I am a 2023 National Delegate and represented Girl Scouts of Colorado at the National Council Session. We delegates are a diverse group of high school girls, a college student and adults. While I am very proud to represent our great council on a national level, I am more proud of the strengths I saw surface in myself.
During the complicated process of debating issues and voting, the young ladies in our group would look to me for guidance. They wanted to be sure exactly what they were voting on. It is very easy to get confused on whether we are voting to stop discussing the issue, amend the proposal, approve the amendment, or vote on the final version of the proposal. I explained to them the consequences of a yes and a no vote, while keeping my opinion to myself so they could vote as they thought was right. I mentored these girls and guided them through the process so they could impact Girl Scouts at the national level. It was a huge responsibility and I am very proud of my stretched leadership abilities.
When we weren’t involved in national business, I had an amazing time trading half of my 700 patches and swaps with delegates and Girl Scouts from around the country and world. Our college age delegate joined me as we walked around the convention hall looking for people to swap with. We talked with girls, adults, board members, council CEO’s and National Board Members. Both of us are introverts, and we really found our courage. My favorite conversation was with the Second Vice President of the National Board, Trooper Sanders. I told him that I enjoyed hearing him talk at the two previous National Council Sessions and missed his public participation this time. He noticed I was from Colorado and found that we both know one of his friends from my home town. I’m both her twin daughters’ Gold Award Mentor. We had a great conversation about the girls’ projects and took a picture together. Without the energy gained from the whole NCS experience, I could never have approached someone of his position and strike up this special conversation. Girl Scouts is definitely making a positive impact on me as an adult.
During Phenom, the weekend activities portion of National Convention, I traded away the rest of my swaps with hundreds more people, and talked with all of them. One particular trade stands out in my mind. My swap was an origami bear. An adult approached me and had a middle or high school aged girl hiding behind her being very shy. The adult told me that her daughter saw my origami bears and really wanted to swap with me. The Scout was very introverted and I didn’t want to make her more apprehensive. I purposely didn’t make direct eye contact and quietly told her that I was giving her an origami bear from Colorado. I offered her a choice of colors, and she asked for blue. She moved to stand side by side with her mom. I handed her the bear and could tell that I just made her day. When she pulled out a swap to trade with me, she had origami cranes. Melted my heart! She offered me my color choice, and I said blue as well, so our swaps will always be friends. She smiled. I told her that her swap was too special to put in my bag of swaps, so I pinned it on my lanyard for everyone to see. For that Girl Scout, swaping with a stranger was a terrifying idea, but she built up her courage to make the special trade. It certainly was a highlight of my convention experiences as I helped her step out of her shell in a safe atmosphere. I have her origami crane right next to my computer to remind me of our special interaction.
I had one other swap trade that was very exciting. I was walking into the restroom, looked up and was face to face the CEO of GSUSA, Bonnie Barczykowski. I wanted to say something intelligent or witty, but my mind was a blank and all I could do was point at her and say “I need your patch!” What a face palm moment! She didn’t bat an eye and ask me to follow her to the person who had the patches. I got her patch (which can be worn on the front of my uniform!) and dug through my bag of origami bears for a special one. I made one with “Girl Scouts of Colorado” typed repeatedly on it, but decided that it was too much work for all of the 405 I made at 5 minutes a piece, so it was unique. It was exciting for me to give the CEO of Girl Scouts my special GSCO bear. As I was standing there all proud of my swap experience, the outgoing President of the National Board walks up and says, “You made the origami bears – they are legendary! I want one!” I think the 10 year old inside me exploded with pride and even more excitement! My swaps had a reputation and were LEGENDARY. Wow!
I recommend that all Girl Scouts, young and old, experience the wonder and excitement of National Convention. There is so much to do and learn. I talked with so many people who are just like me and made me feel like this is where I belong. I advocated for topics I am passionate about with National Board Members who can make my ideas come true. My Troop that’s now college age came to Phenom and they gathered information that could help them in their careers, got internship connections and learned that important people like National Board Members are just people who really want their opinions. I was so proud to watch them finish the girl age portion of their Girl Scout journey and flourish as strong young adults, knowing that I helped them become these amazing women. (Now I’m going to cry again!)
While Girl Scouts is traditionally thought of as helping girls grow to be Go-Getters, Innovators, Risk Takers and Leaders, I experienced it first hand as an adult. I became the outgoing, strong, stress free person that I forgot existed. Girl Scout National Convention made me realize that if I put aside my doubts and self-consciousness, I can do anything!