‘Silver’ lining to a bad act: Girl Scout works to replace swim shed


GIRL SCOUT SILVER AWARD IN PROGRESS – Hannah Reed, 14, of Bridgton, poses with her swim class certificate by Highland Lake, where she assisted swim instructors this summer. On Saturday, Feb. 10, Reed is hosting a spaghetti fundraiser to help replace the swim shed that was vandalized and burnt this autumn. (Photo courtesy of Kari Reed)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

Highland Lake might be covered in ice, but 14-year-old Hannah Reed has heart-warming memories of the summer days she has spent being involved in the Bridgton Recreation Swim Program.

It was devastating for Reed when she heard that the swim shed was vandalized and burnt this fall.

Luckily, she was able to turn her frustration into action. Reed is a Cadette in Girl Scout Troop #58. She was in the planning stages of earning her Girl Scout Silver Award when she decided on her project: Raising money to replace the swim shed and the swim equipment. Not only is she trying to raise funds for this goal but also she will work with a local carpenter to build a new shed.

According to her mom Kari, “Hannah will learn how to swing a hammer.”

Before Hannah swings a hammer, she will be serving up spaghetti.

The Spaghetti Lunch fundraiser is one way Reed plans to raise money for the swim program. Prior to the fundraising luncheon, Hannah has asked local business-owners for donations, hung posters around town and posted the event on community Facebook pages like the Bridgton Police Department.

The lunch will be held Saturday, Feb. 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bridgton Community Center. The suggested donation is $5 per person or $20 per family.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will go toward replacing the swim shed and its contents. When the swim shed at Highland Lake was vandalized, all the swimming equipment had been stored there. That includes the equipment for both Woods Pond and Highland Lake’s public swim areas.

“The shed – basically, I don’t know why they would do that. No one benefited from it. No one benefited from vandalizing it,” Reed said. “I was so frustrated that someone would do that.”

“At first, I thought, ‘Oh no, how can we survive during summer? What are we going to do? But, pretty much right away, I had my Silver Award coming up, and that was what I could do,” Reed said.

Reed ran her idea for a project by the Bridgton Recreation Department and “everyone thought it would be a good idea,” she said.

Hannah’s mom provided an explanation of the Silver Award in Girl Scouts, which could be compared to an Eagle Scout project

“As a Cadette, the highest you can earn is the Silver Award, and that is what she is going for,” Kari said.

The objective of a Silver Award project is to do something that makes a lasting difference in the world, she said.

After attending a Silver Award training class, mom and daughter sat down with the recommended brainstorming sheet.

“At first, she was struggling with what to do. The more, we delved into who she was, the closer we got to what she wanted to do,” Kari said. “She is a resident of Bridgton. She does soccer, softball and swimming. She was thinking about the needs of the community.”

“Then, it hit us. The shed had been vandalized that week. It was important to her. It affected her directly,” Kari said.

The swim program offered by the Bridgton Recreation Department has been an important part of Reed’s life – it is part of who she is and what she likes to do.

“I started when I was really little and I didn’t know how to swim at all,” she said, modestly adding, “I’m still not the best. I think it is really fun.”

During the summer of 2017, Reed had already completed six levels of American Red Cross-certified swim courses. There were no other levels she could complete for her age.

She wanted to keep her swimming skills from going south. So, after to talking to Bridgton Recreation Director Gary Colello, they decided that she was the perfect candidate to be a swim instructor assistant.

“Little kids are way easier than older kids. I felt so much more comfortable around them,” Reed said.

“I was teaching people who were my age and older – that was kind of awkward. I had other instructors. I did demonstrating, getting in the water, helping little kids not drown,” she said.

According to Kari, Hannah “and her younger sister Micaela spent over 100 hours, teaching lessons, or rather assisting the teacher with the swim lessons.”

“She had already finished level six, the highest that Bridgton offered,” Hannah’s mom said.

“They didn’t want to lose their skills. They wanted to carry swimming into their future – either teaching lessons or being a lifeguard in college,” she said.

So, this past summer, the two sisters “often demonstrated swimming motions. So the instructors didn’t have to get in the cold water all the time,” Kari said, laughing.

Hannah Reed has been a Girl Scout for seven years; and working on her Silver Award has placed her in situations that usually gave her cold feet – like public speaking.

In November, she appeared before the Bridgton Board of Selectmen.

“I have stage fright. My hands were shaking. It didn’t help that there was a camera there,” she said. “But, yes, it turned out better than I thought it would.”

With the Spaghetti Lunch more than a week away, Reed said she has a case of the jitters.

“I am a little bit nervous because I don’t know if anybody will be there. I don’t know what to do when they do come, really. I haven’t done this before,” she said.

Reed has backup – the other girls in Troop #58.

“I am expecting some people to come. I think people got pretty worked up” about the swim shed, she said.

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