My experience as a Delegate at G.I.R.L. 2017

Submitted by Allison Ellington

Western Colorado

Grand Junction

I was a delegate at G.I.R.L. 2017, the 54th National Girl Scout Convention, after being selected by the GSCO Board of Directors. Having never been a delegate for Girl Scouts before, I was both excited and anxious. In the weeks leading up to the event, we learned more and more about the Council session that we would be participating, debating, and eventually voting in. We learned more about parliamentary procedure and the proposals we would be voting on.  The National Council convenes every three years and its responsibilities are to:

• Elect the officers and the other members of the National Board and the National Board Development Committee

• Amend the Girl Scout constitution as needed

• Establish requirements for certificates of membership, council charters, and all other credentials

• Act of proposals to foster and improve Girl Scouting, receive reports of the National Board of Directors, and give guidance to the National Board upon general lines of direction of the Girl Scout Movement and Girl Scout program

This triennium, we had a total of 1,058 voting members in attendance at the National Council Session in Columbus, Ohio. This included 13 delegates from Colorado! Our delegates included GSCO Board President RaeAnn Dougherty, President & CEO Stephanie Foote, and MCC President Caroline Cornell, among other volunteers and myself representing many areas of our state.

The most interesting part of the National Council session to me was watching and participating in a meeting utilizing parliamentary procedure. It was incredibly fascinating watching the tradition of this regimented way of conducting business in action! So many of the girl delegates from around the nation stood up and made dazzling, brilliant statements presenting their ideas to the entire group. They were shining examples of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and all that our movement exists for.

As part of service on the delegation, we had to attend webinars and learn about the proposals and why the National Board was recommending them. Then, at the meeting, we all had the opportunity to debate why we were for or against the changes and could even make amendments to the proposal. Then, we could debate the amendment, vote on it, and then move forward. We did this for each of the three proposals – it was a long, but very interesting and engaging day. One of the proposals that passed that I think will be most impactful for our membership is the change and adoption of the Lifetime membership fee to $400 and then offering a discount to our young alumnae of $200. For more information on this update, please contact our Customer Support Team by sending an email to: inquiry@gscolorado.org

The delegation also elected the National Board. According to Monica Gil, Chair of the National Board Development Committee (NBDC), “The NBDC engaged in a yearlong process to identify, recruit and cultivate talent. They received nearly 200 candidate referrals from across the Movement. They sought individuals who understand Girl Scouts and how to expand our efforts to a national scale, and who are deeply invested in girls’ success.”

As delegates, we were provided bios of the proposed members. I was impressed with the candidates! They are all successful, well-educated, and have a ton of experience to bring to the National Board. Many of them are Girl Scouts or are Lifetime Girl Scouts and all that we got to hear from were dynamic speakers! They all have a sincere interest in the success of our Girl Scout movement. During our time at Convention, I was honored to have the chance to speak with several of these board members, including one that represents our region, Debbie Nielson from Ogden, Utah. She really listened to what I had to say and was very interested in our thoughts on the debates we had been engaged in during the National Council Session.

When it came time to talk about the discussion topics that were sent out ahead of time, it was very reassuring to hear many of our own volunteers’ thoughts being expressed by other councils as well. The question was, “What does Girl Scouts need to do to reach more girls and increase impact?” They gave us some great research based facts about the “Girl Scout Difference” and how our demographic, social, and economic changes will be impacting girls in the future. We heard a lot of ideas about reaching ALL girls and making sure we continue to be all-inclusive. Girls brought up ideas on keeping our older girls engaged and bringing back some of our more historical life-skills badges. Per the GSUSA constitution —
“RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MOVEMENT AND THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS The ultimate responsibility for the Girl Scout Movement rests with its members. We govern by an efficient and effective democratic process that demonstrates our leadership in a fast-changing world.”

It is my belief that we need to spend the next two years getting engaged with our membership here in Colorado. Let’s talk to our fellow volunteers, girls, and staff members about how we can continue to support Girl Scouting here in Colorado. How can we engage and improve our program for girls? Can we work with other programs and organizations to reach more girls? How can we support our valuable volunteers and retain them so girls in Colorado are encouraged and supported as well? Older girls are important to GSCO, how can we continue to engage these girls and keep them interested? How can our story be heard by others outside of Girl Scouts so that everyone knows how impactful our program is? Each and every one of the 33, 000 girl and adult members we have in Colorado has a role to play in this. The question is, what role is it? How can you help? I am excited to hear what you think! Please contact your service unit managers, volunteer support specialists, or any of the delegates that went to this year’s convention. I can’t wait to see what we do and can bring to the next national council session in 2020 in Orlando, FL!

Allison Ellington is a volunteer support specialist in the Western Colorado region. She has been with GSCO for four years and a Girl Scout for nearly 15 years. She is an innovator that loves to brainstorm and think outside the box!

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