A handful of local Girl Scouts, all members of Troop 8, learned to deal with images flashing by at a speed of one-eighteenth of a second in order to win a prestigious Silver Award. Their chosen project was producing two public service announcements or PSAs - one 30 seconds in length and one just 15 seconds. Both promote scouting, suggesting that, as members, girls in their teens will have fun, travel and master skills that can shape their futures.
The PSAs began to broadcast on KATH in Juneau and North Star in Sitka three weeks ago. Unlike PSAs linked to specific events, the Scouts' PSAs are promotions that stations consider "evergreen," and may be seen by viewers for up to a year.
GCI, the local cable company, KTOO and KJUD are all now considering broadcasting the public service announcements, said Troop 8 leader Susan Oshida.
Kathy Buss of the Tongass Girl Scout Council suggested the project. Last year, for more than an hour, she talked to the girls about various projects, including public service announcements. "It's easy to sign up the little ones - but not the older ones," Buss said. When she departed, the girls quickly decided that PSAs were the way to go.
Their 30-second "spot" demonstrates that Girl Scouts are "adventurous," illustrating this with scenes of kayaking, golfing, swimming in Mexico, and climbing at the Rock Dump. It also illustrates their "future" with scenes of friendship and laughter.
The 15-second PSA focuses on "travel" and "friends." The music used in both versions came with the computer program they used to produce the video, Adobe Premier. Illustrations came from photos taken by the Council and from their own albums. They weeded through hundreds of possibilities to come up with the 21 images that were finally used. This came naturally to these members of the MTV generation, weaned on screens broadcasting quickly changing images, computer games and succinct sound bites. To illustrate friendship, for example, they chose a picture of themselves eating chocolate ice cream.
The girls involved in the project are Jessie Beck, 15; Brittany Page, 14; Anna Branch, 14; Amanda Seider, 14; and Kelsey Skaggs. Kelsey's mother Bev Skaggs was co-leader of Troop 8 with Oshida. However, the Skaggs family recently moved to Canada.
Born in New Zealand where she became involved in Scouting at the Brownie level, Jessie Beck has lived five years in Juneau. She attends Juneau-Douglas High School. Her parents are Linda and Paul Beck.
Brittany Page joined Scouting as a Daisy in California. Her parents are Edward Page and Barbara Kelly-Page.
Anna Branch has been in Girl Scouting for seven years - half her life. She is the daughter of Susan Oshida and Dan Branch.
Amanda Seider is the daughter of Greg and Sue Sieder. She joined Troop 8 in January 2000.
The girls decided on PSAs aimed to recruit older Scouts because "There are a lot of negative stereotypes about girls our age," Brittany Page said.
"They think we are goodie-goodies who wear our uniforms all the time, and say the pledge and sell cookies," Amanda put in.
"But when we talk about opportunities like our trip to London in 2002, then kids say, 'Can we join?'," Brittany added. In London, the girls visited Girl Scouting's World Headquarters, one of four around the globe. (More trips are planned, although selling thousands of boxes of cookies or holding bake sales to fund travel can take up every spare minute of leisure time, the girls acknowledged.)
"We wanted to make these PSAs to show that the Girl Scouts are a lot of fun," Jessie said. "You learn about yourself and how to deal with things. None of my friends at school are Girl Scouts, and they think it's a big drag."
"When I said I had a Girl Scout meeting (Saturday)," Amanda said, "One boy said, 'Are you still in that?!' "
Preparations for the Silver Award project lasted a year. To prepare themselves, they were required by Girl Scouts USA to earn three Interest Patches and to master Leadership as well as Dreams to Reality. They earned their Dreams to Reality patches in October 2002 and began planning the Silver Award project in January 2003.
The public service announcements went through four drafts. They showed the drafts to friends and family during the summer vacation, often being told by older viewers to "slow it down." All the feedback "improved them a lot," Oshida said.
The Silver Award is a big deal, equal to Boy Scouting's Eagle Award. The girls were required to put 30 hours each into the project, and then write a two-page report. For their efforts, each received a pin. All agree that it was a lot of work. But they also agree that the effort was worthwhile.
"It's definitely nice to have it done," said Anna with a sigh of relief. "Now it feels as if we have accomplished something that people will remember us for."
"This is our baby - our sweat and blood," Amanda said emphatically.
The catchy Public Service Announcements are probably not the last Juneau will hear of these creative young women. They're now thinking about a Gold Award project - probably something to do with water.