By Jenny Kellner (left)
As I walked through the flow of Girl Scouts in Salt Lake City, both on the sidewalks of the town and in the Salt Palace Convention Center, these are the words that flashed into my mind- young and young at heart. I marveled at the amount of young girls who were present, and the dedication of parents and volunteers that got those girls to Utah. In turn, I marveled at the youthful, sprite-like spirit of some of the older women present.
Though I found much meaning and enjoyment in the spotlight events such as opening and closing ceremonies, the meetings, the leadership-themed Conversation of Consequence, our delegation’s dinner and such, I was most inspired by some of the smaller, quieter conversations of consequence which I sought out and readily found.
I quickly found that if you moved about in the Hall of Experiences with a Ziploc bag of SWAPS in your hand, you would soon be meeting new people. Some of these SWAPS led to a conversation, proving swapping to be the useful icebreaker it often is. I learned countless things about scouting which I never knew, met people who were inspiring, and made new friends. After that first day, I made certain to spend a considerable amount of time in the Hall of Experiences. I only wish the Learning Pauses had panned out to be more of an opportunity for conversation.
Finally, my most memorable conversation of consequence happened on the way to the Catholic mass on Saturday evening. I was briskly walking toward the cathedral when I started to pass an elderly woman, moving slowly, whom I now mentally think of as Willy. Once I realized she was a fellow Girl Scout, something instinctive told me to slow down and walk with her. Isn’t it funny how simple decisions can change everything? As we walked together, got to know one another, sat together and prayed together, my own love of Girl Scouting was reinforced by Willy’s obvious devotion. With two quite long gray braids in her hair, Willy was obviously young at heart. Her zeal and enthusiasm, bright eyes and full history made an impact on me that will last as long as any good leader’s legacy.
All across our country and the world, Girl Scouts are walking similar paths with common goals in mind. Convention gave me the opportunity to see some of the folks I walk with and get a brief glimpse into their personal journeys in scouting. As I think back to Utah, I smile and remember both the young and those like Willy, young at heart.
Jenny Kellner is the Membership Specialist for Association 11 at Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital. She served as a delegate to the 53rd National Council Session and Convention.