Saturday, 17 November 2018

C Columns

American Heritage Girls Valuable Life Lessons Mixed with Fun

Hanging  out  with  troop  ID0334  of  Calvary  Chapel  Nampa  are,  left  to  right,  Pathfinder  Abby  Heland  and    Tenderhearts  L.  Baker,  Salem  Seyer,  Jenna  Nelson,  Briley  Krug,  Sarah  Descalzo,  and  Alina  Gorman.  (Courtesy  photo)

By  Martha  Falk

Few  things  mark  time  more  vividly  than  the  growth  of  children.  Their  childhood  passes  in  the  proverbial  “blink  of  an  eye.”  This  truth  intensifies  parents'  desire  to  focus  their  dreams  for  their  daughter,  use  their  time  wisely  and  choose  children’s  and  youth  programs  with  care.  

Without  question,  there  is  a  smorgasbord  of  offerings  available  today,  but  most  specialize  in  specific  areas  like  the  arts,  sports  or  academics.  Of  those,  a  scant  few  support  Christian  beliefs.  With  the  biblical  worldview  under  siege  more  than  ever,  it  is  becoming  increasingly  difficult  to  find  a  youth  organization  that  adheres  to  biblical  principles  or  one  that  upholds  any  kind  of  moral standard.  

Well,  how  does  Faith,  Service,  Fun  sound  to  you?  That  tagline  succinctly  expresses  the  core  values  of  the  faith-based  ministry  called  American  Heritage  Girls,  a  Christ-centered,  character  development  program  for  girls  ages  5-18  years  old.  Back  in  1995,  the  American  Heritage  Girls  program,  or  AHG,  was  started  by  a  group  of  parents,  much  like  yourself,  who  had  a  dream  for  their  daughters.  They  desired  a  scout-type  program  that  reflected  the  Christian  values  they  held  dear.  With  their  daughters  at  their  side,  together  they  began  developing  an  organization  that  would  be  fun,  challenging,  memorable  and  above  all,  honoring  to  God.  Its  mission:  to  build  women  of  integrity  through  service  to  God,  family,  community  and  country.

AHG  is  a  family-friendly,  multi-level  troop  which  provides  the  opportunity  for  sisters  of  all  ages  to  attend  troop  meetings  together.  Girls  are  divided  into  five  age-appropriate  groups  where  they  engage  in  exciting  and  purposeful  activities.  

It  offers  progressive  lessons  and  skills,  meaning  knowledge  and  skills  will  become  more  advanced  as  the  girl  grows.  For  example,  a  6-year-old  working  on  the  Home  Care  &  Repair  badge  will  learn  how  to  tighten  and  loosen  a  screw  and  change  a  lightbulb.  When  she  is  10,  she  will  learn  the  correct  way  to  hang  a  picture  and  do  it  in  her  home.  As  a  16-year-old,  she  will  explore  how  to  make  a  home  energy-efficient  and  develop  an  implementation  plan  for  her  home.  Girls  may  choose  from  240  badges  in  seven  categories  and  these  can  be  completed  individually  or  as  a  small  group  called  a  patrol.    

A  typical  troop  calendar  also  features  activities  that  promote  character  development.  This  is  accomplished  through  its  service  and  citizenship  programs.  Each  American  Heritage  girl  memorizes  and  strives  to  fulfill  its  oath,  “I  promise  to  love  God,  cherish  my  family,  honor  my  country,  and  serve  in  my  community.”  Favorite  service  programs  include  visiting  a  retirement  center  to  play  games  with  the  residents,  hosting  a  fall  carnival  for  kids  in  the  community  and  filling  care  packages  for  deployed  military  troops.  In  a  ‘’selfie’’  generation,  AHG  fosters  an  outward  focus  in  place  of  a  “me’’  focus  and  reinforces  it  by  awarding  girls  with  service  stars  worn  on  their  uniforms.  

Kristin  Hundhausen,  Vice  Coordinator  of  troop  ID1412  at  Boise  Church  of  Christ  and  mother  of  four  American  Heritage  Girls,  expresses  her  thoughts  about  her  mission  in  their  AHG  troop.  She  explains,  “We  want  to  show  our  girls  that  God  is  all  around  us.  Whether  it’s  baking  cupcakes,  hiking  or  doing  service  work,  we  want  to  be  able  to  point  them  towards  God.  And  we  get  to  have  some  fun  adventures  while  doing  all  of  it.”

Leadership  is  learned  best  through  experience,  so  leadership  opportunities  are  woven  into  each age  level  and  into  every  troop  activity.  The  responsibilities  begin  small,  such  as  being  a  snack  helper,  then  a  song  leader,  and  then  a  flag  ceremony  caller.  It  progresses  further  to  becoming  a  service  project  committee  member  and  finally,  a  young  lady  can  become  a  ceremony  planning  coordinator.  

Hailey  Stevens,  a  Pioneer  (7th-8th  grade)  from  troop  ID1412  at  Boise  Church  of  Christ,  recalls  her  role  as  a  girl  leader.  “I  got  to  take  charge  and  be  responsible  for  helping  the  other  girls learn  how  to  be  good  leaders,”  she  says.  The  goal  is  to  train  girls  to  become  future  ‘influencers’  to  impact  the  world  for  Christ.

Fun  abounds  in  an  AHG  troop  and  the  girls  rate  time  with  their  friends  as  the  main  reason  they love  AHG.  A  popular  troop  social  activity  is  known  as  a  ‘late-over’.  It’s  not  an  overnight  event,  but  it  is  late  enough  to  fill  an  evening  with  dinner,  an  outdoor  scavenger  hunt,  a  silly  string  fight,  science  experiments  in  the  kitchen,  paper  crafts,  Bible  stories,  a  mani-pedi  spa,  s’mores  and  a  sing-a-long  around  a  fire.  

Being  an  adult  volunteer  leader  with  AHG  isn’t  all  work  either.  They  embrace  the  fun  as  much as  the  girls,  and  many  share  it  with  their  daughters.  When  asked  why  she  would  invite  a  friend  to her  troop  meeting,  Zion  Seyer,  an  Explorer  (4th-6th  grade)  from  troop  ID0334  at  Calvary  Chapel Nampa,  replied,  “Because  we  would  get  to  see  each  other  more  often  and  it  would  probably  be  a  lot  of  fun,  and  she  might  get  to  do  things  at  AHG  that  she  didn’t  get  to  do  very  often.”  

Patti  Garibay,  Executive  Director  and  Founder  of  American  Heritage  Girls,  writes,  “American  Heritage  Girls  has  been,  is,  and  always  will  be  a  program  solely  for  girls.  AHG  is  the  girl-tailored  and  Christ-centered  answer  to  the  incredible  need  for  meaningful  and  worthwhile  programming  for  girls  today.”  

What  dreams  do  you  have  for  your  daughter?  Are  you  searching  for  a  place  to  help  build  your  daughter’s  confidence  in  a  safe  environment  where  she  can  learn  a  variety  of  skills  useful  throughout  her  life,  where  she  will  be  challenged  and  strengthened  in  her  faith  and  make  friends  with  like-minded  girls  who  share  new  and  fun  experiences  together?  If  so,  consider  joining  more  than  50,000  other  members  nationwide  in  one  of  the  three  American  Heritage  Girls  troops  in  Treasure  Valley,  or  start  a  new  troop  near  you.  

AHG  troops  exist  as  a  ministry  of  a  church,  school,  or  civic  organization  that  shares  the  same  ministry  values  and  goals.  Associating  with  a  charter  organization  ensures  that  AHG  stays  true  to its  faith-based  nature.  Find  out  more  by  visiting  the  website  at www.americanheritagegirls.org. If you  are  a  parent  with  sons,  check  out  Trail  Life  USA  at www.traillifeusa.com.

Martha  Falk  is  a  national  volunteer  for  American  Heritage  Girls  serving  as  a  Ministry  Expansion  Lead.  She  meets  with  families  throughout  Treasure  Valley  to  encourage  participation in  AHG  and  with  church  leadership  to  encourage  new  troop  formation.  She  also  teaches  biblical worldview  and  Spanish  classes  through  The  Potter’s  School,  an  online  organization  providing  middle  school  through  high  school  classes  to  homeschoolers  around  the  world.  She  may  be  reached  at  adacountymel@ahgonlineorg.

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