I’ve learned that people will forget what you said and what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel- Maya Angelou

I realize more each day as my year as Miss Idaho takes off, that the joy of my experience is made by the people who I meet and the influence they have on my life.

I can only hope, that in return I am able to have an impact on theirs as well and that with every appearance I have, I leave those that I meet with a smile and a feeling of happiness. And as I walk to my car, sit in my seat and slowly take off my crown and sash, I replay each conversation and each engagement, every smile, every hug, and every laugh from that day.
Because those are the moments that have impacted me and make me wish the days would slow down and these moments will last forever.

This week I have met several people who will have a lasting impact on my year as Miss Idaho. Some were new friends, others were ones I had met over the past few years as a local title holder. I started off with a revisit to Girl Scout Camp Pittenger in McCall, Idaho. The drive up gave me plenty of time to think about what I wanted to leave the Girl Scouts with and the hour of construction I waited in left me with even more anticipation to see all the girls!
After sitting through construction and pulling at least 3 or 4 u-turns after being sent to Pittenger Law Firms instead of Camp Pittenger, I finally found the long dirt road to lead me to camp.

I was placed in cabin “Hank” and put my sleeping bag out as I looked out the window at my surroundings. The camp sure had changed from when I was younger and went there! There were no more tents to sleep in, boats took the girls out on the lake, there were no swaps with other troops anymore, but sure enough, the girls still found a way to play in the mud as they searched for the “rare clay” that was deep under. It was nice to see all the different activities the girls could participate in including canoes, archery, and hiking but also see that some things never change.
The girls still wore bright colored bandanas over their hair pulled back in ponytails. And you would still see them walking arm in arm, singing songs they had learned from the campfire sing along the night before. A girl approached me who I would soon learn went by the name of “Cat”.

“Are you wearing your Girl Scout perfume?” she asked me. I didn’t remember putting on perfume that morning since after all, I was going to be camping out the next couple days. I laughed and said “No, why do you think I need some?” She then asked me if I knew what Girl Scout perfume was, and I told her I hadn’t heard of it. She informed me it was bug spray and I had better put some on if I didn’t want to get eaten alive as she whipped hers out and began to spray me down.

The young girl who had sprayed me down with bug spray to save me from being eaten alive was in my first workshop that afternoon. As we set the tables for the rest of the girls that evening, she said something to me that I always strive for when I’m out making appearances. “You know, it’s really cool you can do this. I mean, you are so famous (that part made me give a little laugh as she put her arms around me) but yet, you have a lot in common with us.”
I am always looking to have that balance of being a role model that girls can connect with as well, so it made me overjoyed to hear her say that. After dinner, we went out to retire the colors for a flag ceremony and enjoyed the campfire with the girls as we sat with our arms around each other singing campfire songs.
Many I recognized, including “I’m A Nut”, “Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe”, and some fun new ones that had everyone up and dancing along. The campfire overlooked the lake which looked beautiful as the sunset upon it.

That next morning we started off with my favorite breakfast, French toast! Perfect meal to start off another full day of workshops. It was so much fun to revisit my childhood memories of camp and this time instead of coming home with dozens of mosquito bites, I managed to make it home with just 3! That Girl Scout Perfume must be even better at preventing those pesky little bugs. I had 3 workshops that day with a very interactive group of girls. It was interesting to hear what their goals and admirations were. When we talked about goals, I asked them what some of theirs were. One girl said that her goal was to solve world hunger and another said she wanted to win the Nobel Prize for curing bone cancer.
I then followed up with my story of how my goal was to be Miss Idaho and go onto try and be Miss America. I told them how I tried 3 times for my first local and then tried another 3 times for Miss Idaho but still couldn’t win. The look on their faces was devastating as I told them my “3rd time’s the charm” motto didn’t work. Then, I would ask them if they thought I kept competing one more time, since it was after all, a goal that meant so much to me. The girls shouted out “Ya! You have to!” Their eyes lit up as I brought out my Miss Idaho sash and crown and told them I did try again, and on my fourth time I can proudly say, I am Miss Idaho. The girls at this point had their eyes wide open, hands over their mouths, and one girl even whispered to her friend “She’s going to be Miss America!” I know I can always count on my Girl Scouts to have faith in me.

That next couple of days were busy with filling out paperwork for Miss America, going over my contract, filling out pages of questionnaires, and having my talent request for piano accepted. What a relief it was to hear that I would be able to play my most favorite song “Rhapsody in Blue”, at Miss America. I am so blessed to have the supportive and helpful directors that I have. My directors, Brenda and Amy, made the final stage of filling out paperwork and editing so much smoother and before I knew it I was sending in my mounds of paperwork and with it a sigh of relief!

Early Friday morning, I drove up to Twin Falls, Idaho for the 60th Annual Miss Magic Valley and first ever Miss Magic Valley Outstanding Teen. I started the day off presenting “Free to Be Me” workshops at the Boys and Girls Club during their summer camps for a jewelry making camp as well as a cheerleading camp. I always start off my workshops asking the girls to say their name, age, and the thing they like best about themselves. In my first workshop, a couple girls couldn’t tell me anything they liked about themselves. I tried to help them out, asking what they liked to do and what made them happy. But leave it up to a sweet little 6-year-old girl with blonde hair and big eyes to help them out. She would burst out in what she liked best about the girls. Her favorite phrase was to shout out “She’s funny! Kinda crazy, but fun to play with!” she would say with a smirk on her face as she brought her hands into fists and covered her mouth as she let out a little giggle.
At the end of the workshop, I told the girls I had to rush over to the next group and before I knew it I had been surrounded by the biggest group hug I have ever received as they all ran over to say bye. I wanted to take them all with me to my next one!

The second workshop was for a group of cheerleaders. When it came time for the oldest girl to say what she like best about herself, she said that she liked the fact that she wanted everybody to respect one another because it was so important to treat others nicely. I loved hearing that come out of her mouth before I even got to speaking about respecting ourselves and others!

At another part of the workshop, I always talk about the importance of feeding our bodies the right nutrients and how our body is like a car; the food we eat is why supplies fuel to our bodies. Therefore, we need to make sure we are feeding it the right kind of fuel. I task the girls how they feel after they eat a huge hamburger, fries, and their favorite milkshake. Most girls hold their bellies and make loud moans of discomfort. I typically make a joke about how I feel like I have a food baby because my stomach is so full and I don’t want to get up and play outside with my friends. Typically, this goes over well and the girls just laugh. This time though, the girls were so confused by this “food baby” concept and it ended up being the popular question at the end of the workshop. They finally understood what it was but it took longer to explain that than any other topic that workshop!

After that I went over to support the contestants at Miss Magic Valley and hang out with the little princesses followed by a dinner with the judges. I had a great time getting to know Melanie Ross, Miss Idaho Outstanding Teen, and her mother better and hearing about her excitement as she prepared for Miss America Outstanding Teen in August.

The Miss Magic Valley production was absolutely incredible! I was so excited to be a part of the production by coming out from the audience to interview and introduce the judges and teen judges, including Miss Idaho 1953, Zoe Warberg, who was also the first Miss Twin Falls and one of the first woman judges in Idaho. What an honor it was to be talking to such an accomplished women.

A very good friend of mine, Deidre Edmunds, won Miss Magic Valley as well as Miss Canyon Rim, Kristina Nye. The first outstanding teens were crowned that evening with Abby Bitzenburg as Miss Canyon Rim Outstanding Teen and Lauren Smith, Miss Magic Valley Outstanding Teen.

I drove back home to Boise late that night to wake up the day of my birthday bright and early for the Special Olympics Track and Field Events. I had been eagerly waiting for this day and was so happy to finally be back at the Special Olympics. I had volunteered a couple years before and had taken the best memories back from my experiences as well as some very valuable lessons. I had just received 4th runner up at Miss Idaho and I thought maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

My thoughts were that maybe I was supposed to focus on graduating from school and earning my degree so I could move forward with my career. But some of the people I met that day made me recognize why I was involved in Miss Idaho, and it wasn’t just for the crown. But rather because of the people I met and the opportunity I had to make a difference with the crown. That is a lesson I have taken with me since then and I continue to value as each day comes.

The day was absolutely beautiful, incredibly warm, but the excitement and enjoyment made me forget all about the heat. I was able to award the athletes and loved seeing the look on their faces as they raised their arms up with a firm fist and excited shout. Never have I received so many hugs and seen so much laughter in one place. It was touching to see the athletes all on their different pedestals, but each so happy and embracing the next person. One athlete showed me different handshakes and was convinced that I would master each one if I just kept practicing.
I’m working on it and hope they next time I see him I can still remember some of them! I will never forget one of the most charming young boys I met that day. He greeted me by giving me a kiss on my hand and proceeded to twirl me around. What a charmer! I was so happy when I was able to give him his award later that day and congratulate him on a job well done. I loved every minute of it and didn’t stop smiling the whole day.

I was able to emcee the closing ceremonies that evening and open up with my story of the Special Olympics has impacted my life. Never had I talked to an audience with more energy and filled with applause and laughter.
I was able to listen to Jack Hansen as he talked about his experience with the Special Olympics and being united as one. He was so proud of his accomplishments and it was such a joy to hear the pride in his voice. I announced the closing band that was going to perform a couple songs on stage before the celebration dance. Towards the end of their performance, the crowd all ran on stage for a big dance fest.
I heard a high pitched voice beside me asking me for my name. I looked over and saw a man, named Tommy, with puppet on his should with long yellow hair. He said her name was Sunny, she was French America, and that she did not like dogs (as I told him my dogs name was Sunni!). I could not stop laughing as he and his doll bickered back and forth about dogs and who could dance better.

We then proceeded to head to the dance afterwards. Out came the robot, the moonwalking, vogue, and so many more dance moves! I saw many faces I recognized from the year before, but one stood out in particular. I went over and gave him a big hug asking if he remembered me.
He put his finger to his face and said, “Genevieve?” I couldn’t believe he actually remembered my name! We got to talking and he said he remembered I was so nervous to play the piano that day but he kept telling me I was going to do awesome and not to be nervous. I remembered the moment so clearly and couldn’t stop thinking about how he had the best, most happiest smile filled his whole face. He then told me that when I played, it was music to his heart and made him so happy. I gave him a huge hug and told him that I was so happy to see him and that to see he was here again.

I walked around and danced with some more of the athletes until another person came up to me, this time I didn’t recognize him as he introduced himself to me and told me about how he was diagnosed with PPD. I told him I wasn’t familiar with that and asked if he wouldn’t mind explaining it to me. He educated me as to how it was similar to Aspergers but that wasn’t what he came over to talk about. Instead he said that he had heard me tell my story about how the Special Olympics inspired me to continue competing for Miss Idaho. He then said “I thought that if we could inspire you to be Miss Idaho, then we can inspire you to be Miss America.” I honestly cannot tell you what exactly I said or did after that, all I remember is being wrapped up in a hug and feeling absolutely overwhelmed with emotions. To have someone who I didn’t even know, tell me something so thoughtful and sincere with so much meaning behind it, I was left at a loss for words and just a great big hug to give to him as I told him thank you so much for his kindness and for educating me.

After taking a picture with all the athletes, I was sad to close up the night and head home. But not before taking a picture with a few little girls who had been begging to try on my crown all night.
They said they would let me wear their wig, if I let them wear the crown. So before calling it a night, we all did a quick exchange as I watched their eyes glimmer as I placed the crown on their heads, and my hair quickly went to a mullet shag haircut. They couldn’t stop laughing and smiling and neither could I as I had the cherry on top of an already perfect birthday.

The next day, I got to see my girls at White House Black Market as I worked and was able to help a woman completely change her wardrobe. That’s one of the things that I enjoy most about my job, giving women the opportunity to express themselves through their own style and helping them feel confident. The woman had just graduated from college and was looking for her career wardrobe. It was so much fun to play dress up with her and match her up with quite the duo of outfits to help her start her new career off with a bang!

I left early the next morning, hoping to miss the construction on the way to Girl Scout Camp this time. This time the ride up was much more smooth as I prepared myself for another fun filled day at camp. It was fun to have a whole different group of girls and this time I even saw a few I had met before. One girl was from a troop I had met with about a year and a half ago. She had the cutest little freckles and her hair was now much longer than the last time I’d seen her. She remembered me as Miss Meridian and told me she was so excited I became Miss Idaho and how happy she was for me. When the workshops were all over, I had a couple of the counselors even come up to me and tell me how much it meant that I could come up to camp. One counselor, who was about my age, told me it was inspiring to hear about my goals because her dream was to be a level 5 ski instructor in New Zealand. It made me so incredibly happy to hear that not only was I able to reach out to the young girls that age, but also to someone my age and help encourage them. I wish her the very best of luck and can’t wait to read about her adventures as she accomplishes her dream. Go get ’em girl!

Goals for this week:
1. You are 10 times the size of the chickens you are watching, do not let them chase you into the chicken coop Gen!
2. I’m officially a member at Gold’s Gym, which means it is time to get back to business! I will make sure that I am there 5 times a week and doing hot yoga at Sumit’s Hot Yoga every few days!
3. Remember your “Girl Scout Perfume” for camp this week. 12 mosquito bites are not so much fun to be dealing with right now!

hugs and love,

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