Girls Learn Self-Defense as Part of Girl Scout Gold Award Project
By: Julie Camelotto, Sage Girl Intern
For her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, Christina Stager organized a Self-Defense class for girls and women ages 12 years and up. Her goal was to increase girls’ knowledge, skills, and confidence through awareness raising and prevention techniques. Over the course of 3 weeks, Christina organized three well-attended, 2-hour self-defense sessions at the Sandy Ridge Community Church in Stockton, NJ.
After her last session, I sat down with Christina to talk about her project.
J.C.: How long have you been a member of the Girl Scouts?
C.S.: I joined Girl Scouts in Kindergarten as a Daisy Scout. I continued in that troop until about 5th grade and then I switched to a different troop. I have been a Girl Scout ever since.
J.C.: Has it been a positive experience? And a big part of your life?
C.S.: Yes. It is great for being involved with different people and the community. I have enjoyed all of the activities, especially those where we would earn different patches. When I was younger, I went to the Girl Scout camp and met so many other scouts. At one time, my troop even held a dance party. We support one another and always work together to help individual members achieve her Bronze and Silver Awards.
J.C.: What does your “Gold Award” entail?
C.S.: It is the highest ranking for a Girl Scout. When we were in middle school, we started working toward the Bronze and Silver Awards. In high school, we start working on earning our Gold Awards.
J.C.: Why did you choose self-defense for your Gold Award project?
C.S.: I think it’s really important for people, especially women, to learn how to defend themselves in this society and culture. Being able to defend yourself makes you more sure of yourself. This helps women feel more confident. Everyone in the community then feels safer because they are more aware.
J.C.: What was your goal for this project? What did you hope girls and women would gain from it?
C.S.: My goal for my project was for the participants to learn how to be more aware of their surroundings and be careful in certain situations. For example if you are in a parking lot and someone approaches you in an uncomfortable manner, it’s great to know how to react to this situation. I think participants learned how necessary it is to always be observant, aware of your surroundings, and to follow your intuition.
J.C.: What was the process for planning this event? What were the steps you took?
C.S.: First I had to decide on a project. One of the components of the project is that it has to be sustainable, or will continue on after the project is done. After I decided that I was going to organize a Female Self Defense class, I had to write up a really long proposal to submit to Girl Scout Council of Rolling Hills. Then I set up an interview with the Gold Award Program Specialist. I asked Mr. Primiani to be my advisor because I already knew him from church and Karate class; and I knew that he had taught self-defense many times. We had a number of meetings to make plans for things like location and time, as well as to organize a timeline to complete the project. We had some trouble initially, but we finally developed a good plan and I spent a lot of a time working on advertising. I created fliers and hand delivered them to local businesses. I also emailed as many people as I could; and even had the chance to speak about my project at the Girl Scout Leaders Meeting! Once the session dates were scheduled, all we had to do was hold the class!
J.C.: How did you find the instructors to teach the class?
C.S.: I studied Karate at Jersey Bushido Kai when I was younger, so I already knew Mr. Primiani. When I decided on my project, I thought he would be the best person to teach the class. All of the instructors were from Jersey Bushido Kai. Mr. Primiani contacted several of his students and they kindly volunteered to help with the sessions.
J.C.: Do you think the way the class was run was a successful way to complete this workshop?
C.S.: Yes. Mr. Primiani and I didn’t want the workshop to be all lecturing. We wanted there to be interaction and practice involved.
J.C.: Do you think all women and girls should attend a workshop or practice like this at some point in their lives?
C.S.: Yes, but the information needs to be at a suitable level for the age group.
J.C.: Was the outcome what you had hoped it would be?
C.S.: Yes. The sessions had a very positive impact on the participants and it really seemed like they learned a lot from the class. I was not expecting such a large group of people to attend. There were 55 participants! Everyone took a pre-test and a post-test and it showed that their knowledge increased by about 11%. I was very happy with the results.
J.C.: I too, was surprised and pleased to see the amount of people attending these sessions. My job in attending the classes was to observe and notice the effectiveness in the teachings and styles. Although there was a broad age range, the class helped each and every student in a different way.
Overall, it seemed a safe space for girls and women to tell their stories, learn physical defense techniques, and recognize their own inner and outer strengths. The instructors introduced multiple-levels of self-defense and encouraged students to think concretely about how to protect themselves in different situations.
This class had an extremely positive effect on everyone involved, and students left these sessions with a renewed sense of confidence and empowerment!
Christina Stager is 18 years old and a senior at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. She has been in the Girl Scout program for 13 years, starting as a Daisy Scout in Kindergarten. She recently achieved her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts by conducting a very successful self-defense class in Stockton, NJ. She believes it is necessary to address issues of safety for women and girls, and hopes her project will have a local and global impact.
Julie Camelotto is 20 years old and a sophomore at The College of New Jersey. She is majoring in Health and Exercise Science, and is an intern for Sage Girl, a nonprofit organization that delivers girl-positive programs to Hunterdon and Bucks Counties, and the surrounding areas. She is currently helping to establish a summer self-defense program for Sage Girl.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest and most prestigious award that Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors can earn. Fulfilling the requirements for the Girl Scout Gold Award starts with completing two Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador Journeys or having earned the Silver Award and completing one Senior or Ambassador journey. The steps included in the Gold Award project include: choosing an issue, investigating, getting help, creating a plan, presenting your plan and getting feedback, taking action, and educating and inspiring. This project is a commitment to develop a plan of action and carry it out.