Saturday, January 27, 2018

Being a Delegate to the 2017 Girl Scout National Convention

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By: Lime Green Giraffe Social Media Director, Avery B.


There is no feeling like standing among a crowd of people, everyone dressed in khaki and white, proudly showing off their vests and sashes – all there to support and promote the strength and abilities of girls everywhere.
            I will never forget it.
            Every three years, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) holds a convention, hosted by a different council. The convention allows legislation to be voted on and goals and changes to be presented to the Girl Scout movement as a whole. Beyond the practical side, the convention is truly a celebration of the accomplishments and power of girls everywhere. The convention in 2017 was the 54th Girl Scout National Convention, held in Columbus, Ohio. It was also the first National Convention to be planned by girls, making it the largest girl planned event in the world!
            I had the unique privilege of being one of eight girl delegates to represent Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta (GSGATL) at the convention, meaning I had the responsibility of electing new members to the national board and voting on proposed changes to the Girl Scouts organization’s constitution. Our delegation also had around twelve adults, including our CEO Amy Dosik (I was definitely a little star-struck meeting her for the first time!).
            To become a delegate, I had to fill out an application, answering questions that discussed my experience in Girl Scouts, any leadership experiences, my ability to represent many different points of views, and any recommendations I had for the Girl Scout movement. As I filled out the application, I made sure to stay true to my opinions and beliefs, even if they weren’t what a cookie-cutter answer would look like, and I think that made a difference in the end.



            After being accepted as a delegate, there was a lot of preparation that goes into the role before ever stepping foot at convention. GSUSA hosted four webinars to discuss the three proposals for amendments to the Girl Scout constitution, as well as to talk about the convention in general. GSGATL also hosted a webinar and two in-person meetings. These meetings were especially important, as we had to ensure that as a delegation we were well-informed and had discussed every possible angle of the proposals. Even though I clearly don’t have much experience with legislative issues, I was still able to bring my opinions to the table and all the adults listened and respected what I had to say.
            Another important preparation for the convention was to make SWAPS! GSGATL recommended that each person make around 200 SWAPS around the theme of “I Had a Dream,” since Atlanta is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace. With the help of my family, I made over 200 tiny dream-catchers using yarn, beads, and key rings. This was definitely the most ambitious craft project I had ever embarked on! It was well worth it when I came home with hundreds of SWAPS from people around the country and even the world. Girl Scouts are so creative!

            As a delegation, we met at the airport and flew to Columbus on Wednesday, October 4, giving ourselves time to check into the hotel and rest before the Opening Ceremony that night. This Opening Ceremony kicked off the beginning of the legislative portion of the convention, which took up the full day Thursday. My favorite part of the Opening Ceremony had to be the flag procession, where every country in the world involved with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides was announced and had their flag brought up on stage. This also did this for all 50 states plus territories under GSUSA. (We made sure to cheer for Georgia!).
            All day Thursday, starting at about 8:30 in the morning and only pausing for lunch, we debated, discussed, and voted on the proposed amendments to the constitution as well as where the future of Girl Scouts should go. There were five microphones spread around the large room, two for those in favor of the amendments, two for those against, and one for procedural questions. These procedural questions were especially important since there was a specific order we had to vote and act in, and there were many times when people got confused. To vote, we used electronic devices, allowing the votes to be counted up easily. However, when we had to vote for the board nominees, there were 26 nominees and 25 seats, meaning the voting took quite a while. We ended up ending the day around 6:00 pm, about an hour and a half later than planned.



            Friday morning was the Closing Ceremony for the legislative portion of the convention. The highlight of this ceremony, for me at least, had to be the honoring of the Young Women of Distinction. These outstanding Girl Scouts are ones that went above and beyond with their Girl Scout Gold Award projects, taking the lead and truly making our world a better place. As someone working on her own Girl Scout Gold Award, it was such an inspiring moment to see girls who had done such incredible work all over the world even while still in high school.

            Of course the events after the legislative portion were incredible. There were so many different seminars and activities and speakers all there to motivate and empower girls, and it was so much fun just getting to be in that environment. However, the privilege of being a delegate representing GSGATL was the best part of the convention. I felt like my opinion mattered, and I felt so united with my Girl Scout sisters. Being a delegate gave me the opportunity to meet lots of people from many different councils across the country and learn about and share different thoughts and opinions.
            I would definitely recommend going to a Girl Scout National Convention, especially as a delegate. There is nothing like it, and it’s such an incredible opportunity to gain real life experience about how organizations such as Girl Scouts is run, as well as learn how to represent your own opinions while respecting the views of others.



            The next GS National Convention will be in 2020 in Orlando, Florida. I know that I’ll be making it a priority to go, and I hope to see you there!

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