McFarland Girl Scout receives Gold Award Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
tori budnar-chapman
Girl Scout Tori Budnar-Chapman stands by the  “Living Water” prayerful area she created at St. Ann Parish in Stoughton as part of her Gold Award effort. (Contributed photo)

MCFARLAND -- On April 7, at the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland Award Ceremony in Prairie Du Sac, Tori Budnar-Chapman was one of 11 Girl Scouts receiving her Gold Award.

The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Once achieved, according to the chapter's website, "It shows colleges, employers, and your community that you're out there changing the world."

The 18-year-old McFarland native, member of Christ the King Parish in McFarland, and recently-graduated senior from McFarland High School has done her part to change the world in all 13 years of her scouting, as well as the project that helped her earn the award.

'Living Water' area

In order to earn the award, Budnar-Chapman had to identify an issue, create a plan, take action, educate, and inspire.

Following some early frustrations on projects that didn't work out, she turned her attention to some underused space at St. Ann Parish in Stoughton, where her uncle, Fr. Randy Budnar, is the pastor.

"I was walking around with my uncle one day, and he was talking about that the courtyard is so beautiful except for this one area . . . I said, 'I can do something about that,'" she said.

Her project, which took most of last summer to complete, was the "Living Water" prayerful area in the parish's courtyard.

As to the award-winning nature of her project, she said, "It kind of feels surreal. It feels like something I just kind of did this summer . . . I hope people enjoy it and use it a lot and just find joy, find God, find peacefulness out of it."

More than a decade in scouting

Budnar-Chapman first joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy Scout when she was five years old.

In addition to the well-known cookie sales, she also participated in community service projects, cabin trips, movie nights, other day trips, and even prom dress shopping with her friends in scouts.

She credits her mom, and some time troop leader, Linda Budnar, for getting her involved and staying active throughout the years.

As Budnar-Chapman got older, the number of girls in her troop would decrease. Currently, there are five young women her age still in scouting in her troop.

"I really have a good friendship with all the girls that are in my troop," she said.

"It's not even really an obligation anymore, because when we get together, it's just so much fun, and we do things that we want to do."

Being the "elders" of area Girl Scouts, she and her fellow seniors also bond with the younger scouts.

Every year, they have a kick-off weekend with their younger counterparts where they play games, make crafts, and do other activities.

"That's just one thing that we try to do to make sure that younger girls know we're here, know that we want to hang out with them, and that it's really cool to be a scout until you can't be one anymore," she said.

Faith and scouting

Budnar-Chapman said her Catholic faith and scouting go together.

"We try to help around the community, we try to bring girls together, teach leadership . . . which is all stuff that ties in with my faith," she said.

"I find that it supports my faith a lot because as a Catholic, you don't always feel like you want to do community service, but when you're in an organization that really drives that home, it's hard to make excuses not to do stuff like that and to be helpful and help around your community."

She added that staying involved with Girl Scouts for more than a decade helped build "a lot of really important skills . . . especially leadership and just even having life-long friends."

Another highlight of her time in scouting was a trip she and her fellow scouts took during her eighth grade year, saving up money to go to Georgia to visit the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts.

They got to meet the CEO of the Girl Scouts and meet a descendent of Low, who unveiled a statue of the founder.

"It was just a really powerful experience to meet such powerful women that were doing so much within the scouting community . . . we bonded, we grew as friends, it was a lot of fun."

Budnar-Chapman plans to attend Saint Leo University in St. Leo, Fla., near Tampa and eventually wants to earn a master's degree in accounting.

She said her time in scouts helped her gain the leadership skills she'll need to succeed in the future.

"I need to have great leadership skills and great people skills and scouts, in general, even this Gold Award, has helped me so much with people skills and with being a leader."


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