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kid reporter erin sheena with girl scout and harlem globetrotter Kid Reporter Erin Sheena at the 52nd National Girl Scout Convention with (left) a Girl Scout from Taiwan and (right) the Harlem Globetrotters' only female player, Fatima "TNT" Maddox. (Photos courtesy Erin Sheena)

Houston, We Have a Party!

Girl Scouts kick off centennial at national convention

By Erin Sheena | March 13 , 2012

When Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912, she created an organization that would change millions of lives. At the 52nd National Girl Scout Convention, held in Houston, Texas, from November 8-13, Girls Scouts from all over the world came together to honor Low's vision and to help start the Girl Scouts' 100th Anniversary celebration.

The convention was hosted by the Girls Scouts of San Jacinto, the third largest Girl Scouts council in the United States. The convention welcomed more than 1,000 Girl Scouts and 12,000 volunteers from every state in the country and from around the world. They came to Houston to join the party and learn about what the next generation can expect.

"These girls are our future leaders," said Mary Vitek, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the San Jacinto Girl Scouts Council Through Girl Scouts. "They are delivered a transformative experience and a renewed glimpse into the power of girl leadership."

Journalist Katie Couric served as host for the opening ceremony. When she took the stage, she came out in a 1969 version of her Junior Girl Scout uniform.

"I am thrilled to be here for the launch of the Year of the Girl," Couric told to the cheering crowd. She added that she loved being a Girl Scout because "it made her want to be a better woman."

Joining Couric in the opening ceremony were hundreds of local Girl Scouts who volunteered for the opening ceremony.

Girls carried a parade of flags that represented each country, state, and territory that was in attendance. Scouts were dressed in the uniforms of Juliette Low's original troop, and they raised flags that highlighted 100 years of the Girl Scouts.

Throughout the six-day celebration, Girl Scouts young and old sat in on panels that discussed issues concerning young girls and women. Some of these panels dealt with topics such as the under-representation of women in government, the culture of philanthropy, and one even addressed the question, "What If Girls Ran the World?"

Mayor Annise Parker of Houston spoke to the crowd at the "Girl Scouts Explore the Female Factor" panel. The panel encouraged girls to consider a career in public service.

"I am sad that there have only been 10 women mayors in a major city," Mayor Parker lamented. "Less than 20 percent of government officials are women."

In addition to panels discussing the future of girls and women in leadership roles, guests attended a performance by Sara Bareilles and cheered on the Harlem Globetrotters' only female player, Fatima "TNT" Maddox.

Visitors enjoyed seeing penguins at the Sea World exhibit, free samples of Girl Scout cookies, and a fashion show presented by Justine Magazine.

The convention also introduced the 100th Anniversary Take Action campaign, "Girl Scouts Forever Green." The Girl Scouts Forever Green project encourages everyone, not just Girl Scouts, to improve their communities and protect our natural resources.

In the closing ceremonies, journalist and Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts praised her experience in the Girl Scouts.

"It takes courage to step outside of your comfort zone," Roberts said. "It leads to confidence and it builds character. And those are the qualities I learned through Girl Scouts."

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