Girl Scout Adventure in India: Part 2

Girl Scouts from across the US recently spent two weeks adventuring in the gorgeous cities of Pune, Delhi, and Mumbai, India to connect with their sister Girl Guides (WAGGGS) and Girl Scouts. On the second half of their journey, the girls met with international community partners, tried out “laughing yoga”, and visited the Taj Majal!

Read the second part of their trip below, and find out how you can travel with the Girl Scouts!

International Connections

The girls had the incredible opportunity to visit one of Sangam’s community partners, MAHER, an organization whose work spans across India and aims at providing support, resources, and homes for women, children, the elderly, and the mentally ill, especially those who are victims of violence. During their visit, they learned about MAHER’s efforts in family reunification and social services for the disadvantaged.

One of their most moving experiences in India was their visit to another community organization, a cafe called Sheroes run by survivors of acid attacks. During their visit, they watched a documentary about the survivors, and the girls chose to donate to the cafe to help their efforts stopping acid attacks and limiting accessibility to acid.

Though learning about systemic violence is challenging and discomforting, it is imperative to the development of Girl Scouts to educate themselves on issues like these. Through their contributions and their conversations with the people at Sheroes and MAHER, the girls gained a deeper comprehension of the injustices towards women and children globally. By meeting with these organizations, the girls became empowered to take action and make their own contributions to struggling populations in their local and global community.

Explorations and Education

The cross-cultural ties continued as the girls completed the Pune Leadership Challenge, exploring different parts of the city and completing an assortment of quiz questions. The girls later celebrated with an Indian afternoon: they learned how to tie Sarees, paint henna, and play Indian games. For dinner, they had an Indian wedding feast, and finished off the evening with a dancing class. By honoring and participating in these diverse cultural traditions, the Girl Scouts were able to see the links between their world and the world abroad.

Along with these different impactful experiences, the girls embarked on several adventures: water-tower climbing, “laughing yoga,” and visits to the biggest Mosque in India—Taj-ul-Masjid, a beautiful tomb, and an exquisite Sikh Gurudwara (a Sikh place of worship).

On their last full day of sightseeing, the girls started their four-hour voyage to Agra, the city where the Taj Mahal is located. They visited the Red Fort, a cultural landmark surrounded by a deep moat, holding a multitude of palace-like buildings influenced by Persian and Islamic architecture. The Red Fort was partially designed by the man who built the Taj Majal. Their next stop was the Mehtab Bagh (“Moonlit Garden”), where the girls took pictures in front of the close-up view of the Taj Mahal.

Finally, the girls made it to the Taj Mahal, where they explored the beautiful wonder of the world and took several hundreds of pictures.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

The girls are back home, and we are so happy to share their experiences and photos with the Girl Scouts of Chicago and Northwestern Indiana.

We hope by sharing stories like these that more girls will be encouraged to explore this giant, beautiful world. We hope Girl Scouts continue to practice cultural empathy and appreciation. More importantly, we hope girls become inspired to take action and make positive contributions to the world, whether in their own neighborhood, or places far, far away.

Learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

Read Part 1 of their India Adventure on the blog now!

Girl Scout Adventure in India: Part 1

This summer, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts from across the U.S. embarked on an incredibly exciting voyage across the sea to India to visit Sangam, a center affiliated with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). From unexpected bus mishaps and interacting with locals, to riding rickshaws, these Girl Scouts experienced an unforgettable journey; one, they want to share with you all!

Read the story of their India trip below, then learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

The First Days

After two days of bonding and exploring in Chicago, the group hopped on a 16-hour flight to Mumbai, something none of the girls had experienced before! Once they landed, the girls boarded a bus to take them to Sangam. Even after their long flight, their trip didn’t come without additional challenges. On the way there, they realized the road was closed, but, just like the resourceful Girl Scouts they are, the girls decided to ride rickshaws through the neighborhoods in Pune to their destination.

Upon arriving in Pune, they tasted delicious food, met and interacted with the locals, then visited ancient temples and a Punjabi fabric market. The Girl Scouts also practiced yoga, embroidery, painting, and explored the vibrant city around them. The girls met with local Nivedita Guides—local area Girl Guides—together, they sang and danced; teaching the WAGGGS Girls the “Cotton Eye Joe” line dance and in-turn learning a traditional Bollywood dance.

Serving a Community Internationally

After visiting holy temples in Alandi and Tulapur, the girls traveled to an organization called Ishwari—a Sangam community partner. The girls worked with Ishwari to help local women create crafts like embroidery, cards, and food, in order to make money to support their families.

Why Travel?

Experiences like these are so important for Girl Scouts, not only because they get to see different parts of the world, but different parts of humanity. International travel and cross-cultural exchange is good for the soul!

Learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

The journey continues: Part 2 coming soon!

Related Travel Blogs

Dreaming About Travel

Best Ways to Research Your Girl Scout Trip in the Mind of Gen Z

Why You Should Try Backpacking on Your Next Travel Adventure!

Fund Your Girl Scout Travels

A WAGGGS Adventure in Mexico

By Kim DeWitt, Global Action Volunteer

Kim (top left) and her troop.

In November 1975, I had the opportunity to visit Our Cabaña, one of the WAGGGS (Girl Scouts is part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) World Centers located in Cuernavaca, Mexico. My fellow Girl Scouts at Mitten Bay Council (now Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan) planned out trip to the center established in 1957, about 50 miles outside of Mexico City. We were incredibly excited to not only venture out of the United States, but also to have the opportunity to meet Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world. Although I don’t remember everything about the trip, it certainly was an experience of a lifetime and began a lifelong interest in travel! 

Planning for Mexico

We started planning the trip a year earlier using funds we gained from many money-earning activities. We sold crafts we had made at a number of craft fairs; I especially remember decoupage soap – think I may still have a bar somewhere! We also hosted Sarah Coventry jewelry parties. The estimated cost of the trip was $462 (about $2,000 today) and as a troop, we collectively worked hard to achieve our goal of traveling to Mexico. 

By the time we were ready to leave, I was a sophomore in high school. We had planned our trip to take place during the school year so we all got to miss school.

For most of us, it was our first airplane trip. We flew to Mexico City and visited a number of the tourist sites, including the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, meaning the “Place of Flowers”. One of the more memorable sites was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was amazing to watch some of the parishioners crawl on their knees on the cobbled stone to the entry of the Basilica as a means of giving thanks. 

Learn more about My Cabaña

Hello Our Cabaña!

Then we were off to Cuernavaca. I remember Our Cabaña as having many flowers and great food. Trying the local cuisine, like pigeon, was a new and exciting experience—also delicious. During our time at Our Cabaña we met Girl Guides from other parts of the world including Mexico and El Salvador. We also volunteered at an orphanage. And we visited the city of Taxco, a city heavily associated with silver. We all bought souvenirs to take back home.

At the time, a trip to Mexico was quite unusual and we were in the newspaper several times before and after the trip. Back in 1975, it wasn’t that common to take an airplane trip out of the country (or in the US for that matter) especially for high school students. The fact that we were going to Mexico was a big deal especially in our smaller council in Michigan.  Amazingly, I had saved most of the mementos from the trip in a travel bag we received from the airline – a trip that truly was the experience of a lifetime. 

I encourage EVERY Girl Scout to travel to a new place with their troop or even on their own. Girl Scouts of GCNWI has amazing travel opportunities both nationally and internationally, and Girl Scouts USA has Destinations!—for those individual adventure seekers!

Kim and her fellow Cadettes at My Cabaña 1975

Travel with Girl Scouts

Learn more about the WAGGGS World Centres here, and more about how you can visit Our Cabana here.

GSGCNWI hosted a trip to Our Cabana in 2017; see more about our trip here.

Check out the GCNWI travel page for more information on how to plan your own trip or join a council-sponsored trip!

Best Ways to Research Your Girl Scout Trip in the Mind of Gen Z

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 overwhelming!

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!)

  1. Google
  2. YouTube
  3. Pinterest
  4. Blogs
  5. Travel Guides
  6. Instagram
Madison at Machu Picchu

Google

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!

YouTube

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

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!”

Blogs

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!

Travel Guides

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!

Instagram

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!


You can also read more about our Global Action Volunteer Team! Check our Blog 1 and Blog 2 now! And read our other travel blogs about backpacking and study abroad!

Daydreaming About Travel? Study Abroad

By Maureen Ewing

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!

Future Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, if you want to try your hand at camping and experiencing another part of the world, apply for the Camping in the UK 2020 trip!

Why You Should Try Backpacking on Your Next Travel Adventure!

Why You Should Try Backpacking on Your Next Travel Adventure!

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.

Alex at the Great Wall of China.

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!

Alex staying in a hostel.

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!

Future Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, if you want to try your hand at camping and experiencing another part of the world, apply for the Camping in the UK 2020 trip!


Global Action Volunteer Team: Who We Are Part 2

The Global Action Volunteer Team (GAVT) is a group of volunteers who LOVE all things global and travel. They’ve traveled extensively locally, nationally and internationally with Girl Scouts and on their own. The team is here to serve the members of GSGCNWI to make global, cultural and travel experiences fun and accessible to our entire Girl Scout community. These adults are here to help you every step of the way, ensuring you are ready for your next adventure.

We interviewed each of the volunteers and asked them for their tips and tricks when it comes to local, national and international travel. Here are some of our favorite local destinations and where we’re headed next!

Madison in Peru.

1. What’s your favorite local destination (no flights involved)? ? 

Fawna: I like going to Milwaukee and exploring the lakefront there. The Garfield Park Conservatory and all of the beautiful parks in Chicago are also great places to visit.

Maureen: I love the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I enjoy wandering around the various gardens and photographing the flowers in bloom. I especially love the English Walled Garden and the Japanese Garden

Clarissa by a gorgeous waterfall.

Clarissa: I love to visit Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in DuPage County. I can hike for hours off-trail, climb up muddy walls, trek through water, and enjoy the peace and quiet. Sometimes I run, walk my dog, take my family, or take my Girl Scout troop. 

Camille: I grew up in Northern Indiana so my favorite place(s) to go are the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Warren Dunes in Michigan. I like to hike up and down the woodland trails and along the beach. In the winter you can sled down the dunes in Michigan, the fall has the colored leaves and the summer the beach.

Karen: My favorite local destinations are Traverse City, MI, Milwaukee WI, and Saugatuck, MI. 

2. Where are you going next? 

Shari: Our next three trips are Portland, OR, NYC and Montreal, QC.  We haven’t planned much yet. We’ll spend time on the coast in Oregon, horseback ride in the mountains and sight see with friends who live there. In NYC, we’ll see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, tour some attractions, hang out with some friends and then drive to Niagara Falls. We’re not certain about Montreal yet.

Alex: Germany! Road tripping around the country. 

Madison: This summer, I’ll head to Paris, London, Madrid, and Lisbon for work! I’ll be kicking off our international internship programs and consulting programs in all four cities!

Fawna on one of her many adventures.

Kimberly: My next vacation will be to Arizona/Utah – to see Antelope Canyon, Bryce and of course the Grand Canyon!  Plan to spend some time hiking, relaxing by the hotel and maybe take a helicopter ride if I get gutsy. 

Rosy: Southeast Asia – I plan to visit Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore for my birthday!

Clarissa: My family are going to Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize, to enjoy the local culture, scuba dive in the Blue Hole in Belize, ride on speed boats between countries, and swim in the ocean and cenotes (a natural sinkhole). 

Maureen: Summer of 2019 will be busy for me. I’ll be traveling to India and Scotland. In India, I’ll be co-leading a Destination to the WAGGGS World Center, Sangam, and we’ll be heading to the Taj Mahal at the end of the trip. In Scotland, I will travel through the Highlands, see friends, and celebrate with family. 

Camille: For Spring Break our family is planning a trip to the San Francisco Bay area to see the sights and visit relatives.  We are planning on going to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Monterey Bay Aquarium, ride a trolley car and hopefully hit a baseball game.

Fawna: I’m going to Ireland! I am going see the Giant’s Causeway, Cliffs of Moher, Kilkenny Castle and the cities of Dublin, Belfast, and Galway.

Karen: I’m going to Savannah, GA. I’m going to do the polar plunge on New Year’s Day on Tybee Island (and other fun stuff). 

Shari on one of her many family adventures.

Interested in taking your own adventure?

Learn more about traveling with Girl Scouts GCNWI

Plan your trip with Girl Scouts Destinations!

Are you an adult interested in becoming a GAVT Member? APPLY NOW!

Girls can ALSO join GAVT! Email Ashley at achristensen@girlscoutsgcnwi.org for more information.