What I Learned at Girl Scouts Camp CEO

What I Learned at Girl Scouts Camp CEO

I applied to Camp CEO because I was approached via email by a Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana staff member, who told me about it being a leadership program. I had never done anything through Girl Scouts, besides what I did with my troop, so breaking away from that was something I was skeptical about.

I expected the camp to be loaded with a lot of Girl Scout stereotypes, such as making friendship bracelets and canoeing (both of which we did), but what I didn’t realize is that I would include making lifelong connections and friends.

We talked about real life experiences with the most intriguing and successful women. The women who led and spoke during our time together persevered through gender stereotypes, and broke through glass ceilings to get where they are today.

We went through exercises that would help us in diverse professional settings, along with conversational skills that could help us close a deal or confront issues in the workplace. This camp was lead and organized so that you could ask real-life questions to real-life adults who have gone through the same experiences that we will one day go through. This fact alone makes the whole camp unique, seeing as how mere high school students don’t often get to have heart-to-heart conversations with CEOs of companies.

Camp CEO is important so you can get to know yourself on a business level. It also urges you to think about what you want to do for the rest of your life, and sheds light on all the different opportunities you might not have thought about.

Amelia Harlocker is a 16-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador who attended Camp CEO. To learn more about Camp CEO and to apply, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

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Top 10 Reasons to Sign Up for Girl Scout Summer Camp

Top 10 Reasons to Sign Up for Girl Scout Summer Camp

It’s time to start dreaming of sunny skies, dips in the lake, and s’mores on an open fire!

At Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana camps, we provide exceptional experiences for girls to develop and grow a love for the great outdoors.

From day camp to resident camp and weekend getaways to family events and teen leadership opportunities, we have options for everyone. Need more convincing?

At Girl Scout Summer Camp, girls will…

1. Develop leadership skills alongside fellow campers and staff, like hearing the importance of having initiative.

2. Discover a sense of self by participating in activities that will build her confidence to make positive choices and stand up for her individual values and needs.

3. Gain independence through caring for herself and her belongings, and taking responsibility for her actions with the encouragement of our dedicated and compassionate camp staff.

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4. Overcome obstacles by challenging herself to attempt and learn new things with the goal of building character and generating a personal sense of accomplishment.

5. Become part of a Girl Scout camp community by learning to recognize opportunities to help others and be comfortable asking for help when it may be needed, and in doing so, discovering that camp is a fun place to spend the summer and a home away from home.

6. Rediscover the impact of personal connection by introducing herself to and bonding with fellow campers who share her passions and interests to build lasting camp memories and lifelong friendships.

7. Cultivate life skills for the future by being exposed to a diverse mix of people, programs and environments that strengthen natural curiosity, improve creativity and foster essential social skills.

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8. Practice by doing in a safe environment with enthusiastic and talented staff who encourage trial and error as an opportunity to grow, and using hands-on learning as the model for success in an active outdoor setting.

9. Relax and “unplug” from the constant hum of technology to reconnect with nature and escape the constant pressures and distractions of everyday life in order to fill the summer days with experiences that will allows her to better engage in the real world.

10. Have fun while experiencing living outdoors, making new friends, singing at the top of her lungs, expressing her creativity through art, developing the courage to explore the world, and discovering more about herself (so that she can share it with you)!

Ready to sign up for Girl Scout Summer Camp? Registration starts at midnight on Feb. 1, 2017!

Girl Scouts Journey to the Moon at Space Camp

Girl Scouts Journey to the Moon at Space Camp

Ever dream of blasting off into outer space? There’s a camp for that.

This summer, two Girl Scouts from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana enjoyed a six-day Space Academy experience at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. While there, they joined other Girl Scouts in learning how to command a space shuttle and training to solve space mission challenges.

“My Destination experience inspired me to see the world differently, like how cool it is that we can travel out into space or walk on the moon,” said Maya Chandarana, a 12-year-old Girl Scout Cadette from Lockport, Illinois.

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Maya buckles off for a simulated spaceflight mission.

The Girl Scouts also learned firsthand the importance of communication and teamwork as they experienced simulated spaceflight missions and trained on astronaut simulators, including the Multi-Axis Trainer and 1/6th Gravity Chair.

“It always seemed like only men were astronauts, but after seeing a woman speaker that was a Girl Scout, I knew I could do anything,” Maya said.

Kyra DeNormandie, also a 12-year-old Girl Scout Cadette from Lockport, agreed.

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Kyra smiles for the camera in her astronaut uniform.

“My destination experience also inspired me that we girls can do anything we set our minds to,” she said. “Space Academy inspired me to set my sights higher than just Earth or to the moon. It also inspired me to incorporate my other interests, to launch me into history books.”

As a result of Space Camp, Kyra now has aspirations of not only being one of the first women on Mars, but perhaps the first to perform a musical on The Red Planet.

“I can do experiments on how gravity and movement affect our voices and bodies,” she explained. “Maybe I will revolutionize the way we understand The Red Planet and ourslves because of Space Academy.”

Both girls were excited to make new friends as well.

“It was also really cool to see so many girls from all over the world together,” said Maya.

“My destination experience let me connect with Sister Girl Scouts from around the globe. This alone made me see that Girl Scouts reaches people from all over the world and brings us together,” Kyra reflected. “I am so happy to be a part of that. While I know I may never see any of those girls again, I will never forget their faces and all of the memories we made together.”

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Kyra tries on an astronaut spacesuit.

According to Girl Scouts of the USA, more than 35,000 trainees complete Space Academy every year and go on to become scientists, doctors, engineers, teachers and even astronauts.

To learn more about space camp, click here. For more information about other Girl Scout Destinations, including  Our Cabaña in Cuernavaca, Mexico next year, click here.

Do you have a good idea for our blog? We’d love to hear from you! Submit your stories here for a chance to be featured.

 

Mentoring Variations are Essential

Mentoring Variations are Essential

Happy to finally get a chance to write about my mentoring experiences this summer. We often overlook the value in telling our story about being mentored or mentoring someone else. I’ve learned from hearing from friends and colleagues that the variations in mentoring relationships aren’t as widely known or used just by default of the stories going untold. So, here’s my part!

The last time I served as a consistent mentor was with Chicago Women in Philanthropy’s Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program. I served as a mentor for two full years to two different early career women. One worked in communications the other in resource development. Both very dynamic and very successful in their fields as well as the artful balance of everything else in life. I learned a lot, specifically about what I didn’t know that I could teach! How ironic. I assumed when I accepted this role that there would be a formula to follow, a set of questions to check off during the year, a number of people to introduce and get out of the way. Not so. Through sharing our work and life experiences I think the mutually beneficial relationship grew and things that I didn’t know my mentee could use came out during discussion, invitations to random events I attended and sidebar conversations about how my lack of sleep (or ability to wake up at 3 am and be productive for about an hour and go right back to bed with no problems) was embedded into my lifestyle so much so that it no longer bothered me! At the end of my mentoring time when competing priorities adjusted I still have two people who are doing wonderful things in this world that I learned a lot from and I hope was able to share a lot that they can use in their daily lives.

The last time I served as a one day mentor was earlier this summer with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Camp CEO. I was able to spend 24 hours at Camp Butternut Springs in Valparaiso, IN with 40 young women and a host of other CEOs, the wonderful staff and board members of GSCNWI. I was assigned two mentees, Anna and Emma. Anna a incoming sophomore certain of her desire to teach and Emma and incoming senior understanding her artistic abilities, hopeful to choose a good liberal arts college wanting to make good use of those. Both having siblings, very dedicated to their families and ready to take on the world. I could not have asked to get to know better campers this year or for a better experience and opportunity to share my path to CEO leadership. The theme of this years camp was: Following Our Hearts In Pursuit of Opportunity , which occupied a huge banner in the meeting hall. How poignant and timely. I was greatly inspired by the questions the ladies asked and their goals!!! I’m accordance with the 3 C’s of Girl Scouting; Courage, Confidence and Character filled the camp site. I arrived on Wednesday and, along with other new arrival CEOs, was greeted with a fabulous welcome song. After hearing it a few times it never leaves your brain. I’ve been tempted to sing and record on my phone so I never forget. Our day consisted of workshops on purposely expressing your character and exposing yourself to the world beyond your immediate community. The highlight of our day came after lunch with shark tank pitches. The group was challenged to invent something that solves a modern day issue. Their ideas were amazing. One particular idea about food insecurity access bracelets deserves a pitch to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. During this event I watched the campers withstand some of the toughest questions about their products. These are skills they will need when presenting their ideas to teachers, professors, future bosses and community members.

At the end of the day I got to share my leadership journey-one I’ve always downplayed but fully accepted as my purpose in life. I’ve just never stood from the mountaintops and yelled my story to the masses. My journey to CEO at Evanston Community Foundation was one of my challenges as a teenager, purpose as a young adult and accepting of an opportunity to use the full scope of my skills and talents. Our day included lots of other great things and luckily I got to stick around for S’mores and songs by the campfire. If you’ve never tried a Reece’s cup S’more, you’re missing out on a world of goodness. I assured the group that any increase in pricing of the cookies was alright with me!

The next morning when it was time to depart I got a chance to record the goodbye song, which I will cherish forever. The experience of being with the group for only 24 hours was great. I was headed back to my day to day and with the understanding that this time I mentored simply by allowing campers to ask me questions that are important to them. Questions like-how do you make tough decisions and when you were in high school did you think you’d be where you are today in your career? Questions like-If you want to be a model do you have to be this tall or this small? All very important self confidence questions. I hope my answers were helpful.

If you know me, you know my husband and I parent a very dedicated to life 5 year old. When she heard I was going to Camp CEO…all she heard was camp. My daughter has no clue what CEO means nor does she care. It didn’t matter why I was going to camp. And when she heard Girl Scouts, she certainly would not let that go. So, luckily her school will be hosting a daisy troop this year and she can join. I was never a girl scout, but I have to believe there is a girl scout in me and I was happy to be among them even for only 24 hours.

So, there you have it. My two most recent instances of extreme vs very loose mentoring. Both very rewarding for me and hopefully for my mentees. All in all, I know that mentoring is defined by what you need and what you can give. There isn’t a hard and fast rule to getting it right. If you are able to be a mentor, know your limitations with that role and be able to express them.If you are seeking a mentor, know your needs with that role and be able to express them. Find your circles of influence that may offer informal instances of mentoring. You’ll find that what fits you best is a variation that gels well with the life you live, the time you have to give and the outcomes you’re trying to reach!

This post was written by Monique Brunson Jones, the CEO of Evanston Community Foundation. To learn more about Monique, please visit her blog empoweredtoday.org.

Camp CEO: Mentoring with a Side of S’mores

Camp CEO: Mentoring with a Side of S’mores

Last week, I participated in what will surely be remembered as one of the highlights of my summer–camping with the Girl Scouts! In it’s tenth year, Camp CEO is a premier leadership camp for teen girls and high-level professionals held at Camp Butternut Springs in Valparaiso, Indiana.

I was invited to attend as one of the 25 female “CEOs” along with 40 high-achieving Girl Scouts selected from the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana council who applied and wrote essays to participate. I had not been camping since my days as a leader with my daughter’s troop 20 years ago, and it was incredible fun to be hiking, swimming, and singing songs around the campfire once again.

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Village President of Long Grove Angie Underwood and her mentee, Trinity, at Camp CEO.

In addition to these traditional camp activities, what made Camp CEO so special was the opportunity to mentor the girls one-on-one and share stories, life experiences, advice and inspiration. I was fortunate to be paired with Trinity, an impressively smart and sweet girl from Chicago who aspires to be a doctor.

I really enjoyed spending time with my mentee as well as all the girls at camp and I was continually amazed by the thoughtful questions the girls asked. They were truly focused on learning and absorbing as much as possible from their time with the adult mentors. Women were present from a wide variety of professions such as science, technology, law, government, finance, communications, entrepreneurs, and more.

I was asked to lead a workshop on networking and social etiquette in politics, which challenged me to step out of my box a bit to design a seminar. But I had a ball doing it, and the girls really seemed to enjoy discussing the role of women in elected office particularly in light of the history being made this year in our U. S. presidential race.

One activity that seemed to really resonate with adults and girls alike was the “Dreaming Your Future” tradition. A couple of times each day, everyone would gather around the fireplace or campfire, and listen as three or four of the CEOs took center stage and shared their own life story and pathway to leadership.

As usual, the girls had intriguing questions to ask. I found it so interesting that every woman’s story showcased the fact that most of us are not doing what we thought our careers would be when we were in high school or college–in most cases our journey has taken twists and turns to lead us to a place we never dreamed possible. I know that I never planned on becoming a Village President when I was majoring in foods-nutrition/dietetics during my college days!

Camp CEO was an all-around wonderful experience. I’m grateful that we have organizations such as Girl Scouts to provide opportunities like this, which bond women and girls together to inspire the next generation of leaders. But the inspiration works both ways, because I came home uplifted by Trinity and all the other young women I now know who give me hope for a bright future for us all.

This post was written by Angie Underwood, village president of Long Grove. To learn more about Angie, please visit her blog, LifeinLongGrove.com.

Making Lasting Memories at Girl Scout Camp CEO

Making Lasting Memories at Girl Scout Camp CEO

Since its inception 10 years ago, Girl Scouts have made powerful connections and long-lasting memories at Camp CEO. Hosted by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, Camp CEO pairs teenage girls with some of the top women business executives in the Chicagoland area. Often, these relationships extend beyond the week-long summer camp, as evident by Anita Tang and Alisha Welles’ ten-year friendship.

At the first Camp CEO in 2007, Tang, the managing director for Royal Roots Inc., her own firm specializing in U.S.-China business strategy, was paired with Welles, who was a Girl Scout Ambassador at the time.

“After graduating high school, I realized that I needed more guidance on how to discern between opportunities,” Welles said of her decision to apply for Camp CEO. “The opportunity to meet with mentors that have successfully made their way in life was encouraging and inspiring.”

During Camp CEO, girls and mentors participate in various workshops, have candid conversations and engage in outdoor leadership activities.

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Alisha (left) and Anita (right) at Camp CEO in 2006.

“Participating with Anita at the archery range and learning how to aim and shoot to hit a target was a wonderful memory,” said Welles, who is currently a business analyst at Peapod. “Learning about the lives of our mentors through the “Dreaming Your Future” workshop was my favorite part of Camp CEO. All of the mentors started in different places with different background and made it to a leading role in a company they joined or built.”

And the mentees weren’t the only ones who learned valuable lessons during Camp CEO.

“That knowledge and experience at Camp CEO did not flow one way from the adult campers,” shared Tang. “We could learn many things from the girls, too. And we got to be young again! To learn from and share with our peers and the girls – for sure, the interactions benefit all parties.”

One piece of advice Tang shared with Welles was how body language can be interpreted differently across cultures, which came in handy when the pair later met up in Beijing during Welles’ internship in Hong Kong and China.

“We had a great time!” exclaimed Tang.

“I also learned about the importance of etiquette and dress,” said Welles. “That appearance and behavior play a role in how you move around the world as well as leveraging your mind and heart.”

Welles also describes Camp CEO as a “great space to learn how to network, grow and connect with women and other girls that can understand your journey and care about whether your succeed.”

And Tang agreed.

“Everyone should participate in Camp CEO to gain some exposure that they may not get every day and to get a taste of people who are different and whose experiences are also different,” she said.

To learn more about Camp CEO, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org/campceo.

Valparaiso Girl Scouts ‘Take Action’ for Camp Butternut Springs

Valparaiso Girl Scouts ‘Take Action’ for Camp Butternut Springs

Troop 30364, from St. Paul Catholic School in Valparaiso, Indiana, took a “sit” against littering and for recycling at nearby Camp Butternut Springs and donated a bench made out of 400 pounds of recycled plastic water bottle caps.

The plaque on the bench reads: “Enjoy resting on this bench made of 400 lbs. of plastic caps – a Porter County Community recycling project made possible by Brownie Scout Troop #30364 and Pines Village Retirement Communities, Inc. 2016.”

The troop delivered the bench in April with the help of Pines Village Retirement Community’s CAPs Crew, which cleans, sorts and bundles un-recyclable plastic bottle caps.

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Troop 30364 from Valparaiso, Indiana worked with a local retirement community to create a bench made from plastic bottle caps.

 

Members of the troop came up with the idea to create a sustainable bench while earning their Brownies Quest Keys Award.

“Through this award, we learned that together their three Keys – Discover, Connect, and Take Action – unlock the meaning of leadership,” they explained. “To earn our last Key, we had to take action somehow in our community.”

The girls decided that recycling would be their focus and started their research.  They came across an article from Pines Village Retirement Community about transforming recycled caps into benches, and decided to partner with the crew. With the help of Lu Krieger-Blake and some of their Girl Scout Cookie sales money, they participated in a program called “A Bench For Caps.”

Troop members Dina Nguyen, Kylie Starkey and Elise Maxey thought that the hardest part of the project was collecting 400 pounds of clean, non-metal, plastic caps.  According to the community’s website, these caps can include:

  • Snap-On cottage cheese, coffee can, and yogurt lids
  • Twist-on medicine, drink, and milk bottles, including the ring
  • Flip-top ketchup and condiment bottles
  • Large twist-off lids (such as detergent)
  • Spout lids (such as squirt mustard)

While there were some challenges to the project, they said the most fun was when they went to the Pines Village Retirement Community and met with Lu and the CAPs Crew.

“We spent time with them sorting caps while learning about each other,” said the girls.  “Before we left we sang them our favorite Girl Scout anthem: ‘Make New Friends.’ It was a great time and we can’t wait to go back!”

This project has inspired their troop to make more change in the world by continuing to save caps and work with Pines Village Retirement Community CAPs Crew. In doing this, they hope to help put brand new sustainable and eco-friendly benches around the community for people to enjoy, all while keeping plastic caps from ending up in landfills.

“We are so proud of our Brownie Troop 30364,” said troop leader Diane Nguyen.

“And we look forward to many adventures in the future!” said troop leader Tiffany Maxey.