As the Girl Scouts moves into their next 100 years, Houston hosted the Girl Scout Leadership Institute or GSLI. My sister Brittney, also a Scholastic News Kid Reporter, sat down with me to give me an insight into what it means to be part of " Renewing The Promise" and what the Girl Scouts offers girls besides camping and selling cookies.
Erin: What is GSLI and why is leadership an important skill?
Brittney: GSLI stands for Girl Scout Leadership Institute. GSLI is a convention that is part of the 52nd National Girl Scout Convention where Girl Scouts come together from across the country and the world to find out more about leadership and what it means to make a difference in your community. Here girls were able to learn lifelong skills and take these skills back to their hometowns.
Erin: How did you get chosen to be on the planning board, and how long have you been planning this event?
Brittney: In the spring of 2010, I saw an advertisement though the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council for becoming part of the national convention planning board. So I applied, just like you have to apply to be a Scholastic News reporter. I thought that it would be a great experience and it has been life changing. I was one of just 23 girls selected to plan and implement programming in this historic convention. Our team started planning in September 2010. We met in person, conference calls, and via emails. It took a lot of time and effort into making this a successful event, but I learned a lot of valuable skills.
Erin: Why is this convention so important?
Brittney: This convention gave girls the opportunity to interact with Girl Scouts from all over the US and the world. The girls were able to participate in the largest leadership conference designed for and by girls. Girls had access to leaders in their fields as well as fellow scouts that have made an impact in their community. Scouts were also able to attend parts of the national convention, such as the opening and closing ceremonies, and hear from speakers such as the new CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Girl Scouts Anna Chavez and news reporters Katie Couric and Robin Roberts.
Erin: What did girls learn at GSLI?
Brittney: Girls learned about a multitude of topics ranging from science and technology, to business and marketing, and global initiatives. Talks known as "Conversations of Consequences" allowed girls to hear from national speakers, such as Soledad O'Brien, as they discussed topics such as diversity and inclusion. Girls were able to learn how to market themselves as they prepare for college and a future job. Doctors from the medical center educated them about the future of medicine and robotic surgery.
Erin: How many girls came to GSLI and where did they coming from?
Brittney: Over 1,200 girls came from around the world. I met girls from all over, including Alaska, California, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, and Maine. I also met girls from Japan, Thailand, and Poland. It was a chance to learn about other customs and cultures and swap little items such as patches or homemade pins as a way to remember new friendships that were made.
Erin: What kind of sessions did you plan?
Brittney: My committee was the science and technology planning team. We developed programming that allowed girls to explore their passion for science. In the sessions that we planned, girls were able to build robots, discover the wonders of the human mind and learn about space exploration and NASA. One of the highlights for me was meeting astronaut and mission specialist Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger. Every woman who has been a NASA astronaut was a Girl Scout in her youth.
Erin: What about the 100th anniversary birthday party?
Brittney: When we planned the party with food, fashion, and fun, we knew it had to be great since everything is bigger in Texas. We had hats from all over the world — cowboy hats, sombreros, and berets. The food was also from all over the world with a huge birthday cake and cupcakes. Justine magazine hosted a fashion show and Mindless Behavior entertained the crowd. At the end of the evening, we all sat in Discover Green singing together as the event was capped off with a fireworks display.
Erin: What are some opportunities those that did not attend the convention?
Brittney: The 100th anniversary marks a turning point as we look to the past and see how Girl Scouts has become a huge movement that plays a major role in our society. There are many opportunities to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts. Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace in Savannah, Georgia, is open not only for scouts but for any one to visit. Special events, such as Rock the Mall in Washington, D.C., are happening throughout the country. Check out the local or national Girl Scout website for more details.
Photo: Kid Reporter Erin Sheena in her Girl Scouts uniform at the 52nd National Girl Scout Convention in Houston, Texas. (Courtesy Erin Sheena)