Each year, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) hosts a Choose Your Own Adventure trip where Girl Scout Cadettes and Seniors get to choose where the group travels! This year, the girls chose Southeast Wisconsin, including Kenosha and Milwaukee.
Read on to learn about their adventures and how you can Choose Your Own Adventure!
Day 1: Bowlin’ and Ballin’
Written by Girl Scouts Megan and Lucy
We had a great first day on the Girl Scouts Choose Your Own Adventure Trip! Last night and this morning we planned out what we would be doing for the next couple of days.
We are settling down in Kenosha tonight and are so excited for what the next couple of days will bring!
Day 2: Go Ahead and Jump!
Written by Girl Scouts Kelsey, Isabella, and Peyton
On our second day in Wisconsin, we did a lot of things. First, we had breakfast at the hotel and headed to an escape room. The escape room was really fun and challenging. Sadly, we didn’t escape, but we had a good time!
Then, we headed to lunch at the Public Market. It was very delicious. We then headed to the Mitchell Domes and saw a lot of beautiful nature. We also got some delicious treats and candy at the mall!
The new year is quickly approaching, and it’s time to make the best of 2020. Get ready to get out there, because Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana has some exciting trips coming your way so you can start the new year with a bang!
Read on to take a look at where we’re headed–– and how you can come along with us.
Choose Your Own Adventure: Midwest!
A girl-led adventure awaits eight Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts this Jan. 17 through 20! Start out the new year with a chance to travel to either Milwaukee, WI; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; or Starved Rock, IL. Whatever your group chooses to do, this is your own girl-led adventure where you will practice budgeting, planning and personalizing your 3-day trip!
The group will meet at Camp Greene Wood Friday night. On Saturday morning, after planning the trip, you will hit the road for the adventure of the decade! This trip is girls only. There will be two Girl Scout chaperones attending.
Registration closes December 12, and there are only three more spots available, so register here as soon as possible!
Capital Tour: Nashville!
Get excited for this NEW PROGRAM: 50 state capitals, 50 new Girl Scout trips! Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador Girl Scouts are invited to travel to Nashville, Tennessee, for a cross-country adventure from Feb. 15 to 17! Once we get to Music City, we’ll tour the Capitol Building, take part in a service project, and visit the sites. You’ll practice your budgeting and trip-planning skills while we’re at it.
Group will leave from the Friendship Center in Country Club Hills, Illinois. Sorry, parents, this is a girls-only trip! There will be two Girl Scout chaperones heading the adventure.
Register here by December 12–– there are only four more spots available!
Junior Jetaway to Milwaukee
Junior Girl Scouts are invited to a brand-new girls-only getaway to Milwaukee, Wisconsin from Feb 16 to 17! Girls will depart from the Vernon Hills Gathering Place and head to the Dairy State. You will get a chance to check out a museum of your choice, eat cheese curds, walk through the historic Third Ward, and more.
Accommodation, sightseeing, and all meals included in the cost. There will be two Girl Scout chaperones attending.
Registration for this trip also closes on December 12! Register here to snag a spot.
Brownies Day Out in Chicago
Meet Brownie Girl Scouts at Hostelling International-Chicago to participate in the Brownies Day Out in Chicago on May 16! With 77 distinct neighborhoods, Chicago is a giant city with so much to explore. Will you choose to visit the Bean, walk around the Art Institute, or take a city tour? Maybe you’ll visit cultural neighborhoods like Chinatown or Pilsen?
Whatever your group chooses to do, the girls will take off on their own girl-led Windy City adventure! Each troop must have at least one chaperone, or if girls are attending without their troop, each Girl Scout must attend with a parent or guardian. Fun patch and public transportation card included!
Register here by May 10 to secure your spot on this awesome exploration of the city!
You-And-Me on Mackinac Island!
Grab your mom, aunt, or grandma and board the GSGCNWI coach bus for a weekend getaway on Mackinac Island from Aug. 9-11. Girl Scouts from Brownies to Cadettes will have the chance to take horse-drawn carriage tours, photograph beautiful butterflies, and more!
This 3-day, 2-night trip includes multiple meals, hotel stay, various group activities, and coach bus ticket! Bus leaves from the Friendship Center in Country Club Hills, IL.
Right now, registration requires a $200 deposit. Registration closes Feb. 28, or until trip is sold out! Register here.
This year’s GSUSA National Convention will provide attendees with unforgettable experiences as they gain inspiration, tools to empower themselves, and the know-how to lead change in their communities, connecting with some of the most influential women in the world along the way.
Do you love planning exciting trips, but dread the process of packing your bags? One of our awesome Global Action Volunteer Team members, Karen Zeller, has graciously shared with us her tips and tricks to help you through it! With her years of experience, you are sure to learn some useful information to make that process not-so frustrating.
Packin’ On Up
Written by Troop 50368 and Karen Zeller, Global Action Volunteer Team member and Troop Leader
A trip to Our Chalet (the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts world center in Switzerland): the experience of a lifetime. Add to that a few extra days, and our troop had a true European adventure. The girls couldn’t wait. They had been preparing for this for years. The fundraising was done, the arrangements booked, the forms filled out, the money exchanged. All we had left to do? Pack.
Packing, depending on who you’re talking to, can be the least favorite part of any trip. But somehow, over the years, our girls had come to take pride in their packing. They know what was needed to succeed, and how to make that success happen.
Here are some of our troop’s tried and true tips for making packing as pleasant as possible!
It all starts with putting together the perfect list to match what you need with what you’re allowed to carry. To fly internationally, we were allowed a bag that totaled no more than 62 inches in total dimensions and weighed no more than 50 pounds. We were also allowed one carry-on, plus one personal item.
To make sure you bring the essentials and make the most of your space at the same time, it helps to:
Make a packing list together as a troop to have everyone on board from the start.
Discuss basic clothing needs, appropriate dress for the location and activities planned, and a maximum amount of each item needed.
Figure out how to get access to a washer and dryer–– you don’t want to spend all your time washing clothes, but for long trips this is a must.
Remember you can comfortably re-wear and layer clothes throughout the trips!
Keep in mind the kinds of activities planned and how this will affect your packing list. For example, we were doing everything on this trip from hiking in the alps to visiting sacred sites in Rome, so girls had to decide between weighing their bags down with boots or wearing them while traveling.
Toiletries: To Share or not to Share?
This is obviously important to discuss! In previous trips, we had opted to buy toiletries when we got to where we were going and share as a group. We didn’t think this would work as well in Europe, so if you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what we did:
Each girl either brought their own toiletries or worked in a group to share.
We brought a couple of hairdryers to share between us.
We tried our best to limit extras, like makeup, etc.
The leaders carried first aid kits and any extras the girls might need (lots of Band-Aids).
Make sure to clear out any hotel rooms of their soap before you leave–– you might as well!
Compressing and Compacting
Once our list was made, it was up to the girls to make the magic happen. They used several great techniques for consolidating suitcase space:
A favorite for several of the girls was packing cubes, which flatten out clothes for extra room.
We taught the girls how to roll clothes instead of folding them, another great tip for saving space.
We also talked about bringing extra Ziploc® bags for dirty and wet clothes, so they don’t get mixed in with the clean ones!
The girls bought expandable suitcases so if they left them un-expanded on the way over, they would have room for souvenirs on the way home.
Carryons and Cautionary Tales
For the long plane ride there and back, the girls made sure they had everything they needed in as little a bag as possible. In their carry-ons, they had:
An extra set of clothes
Any needed meds and small travel size toiletries
Compression socks or fuzzy socks for comfort
eBooks and downloaded movies on their devices
The girls also made a playlist for the trip, and all brought some sort of headphones and a small speaker for their hotel rooms!
Of course, you always have to leave room for souvenirs. Like I mentioned above, expandable suitcases made it possible for the girls to pick up some awesome items from our travels. This worked like a charm for everyone–– except for me. After leaving behind a couple things I didn’t need to bring back home and buying an extra-large “personal item” for the way home, I was still worried my suitcase was too full. Turns out: it was exactly 50 pounds! The girls, of course, were all well under the required maximum.
We may have done a good job teaching our girls how to pack over the years, but somehow, I am still learning.
What are you waiting for?
We would like to thank Karen so much for her contribution and wonderful advice (which we’ll all keep in mind next time we get ready for a trip)!
Now you have all these tips–– what are you gonna do with them? There are so many opportunities for traveling around the United States and abroad with the Girl Scouts, and it’s up to you to decide where you’re headed. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you are sure to embark on an unforgettable journey.
Get ready to get out there: all of our Girl Scout programs are live for this Girl Scout year, including all of our new travel opportunities! Below is a short and sweet description of each, along with the registration link. If you have any questions on these trips, contact Ashley Christensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new twist on an old GCNWI classic! This time we’re taking it to the Windy City. We’ll stay the night at the hostel downtown, and girls will plan the whole weekend! November 09-10, 2019 (SIGN UP SOON! Registration closes Oct. 27!)
It’s baaaacckkk! A favorite of many GCNWI travel groupies, this trip is a 4-day adventure to somewhere in the Midwest. Where you ask? That’s for the girls to decide. Hurry! Only 3 spots left (told ya it was a favorite!) January 17-20, 2020
This is a brand-new type of trip we’re particularly excited about. In its inaugural year, GCNWI is planning a trip to Nashville, the capital of Tennessee. Each year following, we’ll pick a new state capital for a new exciting adventure! February 15-17, 2020
Yup, you guessed it… another new program idea! As we work our way down the travel progression to younger Girl Scouts, we’ll give Brownies the day to plan a trip to the Windy City. What shall we see and do? That’s for the Brownies to figure out! May 16, 2020
One of the all-time favorites of hundreds of Girl Scouts! We’re headed on a coach bus with our moms, grandmas, and aunts to the island of no cars, lots of bicycles, and lots of fudge. If you haven’t been on this trip before (or even if you have), it’s time to join us! August 9-11, 2020
Are We There Yet?
Traveling is more than just a fun adventure–– it’s a learning experience. Join us and explore what the Midwest (and beyond) has to offer!
Financial assistance is available for most council-sponsored trips. Applications will be sent to travelers who register for a trip.
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.
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.
Written by Maureen Ewing, Global Action Volunteer Team member
A Wide Opportunity
In 1986, I was a nervous 7th grade Girl Scout Cadette applying to attend my first Wider Opportunity (now called Destinations). I completed my application and found three references. On interview day, I put on my Girl Scout uniform, was driven to the Girl Scout office, and nervously answered questions about why I wanted to attend National Center West in Wyoming to ride horses for two weeks.
Seven months later, I was boarding a plane for the first time, and by myself, hugging (and probably while crying) my family as I walked through the gate.
Needless to say, I loved this trip. For the next five years, I attended five Girl Scout Wider Opportunities. In 1987 and 1988, I traveled to Wyoming to ride horses. In 1989, I went to Topeka, KS for a volleyball camp at the University of Kansas. In 1990, I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In 1991, I studied marine biology in San Francisco.
Foundations for Curiosity
Girl Scouts gave me the foundation for a curiosity about the world and a love of travel. As an adult, I studied abroad in England at the University of Nottingham, and earned my Master’s degree from Rhodes University in South Africa. I have visited 29 countries and have lifelong friends around the world.
I have volunteered with the Girl Scouts since I left high school. I was in Campus Scouts in college, assisted with a Girl Guide troop for a year while I studied in South Africa, volunteered at events, and in 2007, I took a group of girls to the WAGGGS World Centre in Switzerland.
Since 2012, I have been volunteering with GSGCNWI on the Global Action Volunteer Team. Our team works to make sure that girls learn about global issues, and we share our love of travel to help inspire girls to see the world. Girl Scouts can still apply to Destinations (formerly called Wider Opportunities when I was a girl) for travel all over the world. It is an especially important time for girls to stay connected and educated about issues that affect girls around the world.
One of my bucket list items has always been to visit the WAGGGS World Centre, Sangam, in Pune, India. This summer, I finally had that chance as a chaperone on the Destination to India trip. Over a few weeks, we visited Pune, Delhi, and Agra, where the Taj Mahal is.
The trip was for the girls, but I was beyond excited to experience a new country (the 30th country I’ve visited!) as they did.
To Infinity, and Beyond
We would like to thank Maureen Ewing for sharing her story with us! We hope this inspires other girls not only to venture out into this great wide world, but to continue their relationship with the Girl Scouts throughout their lives!
Destinations for summer 2020 and 2021 are now open!
Girl Scout Destinations are the ultimate adventures for individual Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador girls! With different trips every year, there’s something for everyone. Pack your bags full of life-changing experiences and make friends from all over the country as you travel with Girl Scouts from different states.
Destinations require an application and reference form. There are two application rounds:
Round 1 Applications/References due December 1
Round 2 Applications/References due February 15
Adventure Is Out There
One parent of twin Girl Scouts that went to a horseback riding camp said of the application process, “When they told people that they were accepted into the camp, they were certain to include an explanation of the application process. There was something about applying and being accepted that was quite exciting for them.”
Joining one of these trips takes an independent spirit and for girls that “love being on their own,” as one parent put it.
Emily Jones, Girl Scout Senior, says of her trip to the Channel Islands: “Going on the Channel Islands Destinations trip has inspired me to travel the world and explore what is out there for me to see. I want to see the world, not just from photos, but in person.”
“[My experiences here] inspired me to want to find a profession that helps people in poverty or those experiencing violence,” stated Molly Sheridan, Girl Scout Ambassador, who traveled on a Destination to India in summer 2019.
“My journey made me see the world differently,” said Aubri Matthews, Girl Scout Cadette, of her Destinations trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Girl Scout Senior, Danielle Knudson, says, “After my Destinations trip, I want to try new things that might scare me. I want to find new activities to challenge myself.”
Ready to go?
If you’re wondering how to afford all of this travel, don’t fret! Travel Scholarships are available for girls who have been accepted onto a Girl Scout Destination.
An unknown adventure awaited eight Girl Scout Cadettes and Seniors on winter 2019’s Choose Your Own Adventure trip!
What is Choose Your Own Adventure?
Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) is a girl-led trip, planned and executed by Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts. The girls can plan to venture to places like o Milwaukee, WI; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; or Starved Rock, IL! Or if they’d like they can keep it close to home with a Chicago adventure!
Whatever a group chooses to do, this is their own girl-led adventure where they will practice budgeting, planning and personalizing their own 3-day trip!
In January 2019, girls had multiple options of travel destinations to choose from for their voyage, but their plans were thwarted by a snowstorm. Together at Camp Greene Wood, the girls met for a night of bonding, planning, and budgeting for their Midwest 3-day trip. Then, they hit the road for their girl-led adventure!
Read on to hear a first-hand account of from our Girl Scouts regarding their Illinois journey.
Girl Scouts Make Do
By Kelsey, Megan, and Anya
We had a couple of options of places to travel to on the trip; however, the weather foiled our plans, so we decided to stay in Naperville. On Friday night, we stayed over at camp, bonded, planned our activities together and decided what we wanted to do over the weekend.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, we started our adventure by going snow tubing at the Blackwell Forest Preserve. It was very cold, but we had a lot of fun! After we went tubing, we went back to camp to pick-up our belongings and finalize our plans. We went to downtown Naperville and enjoyed lunch at Everdine’s Grilled Cheese. Afterwards, we explored downtown and had fun shopping and eating cookie dough. At night, we went to the Chicago Premium Outlets to shop and eat dinner.
We had so much fun on our first day of travel on the 2019 Girl Scouts Choose Your Own Adventure Trip! And while it wasn’t the initial trip we had in mind, we made the most of our time and had a blast exploring parts of the Chicago-land area we hadn’t been to!
Lasers and Laughs
By Lucy, Ava, and Adelina
Our second day was eventful! We did so many exciting activities. After breakfast, the group challenged each other to a couple rounds of laser tag. We played arcade games in between rounds and met other players!
After having a blast at laser tag, we ate a delicious lunch at Gemato’s Wood Pit BBQ. At first, we planned to swim at the Vaughan Aquatic Center in the afternoon, but after thinking it through as a group, we decided to go bowling instead. The bowling alley was packed with tons of people, but we had so much more fun than we expected! For dinner after bowling, we headed back to the hotel and ordered food for a fun “dinner-in-bed.”
Our last activity of the day was a super fun escape room. Half of our group did an Indiana Jones themed room, which gave them quite a scare! The other half of the group did a Sherlock Holmes themed room, and they escaped with 32 seconds remaining! After the escape rooms, we treated ourselves to some sweets at Baskin Robbins. To end our fun-filled day, we drove back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
American Ninja Girl Scout
By Calla and Rain
We had a lovely third day together. After waking up and starting our day, we headed downstairs for breakfast. Then, we headed to a place called Urban Air, where we jumped on trampolines, and made our way through a ropes course and an obstacle course that reminded us of American Ninja Warrior.
Later, we had lunch at Portillo’s together. After we finished lunch, we went to a movie theater and watched the new movie called A Dog’s Way Home. Finally, we made our way back to camp, where we parted ways and said goodbyes, then headed home with our parents and guardians.
Aspire to Adventure!
The world is your playground; where will you explore today? Where will you dream of conquering tomorrow?
Girl Scouts offers many travel opportunities to help girls to aspire to adventure. Whether it’s overnight camping trips, international voyages, or troop stay-cations, Girl Scouts are expanding their horizons.