Linton juggled school, work, sports and other activities while planning the project.

"I learned if I put my mind to it, I can complete it," she said. "Everything takes dedication. If you don't have dedication and focus, you're not going to get everything done."

Aimee Linton's sister, Angela Linton, also received the Gold Award earlier this month for her project "Books From You to Me." The lifelong lover of books held a drive, collecting more than 1,000 books for the Grantsville Public Library, several shelters and hospitals.

"These are girls who have tenacity and truly a passion for service," said Girl Scouts of Utah CEO Cathleen Sparrow. "Our mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. We teach that to girls starting in kindergarten. These recipients are living the mission."

Grantsville's Ashlie Barton won the Gold Award for her project, "Using Is Cool ­— BUCKLE UP!" After losing a friend in a car accident two years ago, she decided to publicize the need for safety behind the wheel with her project. She created a video, using interviews from Utah Highway Patrol troopers, accident survivors and families that lost loved ones who weren't buckled up. She screened the movie during a school assembly and has shared it with young people across the nation.

Barton credits her Girl Scout troop leader, Cheri Gunderson, for Grantsville's proliferation of Gold Award winners.

"Our troop leader is the best woman I've ever met, and she doesn't even sleep," Barton said. "She pushes us to go a little further all the time."


Grantsville's 2011 Gold Award recipients and their projects

Ashlie Barton • "Using Is Cool — BUCKLE UP!"

Christina Cox • "Camp Discovery"

Jessica Gunderson • "Camp Discovery"

Aimee Linton • "Physical Therapy Demonstration DVD"

Angela Linton • "Books From You to Me"