Day 1: Wednesday, October 15 – “Traveling to Salt Lake City”
With extra-large bags ready for all the stuff we would be bringing back and our favorite Girl Scout t-shirts on, our delegates met at KCI with much anticipation for what was ahead in Salt Lake City! We were off to the Girl Scout National Convention and for many of us our very first convention. It was a smooth flight to Las Vegas and then a quick change of planes to Salt Lake City. So flying into Salt Lake City, the approach into the airport was a little scary and bumpy with mountains on either side but with an expert Southwest pilot and plenty of GS sisters for support all was good. As we arrived to the baggage claim area, wow… it was a sea of green, a welcome team with signs, friendship circles and sounds of “Make New Friends”. Convention was on! We took the TRAX to the Little America Hotel where we would be staying the next several days. There was some time to explore the city and pick up our credentials. The beautiful mountains, Park City where the 2002 Olympics was held and shopping in this amazing mall with a roof that opens and closes for the weather conditions were all great things we took advantage of. We were greeted with an amazing city and spectacular hospitality! After a little fun and food, we waited for the arrival of our Girl Scout Leadership Institute (GSLI) girls to arrive. They made it in around 11:00 pm, tired but very excited!
Day 2: Thursday, October 16 – “Convention & GSLI Officially Begin”
Our day started for some a little extra sleep, the most we would have for the whole week, and for others an early departure to see more of the city. This included a trip for two delegates, Holly and Jeni to see Girl Scouts of Utah beautiful camp, Trefoil Ranch. By 1:00 pm, we met up with the GSLI girls for their opening with GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez and Former National Board Chair Connie Lindsey. They surprised us by leading a parade of the more than 1,000 girls to the ribbon cutting of the Hall of Experiences. Wow!! The Hall of Experiences was so cool. This would be the place we would spend a lot of time throughout our visit. From a big treehouse in the middle of the expo center to a basketball court on one side to hundreds of Girl Scout vendors and partners, it finally became clear on why we needed those extra-large bags. We didn’t spend much time in the Hall of Experiences as the girls went back to their GSLI activities and we went onto our first Conversation of Consequence – Faith in Action. A great discussion with a panel of experts about girls and faith ensued. Following the discussion, the delegates were off to their reception and then it was onto the Opening Ceremony. So cool that Convention veterans Charlene and Cheryl, long-time GSKSMO volunteers joined us for the event. What a spectacular way to open convention with the parade of flags from around the world where Girl Scouting takes place. Because it is the 30th anniversary of the Daisy Girl Scout, they with a little older GS help carried in each flag. After the international flags, every state flag also processed in. Amazing! The Opening Ceremony ended with an inspirational presentation by Allison Levine, who ascended the highest peaks on every continent.
Day 3: Friday, October 17 – “National Council Session Begins”
Rise and shine! Delegates had to be in their seats by 8:30 am, so we met in the hotel lobby at 7:45 am. Our eight adults dressed in their official uniform and two girls in their official khaki slacks, sash and/or vest settled in their seats. After a little parliamentary procedure lesson and voting unit test, Anna Maria Chavez and Connie Lindsey provided a state of the organization address. This was followed by a finance report delivered by our own council’s member and GSUSA Board of Directors’ Treasurer Joan Wagnon. The delegates voted and passed the first proposal to enlist a national committee to research the flexibility of national dues. The first session concluded with a 1 ½ hour discussion on the outdoors. Great perspective on how our organization can move forward with what today’s girls want to do outdoors. The afternoon was filled with a great walk around the Hall of Experiences including a hands-on look as to what is ahead with the K-5 initiative. We took a little break to enjoy another Conversation of Consequence- Diversity in Action: how it drives innovation and problem solving. Incredible panel of women including Dr. Tererai Trent, who you might know from the Oprah Winfrey Show. When the Q&A opened, the first one to the microphone, our GSLI Girl Scout Amanda who asked Dr. Trent an awesome question. She had been waiting since the night before when Dr. Trent talked to the GSLI girls. Following this fantastic panel, we quickly headed back into the Hall of Experiences for a great Q&A with Elizabeth Smart. She described her harrowing experience and how her faith resilient spirit helped her survive and flourish into the young woman she is today. We were off to dinner when we ran into GSKSMO volunteers Liz and Terri. We heard about their great sessions at Girl Scout University and shared ours with them. Lucky thing, we got to meet and take a photo with Elizabeth Smart. So cool!
Day 4: Saturday, October 18 – “Outdoor Discussion, the State of Women’s Leadership and STEM”
Coffee, please! Another early morning and off to Day 2 of the National Council Session. So we thought we were in for a pretty uneventful morning with a couple of votes until the voting devices didn’t work. What happens? Well, all the girl delegates take the stage with Anna Maria Chavez for a sing-a-long! Voting devices fixed, discussion and a vote on two proposals end the session. Before the new national officers and board members were introduced, Connie Lindsey made the most poignant speech to end her Board President tenure. Another great outdoor discussion which ended by a great pledge (we are working on getting that to share) and we adjourned to the last day of the Hall Experiences and the third Conversation of Consequences. The conversation was about the state of female leadership led by moderator Robin McGraw and panelists Ann Romney and Bonnie St. John. So empowering! We learned that Bonnie St. John spent a great evening with the National Young Women of Distinction – we heard cheers behind us, and there was our own National Young Woman of Distinction Paige Young. Following a busy day of convention happenings, we were off to the Imagine Your STEM Future dinner with guest speaker Kristen Gil, VP of Operations for Google. We also met up with our friends from Lee’s Summit, Liz and Terri. The GSLI girls had their own dinner fun at Clark Planetarium and then off to their dance. It was at the STEM dinner that some of us had the opportunity to meet and take a quick photo with Anna Maria Chavez. While the GSLI girls danced the night away so did our adults at their dance, including our own CEO Joy Wheeler. Somehow, no one got a photo of that! Hmmm….
Day 5: Sunday, October 19 – “This Girl is On Fire”
Last day and it is time to sit on those suitcases to close them! We headed to the convention center with great anticipation to see our National Young Woman of Distinction present. Prior to that, we heard from new National Board President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan and the last Conversation of Consequence – Real Girls Change the World. So inspiring for all of us, but especially are GSLI girls as they aspire to great things. It was then time for the ten National Young Women of Distinction to each take the podium to share about their incredible projects. Paige was simply amazing! She shared how her mom encouraged her GS experience and how she went from a shy Daisy to an alumna poised to take the next step on her leadership journey. This was truly a highlight of the entire week! After the girls presented, received their beautiful pins and $5,000 scholarship from Kappa Delta, an announcement came that a special guest would be coming on stage. It was Girl Scout Vivienna Wolfgramm, this petite girl who many of us guessed would lead us in a round of “Make New Friends”. Think again, Vivienna belted out “This Girl is on Fire”, followed by dancing and fireworks. What a way to end the National Convention!
Start planning now, the 2017 National Convention will be in Columbus, Ohio. Take your troop, gather your volunteer friends and take part in this incredible experience with thousands of Girl Scouts from around the world! It will reignite your passion to help girls change the world, we promise!!