When I joined Girl Scouts back in the 6th grade, I didn’t know that my decision to join the organization would change my life forever. Back then, I thought I would learn unique skills through earning badges, obtain business skills by selling cookies, and discover more about nature through outdoor adventures. Little did I know that my journey would be full of surprises. I wasn’t aware of the countless opportunities, leadership experiences, and personal growth Girl Scouts would provide me throughout the years and how the organization would act as a catalyst for my maturity, confidence, and leadership. One of the many Girl Scout experiences I would like to credit this to my role as a Girl Board Participant.  

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What is a Girl Scout Girl Board Participant? 

So, what exactly is a Girl Board Participant? Each year Girl Scouts of Northern California elects two girls to participate and sit in on all Girl Scouts of Northern California Board meetings. At the meetings, it is the Girl Board Participant’s job to represent and be the voice of nearly 40,000 girls! 

Girl Board Participants help influence the board’s decision on every front. They provide their input and perspective on all topics, from cookies and girl membership to marketing strategies, fundraising, and new programs. For example, if the Board is discussing strategies for gaining new members, Girl Board Participants might talk about the reason they and their fellow Girl Scouts joined, and what they think girls will find most appealing about Girl Scouts. These are key pieces of information that could help make a marketing strategy successful! In addition, Girl Board Participants will be able to vote on bylaws and work with the GSNorcal CEO (currently Marina Park) to support and help her in anything she needs to smoothly run the organization.  

Why did I apply? 

I decided to apply for the position for a few main reasons. One reason was because I wanted to learn how Girl Scouts is run like a company. In general, I am interested in business and I wanted to see firsthand how board meetings and companies are run. As a Girl Board Participant, you get exposed to the business aspect of the organization and learn how to analyze and understand trends and graphs. I applied because I saw this as an opportunity to learn a great deal and experience first-hand a topic which I wanted to gain more exposure in. 

I also decided to apply because I knew that if I was elected for the position, I would be able to give back to Girl Scouts. Giving back and helping the organization was something that I have always wanted to do because the organization has done so much for me. Girl Scouts has not only boosted my confidence but has also taught me how to become a leader in my community. I saw being a Girl Board Participant as the perfect opportunity for showing my appreciation and respect for Girl Scouts. I had given back previously by serving as a regional delegate (another leadership role older girls can participate in), and I saw this as the next logical step for expanding my horizons and helping others.  

Finally, I applied because I was interested in gaining more leadership experiences and practicing my communication skills. As a Girl Board Participant, you get the opportunity to network with great role models who are super successful in their own fields. In general, I knew that this was something I didn’t have much practice with, given that the majority of the time I am communicating with my classmates, teachers, and family. I saw this as a chance to improve upon myself and develop my skills!  

Insight into My Experiences  

When I heard that I was selected to be one of the two Girl Board participants for the 2019–2020 year, I was ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to start my term and meet all of the amazing women on the board, especially the CEO! 

Reciting the Girl Scout Promise and Law with other newly appointed board members at the Annual Girl Scout Meeting 

My journey as a Girl Board Participant started at the Girl Scout Annual Meeting held at Camp Bothin, where Regional Delegates and Board Members meet to talk about the main projects of the past year and goals for the next year. At the end of the meeting, I was appointed as a Girl Board Participant and had my first chance to network and meet all of the astounding Board Members. In fact, one of my favorite parts of serving as a Girl Board participant was meeting all of the Board Members. Seeing so many strong, confident, and intelligent women all together was extremely inspirational and empowering. It has even encouraged me to apply for a board member position when I become older. Additionally, I have been able to network and build relationships with these women, which has helped me develop my communication skills and build confidence in myself.

Picture with one of the Board Development Committee Members, Liz Pasch 

Prior to the first major Board meeting, I attended a brief orientation to become familiar with business terminology and learn how to analyze the documents, graphs, and reports that would be used throughout the board meetings. This was really interesting and exciting because I would apply what I had learned during the session to the board meetings to come. I believe that the many business skills and techniques I have learned will enhance my future and allow me to be successful in any business I pursue.  

In general, my experiences as a Girl Board Participant are something that I will cherish forever. I will always be able to look back on these moments and remember how I learned about critical thinking and problem-solving in real-world situations, communicating with higher-up officials and adults, and transitioning into the role of a leader. Although my journey as a Girl Board Participant will come to an end this year, the values and experiences I have gained throughout will never leave me. I will take what I have learned and apply it to my future endeavors.  

Advice for Future Girl Board Participants 

  • Serving as a Girl Board Participant is an amazing privilege, but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities. For example, it is your duty to attend board meetings and influence decisions! Additionally, it is in your hands to help be the voice of all your fellow Girl Scout sisters and make decisions on their behalf, so make sure to prepare for each meeting, and give your honest feedback and thoughts during meetings.  
  • Don’t feel shy during board meetings — at first, it may seem intimidating, but make sure to network and talk to the people next to you! I guarantee that you will find that everyone in the room has their own unique Girl Scout stories and empowering advice.
  • Most importantly, have fun and learn! This is your opportunity to see a side of Girl Scouts you have never seen before and participate in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  

What to Do Next 

  • Do you want to learn about how Girl Scouts is run as an organization or gain invaluable leadership experience? You can learn more about the responsibilities of a Girl Board Participant and check on the GSNorcal page to see the next time applications are open!  
  • Not sure if you are ready to be a Girl Board Participant but still want to gain more leadership experience? Consider applying to be a Delegate or look into other older girl opportunities.

Suhani Singhal—Suhani Singhal is a Girl Scout Ambassador from Girl Scouts Northern California. She first got introduced to Girl Scouts through her love for backpacking at the Two Sentinels Girl Scout Camp. Ever since she joined, she has enjoyed taking up leadership positions and giving back to her community by completing her Silver and Gold Award and serving as a Regional Delegate and Girl Board Participant. During her free time, she finds herself reading, watching sci-fi movies, coding, or hanging out with friends.