Scouts and leaders recognized at “Bridging” ceremony

By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH (May 20, 2022) – Loveland High School senior Girl Scouts Madeline Walulik and Emma Clemmons received their Gold awards during ceremonies Sunday, May 15, at Loveland Middle School.

Madeline Walulik and Emma Clemmons wearing their Girls Scout Gold Award during ceremony Sunday, May 15, 2022 (Chuck Gibosn)

The Gold Award for Girl Scouts is equivalent to a Boy Scout achieving his Eagle Scout ranking. To achieve the Gold ranking, Madeline Walulik and Emma Clemmons had to complete a service project which would be a sustainable benefit to the community. Walulik has fully completed her project while Clemmons has a little work remaining to complete her project in full. Both were honored and accepted their Gold award during the ceremony on Sunday. 

Walulik called her project: “Pathways to Restoring Tikkun Farm”. It’s an organization in Mt. Healthy built on land that was once a dairy farm. The organization took over the property during the past 20 years.

“They use it to house animals and do little projects that help out the community; they do a lot of food drives and things like that,” said Walulik. “My project was to help that organization. What I did was build a three section platform bridge over a stream in the backwoods area of the property. It was kind of steep, muddy and overgrown so I also built a path through that area.”

She did it to help them move their Alpaca’s from one grazing area to the other to prevent overgrazing in one pasture. It’s the same reason so many farmers do rotation over the summer season. Walulik chose her uncle Rich Beckman as a special mentor for her project. As an architect he brought some excellent design and building skills to help guide her. Beckman also had some specific bridge building experience from his service in the military.

Madeline Walulik speeaks to the audience after accepting her Girl Scouts Gold Award (Chuck Gibson)

“Today is the first time I actually get to talk in person to an audience and say I earned this,” Walulik said. “Today it just feels a little bit more special because I’m actually saying it in front of people and it’s really hitting me like wow, this is actually done. I did it. There was a time when I thought I was never going to get done.”

Walulik did have the opportunity to accept the award publicly and speak to a live audience. She used the opportunity to thank the people involved especially her uncle and mentor Rick Beckman. That was another poignant moment on the stage. She also has a message for the young Girl Scouts following in her footsteps.

“I’d say stick with the scouts,” said Walulik. “If you do, you can do some really big service projects and really help out your community. It’s a good for recognition, looks great on a resume and it’s great for colleges. I’d say there’s a ton of benefits to doing it. If you can do that, there’s nothing holding you back from your goals.”

Madeline Walulik with her Uncle and project mentor Rick Beckman during a poignant moment on stage together. (Chuck Gibson)

Walulik is preparing to enter college at the University of Cincinnati with plans to go into pre-medicine studies. It’s the next step for her after a long run in Girl Scouts together with Emma Clemmons who also received her Gold award Sunday despite still putting some finishing touches on her project helping with the restoration of Loveland’s historic Ramsey-Paxton Cemetery.

“I’m still working on the final portions of my project,” said Clemmons. “As soon as school gets out, I’m going to finish it up and turn it in to the council to be approved for Gold.”

Emma Clemmons on stage to accept her Gold Award with one of her mentors Stephanie Laufersweiler (Chuck Gibson)

Clemmons has been working with the Ramsey-Paxton Cemetery association and already built two benches for visitors to the cemetery. The association just held a formal grave dedication ceremony Saturday, May 7, to celebrate the restoration and preserving of the historic Ramsey-Paxton family – founding family of Loveland dating back to the American Revolution.

“I thought the addition of the benches would be something to draw people together in community,” Clemmons said. “I’m also building a website which will include a QR code people can scan going to the cemetery to learn about the history because the founder of Loveland is buried there and a lot of people don’t know the history behind that.”

Emma Clemmons speaks following her accpetance of the Gold Award – in the background presenter Erin Campbell. (Chuck Gibson)

Clemmons believes the website and QR code will be a great way to inform people about the history of the cemetery and the founders of Loveland. Her dad helped her with the building of the benches.

“I enjoyed building the benches with my dad,” said Clemmons. “These benches were actually the same design other Girl Scouts my age, fellow Ambassadors used for their Silver Award project. My dad was the one helping us through a lot of that because he’s real handy. Having him teach me how to use all these tools, getting to spend time with him; it’s really been something I enjoyed.”

In accepting her Gold award Sunday, Clemmons said it wasn’t so much about what she’s done, but the way she chose to serve the community. Her message: “It really doesn’t take much to do something small and make a difference in the community.” She also recognized the growth both she and her friend Madeline Walulik have experienced going through Girl Scouts together since they were in first grade.

“We’ve come a long way,” she said. “It’s kind of strange this seems like a send-off for college.”

The Girl Scout ceremony Sunday was not only about Walulik and Clemmons. It was the 2022 Official Bridging Ceremony for all Loveland Girl Scouts 5-17 years old taking the next step (Bridging) their next level of Scouting. It is a formal ceremony with each girl taking a symbolic walk over a bridge where they are greeted by a Girl Scout from the next rank. It is all about their progression from Daisy to Brownie, Junior, Senior, Ambassador, and Cadets. Tia Kuchik helps out with two troops and explained the meaning of bridging.

Girl Scouts colorguard placed the flags to begin the ceremonies Sunday, May 15, 2022 (Chuck Gibson)

“It is all about progression,” said Kuchik. “Girl Scouts is all about teaching skills at those age-appropriate levels. Daisy’s may sleep out in the backyard one night while older girls, juniors may do tent- camping. It’s all based on the age range.”

Each of the different troops was called to the stage and ultimately each girl individually crossed the wooden bridge in a walk you could see was meaningful to them. It was clearly a memorable moment for the girls and their family and friends on hand to witness the special moment. The bridging was the culmination of a day filled with recognition and honors for Loveland scouts of all levels of accomplishments. 

Girl Scouts crossed the bridge and were welcomed to the next level by another Girl Scout from that new level during the bridging ceremony (Chuck Gibson)

Scouts were recognized for their success in the business aspect of supporting the Girl Scouts. It was no surprise to see the Girl Scouts honored for their success in sales of Girl Scout cookies. The numbers were amazing to hear with troops selling in the thousands of boxes. For the record, I am still finishing my last box of my favorite Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies.

Likely, the most exciting and surprising moment of the celebration, was the announcement of a brand new award initiated by the Loveland Service Unit of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio. It is an award, brand new this year, meant to honor a long-time Girl Scout volunteer explained Erin Campbell, who helps lead a troop and served as one of the presenters during the ceremony.   

“The award is called the “Kathryn Randall Heart of Loveland Award in Girl Scouting,” said Campbell. “Most of the leaders knew about it, but the first-ever recipient did not know. Kathy Randall is both the namesake of the award and its first recipient.”

Kathryn Randall (far left) listens as Erin Campbell reads the proclamation and presents her with the first-ever “Kathryn Randall Heart of Loveland Award in Girl Scouting) (Chuck Gibson)

It was a most poignant moment following an introduction which listed many of the things Kathy Randall has done during 22 years serving the Girl Scouts; things she continues to do as a volunteer with the Girl Scouts today. Christine Rasmussen called her “the driving force behind Loveland Girl Scouts” and a most selfless person – “a true sister to every girl scout”.

Erin Campbell said: “Kathy Randall is truly the beating heart of this service unit,” and “Our service unit is what it is because of her guidance, her wisdom, her compassion and her giving spirit.”

Kathy Randall has served in many capacities and currently serves as the “Data Chair” for the service unit of the Loveland Girls Scouts. She wore big smile on her surprised face as she took the stage and became the first honored recipient of the award named for her: The Kathryn Randall Heart of Loveland Award in Girl Scouting.