SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta High School cross country team and community now have a couple of trails to enjoy in the woods at Station Park, thanks to a girl scout. It was two years in the making but Julia Muth just handed in her paperwork on the project to earn her Gold Award, the highest award in Girls Scouts.
This young lady is not only blazing trails in the woods, she is creating her own path to her future, heading to Germany to continue her studies.
Muth said she was inspired to do the trail project while working out for cross country track, running on the path that connects the school to the park.
The trails had been created in the past by an Eagle Scout and an AP student. The yellow trail was overgrown. The red trail was overgrown and muddy with downed trees blocking the way.
Muth had “a lot of help from classmates” with the project. She got the lumber for the bridges she built at a “scouts discount” rate from Blue Ridge lumber yard in Ogdensburg. They also gave her free delivery, she said.
As a counselor at a girl scout camp, Muth was able to borrow their chipper, using some of the trees she and her dad cleared from the trail to make wood chips to spread in the wetter areas. The Sparta Department of Public Works will be chipping more and spreading the chips to improve the trail, Muth said.
Muth said some of the science classes also make use of the trails.
The trail head is at the middle of the connecting path between the school and park. The trail is marked with red paint. A short way into the woods, the trail splits; the yellow trail goes to the right and ends in the outfield of the school’s softball field. The red trail goes left and ends behind the kickball wall in Station Park.
The scout got her project submitted just in time, the following day she is scheduled to head to Germany where she will go to school for the year.
Her path to Germany began more than a year ago, when she heard about the program with the Geothe Institute from a guest lecturer.
“Two weeks later I took the grammar test,” Muth said. Throughout the year she took an online course to help prepare for a second test in literacy she took in May. The test was in German to make she “can learn in German and live there for a year.”
Muth toured Germany last summer, getting a first hand introduction to the culture. For the school year she will be living with a host family in a home with a younger child. The family has also let her know they have a bicycle for her to use. When the heard she was trying to figure out how to ship her bike over, the father of her German family took the opportunity to buy himself a new bike, leaving an extra bike for her to use.
She is familiar with the German school system which will require that she take another year of high school, but she has not yet decided whether or not she will continue school into university in Germany. “Degree programs don’t always translate,” Muth said. “And it depends on how much I miss my family and how much I love Germany.”
Muth said she applied to seven colleges in the United States and was accepted into six but decided to do the gap year program in Germany instead. She plans to pursue a degree “in the STEM field.”
Her parents will be visiting her for Christmas and she plans to return home for a visit at Easter. She has thought through a number of things like laundry, bikes with baskets, travel and many things in between. She said she is “used to being away,” having done Girl Scout camp as a camper and a counselor.
“I’m so excited,” Muth said. “I’ll miss them but I’m sure I’ll be okay.”