It was winter when Sayre Schaefer walked by the Lions Memorial Park in Norman, Oklahoma. She fondly remembered the time she spent playing softball at that exact park, but even the cold winter air couldn’t make her forget the Oklahoma summer heat and lack of shade during her games.
That’s when Sayre came up with the idea for her Gold Award project — she would build two dugouts for the Lions Memorial Park, providing much needed shelter and respite from the heat for future athletes.
“My inspiration was remembering all the times I had played at that same field, having to sit in the hot Oklahoma sun and constantly pick burrs out of my clothing and gear,” said Sayre.
The dugouts not only provide comfort for the athletes, but the shade they provide will make playing sports during blistering Oklahoma summers much safer for the Norman community.
Lions Memorial Park is near a few schools and at the center of a large neighborhood in Norman. It is a popular recreation area for joggers, families and sports teams alike. Many of the local sports teams use the park and its fields for practices, while the community enjoys its use as a common green space.
First, Sayre needed to create a design and a budget for her project. Once approved by the Girl Scout Council, Sayre could begin preparing the location and gathering materials for her project.
Her first setback arose when trying to source materials for the dugout.
“Shopping caused a few months’ setback due to home improvements increasing during the lockdown leaving less wood available. This shortage caused some more design adjustments to be made and altered the price,” Sayre said. “Complications may come along but you just have to plow through.”
Sayre’s friends and family helped her build the two dugouts in pieces. First, they built the base of the dugout at her home and then moved it to Lions Memorial Park where the rest was built on-site.
Finally, after months of hard work the dugouts were complete. Sayre submitted the final information from her project and received her Gold Award.
“I think my project was important because it will give the next generation of athletes materials I lacked when playing,” Sayre said.
Sayre’s project will live on and give many Lions Memorial Park athletes beneficial shelter and shade during their practices.
Each year hundreds of Girl Scouts across the country learn important life skills when completing their Gold Awards. The Gold Award teaches girls how to give back to their community and why it is important.
“The Gold Award is an important project in Girl Scouts because it offers an opportunity to help one’s community, giving guidelines and examples on ways to do so,” Sayre said.