COLUMBUS Ohio-Nov. 20 was a day to serve for the Ohio State rowing team as it held its annual Girl Scout rowing day. The project, which is led by senior Erika Benford, is now in itsthird year. The afternoon, spent at the French Field House, on the Ohio State University campus, allows members of the Girl Scouts to earn their sports badge while learning about rowing.
“We have been lucky enough the past few years the Girl Scouts have loved Girl Scout Day, so we have been able to return and do it again this year,” Benford said. “They’re always really excited to come back and they asked us if we could make the event bigger and host 80 girls this year and we said ‘sure’.”
Benford usually begins planning for the event a year in advance, touching base with the Girl Scouts of the USA organization and ensuring facilities are available. The troop leaders inform Benford of the requirements for the sports badge and the planning continues from there.
“The Girl Scouts have to participate in an athletic activity, they have to learn teamwork as well as complete a few other criteria,” Benford said. “From that we make the different groups so they can fulfill their sports badge.”
The event consists of six different stations the Girls Scouts rotate through. Within each group, the Girl Scouts learn the techniques for rowing preparation, such as stretching and other rowing fundamentals. Additionally, the participants understand how to row, learn about women in rowing and equipment overview. In the stations, the Girl Scouts learn the Buckeyes’ cheers, practice on the erg machines and experience sitting in an actual boat.
The Buckeye rowers volunteer to lead one of the six groups and plan what they will do at their respective stations about two weeks before the event.
Each year Ohio State looks forward to the opportunity. It’s a special chance to teach young girls about a relatively unknown sport.
“I think it’s a great event for us to open the girls’ eyes to a new sport and they have a really good time learning,” senior Mandy Merritt said. They have a good time talking to all the rowers. I never had an opportunity like this before when I was in Girl Scouts. We sold cookies and did crafts. I think this is a really nice way to show the girls about athletics and what it is like to be a strong female athlete. It allows us to show them a different sport like rowing.”
The service initiative is also a time for the rowing team to grow closer. The varsity and novice teams, who practice separately, do not interact often. For the first year, the novice team joined in the event.
“We’ve never even met our novice team until this morning,” Benford said. “It’s funny when they get here and we’re doing all these weird games with them with the Girl Scouts. It’s fun to meet them and get to know them at the same time as doing service.”