Spreading Kindness One Rock At A Time

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While working on their Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn, members of Girl Scout Troop 10442 found a sustainable way to spread kindness.
The 12- and 13-year-old girls wrote encouraging chalk messages in front of their schools during a spring testing week, and they prepared meals for someone who was sick. They also delivered cookies and cards to residents of Sunrise Senior Living. However, the most engaging, and sustainable project has been developing a rock garden at Kinder Park in Millersville.
Lisa Shrout, who led the troop with Amy Demo, said while thinking of project possibilities, she remembered an abandoned garden plot at the park.
“The girls liked the idea of decorating rocks and taking care of something,” Shrout said. “They thought that if someone is having a bad day, he or she can pick up a rock with an encouraging message and take it home with them, or maybe give it to someone else.”
The project took some organization. First, the girls met with park superintendent Bill Offutt to gain permission. Offutt was pleased with the girls’ plan but cautioned them to consider the deer population and choose deer-resistant plants.
Then, they researched rock garden designs, visiting Anne Arundel Lawn and Garden Center in Severna Park to consult with professionals in choosing their plants. The Cadettes drew a diagram to show where everything would go, and they established a watering and weeding schedule.
“They spent a very hot and dry spring and summer tending to the plants and weeding the area,” Shrout said.
They bought rocks, and they spent some fun hours decorating them with inspirational messages of love, hope and strength.
Lisa’s daughter, Darby Shrout, said her favorite part of the project was decorating, but she also liked the idea of people seeing the rocks. “It was so fun to imagine people looking at the garden and smiling at the kind words and phrases written on them,” Darby said. “Also, after our work was finished, we would sometimes be packing up our tools, and see people walking along and stopping with their kids and pointing out at the rocks.”
Jessie Jacobs liked seeing people smile as they passed by. “They often comment on how much they like the garden,” she said.
Demo moved, and the troop disbanded at the end of the school year. All of the girls transferred to Troop 5302 with leader Laura Knox, but Lisa Shrout is continuing to help the girls attain their award. She will pass the garden to the new troop.
The girls hope to raise money for a new plaque for the garden and include “instructions” for people to take a rock that speaks to them and to continue to spread kindness by bringing a rock to add to the garden.
Also, the girls have discussed the project with other Girl Scout troops and hope to inspire other rock gardens, as well as encouraging others to add to the one they started.
The Cadettes hope their garden spreads kindness forever.

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