Thursday, May 4, 2017

How to Do Anything: A Girl Scout's Determination Shows Us How

Just set your mind to it! 

In the May/June/July issue of The Golden Link, a Girl Scout did just that when she overcame her unique challenge to lead in the Council's horseback riding team, Super People Using Riding Skills (SPURS). Read the story below:

When a girl participates in Girl Scouts she gains access to unique experiences, learns essential life lessons, makes lifelong friendships and builds the confidence and character essential to future leaders. Each Girl Scout’s journey looks different, but they all start with the same life-changing moment a girl and her family are introduced to Girl Scouts.

Chevelle Porter, 13, joined the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) when she was 12-years-old. Her mother, Sara Porter, registered her for Girl Scouts after the insistence of a family friend and GSSJC alumna.

“I had heard of Girl Scouts but thought it didn’t have anything to do with me,” Sara said. “Our friend offered to pay for her membership, her activities—anything to get her into Girl Scouts.”

Each Girl Scout’s journey is unique, and Chevelle’s is no different. Chevelle was born legally blind. She has no vision in her right eye, no peripheral vision and limited vision in her left eye, but Chevelle has been determined to not let that stop her. After becoming a Girl Scout with GSSJC, she joined the Council’s horseback riding special interest group, Super People Using Riding Skills (SPURS).

Girl Scouts grades 6 and up can become SPURS and get involved with the equitation program at Camp Misty Meadows. In SPURS, girls learn hands-on leadership skills needed to help teach younger girls horseback riding and improve their own riding skills as well.

George Ann Barret, GSSJC’s outdoor experience manager who works with the equitation program, recounted the first time she met Chevelle:
“I received a call from her mom before she attended the training to say that her daughter was legally blind. I told her that wouldn’t be a problem. Then on one of the weekend trainings, a girl came up to me with a quiet voice and asked if I would walk with her and the horse she had been assigned because she didn’t feel comfortable enough to handle the horse on her own. I saw that she was wearing glasses, but I didn’t make the connection that this quiet little girl was Chevelle!”

 Chevelle wasn’t a shy, little girl for long, however.

“My first ride I was kind of scared, but now I’m not,” Chevelle said. “I’ve always liked horses. My favorite horse is called Oakey—he is a barrel racer. To ride him, all I do is place my first and forefinger on his reigns and hold them like ice cream cones.

Chevelle joined SPURS in February 2016 and by May of the same year, she had already spent more than 116 hours learning and teaching younger girls to ride horses. By February 2017, she progressed to a level two SPUR after being reviewed and passing a written examination.

While her quick success in the program is impressive, Chevelle still says her favorite part is being able to make the younger girls smile. One of her favorite things to do is ride in the demonstrations and show girls how to properly care for the horses and care for themselves by using the safety measures taught to her by staff.

“It was so comforting to me that they have rules and teach them the safe way to do things,” said Sara. “She was born at 25 weeks weighing only one-pound and fourteen-ounces. It was hard letting go but the security the leaders show - just knowing that the leaders want to be there and everyone loves the work they do with the kids allowed me to let her go.”

Chevelle says she is thankful for all the opportunities she’s been given in Girl Scouts and for the incredible friendships she has made. For her next challenge, she plans to conquer the waves in Galveston Bay in the Camp Casa Mare special interest sailing group, Mariners. 

The Golden Link, published five times per year, is mailed to registered members of the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council and is packed with news, updates, upcoming program activities, trainings and more. For more stories like this one,  visit our Publications page at