Ever been overwhelmed by the thought of planning a Girl Scout trip? We’ve got you covered! Global Action Volunteer Team member Madison Carroll shares her tips and trick for travel planning for the tech-talented Gen Z-er, as well as her take on why planning a trip teaches great skill-building skills any Girl Scout can gain and carry with her as she travels and beyond.
“Don’t call traveling a dream, call it a plan.”
Traveling somewhere new is a huge decision and takes a ton
of courage! Taking the first step to decide that you are going to travel as a
troop, on a council-sponsored
trip or GSUSA
Destination is always a step in the right direction – but it can be
How do you decide where to go? How will you get there? Where
will you stay? What do you need to know before you arrive? Are there language,
currency, or cultural differences?
The best part about traveling in today’s world, is that you
can find answers to all of these questions online in a matter of minutes. This
past year, I planned a trip to Peru to climb Machu Picchu and was super
excited, but also incredibly overwhelmed at the amount of planning needing to
be done! I used the following 6 resources to research my trip (which turned out
to be the trip of a lifetime!)
I always start with a google search of any place I’m headed. Googling the location is going to bring up MILLIONS of articles, information, history, politics, food, tourism, etc. – everything you could possibly want to know! Then, I always make sure to Google, “What should I know before traveling to X location?” This is where you’ll find awesome insights on exactly what you should prep and plan for!
Get a lay of the land and a look at the city before even leaving the comfort of your couch! There are tons of YouTube videos on tourism for nearly every city in the world that offer you the chance to familiarize yourself with the location so you know what to expect when you get there.
Pinterest is great for seeing suggested itineraries and things to do! And to be honest, you get to see tons of photos of your destination so you know where to head for the best photo-ops! You can also save all of your pins on one board and come back to revisit later. I call my travel planning board, “Take Me There!”
Do not underestimate the power of travel blogs. There are thousands out there and they can be found with a quick Google search. This is a great way to see how other people have visited the location you’re going to (and learn from their mistakes!). I recommend following blogs written by solo, female travelers; they are the best resource for tips and tricks–and safety measures– when it comes to both group and solo travel!
Although it may not be the most tech savvy way to plan a trip, I still love grabbing a travel guide on my destination from my local library before traveling there. It’s helpful to learn more about the city through a quick read. I love Rick Steve’s Travel Guides and he has them for nearly every place in the world! There is also the Rick Steve’s Travel App for your phone which I would highly recommend for free in-country walking tours!
You’re already a pro at it, so why not use your hashtags for travel good?! Search for the locations you’d like to go, or as a hashtag. Many tourism boards have made hashtags for their locations to help collate all of the photos for travelers (like #sunshinestate or #floridalife). We’re also loving the hashtag #girlscoutswhotravel!
Overall, no matter how you research your trip, as long as
you do so thoroughly, will make your trip an adventure to remember! And of
course, should you be planning any travel and want advice, help planning, tips
or tricks, reach out to the GSGCNWI Global
Action Volunteer Team! We are always more than happy to help make your
dream trip a reality!
Opening her eyes to a world of possibilities? Helping her transform into a force for good? Unleashing her most confident self? As a Girl Scout volunteer, you’re an everyday hero with an extraordinary super power: you prepare girls for a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure. Being a Girl Scout volunteer is one of the most powerful, rewarding journeys you’ll ever embark on.
That’s what makes National Volunteer Month so near and dear to our hearts! Every April, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) celebrates the meaningful and inspiring contributions our volunteers make all year long. Join us in celebrating these amazing volunteers who have dedicated their lives to supporting our girls! These volunteers were recently honored at our Annual Meeting and Adult Recognition (AMAR) event. Read the event recap.
Hall of Fame 2019
Heidi began her Girl Scout career in the 1940’s on the South Side of Chicago where she grew up. As a girl member her favorite memories include earning her First Class Award, camping at Sweet Woods in Glenwood, Illinois, and selling LOTS of Girl Scout Cookies during the annual Cookie Sale. Heidi accredits her continued participation in the organization due to the continued efforts to support and grow girls into women leaders, as well as the camaraderie the organization provides for both fellow Girl Scouts and adults.
She became an adult leader for her daughter in Dolton as part of the legacy South Cook County Girl Scout Council (SCCGS). Heidi was a Troop Leader from 1967-1979; a Service Unit Manager (known as an Association Chair) in the 1970’s; was on the Board of Directors for SCCGS in the 80’s and 90’s; and was a National Council Delegate for the GS convention in Minneapolis in 1987. Heidi has also received many of the Adult Girl Scout awards, including the Thanks Badge, Thanks Badge II, and she received her 50 year pin last year.
Heidi is currently involved with GCNWI as a council historian, working to preserve the history of the former South Cook County Girl Scouts. Outside of Girl Scouts, Heidi is involved in her church, Bible Study Fellowship, and women’s Bible Study.
Hall of Fame 2019
Marlene was in Girl Scouts as a girl, in East Lake Porter Council, from second through sixth grade. Marlene became an adult Girl Scout member in 1983, when her daughter started as a Brownie. When she transitioned from assistant leader to troop leader, she stayed with the girls until they completed their Ambassador year. Her fondest memories include watching her daughters grow and mature through Girl Scouts. She loved seeing their communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills develop, and how they applied the skills beyond the organization.
Marlene has served in many roles in her 37 years as an adult Girl Scout. Positions include: Treasurer, Service Unit Manager, Consultant, Trainer, and Troop Organizer and well as a member of the Programs team of Drifting Dunes Council.
Marlene, for her amazing work, has received the Appreciation Pin, Honor Pin and Thanks Badge. She has also received the Porter County United Way Award. She is also the treasurer at her church and has served on many committees as chairperson.
Christine Alfred started as a girl member of Girl Scouts from first through fourth grade. Since becoming an adult volunteer, she has served in many roles including Leader, Troop Cookie and Fall Product Manager, Service Unit Cookie Manager and Fall Product Manager, Cookie Cupboard, Service Unit Manager, Council Delegate, all while serving on various committees. Along the way, she has received the Outstanding Leader Award, Outstanding Volunteer Award, and the Honor Pin. She has even received the St. Ann Medal for her work with helping Catholic Girl Scouts earn their religious awards.
The girls have always given Christine great inspiration, and volunteering has taught her how to work with a diverse group of people. Chris credits Girl Scouts with turning her into a social worker, event planner, master negotiator, financial analyst, master chef, and expert multi-tasker! She realizes that it’s not just the girls who develop skills through Girl Scouting, but also the adults who acquire so much more than could ever be imagined.
Melissa Young-Bridgeforth was never a girl member in Girl Scouts, but she did become an adult volunteer for the legacy Chicago council, and now for Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. There have been numerous reasons over the years for Melissa to continue to serve Girl Scouts. She believes in the mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character. Her enduring loyalty to Girl Scouts was demonstrated in 2018 when Melissa made the commitment to become a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society.
Although Melissa has had a wealth of experiences as a Girl Scout volunteer, the one she recalls vividly includes sirens and flashing red lights! It seems a Chicago police officer was suspicious of her having a car full of Girl Scout cookies. Fortunately, the experience has not deterred Melissa from continuing her volunteer work for Girl Scouts!
When her daughter wanted to sign up to be a Girl Scout, Carol Stahnke agreed to become a Girl Scout leader for Lone Tree Council in 1968. Carol continued her involvement as a volunteer after her daughter was no longer a girl member because she had such a positive experience. She served as Service Unit Manager for Berwyn and became a member of the Board of Directors for Lone Tree.
Carol also served on various committees, such as the search committee for the new Lone Tree Service Center and the Cookie Selection Committee, and she held the position of Field Vice-President. One of her prize possessions is a sliver tray she received in 1978 which acknowledges her service as Field Vice-President.
Carol has fond memories of camping at Wild Rose in St. Charles, Illinois, and Wild Deer in Wisconsin, both former properties of the Lone Tree Council. She credits Norma Brown and Shirley Eatwell from the Lone Tree staff with giving her excellent support to fulfill her duties as a volunteer. Although Carol was only able to be an adult in Girl Scouting, the experience of being there for the girls has meant a lot to her. She has been a lifetime member—a gift her thoughtful husband had given to her knowing how much Girl Scouts meant to her.
Rosemarie Courtney began her long association with Girl Scouts in 1950 when she joined Intermediate Girl Scout Troop 298 at Immaculate Conception Parish. She received her Curved Bar (forerunner of the Girl Scout Gold Award) in 1954. She remained a girl member with Senior Troop 1615 until 1958 at which time she registered as an adult with that troop. Rose continued with Troop 1615 throughout her college years. She credits her assistant leader and then Senior Adviser Anna Mae Idestein with giving her the confidence to attend college. Besides encouraging her to study science in college, Anna Mae helped Rose find part time jobs, so she could save the money needed for her tuition. She credits Anna Mae as being the most inspirational Girl Scout adult in her life and recognizes the importance that great adult leadership can impact a girl.
Since then, Rose has gone on to receive every adult national recognition there is, including the Thanks Badge II. She was also inducted into the Girl Scouts GCNWI Hall of Fame. From Secretary to the Board of Directors for DuPage County Council, to Council Trainer, to National Council Delegate, to Council Historian, Rose has held almost every volunteer position there is. She is truly one of Juliette’s pearls.
60 Years Pin
Joy Johnston is celebrating 60 years as a registered Girl Scout having started her Girl Scout career at the age of seven. Joy’s first Girl Scout Troop was number 78 in Chicago. People from legacy councils may remember that Joy’s parents were the caretakers at Camp Butternut Springs for many years. Her mother was a Girl Scout herself for over 50 years and was widely known as Mother Nature around Butternut. Joy’s parents, the Andersons, were very much admired for their service and dedication, and the lake at Butternut Springs is named after them.
Volunteering was an important part of Joy’s upbringing and she continues that tradition. She and her husband are the directors of the Duneland Resale Shop in Chesterton, Indiana. This adult community center serves the surrounding areas not only with a resale shop, but also a medical supply cabinet, and a food pantry that services more than 300 families and has given more than $1.5 million back to the community. Always a big dream of Joy’s, she has demonstrated that determination and hard work can make dreams come true.
On Saturday, April 6, 2019, more than 500 Girl Scout adult
members gathered for the annual council meeting, and to celebrate the service
and tenure of dedicated Girl Scout volunteers!
With this year’s council theme being Action Speaks
Louder, Nancy Wright, CEO, gave a riveting State of the Council
keynote, sharing details about the work that has been done over the past year,
and more importantly, the strategic work of the council for the current year
and beyond. Board President, Kathy Scherer followed and with the help of girl
board representative, Colleen Christian, installed new officers and directors
to the Board of Directors.
Several stand out, celebratory moments from the day
Heidi Gannon and Marlene Knapp were added to the
Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Hall of Fame.
We celebrated the following GSUSA honorees:
Christine Alfred, Thanks Badge
Melissa Young-Bridgeforth, Thanks Badge
Christina Robinson, Honor Pin
Tonya Belcher, Appreciation Pin
Scott Bennett, Appreciation Pin
Dawn Brook, Appreciation Pin
Cori Chojnacki, Appreciation Pin
Keth Goodman, Appreciation Pin
Starr Hochbaum, Appreciation Pin
Johnson, Appreciation Pin
Kizman, Appreciation Pin
McClendon, Appreciation Pin
McCoy, Appreciation Pin
Mitchell, Appreciation Pin
Mosshamer, Appreciation Pin
Skogsberg, Appreciation Pin
Stewart, Appreciation Pin
Two staff members were honored with the
D.A.I.S.Y. (Dynamic and Incredible Staff of the Year) award: Peggy Brothers, AVP, Camp Program and
Property and Jenny Waszak, HR Director.
We celebrated the dedication and action of 30
Service Units who received the President’s Award—this is a record number of
Service Units earning the award!
Also, part of the celebrations were volunteers
who’ve provided service to Girl Scouts from 5 to 60 years! A record number of volunteers received their
5 and 10 year pins at this year’s event.
Guests enjoyed continental breakfast, empowering
music, a photo montage of awardees, cupcakes and time to reconnect with Girl
Thanks to everyone who made this year’s Annual Meeting such
a great success. We remain grateful for all our staff and volunteers who make
the Girl Scout world a wonderful place to work and serve!
As a Girl Scout, you’ve grown curious about the world, eager to ask questions and challenge yourself with new experiences. As a Girl Scout traveler, you’ve honed important leadership skills like budgeting for a trip, money-earning to make it possible, and working together to plan a great itinerary. You’re an independent young woman who wants to see the world!
Some of the most fulfilling benefits
of travel come from learning about new cultures and meeting new people. When
you think about travel, you might think about vacation with your family, a
troop trip, Girl Scout Destinations, or council-sponsored trips
– trips that are often a week or two. Now, it’s time to think longer!
See the World While You Study!
When you spend a summer, semester, or year studying in another country, you will immerse yourself in a new culture, expanding our horizons while learning more about the country and cultures around you. Start daydreaming now about where you’d like to study!
In high school, some schools offer
exchange opportunities through language departments. If your your school
doesn’t offer them, there are many organizations and companies that offer opportunities
for high school students, such as Rotary International
and EF Tours. There are
also scholarships available for travel through organizations like Hostelling International and ACIS. You might
even consider doing some travel and volunteering before going to college
through organizations like AIFS, Greenheart
Travel or Cross Cultural Solutions.
Most people study abroad in college because
there are more opportunities. When choosing a college and a course of study, do
research about what study abroad and exchange programs are available. Most
colleges and universities offer some type of study abroad, but each school
differs as to what credits transfer and when you can go during your degree. If
your school doesn’t offer programs that appeal to you, consider an organization
like IES Abroad,
which offers independent study abroad programs.
Dream It & Make It Happen
If you want to study abroad, you can
make it happen; it just takes curiosity and motivation! You’re a Girl Scout –
You’ve Got This! Start early by visiting the International Programs or Study
Abroad office on your campus to see what programs you can attend.
Here are some things to consider as you daydream:
Once you start asking daydreaming,
you’ll find it difficult to choose where to go. Travel is a lifelong adventure,
and there’s always somewhere new to go!
There are scholarships and
fellowships available to travel all over the world. You just need to do your
research and stay organized! As we say in the Global Action Volunteer Team: Dream It, Plan It, Travel!
Maureen Ewing is a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts with 12 years as a girl member and over 25 years as an adult volunteer. She currently serves on the Global Action Volunteer Team and is co-leading a Destination to India and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) World Centre Sangam this summer. 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.
Travel with Girl Scouts GCNWI!
If you are not headed off to college or university next school year, check out the GSGNCWI Travel page for information on how to plan a troop trip—where you can choose to go backpacking—or join a GSUSA Destination!
Want to try something new for you first or next Girl Scout travels? Consider backpacking for your next adventure! Global Action Volunteer Team member Alex Porter shares her take on why backpacking is an awesome option as well as highlights the benefits and skill-building skills any Girl Scout can gain with this challenging and rewarding form of travel.
You can also read more about our Global Action Volunteer Team! Check our Blog 1 and Blog 2 now!
Backpacking? You mean, you’re going to travel with just a backpack?
Those two questions summarize many of the responses I get when I tell people that I’m going on another “backpacking” trip.
To me, backpacking is about feeling free to move around easily and without restrictions. It is about being able to wake up in Paris one morning and arrive in Berlin the next. Backpacking also teaches you organizational and planning skills that are not easily mastered. When you are forced to fit all of your clothes/toiletries/etc. in one backpack for a week or a month (or in my case, four months+), you really test your understanding of necessity over convenience.
When it comes to the planning and execution of travel, you have to constantly make decisions based on necessity—this especially includes the items you carry with you on your back. For example, do you really need that hair straightener for the one to no times you will actually use it or would you rather have that headlamp to help you navigate?
Backpacking teaches you that you can live without nail polish, makeup, 100 different shoe and dress options, and still have an absolutely amazing time.
Since you are not fully stocked, you learn to be resourceful in many aspects. Through trial and error, you will learn, for example, what food you can take with you on a 12-hour bus ride overnight through Indonesia without it melting or smelling. You learn how to communicate in hand signals, smiles, nods, and gestures—essentially learning a different language!
One of my favorite parts of backpacking is staying in hostels. If you’re not familiar, a hostel is an inexpensive accommodation, similar to a hotel, where travelers, who are strangers, bunk together for a short time. Hostel-dwellers typically share a bedroom—think bunk beds or dormitory style—as well as common areas like a restaurant and/or a kitchen. My absolute favorite part of staying in a hostel is being able to meet people from all over the world! I would argue that I’ve learned more about different cultures from my time spent in hostels than all my time spent in both college undergraduate as well as graduate programs.
All in all, backpacking is a wonderful way to explore the world, meet amazing people, and learn more about yourself.
Travel with Girl Scouts GCNWI!
Check out the GSGNCWI Travel page for information on how to plan a troop trip—where you can choose to go backpacking—or join a GSUSA Destination!
The Girl Scouts, honorees and guests in attendance showed us all how to ACT FOR CHANGE at our 2019 Tribute to Achievement (TTA) dinner and we are grateful to so many for their generosity and support.
Girl Scout emcee Phoebe Williams kicked the night off as our Girl Scout emcee, much to the delight of those in attendance.
The evening also featured a mini panel, with two of our Action Speaks Louder stars Amoolya and Carlie, as well as Connie Lindsey; Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity & Inclusion at Northern Trust and Past President of the Girl Scouts of the USA National Board.
Each of these women spoke about the impact of Girl Scouts in their individual lives and shared their hopes and dreams for change in the future.
“As adults, we have the responsibility and the privilege to create every opportunity possible for the girls in our lives to discover their own voices. We need to SEE them. We need to HEAR them. We need to ACT with them.” Connie Lindsey
See Amoolya, Carlie and other action taking girls in our council video “Action Speaks Louder.”
We also had the pleasure of honoring the following awardees; Luminary Award Recipient Kelly Grier of EY, Corporate Appreciation Award Recipient Exelon, received by Bridget Reidy, and the Girl Scout’s Own Award recipients, the Center for Childhood Resilience at Lurie Children’s Hospital, received by Dr. Colleen Chicchetti and Ms. Caryn Curry.
Thank you to our honorees for showing the world that ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER!
We also want to thank everyone who supported Girl Scouts GCNWI at TTA this year! Your generosity will be the spark to help our Girl Scouts to become the best Go-Getters, Innovators, Risk-Takers and Leaders that they can be!
Together, we ACT for Impact. Your investment shows the world what you stand for and who you are. Your action speaks power to the importance of girls practicing leadership today.
These young women are the resilient change makers needed for a brighter future. We are grateful for your generous support. Support Girl Scouts GCNWI!
Join us for the 5th Annual Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Turbo Trefoils Derby at the Joliet Gathering Place.
Join us to work on your car at the Derby Build Day on April 27! Bring your derby car kit and ideas. We’ll have tools and paint so you can work on your derby car, then test it at our aerodynamic testing station! Pizza will be provided. Sign up now!
How to Compete in the Trefoil Derby
This is your chance to design your own trefoil derby car with your troop, friends, or family, then race your car against other Girl Scouts in your age group!
Purchase your official Trefoil Derby Car Kit.Kits come with an official race pass, and must be purchased through a GSGCNWI shop (we have them in stores and online!). Any cars purchased at other locations will not be qualified to race. Purchase now »
Get to work on your car, and be sure to follow Official Derby Rules!
2019 Official Derby Rules
Upon arrival we will weigh each car with the “official scale” and turn back any car that exceeds 5.0 oz.
We will then do a quick visual inspection of each car
against the following inspection points:
Car Dimension Rules
The overall length of the car shall not exceed 7
The overall width of the car shall not exceed 2
The car must have 1 ¾” clearance between the
The car must have 3/8” clearance underneath the
body so it does not rub on the track.
Derby Car Weight Rules
The car shall not exceed 5.0 ounces.
The official race scale that is used at car
check-in shall be considered final.
Car Modifications Not Allowed
The official wood block must be used. The block
may be shaped in any way that is desired.
The wheel may not be changed from the original
wheels sold with the kit. The track is set to exact dimensions of the original
The wheels may not be cut, drilled, beveled or
rounded. You may remove the seams and imperfections from the wheels that result
from the plastic mold formation process.
The axles may be polished and lubricated, but
you must use the axels that come with the kit.
Axels must be placed in the precut slots on the
wooden block, you may not move them forward or back on the car.
Other Derby Race Rules
Once a car passes inspection and is entered into
the race, only race committee members can touch it.
If the car loses a wheel, or is otherwise
damaged, the racer shall have 5 minutes to make repairs.
Each car must pass inspection by the official
inspection committee before it will be allowed to compete. The Inspection
Committee has the responsibility to give a time penalty to (0.50 sec.) those
cars that do not meet these rules.
Are Pinewood Pro parts allowed?
As long as the car passes the guidelines
explained above without any violations the car will be allowed to race.
Are Pinewood Pro Wheels and Axles Legal?
Graphite-coatings on axles and wheels are legal.
You must use the original wheels sold with the
kit and car must conform to dimension guidelines.
Information about Derby day will be sent to those who are registered via email one week prior to the event.