Girl Scout Delegates Take the Lead!

The Girl Scouts of the USA 55th National Council Session (NCS) was unlike any before: nearly 1,200 voting delegates, along with girls, volunteers, staff, and board members from across the country, gathered virtually to celebrate Girl Scouts and consider six proposals affecting the Girl Scout Movement.

Twelve fantastic Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) played an important role in the weekend and NCS proceedings: Leah, Alonda, Caroline, Dex, Alany, Emily, Ariana, Kate, Erin, Dakota, Carlie, and Laura. Two of the girls’ mentors, Alaina Greene and Karen Schillings, provided the opportunity for the girls to take the lead and make real change in Girl Scout legislation. Read on to hear from Alaina Greene, a GCNWI staff member, who helped the girls take the lead and start their own girl-led forum!

Girls are Shaping the Future

Guest-post by Alaina Greene, Troop Support Specialist at GCNWI, member of the National Convention team, and mentor to the GSGCNWI girl delegates.

I am still processing the amazing weekend I just experienced with our delegation, as we attended the 55th National Council Session. It was a groundbreaking, challenging, fun, and Movement-shaping weekend that I am sure you’re excited about—but I am here to tell you about the work of our council’s amazing girl delegates leading up to that weekend.

The GCNWI girl delegates applied to the three-year position last winter, before we knew we would have to pivot to a virtual platform. By the time our nine girl delegates and three alternates were elected in the spring, we were deep into social distancing, and our Orlando trip was no longer possible.

Even with the rapidly changing circumstances, the girls were excited to participate in decisions that would shape the future of the nation’s Girl Scouts. “I enjoyed all of the fun experiences with the badges, but I wanted to see how I could get involved beyond traditional Girl Scouting,” Kate explained in conversation about her NCS experience.

Dakota wanted her opinions to be heard and actually make a change: “I wanted to show the other girls in my troop that if you want to do something big, all you have to do is try.”

“At first,” Alonda revealed, “I didn’t understand any of it. I know now that the things we do and say shape the future for girls.”

The girl delegates’ mentor Karen Schillings—who also serves as a Council Historian, Chair of Adult Recognitions, AND a troop leader—finds this to be the most valuable part of chaperoning the girls through the NCS process: “I want to hear the girl’s point of view.”

And these girls took on the responsibility with great enthusiasm: “They seem to sense that their role as a delegate is historical and will have an impact, not just for today, but for the future of the movement,” Karen reported.

So we persisted, and remained engaged not only in numerous Zoom calls with each other, but countless forums, caucuses, and trainings hosted by GSUSA. They were tasked with learning about their role as a national delegate, including a deep understanding of the six proposals that were up for consideration at NCS, and parliamentary procedures.

Even with the unconventional virtual structure, the girls rose to the challenge and exceeded expectations.

Shifting Gears

As we inched closer and closer to NCS, our girl delegates started to express that the national forums they were participating in weren’t exactly what they wanted. They didn’t want forums moderated by adults—they wanted a forum where they could talk to other girl delegates without having an adult direct the conversation. From this sprang the idea of a girl-led delegate forum, hosted by our GCNWI girl delegates.

In under a month, our girl delegates brainstormed, planned, and re-planned a forum led solely by girls. Four GCNWI girls hosted, and delegates from across the country were invited to attend. Delegates from at least 11 councils joined the forum to share their opinions.

Did everything go smoothly? No. In fact, our girls had to shift quickly, and our facilitator, Leah, had to get creative with her tactics. Conversations struggled at the top, but soon, more and more attendees were unmuting. Delegates were sharing their ideas, but also voicing when they were uncertain, something we all know can be intimidating to say to a group.

“As a host for the girl delegate call,” Leah said, “even if things went differently than I had prepared for, I had to go with the flow. I’m proud that I was able to help give those girls a meaningful experience.”

“One thing I’ve noticed,” Karen explained, “is that girls are capable of significant accomplishments if we just give them the support and confidence they need to lead. When we, as adults, show that we believe in them, they ultimately believe in themselves.”

I am so proud of the work our girl delegates put into this, both behind the scenes leading up to the day, and during the forum. The teamwork, leadership, and innovation they demonstrated allowed them to create the safe space for the dialogue they hoped for.

Attendees of the forum commented that they were so happy to have the opportunity to attend and connect with other girl delegates. At the end of the Forum, they all said, “See you next weekend at NCS!”

In the past year a lot of our plans have changed, and many of us have been forced to shift. What has not changed is the determination and spirit of our girls. They continue to blaze new trails and inspire.

“It’s important for girls to take leadership positions so they can make a change in their lives, instead of letting someone else do it,” Dakota said.

“Girls have a specific point of view that adults don’t—it’s important for girls to be able to share that point of view,” Leah explained, and Alonda added, “I feel like there’s not enough recognition for young girl’s and women’s leadership.”

Carlie also agreed: “Girls are often told it’s bad to be loud, and Girl Scouts teaches us that our strength is our voice, our actions, us. Creating spaces for girls to learn voting, business, public speaking, and diplomatic skills is crucial to creating a world that is meant for us, too.”

Kate concluded, “I’m excited to be a part of something that will impact not only my community, but girls throughout the United States.”

Save the Date for the next National Council Session!

Girl Scouts are welcome to attend the next National Council Session in July 2023 on their own, as a troop, or you can apply to be a delegate.

Applications will open in 2022 for the 2023 National Council Session. Adults and Girls that are 14 and up will be able to apply.

Learn more about our Democratic Process and other opportunities on our website.

Thank you to the Girl Delegates and Alternate Girl Delegates:

Leah
Alonda
Caroline
Dex
Alany
Emily
Ariana
Kate
Erin
Dakota
Carlie
Laura

And thanks to Karen Schillings and Alaina Greene for their mentorship!

Look out next week for a blog post all about the adult Delegates whose achievements have been three years in the making.

Learn More About Democracy

NEW Civic Engagement Badges for K-12 Girls

Read about this creative way to earn the new democracy badges

View all GCNWI Programs for Girls and Adults

Member Monday: Use Your Voice!

Girl Scout Rachel and Cook County Circuit Court Judge Patricia M. Fallon during a Zoom conversation with girls from Service Unit 406

When Girl Scouts of USA released their 24 new badges, including badges on Democracy and civic engagement, Service Unit 406 Managers Carrie Parsons and Selena Randecker saw the opportunity to respond to 2020’s unexpected turns. The new Democracy badges require girls to engage directly with their local political representatives to learn more about the democratic process, and this year, civic engagement is more important than ever.

Thus, Carrie and Selena’s “brain-child” was born, a series of programming for over 80 troops to meet over Zoom with four major mayors in their area, as well as Judge Patricia Fallon, and two lawyers. The meetings, led by the girls, consisted of question and answer sessions with the representatives, and they were a huge hit, drawing over 100 girls for some meetings. Girls took charge and asked their mayors questions on everything from election processes to favorite ice cream flavors.

“The girls are paying attention and want answers,” Service Unit Manager Selena said. “They really wanted to know the details” of the political process, and this level of engagement speaks volumes to her. “It’s amazing what ideas the girls have, and what they can do.” For girls who are too young to vote, but want to take political action and use their voice, Service Unit Manager Carrie says “You can still make a difference, and don’t ever think you can’t. Your ideas matter.”

“One person and one voice can make a difference.”

Judge Patricia Fallon, currently running for Circuit Court Judge, 12th Judicial Subcircuit, was excited to engage with a group of politically-minded Girl Scouts for one of the Q&A sessions. Being service-minded her entire career, she has always admired the Girl Scouts organization and thought their questions were thoughtful, intriguing, and pointed to a strong intuitive understanding of law.

Speaking to the importance of young women’s engagement “I think it’s crucial for all young people to know how their government works, and carry a mindset of service and citizenship” because “they do have the power to effect positive change.” You may not appreciate the difference you can make– Judge Fallon asserts “one person or one small group can make such a tremendous difference.”

Girl Scout Ameenah, a Girl Delegate for their service unit and moderator for the meeting with Hoffman Estates mayor William D. McLeod, agrees that civic engagement is essential: “We should care about what’s happening,” she explains, “because this is our world, the world we’re going to inherit one day.” Girl Scout Rachel, who moderated the Q&A with Judge Fallon, succinctly quoted Girl Scout alumna Tyra Banks: “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the outcome.”

After hearing from these inspiring women and girls, it’s clear what we all need to do: stand up and speak out! Thank you to everyone who shared their story with us!

Earn the Democracy Badges!

Civic engagement is just one way Girl Scouts advocate for positive change and make the world a better place. And though some girls may be too young to cast a ballot, they can still mobilize their communities to take action. Funded by the Citi Foundation, the new Democracy badges for all ages of Girl Scouts will help politically-minded girls be more prepared than ever to vote, act, and blaze trails.

Buy the Democracy Badges in our store!

More Opportunities

Girl Scouts of the USA recently launched a national civic service project to engage troops in the democratic process in this monumental election year and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Learn more about Promote the Vote and how you can equip your troop for civic action.

Girls of all ages interested in continuing their political education should also check out the Girl Scout Suffrage Centennial patch, which gives girls and troops a chance to explore the important history of the fight for gender and racial justice and voting rights in the United States.

Share Your Story!

For a chance to have your story heard by people all over our council, submit on our website! We love to feature what our Girl Scouts, members and volunteers are doing!

Girl Scouts may interact with women and men in elected positions as they earn components of their non-partisan civics and democracy badges. Girl Scouting does not endorse any specific candidate or issue.

Civic Engagement Badges for Girls K-12!

Have you heard? 24 new badges are here from GSUSA, and they’re designed to help girls of all ages reach their potential and become fierce leaders of the future!

Civic engagement is just one way Girl Scouts advocate for positive change and make the world a better place. And though some girls may be too young to cast a ballot, they can still mobilize their communities to take action. Funded by the Citi Foundation, the new Democracy badges for all ages of Girl Scouts will help politically-minded girls be more prepared than ever to vote, act, and blaze trails.

Learn more about the new Democracy badges from GSUSA!

Democracy for Younger Girls

The Democracy badges for Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors lay the groundwork for girls to understand both local and national government, what they are responsible for, and how they make large-scale changes throughout the country. The badges will also require them to explore political issues that interest them, draft legislature, and debate their friends and family!

Interested in learning more? Find the Democracy badges on our online shop.

Democracy for Older Girls

As well as exploring the structure of the United States government at the state and federal levels, the Democracy badges for Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors continue the work of growing political awareness and civic engagement. Girls will research key legislators in their state, the importance of voter turnout, and more, as well as develop ideas for service projects.

Start the Democracy badges by finding them on our online shop.

More Opportunities

Girl Scouts of the USA recently launched a national civic service project to engage troops in the democratic process in this monumental election year and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Learn more about Promote the Vote and how you can equip your troop for civic action.

Girls of all ages interested in continuing their political education should also check out the Girl Scout Suffrage Centennial patch, which gives girls and troops a chance to explore the important history of the fight for gender and racial justice and voting rights in the United States.

Get Out There!

You can find requirements and instructions for earning these new badges in the Volunteer Toolkit. Visit our Girl Scout shop to purchase the new badges and packets.

Have you heard about our fall programs? Read our blog to find out what’s happening this fall!

Learn about every badge Girl Scouts can earn with the Girl Scouts Award and Badge Explorer!

To share your badge-earning stories, fill out this form and you might be featured on our social media or in a publication!

Not a Girl Scout yet? No problem! Troops are forming now—join Girl Scouts today.