Local camp has 60 bikes restored as part of Girl Scout project
HUBBARDSTON ― When Madisyn Kaijala set out to work her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she did not expect that she would learn a valuable skill along the way. For her project, the Girl Scout Ambassador restored 60 children's bikes for Camp Putnam in New Braintree. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts.
Along with restoring the bikes for the camp, she also raised $700 to buy helmets in all sizes and a ShelterLogic tent to store the bikes during the winter. She spent 93 hours completing the Gold Award project.
In summer of 2019, Kaijala was a counselor in training at Camp Putnam when she decided to help the camp by repairing and restocking the camp's bicycle supplies. Several small helmet sizes were missing, many of the bikes were rusted and bike chains were broken.
How Kaijala chose her project
Prior to being a CIT, Kaijala was a Putnam camper for many summers, which made her decision to make the bike restoration effort her Gold Award project an easy one.
"At first I was going to do the project not as a Gold Award project but just on my own because it upset me seeing the kids all sad about the bikes at the camp," she said. "It was my mom who suggested I do it for my Gold Award project."
Camp Putnam owner, Duncan Stewart immediately accepted Kaijala's offer to restore and restock the camp's bike supplies. He said it's very difficult to maintain a fleet of 50 bikes or more, so this was a big help for the camp.
The camp provided Kaijala with whatever support she needed including giving her access to tools and a workspace at the camp as well as the manual labor to move the bikes to and from the camp.
Knowing nothing about bicycle repair, Kaijala started to pick up bikes off the side of the road with the help of her Girl Scout troop. She also received gently used bikes from people who wanted to support her project. After gathering dozens of used bikes now Kaijala started to research how to restore and repair the bikes.
Worcester Earn-A-Bike provided training in bike repair
Through her research she found the organization, Worcester Earn-A-Bike, which gives free bikes to anyone who volunteers 10 hours to the Worcester bike shop while participating in workshops to learn basic bike maintenance and other important skills.
Volunteering at Worcester Earn-A-Bike allowed Kaijala to learn all the skills needed to complete her community project. She also was able to restore a couple more bikes in the Worcester bike shop during and build a meaningful connection with the Worcester bike community.
As a gesture of gratitude to the board members of Earn-A-Bike, Kaijala used $150 of the $700 to buy the bike shop an air compressor machine.
"They helped us repair a lot of the bikes, taught us how to repair the bikes, gave us tools and also supplied us with a couple of bikes as well," she said. "They were an amazing resource. I don't know what we would have done without them."
Funding the project
Kaijala received $200 from her troop and raised $500 by accepting donations from friends and family as well as selling hand-made jewelry and her framed art.. The ShelterLogic tent cost Kaijala $500.
Besides learning an extensive amount on bike maintenance Kaijala expressed she learned that it is not impossible to make a difference in the community, but it is a lot of work. She emphasized that without the help of her parents, her aunt, and one of her dad's friends, she wouldn't have been able to purchase and construct the Shelterlogic tent and repair all of the bikes.
"I couldn't do it without the help of my mother!" Kaijala said. "She drove me to and from a lot of places, she helps me transport the bikes to and from the camp, and she helped me repair a lot of the bikes."
Stewart said that in addition to restocking the camp's bike supplies, Kaijala also created a safety sheet for camp counselors to use when teaching campers how to ride the bikes.
This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Hubbardston Girl Scout Ambassador repairs bicycles for Camp Putman