The last of the single-digit birthdays, the beginning of young womanhood. The end of third grade, the beginning of summer and then fourth grade. The end of “mommy,” the beginning of “mom.” The end of many kinds of naivete and innocence (hopefully not too much), but the beginning of hard-won goodness and the strength of true purity. The end of me saying, “Because I said so,” and the beginning of me asking, “What do you think are the reasons I decided this?” And, among all this is the end of the Tenderheart level of American Heritage Girls, which hails the beginning of the Explorer level.We all want the very best for our kiddos. And American Heritage Girls is THE top-notch, premier program for girls kindergarten through high school. If you have a daughter between the ages of 5 and 18, I urge you to seek out a local AHG troop. If there is not a troop near you, please consider starting one! You also have the option of becoming a “Trailblazer,” which will allow you to do the program on your own. But it’s more fun with friends, so please do consider starting a troop. The rewards are unfathomable, and the knowledge you are doing something of eternal worth is gratifying.
The girls go camping and canoeing, tie knots, hike, and sing songs around the campfire. They learn all sorts of nifty things from sewing, history, and social skills to snowboarding, cinematography, and aviation.
But most importantly the girls learn how to live out the AHG Oath and Creed. They learn to love God, cherish their families, honor their country, and serve in their communities; they learn to be compassionate, helpful, honest, loyal, perseverent, pure, resourceful, respectful, responsible, and reverent. Wow. If my daughter becomes this kind of woman, she will have the strength of character to be a bright, bright light in this dark world. If only 10% of the U.S. population had these characteristics, would our country be any different than it is? I think so!
American Heritage Girls is a program for girls ages 5 – 18 years old. It consists of five levels: Pathfinders (K5), Tenderhearts (1st-3rd graders), Explorers (4th-6th graders), Pioneers (7th-8th graders), and Patriots (9th-12th graders). The mission of AHG is simple and direct–“Building women of integrity through service to God, family, community, and country.”The patches on the back of the uniform are keepsakes from many different events. The Child and I both have made some fantastic memories. Not all of them had a patch to go along with them. But here are some of the highlights of the past few years:
- Honoring retired military members through a ceremony, reception, and pieces of art dedicated to them which were hung in a public place for a month.
- Handing out water at a huge Independence Day gathering and getting to jump on the bouncy things. Oh, and the troop also aided in finding and returning a lost child to her parents.
- Camping at the lake, catching newts, and making s’mores. Camping at the lake again. And again. And again! 🙂
- Hiking to the top of a mountain.
- Putting on a silly fashion show.
- Going through a “mini Army Boot Camp.” There was a LOT of exercise involved. And GREs.
- Making Christmas cookies for the kids in the Youth Detention Center. GREAT Christmas party activity!
- Selling chocolate.
- Eating chocolate.
- Writing letters to our servicemen and servicewomen, and caring for their families.
- Slumber parties, slumber parties, slumber parties!!!
- Going to a symphony concert.
- Learning knots and other outdoor skills from the dads.
- Trading SWAPS in our troop and with other girls from across the country.
- Learning to ride and take care of a horse, and camping out and serving at a horse rescue ranch for a weekend.
- Semi-formal tea party with cute food and pretty dresses on pretty girls.
- Yard/bake sale and the camp out the night before.
- Going to the AHG 15th Anniversary Conference in Cincinnati.
- Going to the airport and learning the basics of how to fly a plane.
- Painting t-shirts, making birdfeeders, and first-aid kits.
- Father Daughter Ball.
- Earning First Aid and CPR certification from the Red Cross.
This past week, our American Heritage Girls troop had their Court of Awards Ceremony. Since we moved to Georgia from Virginia over the Christmas holiday, we’ve had to change troops. We were thrilled to find one just about five miles from where we live! There are around twenty girls in our new troop (which was just chartered in February), and The Child and I have made a lot of new friends with the wonderful girls and leaders.
At the award Ceremony, The Child received her Sacagawea Award. This is the level award for completing the Tenderheart program, and has many requirements which are crowned by going the girl before a Board of Review. (Going by themselves into a room and standing in front of a table of adults to answer questions made the girls who earned this award a bit nervous. All five girls did very well, and the board later told us parents how excited they were to see such wonderful young ladies, because it gave them hope for our country’s future.)
Just for the record, here are a list of the other achievements shown on her vest. They were accomplished over the past three years.
- 13 Service Stars (1 star = 5 hours of community service)
- “Outdoor Skills” badges: Hiking, Horsemanship, Bicycling, Outdoor Skills, Fishing
- “Our Heritage” badge: Freedom’s Heroes
- “Family Living” badge: Sewing
- “Personal Well-Being” badges: Social Skills and Etiquette, Sign Language,
- “Arts” badges: Creative Writing, Theater, Music Appreciation
- “Science and Technology” badges: Gardening and Plant Science, Women Inventors
If you have a daughter between the ages of 5 and 18, I urge you to seek out a local AHG troop. If there is not a troop near you, please consider starting one! You also have the option of becoming a “Trailblazer,” which will allow you to do the program on your own. But it’s more fun with friends, so please do consider starting a troop. The rewards are unfathomable, and the knowledge you are doing something of eternal worth is gratifying.