Having been a Girl Scout for several years and going on several solo trips I have been able to experience and learn so much. Since becoming an adult member, these trips have become slightly simpler with my troop of mixed girls up until recently when I had the opportunity to attend the Girl Scout National Convention in Columbus, Ohio this past October. This was an opportunity that I was so grateful for and learned so much along with making so many new Girl Scout memories. My favorite place to be at convention, besides the business sessions, was the Hall of Experiences.
The Hall of Experiences is exactly what it sounds like, a large hall with a wide variety of experiences for girls and adult members. This is a place where Girl Scouts are exposed to other vendors that support Girl Scouts and a chance to meet the other product vendors as well. Some of the vendors in the hall were Paypal, Disney on Broadway, and Universal Studios just to name a few. Along with our product program vendors, M2 Media and Little Brownie Bakers, there was also Ashdon Farms and ABC Bakers. All of the product program vendors had samples of their products, so it gave you a chance to taste the other items and have an idea of what our customers refer to during the cookie program.
The most popular spot in the hall was the NASA space spot. This is because girls were able to have lots of hands-on experiences while the adults were able to gain more information about the programs that they offer to Girl Scouts. Along with all the opportunities they offered to Girl Scouts, they had a poster that girls were able to take home which showed the various women astronauts and when they were Girl Scouts. Girls were really able to be themselves in the hall because all vendors were centered on them and how it can help them as a Girl Scout.
Being a first time delegate and convention member, I was definitely open-minded to all that I was about to experience. While in the Hall of Experiences, it’s all about gathering all the information and bringing it back to share with everyone else who was unable to attend. Simply because your troop may not be interested in space camp, but another troop in your area may be.
I highly recommend if anyone has the chance to attend a future convention to not pass up the opportunity. You will come back feeling like a brand new leader with lots of knowledge and insight to share with everyone.
I recently had an amazing Girl Scout experience that I want to share. I knew that going to National Convention as a delegate would be exciting, but I had no idea that it would change the way I look at Girl Scouting. I have returned from Ohio more motivated than ever before, and want to encourage you to share my energy. Even more importantly, I want to convince all Girl Scouts to attend a National Convention themselves.
I am a Mountain Communities Trainer and also teach the Program Aid course. I am a strong advocate of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) and enjoy opportunities to teach others. I’ve worked with so many talented Girl Scouts, but I was blown away by the girls chosen as national delegates. The girl delegates were active in giving opinions on our voting topics. They were thoughtful, insightful, passionate, and persuasive. However, when the discussion topic of how to get more girls into Girl Scouting and keep them, they were incredible. These young women had talked with other girls and shared their stories. They had concerns about diversity, funding, and leadership. They expressed that while many girls are tired of Journeys, others really like them. They presented original ideas that made everyone in the room think, “Wow, why aren’t we doing that?”
I want to encourage all of you to return to your troops and let the girls take the reins. It takes a bit of encouragement to get them on the leadership path, but I’ve seen what can happen when they succeed. I can only hope that my daughter becomes half as successful and amazing as the young women chosen to represent their councils.
I had a meeting with my friend and mentor, Nancy Mucklow, who encouraged me to apply to be a delegate. She wants to plan some big Girl Scout travel, and I virtually doubled her list. Did you know that there is a petition to name the bridge over the Savannah River in Savannah, Georgia the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge? When I told my troop about a chance to participate in their bridging ceremony, their eyes lit up and I think they started their packing list in their heads. I was unaware that Girl Scouts has a camp in Minnesota that does Boundary Waters canoe trips, and the cost is so low it’s staggering. You can go as a large group, an individual, or even a family. I was thrilled to find out that this high adventure trip is affordable and am starting to look at dates. I hope that I can encourage others to join me. I also learned a great deal more about the different world centers and Nancy is starting our travel plans for 2019 – I can’t wait!
The Hall of Experiences was just amazing. I learned information that I never realized existed. It had activities for the girls, from crafts, to the local science museum, to NASA. We were especially impressed with one gentleman at the NASA booth. Not only did he tell us about current science and demonstrate thrilling technology, he gave out important advice about high school and college classes to focus on and emphasized the importance of earning your Gold Award before applying for colleges. My favorite part of our conversation though, was about his daughter’s troop that he leads. We talked with our first colleges, and the advisors there taught my daughter the important questions she should be asking. They talked to her, not me. They asked her the important questions and helped her narrow down her scattered thoughts. I’m grateful for their approach in helping my daughter start her college search.
The breakout sessions were so informative and fun. My daughter attended the girl only yoga and self-defense class. She was very excited to prove herself to the self-defense instructor. She was told to hit the instructor if attacked. When the instructor snuck up on my daughters back and grabbed her hand, my daughter turned and hit her. The instructor was so thrilled that it was caught on video and she posed together yelling YEAH! While she was beating up adults, I attended a bullying seminar. While this was not normally not my thing, I was extremely impressed and inspired. The speaker had a different way of looking at the topic, and I can’t wait to share what I learned.
The inspirational speakers and videos were simply phenomenal. Coming from a family of gymnasts, hearing Gabby Douglas speak was thrilling. Chelsea Clinton was a joy and we just loved her discussion with the Young Women of Distinction about their Gold Awards. The psychologist that spoke was simply amazing. I am still discussing her theories with my daughter. However, in my opinion, the best speaker of the Convention was our very own CEO, Sylvia Acevedo. The way she could engage every person in the audience, regardless of their age was so wonderful. She loved getting all of us to stand up, dance and celebrate Girl Scouting together. If her speaking skills weren’t enough, she also took the time to talk with anyone who wanted her ear and smile for hundreds of selfies. If you have never heard amazing woman speak, I encourage you to seek her out.
The point that I want to stress is that National Convention is just so much more than just a convention. It’s a lifetime experience. I met people who have been attending National Convention since the 80’s. I was inspired by one woman who brings her granddaughters to every National Convention. I find this idea compelling and hope to someday be able to follow in this woman’s footsteps. Did I forget to talk about SWAPS? Just imagine bringing 250 swaps representing our great state and trading with Girl Scouts from around the country – and the world!
When I returned from convention, I was simply exhausted. There were so many fun and interesting things going on that we averaged about five and a half hours of sleep a night. The most amazing part of the convention started after I got home and got a real eight hours of sleep. I have ideas. I have plans. I am motivated. I see how my local troop and my volunteer efforts fit into Girl Scouts around the country. I want to see Girl Scouts of Colorado become a leader in our amazing national organization. I want to see more Girl Scouts, young and old, attend national conventions and come home as inspired as me. I want you to join me at the next national convention in 2020 in Orlando, Florida!
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: firstname.lastname@example.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!
Save the date to join us at a one-of-a-kind gathering of girls and women from around the world!
In October, we’re shining the spotlight on girls, making our Girl Scout convention the premier event for every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM who wants to make the world a better place—– and we’re calling this event G.I.R.L. 2017. For three days, girls will dominate Columbus, Ohio—– and we want you to be a part of it. G.I.R.L. 2017, October 6-8, 2017, will draw more than 10,000 of the brightest, strongest, and most capable girls and women in the world. Excited? We are!
Be sure to mark your calendar and tell your friends—– for a limited time you can save 15 percent on registration by taking advantage of our early bird registration price starting March 14.
Girl Scouts of Colorado is now taking applications from girl members and volunteers interested in representing GSCO at G.I.R.L. 2017, the National Council Session in Columbus, Ohio from October 4-6. The deadline to submit your application is February 17.
A delegate must be:
a United States citizen
a registered member of Girl Scouts
14 years of age or older
available to attend the National Council Session (October 4–6, 2017) in Columbus, Ohio
The delegate must commit to:
participating in delegate training sessions offered by the council
a three-year tenure as a delegate
participating in National Council Session follow-up activities
Girl Scouts of Colorado will send 13 delegates and will cover the cost of registration, housing, transportation and meals
Three of the delegates will be the following:
President & CEO of GSCO
Chairperson of the Board of Directors of GSCO
Chairperson of the Membership Connection Committee (MCC) of GSCO
Three delegates must be MCC members pursuant to GSCO Bylaws Section 8.3.3.d.: “At least 20% of the National Council Delegates shall be…from among Members-at-Large of the MCC”