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Girl Scout is a cut above

Girl is smiling.
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© Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Chloe Parker, who turns 17 on Monday, earned the Girl Scouts Gold Award for her power tool training program. © Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Chloe Parker is a Girl Scout who traded her box of Thin Mints for a box stocked with power tools.

For the past three summers, the 16-year-old Rio Mesa High School senior has taken part in the Sierra Service Project, a Christian-based nonprofit. The organization brings together church groups from throughout the western United States to repair homes on American Indian reservations and in low-income neighborhoods in Portland, Sacramento and Los Angeles.

“It’s a really great experience for youth to grow and get closer to God and also help the community,” said Chloe, who’s been a Girl Scout since the second grade.

Chloe participates in the Sierra Service Project through Camarillo United Methodist Church, which has sponsored project teams for the past 20 years.

When she first took part in the weeklong program as a 14-yearold on the Teec Nos Pos Navajo reservation in Arizona, Chloe said, she knew very little about power tools and had to learn on the job how to use a circular saw, a drill and a table saw.

“It was definitely a little nerveracking,” she said.

Once she got the hang of it, though, construction work “was really empowering” because she was helping repair a home.

Recognizing that many of the teens involved with the home repair program were like her and didn’t know a circular saw from a jigsaw, Chloe began a training course to teach teens how to properly use power tools before they set off to work on homes during the summer.

She said the idea is to get the teens comfortable with using power tools before they start the five-day home repair project.

“You could tell at the beginning of the week that the work the teenagers produced was going a little bit slower because there were more people tentative to use a power tool,” said Chloe, who turns 17 on Monday. “By the end of the week, after everyone had actually gone in full force and tried using the power tools, the work would go a lot faster because anybody could do any of the jobs then.”

Chloe began the training program— called “Building Faith”— as a way to earn her Gold Award, the highest honor given by Girl Scouts of the USA.

Her first training session in April gave about a dozen Camarillo teens the chance to use power tools to make wooden Easter decorations. The teens from Camarillo United Methodist Church who took part in the training workshop went on the Sierra Service Project over the summer.

“It really is satisfying to see the transition of people who are kind of scared and apprehensive to really wanting to participate and use (the power tools).”

Chloe, who is one of three student representatives on the Sierra Service Project’s national board, created a training manual based on her training course: Other church groups can use it to teach their teens the basics about power tools before they take part in home repair projects.

She presented her report to the Sierra Service Project’s national board during its July meeting in Sacramento.

The power tool safety program earned her the Girl Scouts Gold Award, which she will receive during a ceremony on Oct. 11. She is one of 33 Girl Scouts from the Central Coast chapter who earned the award this year.

Chloe, who plans to participate in two home repair projects next summer, is an honors student enrolled in Rio Mesa’s International Baccalaureate Program. She is in the midst of applying to colleges and said UC San Diego and UCLA are her two top choices. She lives in Camarillo with her parents, Chris and Jennifer, and her younger sister, Catie.

Nanci Paulson, a Camarillo resident and outgoing member of the Sierra Service Project board of directors, praised Chloe for her work as a member of the church and as a Girl Scout.

“She’s definitely somebody who makes me feel confident about the next generation,” Paulson said.

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