London Calling: A GCNWI Adventure

London Calling: A GCNWI Adventure

Over a year ago, 12 Girl Scout Cadettes applied for and were accepted to the Intro to International Travel: London. For the following months, the middle school girls planned all aspects of the trip, from the restaurants and the sightseeing to the public transportation and budget. Here’s an account of their trip!

Recently Girl Scouts from our council voyaged over the Atlantic on their own UK excursion!  Our council’s Cadettes planned and organized the trip as well as contributed travel journal entries recounting their trip. We hope you enjoy them now.

Day 1 & 2 by Girl Scouts Katie and Kathryn

We couldn’t be more excited when our parents dropped us off at O’Hare’s Terminal 5, before walking through security.  We purchased our own dinner and snacks in the terminal before meeting the other Girl Scouts joining us on our trip. Soon after that, we boarded the plane. Our flight took off without a hitch. About two hours into the flight, the flight attendants served our first meal (or second dinner). We had warm mashed potatoes; a choice of chicken or beef; and adorable, little salads, with tiny bottles of olive oil. It was super fancy and super delicious! The flight was easy and fun and we got to watch new movies and listen to music and read and get to know all the other Girl Scouts who were with us on the trip. When dinner concluded we fell asleep and were awakened in the morning with a breakfast: yummy turkey and Swiss cheese sandwiches with apple juice and a baby cinnamon rolls that were gooey and delicious. Shortly after, the plane landed in sunny London.

We got off the plane and went through customs. We then, got onto the coach bus which took us to Pax Lodge, where we were staying. We were all mixed up from the jetlag but we have time to get settled in to London. We quickly unpacked and relaxed for a moment before going out for pizza at Franko Manco for [Katie’s] 14th birthday! After our delicious dinner we went to the grocery store to buy some snacks. Did you know that London’s Doritos are way better than ours? After our snacks were collected, we planned our adventures for Day Three and then organized our own campfire program at Pax Lodge. Our first day in London was a blast and we couldn’t wait for the next day, but we were tired and straight to bed we went!


Day 3 by Girl Scouts Dorothy and Megan

When we woke up, we ate a traditional English breakfast (blood sausage included) at Pax Lodge. Then, we got ready to leave for the London Eye, something we were all really excited about. The London Eye was an amazing experience and it was so much fun seeing the entire city of London! After that, we were schedule to go to Buckingham Palace, but instead we found a local Girl Guide shop. It was cool to see the differences between Girl Scouts and Girl Guides – we have different names for the levels of girls, books, and badges. Some of the girls purchased patches and other items there to commemorate the trip. They also had a super cool place inside the shop for us to sit down for lunch. After lunch, we left the shop and continued walking toward Buckingham Palace for a quick photo.

Next we went to the bus tour. We got to see lots of new and different sites, including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square. We learned a lot of new information about London – did you know that London is not as big as you think it is? Many people think that Westminster is London, but it’s actually its own city! We hopped off of the bus at the Tower of London. We got to tour the tower; it was very interesting and really cool learning about the history of the fortress, plus the tour guides were really entertaining and they wore the coolest outfits. After touring the tower, we hopped back on the bus and went to Harrods; a HUGE department store in London. We ate dinner at the Burger Bar that was located inside in their food court. After dinner, we went shopping for souvenirs and other items. After shopping, we took the tube back to Pax Lodge. We then started to plan for tomorrow. Our second day in London was definitely a success!

Day 4 by Leaders Isabella + Riley

It was cold in the morning when we woke up and left Pax Lodge at 9 am and went to a river tour down the Thames River. Our older girls then bridged on Tower Bridge, with all the girls handing them a bead symbolizing a different aspect about being a Girl Scout. The group went to have lunch at “The Coal Shed” and they had a nice selection of delicious food to choose from like mac ‘n cheese and steak. We all went shopping at Leicester Square, the girls saw many street performers, and went shopping in the stores they wanted to go in, because they were split up based on shopping interests.

We headed uptown to 221B Baker Street and checked out the Sherlock Holmes museum and poked our heads in a few random shops down the strip. After that we took the tube to Kings Cross Station and saw platform 9 3/4 and went shopping in the Harry Potter shop there. When in London! From there we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner and came back to Pax with desserts and had those before we played games for an hour. It has been a busy first few days here in London and everyone [planned] on hitting the hay early [that night] because we are excited for what [the next day] brings. Our time in London is going by too quickly but we are having plenty of fun!


Day 5 by Leaders Calla + Paige

We had an incredibly busy Day five. First, we all met down in the dining hall for breakfast and some of the girls went to Starbuck’s. After that we went grocery shopping for snacks for our day’s excursions. Next we visited a small, local bookstore before heading to brunch at Dominique’s. We returned to Pax Lodge before heading to the bus, which would drop us off at our most anticipated location… Warner Brother’s Studios!

When we went inside we were astounded by what we saw. There props, sets, and saw so many set photos we didn’t know where to look first. We saw some of the original costumes, sets, props, and other magical items from the World of Harry Potter. There were three gift shops and we all bought a lot of stuff including keychains, scarfs, and lots of candy! After sadly finding out that two cafes were closed we went to another bookstore before finding one that was open. It was a nice French restaurant where we all had very good food. After that we went to a Crepe place for dessert, of course with Nutella and then walked back and went to bed. Only two days left!


Day 6 by Leaders Rowynn and Ande

Although it was very early when we woke up, the group was buzzing with excitement for today’s adventure. At 7:00 am we started out by taking two taxis to Victoria Coach Station. Upon arrival our girls wove their way through the crowd of other pedestrians to the coach bus. At first glance, the bus was nothing special, but it would be our home on wheels for the day. We set out on route to Windsor Castle, where we were astounded by the detailed buildings, gorgeous landscape, and even the site of the royal wedding. Once we had seen most all of what was there, we set out again on our stiflingly hot bus. We arrived in Bath at around 1:15 and the shade from the buildings was very gratefully accepted. We split into two groups based on what we wanted to see, and set off. Bath was a lovely town, with street performers and fudge that was amazing! Cathedrals and Romanesque buildings decorated the streets, and although we didn’t stay very long, we enjoyed ourselves very much. At 3:30 we arrived in the tiny town of Lacock. We ate lunch in an adorable inn, and saw the real Godric’s Hollow. The bus had to be swapped out for one with working air conditioning due to how uncomfortable we all were. Once we set out again, we could hardly contain our excitement for our final destination.

“If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?” – From Disney Pixar’s Brave. The last leg of the trip was to Stonehenge. The climate was much cooler, due to clouds, and one could hear the noises of the local farms from the site. Stonehenge itself is really quite indescribable. Standing at 8 feet tall, and weighing in at 4 tons each, Stonehenge was a very grand structure. The bluestone used can only be found 240 miles away, so one must wonder how it was done. At 6:40 we headed home with our heads hung low. For dinner we stopped at Nando’s, and some girls tried the extra, extra spicy hot sauce. Once we were all full, we shuffled down to ride the underground for the very last time. After waving goodbye to the station we were headed back to Pax Lodge, where we ended our journey for today. The girls packed their belongings and tucked in to bed. Our final full day in London was definably one that was memorable in so many ways.


If your Troop is interested in planning their own trip, joining a council-sponsored trip, or if you are interested in traveling with other Girl Scouts via GSUSA’s Destinations, head to our travel site to learn more! Email travel program manager, Ashley Christensen, with questions or to start your journey!


You’re Never Too Old to Take Action: My Quest to Honor Juliette (Daisy) Gordon Low

You’re Never Too Old to Take Action: My Quest to Honor Juliette (Daisy) Gordon Low
By Karen Schillings, Council Historian at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana

In July of 2017, I traveled with my husband and another couple throughout England and Wales. During our journey through the English countryside, we had the good fortune to visit Juliette (Daisy) Gordon Low’s country estate, Wellesbourne House. Little did I know at the time when we started this trip that it would set into motion my personal Take Action project as a Girl Scout volunteer and historian. However, to understand my project, one must first understand the history of Wellesbourne House as it pertains to Juliette.

Most individuals connected with Girl Scouts, either as girl members or adults, have knowledge of Juliette’s birthplace in Savannah, Georgia, a National Historic Landmark.  Although there were many places important to Daisy during her lifetime, the one that was truly her delight was the Wellesbourne House in the county of Warwickshire, England. So how did it come to pass that this young woman from Savannah became the lady of such a stately home on the “other side of the pond”?

They began their adventure as newlyweds in Savannah; however, her husband William (Willy) Mackay Low wanted to own a country home inspired by his father’s upbringing in the United Kingdom, with the hopes of befitting his own social position. To that end, in 1889 he purchased the gran, a fifty-five-acre estate of Wellesbourne House in rural Warwickshire, England, with the help of his inherited 750,000 pounds from his father’s fortune. The estate grew to twenty bedrooms with a stable for forty horses, a cottage for the gardener, a separate laundry facility, a greenhouse, and a garage where the first automobile in Wellesbourne was housed. This was a home for entertaining and living the good life. From all accounts, Daisy was elated with Wellesbourne House and relished being the lady of this splendid home fit for grand entertainment.

Their life at Wellesbourne House was busy entertaining celebrities like that of Prince Edward of Wales and Rudyard Kipling. Willy spent his days presiding at the Wellesbourne Cricket Club and Warwickshire Yoemanry Cavalry Unit, while Juliette fulfilled her days as “Woman of the House.” As the years passed, Juliette found that she and Willy were growing apart. She branched into other endeavors, acquainting herself with metal working and portrait artistry. Before their divorce was finalized Willy passed away of a stroke in 1905. Not long after she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell who inspired her to create the Girl Scouts, and the rest is history!

Fast forward to 2017, when my husband’s plans for us to tour England and Wales were being finalized. As Denny was completing his research on the places we would visit, one day it dawned on me that perhaps our travels would take us near Juliette’s Wellesbourne House. Here is where my quest began.

Even though I have been a Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) council historian for over a dozen years, there was nothing on the internet or in any of the books I have read about Juliette which reveals the exact location of Wellesbourne House. I realized that I needed to contact someone locally to help me know its whereabouts. After sending emails to several sites, I finally received a response from Benjamin Earl, the web editor of the Our Warwickshire website. Since this website posts historical information concerning the county where Wellesbourne is situated, Benjamin was intrigued about the history of Juliette’s time at Wellesbourne House and provided us with useful information both on the history of the house as well as its location.

Seeing the house, in person, both thrilled and saddened me at the same time. Juliette’s beautiful home had been converted to an office complex and asphalt now covered her once lovely garden. However, just seeing this place that meant so much to Daisy was very moving to me. Still, the one thing that bewildered me was the lack of anything that acknowledged the incredible woman who once lived there. Although there is a plaque on the gate post which identifies it as the Wellesbourne House, nothing associated with Juliette was evident.

When I returned home, I immediately took action to lament a plaque for the house which would indicate its association to Juliette Gordon Low. I contacted various historical societies and groups provided by Benjamin, but I became discouraged by the rejection. In a last-ditch effort I contacted the village of Wellesbourne to see if anyone there could give me a lead and I was then pointed to the Wellesbourne Local History Group. I was informed by their webmaster Michael that the house had recently changed hands and was being renovated into apartments. With his help we contacted the new owners who approved our plaque request!!!!!

The overwhelming support and generous donations from not only the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana historians, but also the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois historians, as well as Michael’s part in researching local plaque manufacturers, made it possible for Juliette’s plaque to be purchased. The installation will take place in the near future.


From July 2017 to July 2018, I spent many hours trying to determine how I could achieve my goal of acquiring a plaque for Daisy’s Wellesbourne House. I realized that the Girl Scout in me would not let detours along this journey impede my progress. Finding the right people to help in this quest was key. Thanks to Ben, Michael, and my sister historians of GSGCNWI, we accomplished this as a team. I feel that Juliette Gordon Low would be proud to know that her beloved home will now be identified properly. She was passionate about starting an organization for girls that would allow them to reach their full potential in whatever they chose to do. This experience has taught me that you are never too old to follow Juliette’s ideals. So, if you are really passionate about something, you WILL find a way to discover, connect, and TAKE ACTION.

Take Action is designed to elevate traditional Girl Scout community service from meeting an immediate need to advocacy projects that make change happen. Girls identify a cause they feel passionate about, and with advocacy and action, make a change. Girls can receive a Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Award after completing a Take Action project.

Learn more about the highest awards Girl Scouts can earn!



6 Reasons to Attend Smart Cookies: Chefs Above the Rest

6 Reasons to Attend Smart Cookies: Chefs Above the Rest

Our fundraiser, Smart Cookies: Chefs Above the Rest, is just around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited!

We hope you’ll join us on Wednesday, September 12, from 6-9pm, at Gallery 1500 (1515 N. Halsted, Chicago). All proceeds benefit the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

This year we are honoring six local chefs, women who are trailblazers in Chicago’s culinary scene. We think our Smart Cookies honorees give you six amazing reasons to attend this amazing event! Learn more about each chef below.

1. Diana Dávila, Chef, and Owner of Mi Tocaya Antojería

Chef Diana and Girl Scout sous chef Aihlany

Mi Tocaya Antojería is a Logan Square neighborhood Mexican restaurant from acclaimed Chef Diana Dávila. The menu is composed of Diana’s takes on familiar Mexican favorites, less known regional specialties, and completely new dishes that are inspired by her Mexican heritage. Diana has received numerous accolades, including:

2. Nicole Hamilton, Owner, and Caterer at Simply Sweetness Food Design

Chef Nicole and Girl Scout sous chef Aliviyah

Simply Sweetness Food Design specializes in providing catering, event planning, and decor services to create an experience that is sure to leave an impression. Nicole, the owner for fourteen years, found her niche in both the corporate and creative realms by creating edible marketing for her customers.

3. Ellen King, Co-Owner and Head Baker at Hewn Bakery

Chef Ellen and Girl Scout sous chef Lucie

Bread fanatics will love Ellen King, co-owner and director of baking operations at Hewn Bakery in Evanston, IL. Everything at Hewn is made in-house, from scratch daily. All ingredients are locally sourced for their hand-mixed, hand-shaped bread made with naturally fermented yeast. Fun Fact: The starter (levain/sourdough) was initially created by Ellen several years ago!

4. Emily Nejad, Owner of Bon Vivant Cakes

Chef Emily and Girl Scout sous chef Natalia

After receiving a red KitchenAid mixer as a gift, Chef Emily soon became obsessed with making cakes. Fast forward, and Bon Vivant Cakes was born!

Emily is known for creating unique, personalized, and delicious cakes for all occasions. Ever artful and always fondant-free, Bon Vivant exclusively uses Swiss meringue buttercream and decorates each cake to the nines with anything from edible lace, cookies, flowers, handcrafted chocolate crowns, lollipops, and lots of sprinkles. Can you say #aesthetic?

5. Anna Posey, Pastry Chef and Co-Owner of Elske Restaurant

Anna and her Girl Scout sous chef Ashley

Elske means love in Danish, a nod to co-Owner and husband David Posey’s Danish mother and the fact that he and Anna got engaged in Copenhagen. Anna has a B.F.A. from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in painting and drawing. After returning to Chicago, Anna began working towards a culinary career. She has worked in kitchens including Le Bec Fin (Philadelphia), Blackbird (Chicago), Everest (Chicago), consulted for Boltwood (Evanston), and was then the pastry chef of the Publican and Publican Quality Meats (Chicago). She finished her first illustrated cookbook in 2017, called “Hello, My Name is Ice Cream”, by Dana Cree. She also is a prolific artist and does most of the creative for the restaurant.

6. Elaina Vazquez, Founder and CEO of Boutique Bites

Chef Elaina and her Girl Scout sous chef Ava

Boutique Bites is a creative and custom catering and events company that produces events throughout the city of Chicago and suburbs. Boutique Bites was founded in 2008 by executive chef Elaina Vazquez. The beautiful food and attention to detail are what inspired Elaina to bring this restaurant-style experience to catered events. In 2014, they expanded into their new West Loop headquarters which includes a 4,000 square foot commercial kitchen, as well as a new private event venue, BRIQUE.

Tickets are available now!

Purchase your tickets for Smart Cookies: Chefs Above the Rest!