Monday, December 1, 2014

Girl Scouts National Convention 2014 inspires girls to take action

More than 20 girls, adult members and staff from GSWPA were among more than 6,500 from around the world to converge on Salt Lake City for the 53rd Annual Girl Scouts national Convention, Oct. 16-19, 2014.

This dynamic event, which was centered around the theme, “Discover, Connect, Take Action: Girls Change the World,” was filled with activities and speakers--including news makers, leaders, policy makers and celebrities from around the world—aimed at celebrating and invigorating the Girl Scouts global movement. It was also an opportunity for representatives from councils across the country to take part in decisions that chart the future of the organization through the meeting of the National Council.

Girls from GSWPA head to Salt Lake City.

GSWPA adult delegates Krystal Boburchock and
Stephanie Barefoot-Mitchell with GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez.
“Attending the 2014 National Convention for Girl Scouts was an incredible experience,” said Brittany McCartney, an Ambassador Girl Scout from Meadville who attended both as a Girl Scout Leadership Institute participant and a national delegate. “I honestly had no idea what to expect going into convention but it exceeded any expectations I could have set for myself.”

Three girl delegates and 10 adult delegates represented GSWPA this year on the National Council, the membership body of Girl Scouts of the USA charged with giving broad direction to the future of the Girl Scout Movement. As required by the Girl Scouts of the USA Constitution in the Blue Book of Basic Documents, the body convenes every three years and is the major link between Girl Scout councils and the national organization. National delegates gather feedback from GSWPA members on the proposals and discussion topics on the National Council Session Agenda and then act as the voice of the council.
This year at convention, National Council voted on, and ultimately adopted, three proposed amendments to the Constitution of Girl Scouts of the USA in these areas:
  • Flexibility of dues and registration practices
  • Reporting relationship of the chief financial officer
  • Role of past presidents

Sightseeing in Salt Lake City's Tabernacle Square.

Also at the National Council session, GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chávez led a discussion about the importance of outdoor programming in Girl Scouting by announcing that new outdoor badges for Brownies, Cadettes, Juniors, Seniors and Ambassadors will be introduced in the fall of 2015 through a Girl’s Choice program.

“It was almost unanimous that the girls wanted to go back outdoors in Girl Scouting,” said McCartney. “As one girl said, we need to put the “out” backing in Scouting!”

As if being a part of a national decision-making process wasn’t exciting enough, convention attendees also took part in some pretty amazing activities, heard from inspiring speakers, and even had some time to do a little sightseeing.

Throughout the convention, Girl Scouts Leadership Institute participants (12 from GSWPA) teamed up to create a “Take Action” project to address an issue that was affecting people in their communities: hunger, basic needs, education, healthy relationships, teen violence, self-image, gender equality, diversity and inclusion. “In researching and discussing the issues I learned more about myself, and became more aware of issues that girls from across the world are facing,” said McCartney.

The group also heard from several inspiring speakers, including Elizabeth Smart, an activist and speaker who was abducted at age 14 and rescued nine months later, and Alison Levine, a mountaineer who has climbed the highest peaks on all seven continents.

The list of awesome experiences from the convention is seemingly endless.

“It was absolutely amazing to see so many young women in Girl Scouts in one place,” said adult volunteer Sharon Enslen. “We got to experience how the national proposal process works, see the Hall of Experiences, enjoy the Girl Lounge, trade SWAPs, sample cookies and nuts, meet Anna Maria Chávez, see the Parade of Flags, make new friends, ride in a bicycle rickshaw, hear the Mormon tabernacle choir, go to a private party at Clark Planetarium, attend a dance party and so much more! Wow, what a trip!”

Feeling inspired to experience the Girl Scout Convention for yourself? Well, we have good news for you! The next convention, slated for Oct. 12-15, 2017, will be held right in our backyard in Columbus, Ohio. Stay tuned for more details!