If running a marathon was easy, everyone would do it. On Sunday, Oct. 11, 15 Girl Scout Go-Getters took on the challenge and finished the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
The team was full of runners from diverse backgrounds and levels of association with Girl Scouts. We even had a family member of an Associate Board member travel all the way from Los Angeles to compete in his fourth marathon. We had a Girl Scout parent from the Phoenix, Arizona council travel in to fight through her third marathon. Two GCNWI staff members and our Associate Board President were completing their first ever marathon!
Racing for Change
While running 26.2 miles is a huge accomplishment, it’s what the team accomplishes in raising funds for our council that makes the biggest impact. Together, our team of 23 runners raised more than $35,000 and counting.
Together we empower each G.I.R.L. to change the world. What is it that makes a G.I.R.L. so incredible? Well, she’s a Go-getter who races to the finish. She is an Innovator who builds robots and competes around the world. She is a Risk-taker who explores new adventures through travel. She is a Leader who speaks at a United Nations event.
If you want to be a part of this growing community of runners and change-makers, apply for the 2020 Bank of America Chicago Marathon!
Contributed by Global Action Volunteer Team Member (GAVT) Maureen Ewing
Maureen Ewing is a Lifetime Member of the Girl Scouts with 12 years as a girl member and over 25 years as an adult volunteer. Maureen studied abroad for a full academic year at Nottingham University in the UK and did graduate studies at Rhodes University in South Africa, where she earned her Master’s Degree. She currently serves on the Global Action Volunteer Team and co-led a Destination to India (check out the blog series here!) and the WAGGGS World Centre Sangam this summer. Maureen believes that her travel experience as a Girl Scout helped form her into the independent and curious traveler she is today (30 countries and counting)!
As a Global Action Volunteer member, she hopes to grow the conversations and travel opportunities available to girls in this council. She’s been kind enough to share some tips and tricks on how to make your travel dreams happen without breaking the bank. Read on for her exclusive advice on budgeting and saving for your next adventure!
Ballin’ On A Budget
Written by Maureen Ewing
Over the past two decades, I’ve talked to many girls and women about traveling. One of the first questions I receive is always, “How do you afford it?” My response is always: I save for it.
Daydreaming about travel is fun, but making it happen can feel daunting. Life happens and sometimes it feels difficult to carve out the time and money to travel. Yet, you want to see the world. Planning a trip well, working and saving for it, means that when you take the trip, you’ll appreciate every day and every dollar.
Step 1: Choose the Trip
You’ve been daydreaming about traveling to a specific place for a long time, and it’s time to make the dream a reality. Answer a few key questions:
When do you want to go?
How long do you want to go?
How much can you afford?
Once you have a goal, you can begin to make it a reality. How much time can you take off work or school? Do you need to schedule it around holiday schedules or other people’s schedules?
The more in advance you plan, the more you can take advantage of travel deals and discounts.
Step 2: Do Your Research
Go to the library and check out all the travel guides you can find about where you’re going (yes, books are still relevant and very useful). Choose books that give suggestions appropriate for your budget. Go online and read all articles and blogs from other travelers about the location where you want to travel. Follow travel sites and hashtags on social media to see what other travelers are doing!
Make a list of all the things you want to do. Dream big! You won’t do everything, but you’ll understand the possibilities. Doing pre-trip research builds excitement for the trip, and your trip will be even better for it!
Poll your friends and family for their tips on travel. What did they enjoy on their trips? What would they do differently?
Use books and online resources to find out how much plane tickets cost, the range of accommodation prices, the sights you want to see.
Make a preliminary budget that takes into account the big expenses you’ve researched: flights (and baggage costs), travel insurance, accommodation, food, local transit, sightseeing, souvenirs, etc.
Prepare for the unexpected costs in your budget:
Do you need to make any pre-trip purchases like new clothes, a new backpack, a portable charger for your phone, a new camera, etc. ?
If you are going out of the country, will you need to use your phone, and if so, what does your company charge?
What immunizations do you need?
Do you have a passport or does it need to be renewed (your passport must be valid for 6 months after you return from your trip)?
Do you need a travel Visa to visit this country (a special application process to visit the country)?
How much baggage allowance do you get on your flight?
Add a little padding to the budget in case there’s something you don’t want to miss, or something unexpected happens, like you miss your train.
With a preliminary budget, you can set realistic expectations for how much money you need to save and how quickly (or slowly) you can manage it. You’ll also be ready to jump on a cheap plane ticket and other not-to-miss-early-bird opportunities.
Step 4: Plan a Savings Schedule
When you know your budget, plan out how much money you need to have saved before the trip. There will be some pre-trip expenses you will need to buy in advance like flights or accommodations or tickets to that can’t-miss-show. You might buy your flights eight to twelve months before you leave to take advantage of a great deal, and you should prepare for that in your savings schedule.
How much ready cash do you want to have with you and available when you travel? Some trips may give you easy access to use your credit or debit cards, but some trips may take you places where you’ll need to have cash on hand.
You might open a special savings account or a special checking account at a different bank, that you will use only for travel. You can squirrel away your money in this account so it is out-of-sight of your day to day expenses.
If you know your trip will cost $2,500 and you have 12 months to save up for it, that would be about $208/month. You can then begin to plan how to save that money each month. Can you cut back on your regular expenses to cover that amount, or do you need to be creative in your fundraising?
Let’s say you want to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland in August because you want to visit the various festivals, take tours into the countryside, and attend a Highland Games. This timing will affect your budget because it’s high season and in a city. If you plan early, you can get cheaper flights and better deals on accommodation. You might decide to stay in a hostel or Airbnb to save money for the experiences. Taxis and Ubers can add up, so research the local transit options (trains, buses, trams) and figure out how to get around the city.
Let’s say you want to travel to Paris, France, and you want to go during spring break! You’ve got a tighter $1,500 budget and only one week to travel. European cities can often be cheap to fly to in the off-season, such as spring, and you’ve been following sites that track flight prices for you. You’ve been saving for six months, so you’re able to buy that amazing deal as soon as it pops up. You have much more money in your budget now to do more, maybe even splurge a little on a hotel or a Bed and Breakfast.
Dream it. Plan it. Travel!
Traveling is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. There is always a new place to go, new people to meet, beautiful experiences to be had. There is always a reason not to go but don’t let money stand in your way. Start saving now so when you’re ready to go, you’re ready!
On the Global Action Volunteer Team, we believe travel opens up our minds and hearts and gives us fresh perspectives. If you can dream it, you can plan it, and you can afford to travel.
Which way to adventure?
Saving up for a big trip can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. With hard work (and maybe the help of a travel scholarship) your day-dreams can become reality. Special thanks to Maureen for her super-helpful advice!
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is a council committed to providing incredible opportunities for girls to experience the world. Whether you’re going on a weekend trip to Milwaukee, or a two-week adventure in England, the Girl Scouts have your back.
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) took some amazing advice from leaders in the council who recently traveled with their troops to Savannah! We featured the first half of their recommendations, and now, we are sharing more of their tips and tricks!
Check out part one of this blog series to learn about accommodations, the JGL Birthplace, Girl Scout perks, sightseeing, and travel to, from, and around Savannah.
Saturday, Nov. 2, 5:30-8:30 p.m.| Camp Greene Wood, Naperville, IL
It’s finally getting chilly out there, and Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana has some fun lined up for girls this season!
Pumpkin Smash and Fall Festival at Camp Greene Wood
Get ready to SMASH SOME PUMPKINS! Girl Scouts of all ages are invited to join us for the second annual Pumpkin Smash and Fall Festival on Saturday, November 2 at Camp Greene Wood. Drop your pumpkin from a ladder, go at it with a baseball bat, shred it up like Billy Corgan… whatever you decide to do, you will help us in the effort to divert compostable materials from landfills! This is the perfect opportunity to get rid of your old jack-o-lanterns, let out some frustration, and do good for the planet all at the same time!
You’ll also get a chance to participate in some post-Halloween spooky activities (because Halloween should be all year-round anyway) including:
Time around the campfire enjoying hot chocolate and cider
Getting your own fall cornucopia cone
Making caramel apples at the caramel apple bar (with tons of yummy toppings)
Taking photos with family and friends at the Fall Photo Station with fun props and backdrops
Applying fun temporary tattoos
Participating in fall themed Minute-To-Win-It Challenges, a variety of fun opportunities for girls to race against their friends or family to fin a small prize
Making three separate crafts, including a Fall Fabric No Sew Scrunchie, a Pinecone Turkey, and a Fall Candle
Going on one of two exciting hikes: a fun, non-scary glow-stick illuminated Glow Hike, and a Spooky Hike, where we hope to get a scare out of a few girls!
To be clear, the community is more than welcome to just smash their pumpkins with us, or drop them off and we’ll smash them for you! Everyone is welcome to join us around the campfire at the Program Center for a hot cup of something and information about our upcoming Green for Good Expo.
More Than a Smash
We are so happy to be partnering once more with the organization SCARCE Every year they help us organize this event and encourage other organizations and groups to host their own Pumpkin Smash events to promote composting.
Today, as we observe International Day of the Girl, I am proud to see girls stepping up as today’s leaders. At Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, our local Girl Scouts are #changemakers and work with their Girl Scout sisters, family, friends, and communities to BE THE CHANGE THEY WANT TO SEE.
Earning their Bronze, Silver and the highest award, the Gold Award, Girl Scouts learn the importance of service by identifying issues and taking action. Not only do they make the world better, the girls learn the importance of purpose that ignites their souls. They are the GIRLS THE WORLD NEEDS.
As we celebrate this day, I challenge you to match the efforts of the powerful young women in the video and read more on our council blog about these powerhouse Gold Award recipients. To change our society for the better, it will take the efforts of ALL GENERATIONS and Girl Scouts is leading the way!
Your ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER when you join the Girl Scout movement. Mentor a girl as a volunteer, or invest in her future by donating. Become a champion for girls by sharing that ALL GIRLS deserve the chance to realize their true potential. Join us and show these young women that they are not alone in their quest for better.
On October 5, close to 300 volunteers and Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) gathered at the Tinley Park Convention Center to celebrate volunteers who are proactive, dedicated to girl empowerment, and demonstrate that Action Speaks Louder!
Whether the volunteers were brand new to the role, bridging to the next level with their troops, or seasoned members of service unit teams, all in attendance were provided with new resources, insider tips, and much more at several educational group sessions!
While volunteers attended different Breakout Sessions, Girl Scouts in attendance participated in all environmentally themed craft activities: taking old t-shirts and making them into bags, using natural dyes for water color painting, and recycling paper drawings. The girls also met Daisy, the Girl Scout character from WTTW’s Nature Cat and our Nature Cat program!
Breaking Out Of The Box
The Breakout Sessions at this year’s Leadership Expo were designed for volunteers to dive deep into two of five subjects of their choice: Think Outside the Cookie Box, Drop-In Tech Corner: Log on, Link & Explore, Create Your Own Dream Team, Go Beyond the Badge, and The Ultimate Balancing Act!
The Ultimate Balancing Act session was facilitated by two of our volunteer trainers who are also experienced troop leaders: Lindsay Hayden and Melissa Young-Bridgeforth. They ran two sessions aimed at helping leaders understand how to utilize all of the available resources: Volunteer Tool Kit, National Program Portfolio, Expert Connection, Program Wall, and Camp Programs.
Our year’s theme, Action Speaks Louder, resonated throughout the session and each participant was asked to make a commitment to help her troop become more girl led. Our leaders are on track to take their personal commitments and make this a great troop year!
Alice Perez Calzada and her daughter Alexandra are third year troop leaders of Daisies and Brownies, and this was their second year attending a Leadership Expo! Alice was Alexandra’s troop leader, and got back into the game again because of her younger daughter.
Alice and Alexandra came back to this year’s Leadership Expo because they wanted to make connections with other service units, learn tips and tricks to become better and more open leaders, in the hoped to connect more with their Girl Scouts!
Their advice for leaders? “If you have Girl Scouts in high school, make sure you are providing girl-led programs, and being there as a guide and not a leader.” This includes creating a relaxed environment where girls feel comfortable sharing their ideas. They also suggested getting girls especially excited for the amazing travel opportunities offered by GCWNI.
Leticia Carmona, an adult volunteer who helps out with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, is yet another awesome volunteer who attended this year’s Expo! Her favorite part of being a part of the GCNWI council is “getting to see the girls do all their activities and the excitement in their faces… seeing the pride in the girls when they participate and complete a girl-led program.”
Leticia’s advice for troop leaders and volunteers is simple: take ownership of your role. “If you are a parent volunteer, really commit to that position and engage your girls into being in attendance to every meeting and participating in as many programs and activities as possible.”
Lead The Way!
If you missed this session of the Leadership Expo, don’t fret! There is another session on Saturday, October 19, in Skokie, Illinois at the Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore!
It’s the kind of experience we want more girls to encounter at our properties, especially our camps. But to bring to life the type of activities and amenities girls and volunteers tell us they want, we also must make difficult decisions.
It has been eight years since GSGCNWI announced the first phase of our initial Master Property Plan. It is now time to evaluate where we are today, and where we want to be in the future.
The objectives of Phase II of the Master Property Plan are to:
keep our focus on the evolving needs of girls;
thoughtfully and thoroughly align to our 3-year strategic plan;
acknowledge the council’s healthy financial position today, and keep our limited resources focused on the future;
reflect our readiness to invest in enhanced experiences for future generations;
transparently engage stakeholders in next steps and solutions;
reduce our need to divert dollars to deferred maintenance issues;
and shift to leased office solutions to keep focus on mission, not repairs.
Our focus on creating a master property plan began years ago, when we inherited a large portfolio of properties in 2008 after merging seven previously independent Girl Scout councils into one. We knew at the time that caring for more than 20 different camp and office properties would be too heavy a financial burden for us.
In 2011, with the help of a committee of volunteers and property experts over the course of two years of research, we made the difficult decision to retire and sell several properties. At the time, our overall economy was struggling and so were most nonprofits, including GSGCNWI. We simply did not have the resources to make any investments in property repairs or amenities between 2010 – 2015.
Then, between 2016 and 2019, we started to invest again. Using a combination of our operational budget and money we received from the sale of the properties, we have been able to put approximately $7 million into new or improved amenities at several of our properties.
Yet even with those improvements, we are still faced with a daunting deferred maintenance issue, with needed repairs and updates exceeding $30 million. Too many of our properties, some used far less than others, need significant attention just to be operational and safe.
After much consideration, and again with the guidance of girls, volunteers, and many others, we have decided to concentrate our resources on building enhanced experiences for girls at four primary camp properties that cover the full footprint of our council: Camp Juniper Knoll (Wisconsin), Camp Greene Wood and Camp Palos (both in Illinois), and Camp Butternut Springs (Indiana).
That means we will list for sale three camp/program properties (Pokanoka, River Trails, and Friendship Center). These properties have significant deferred maintenance issues and are not fully utilized by girls and families for myriad reasons.
We’ll also list two very tired, maintenance-heavy gathering places for sale (Homewood and Merrillville), and look for leased space that will represent those communities instead of owning property. And finally, we will review options for our Chicago space at 20 S. Clark since that lease expires in 2021.
Please note: Each property will continue to be open and in use until the property is sold. This may be a lengthy process, so programs will continue to be scheduled as long as maintenance issues do not prevent activities from taking place.
This is an incredible leadership development opportunity to help create programs that reflect what you want to see in the future of Girl Scouts. As a member of a committee, you will have the chance to share your ideas on one of four topics: Cultural Awareness, Civic Engagement and Service, STEAM, or our new big expo, Green for Good!
Don’t miss out on this chance to collaborate with your peers and lead the way for your fellow Girl Scouts. We’re looking to you–– and we look forward to hearing what you have to say!
Savannah, Georgia, is the birthplace of Girl Scouts in the United States. GSUSA Founder, Juliette Gordon Low, was born and raised in Savannah, and in 1912, she started the first ever Girl Scout troop. The city is swathed in green, and is a magical place for Girl Scouts of any age! This southern city is waiting for you to explore it!
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) surveyed leaders who recently led their troops to Savannah for their advice, trip tips and more. We are here to share them with you all with the hopes you will use them to plan your own Savannah adventure. We hope this resource helps you plan your trip to Savannah! Stay tuned for more information as we continue this blog series!
The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is the home where JGL was born and raised. She held many Girl Scout meetings here, too! This home offers guided tours, pinning ceremonies, and has a Girl Scout shop. Here are some tips to make your visit a great one:
Make sure to book your visit early, as it is a popular attraction.
It’s Back to School season and you know what that means! It’s time for our Girl Scout’s Fall Product Program!
What is Fall Product?
From Oct. 1-20, 2019, Girl Scouts and troops can build business experience by selling Fall Product—which includes candy, nuts, magazines, Cool Cards™, tumblers, and candles—to their friends and families.
By selling Fall Product, girls can earn fun rewards while generating funds that support troop adventures, community projects, council programs, camps, and more, while also developing the five essential skills of the Girl Scout Fall Product and Cookie Programs:
The Fall Product Program is a fun and easy way for girls to earn their first set of patches and rewards, and help earn funds to kick start the Girl Scout year!
It also gives back to our organization for the maintenance of our camps and Gathering Places (which is what we call our office locations), plus helps with financial assistance, training, programs, and so much more!
Getting Started is Easy!
Getting Started for Girls and their Parents/Caregivers
Starting September 25, girls should have received a welcome email from UNIFY to set up their online store (contact us if you didn’t receive it).
The Girl Order Taking Period runs Oct. 1-20, 2019. Each Girl Scout can send emails through her online site to families and friends to support her and her troop, or take in-person orders on her order card!
Customers can order and pay for nuts/candy, magazines and more online and have the option for the fall product items to be directly shipped to them (shipping charges apply) OR have the Girl Scout deliver the nuts/candy from the order card (Girl Scout’s family decides who gets the option of girl delivery) Customers can also donate nuts or magazine vouchers to support our military and community based organizations with no additional handling fees.
Girls earn rewards cumulatively, and her troop earns 15% of troop sales. Older girl troops have the option of opting out of rewards and earning 18% of troop sales.
Getting Started for Troop Leaders and Troop Fall Product Managers
Please remember that if you have a question, never hesitate to reach out to your SUFM or call your Product Program Team at 855-ILOVEGS ext. 6722.
Plan a Family Meeting for your Girl Scout Troop and their families.
At the meeting you should:
Share the benefits of the Fall Product Program
Review the product offerings, the rewards girls can earn, and the important dates to know
Discuss what your troop will do with the proceeds earned (like go on an adventure, make blankets for a pet shelter, bring care packages to nursing home residents)
Provide each girl/parent in the troop with the program materials to get them started. Please ask them to participate to the best of their ability! (We have items for as low as $5! What great hostess gifts those can make!)
Make plans to celebrate your success!
Remember…Participation is a family decision. As the leader of your troop, we count on you to share this opportunity to participate in our program with your Girl Scouts.