I remember the second day of fifth grade vividly: the day we got to pick out our musical instrument. I was a tiny ten-year-old, yet I chose the instrument that was twice my size: the euphonium. Back then, I had no idea what role music would play in my life, but eight years later, I am still pursuing it. I am fortunate to have teachers who push me to musical excellence year round, but unfortunately, not everyone is that lucky, and I wanted to do something about it.

Typically, I am described as a girl that never gives up -- once I start something, I push myself to excellence until I reach the end. This can be seen in all of my activities: music, color guard, yearbook, and especially Girl Scouts.

My Girl Scout journey began back in the Daisy days of kindergarten, and in the last 13 years, I have volunteered with a variety of organizations through Scouts. I am committed to helping other people, and I enjoy doing it. Since volunteering was ingrained in me as I grew up, it only felt natural to work and achieve the highest honor in scouting-- the Girl Scout Gold Award. For my project, I wanted to share my love of music with others, particularly with children in my area that have no access to fun summer camps and music programs.

When I proposed my idea of a "Summer Music Camp" to the directors at Bridge Communities, an organization which provides transitional housing and other services for homeless families in DuPage County, they loved the idea more and more as my presentation progressed. Once approved, my camp was launched with the help from my band directors, friends, family, and peers.

I was connected with an elementary music teacher, who helped write lesson plans and loaned instruments, including glockenspiels and boomwhackers. I was thankful for all of her help, as it helped me lead a successful camp and keep a balanced budget as the project progressed. Throughout the dog days of summer, my music friends and I revised the lesson plans and tested out the music games and activities on children in my neighborhood.

For four jovial Saturday mornings in July of 2015, we helped fifteen Bridge Communities children experience the joy of music by playing songs on recorders and glockenspiels. While dancing, playing games, and learning new rhythms, the music-filled room was also filled with laughter, happiness, and friendships, proof that the camp was achieving the overarching goal of showing the benefits of music and exposing them to a positive environment. On the last Saturday, the giggles and games shifted over to a local church, where I rented a space for the children to celebrate and perform what they learned. The kids dressed up and were busy practicing up to the minute of their performance. They wanted to make sure everything that they had learned was perfect for their recital attended by friends and family. We cooked a big spaghetti dinner, and to add to the fun, a local children's performer played his guitar and led a sing-a-long!

Music has been such a large part of my life, and I wanted nothing more than to give the same positive experience to others. Knowing that I was able to share this gift with kids that needed it the most was very fulfilling. Music helped them take their minds off the stress of homelessness and allowed their parents to have three hours to themselves. I am glad I was able to impact the lives of kids in my community, and I cannot thank my fifth-grade self enough for sticking with music. Without my instrument, I would not be as confident with myself as a leader, performer, and student. Through music and my Gold Award project, I have learned and developed networking, patience, and teaching--all of which will benefit my future in more ways than one.