Destinations Spotlight: Space Camp

Destinations Spotlight: Space Camp

It was Saint Augustine who wrote “The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.” So why not open a new chapter?

While Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana provides amazing travel opportunities, for those interested in different travel experiences should explore Girl Scouts Destinations. Girl Scout Destinations are the ultimate adventure for individual girls ages 11 and older! With different trips every year, there’s something exciting for every individual. You will not only acquire new life-changing experiences, but you will also make friends from all over the country as you travel with Girl Scouts from different states.

This past summer, some of the girls in our council went on their own Destinations adventures; three of our Girl Scouts participated in Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center in Hunstville, Alabama, one to the Costa Rica rainforest and one all the way to Europe! We hope you enjoy the stories from Space Camp attendees Maysa, Simone and Emma and become inspired to take a trip yourself.

Maysa

On June 17th, I flew to Huntsville, Alabama to attend Space Academy at the US Space and Rocket Center. I am so glad I found out about this camp thanks to Girl Scouts Destinations. From the activities and missions to the trivia and fun facts, Space Academy was a great opportunity and the experience inspired me to see space careers differently and take action to make the world a better place.

During my week at Space Academy I was involved in so many exciting projects including space missions, rocket launching, and special theme nights. I had two space missions; a lunar mission and an orbiter mission. During the lunar mission, I was in the Orion capsule as LMS 6. During the orbiter mission, I was in mission control in the position FOO. The missions were very important learning experiences and we earned points for Commanders Cup based on our team’s successful execution of them. The missions helped me understand the importance of the different roles individuals play in a space mission and also the tremendous responsibility one takes on to fill these roles. We also launched rockets that we built and designed in groups of four. This project helped us get to know our teammates and be creative. My teammates were sister Girl Scouts from all over the world. They came from many different places, including New Zealand, Canada, and almost every region of the U.S. With us all being Girl Scouts on a Destinations trip, we got to do a special swap party that allowed us to get to know each other and share some special things about where we all came from.

Going to Space Academy inspired me to see something differently. Specifically, before this destinations trip, I had no idea of the many careers in space exploration and at NASA beyond being an engineer or astronaut! There are all kinds of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) careers that are needed at NASA, including chemists, botanists, even teachers! My destinations trip to the US Space and Rocket Center inspired me to continue to take action as a Girl Scout and as a student who loves math and science. Taking action in this case means taking advantage of every opportunity available for me to learn all I can about STEM. Currently, I aspire to be a biochemist. As a biochemist, I would make the world a better place with my work by exploring chemical compounds and molecules of different organisms and how they react in various combinations. Biochemists have very important jobs that include research to find cures for diseases as well as solving simpler problems like how to make safer and more effective beauty products.

I am very grateful for the scholarship that helped make this Destinations trip possible for me. Thanks to Girl Scouts, I continue to be inspired to follow my dreams. I would love to do another Destination and see what else I can learn and discover. Learn more about the scholarship here.

Simone

For my destination, I went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. The trip taught me many things about outer space, the devices used in space, and what people do there. Prior to this trip, I thought the only people who went into space were astronauts who collected different samples and  bring them back to earth. Now that I was able to experience space camp, I learned that people who go into space are scientist who doesn’t just collect samples, but actually do experiments and others from different fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) also get to go into space. This trip has allowed me to see things as a puzzle and each person/item is a piece.

Once again THANK YOU for this wonderful opportunity.

Emma

This trip inspired me to see different careers of the women in STEM careers. Before, I used to think that it was great that we had so many women in the STEM field, but it wasn’t until my trip to Space Camp that I got a better understanding of their careers and learned about my passion for mine.

Now, because of all the smart women I met, I realize, that it is good that we have so many women in STEM, but we need more. The Space Program in the U.S.A could benefit so much from having more women involved. So many women, in history (from the Space Program), played a pivotal role in helping the U.S. get to the moon and beyond. Some examples are Katherine Goble Johnson and Mary Sherman Morgan. I feel that with more women in NASA, the program will speed up, and help us to get to Mars and beyond much sooner!

If you’re interested in going on a Destination, check out the GSUSA website.

Learn more about the 2019 Space Camp Destination, click here.

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A Girl Scout’s Account of Her First Destination

A Girl Scout’s Account of Her First Destination

Girl Scout Lucianna A., 13 years old, describes her first Destination. She attended the trip “3…2…1…Happy New Year from Mexico” during winter break 2017. She was one of a group of girls from the United States who met girls from around the world at Our Cabaña, the WAGGGS World Centre.

Destinations2As a young adult, I was extremely excited to take part in this trip because it would pretty much start my journey around the world. Being at Our Cabaña opened my eyes to so many other cultures and I made some international friends of course! Going to Our Cabaña was something I thought I’d never do. My experience helped me understand cultural differences and what it really means to be a part of WAGGGS. Meeting international friends taught me to respect cultural differences and know what is also in other countries.

Destinations3This trip has made me live in the present because having to leave after the short time I spent on the trip. The friends I made on this trip made me want to visit more countries around the world and obviously see them again. Staying at Our Cabaña really made me see that there are many people who can only speak a non-English language and this surprised me because so many people are bilingual/trilingual in the U.S. My Destination experience really made me curious on what I could see if I traveled more. I can’t wait to do a Destination again and experience more!

Destinations are trips for individual Girl Scouts from across the nation. With a ton of different trips to apply for every year, there’s something amazing for everyone to experience. You decide where to travel—whether it’s Morocco, Madison, or New Mexico—then fill out the application using this information.

NOTE: Application deadline extended to Feb. 1, 2018.

Get to Know…Your Friendly Senior Manager of Travel Programs: Ashley Christensen

Get to Know…Your Friendly Senior Manager of Travel Programs: Ashley Christensen

When I stepped off the plane in Beijing in May 2004, during my sophomore year of college, I knew that I was destined to live in China someday. That month-long study abroad throughout China and Hong Kong changed my life forever.

Not only did it inspire me to be more globally aware and a worldwide, lifelong traveler, it was the catalyst to me living in Hong Kong. Two college degrees, two elementary teaching positions, and six years later, I stepped off another plane, this time in Hong Kong.

I was carrying a bundle of nerves along with my three giant suitcases. Of course I was nervous about living in this strange world, but I was doing it all alone which increased my worry tenfold. Even though I got lost on innumerable occasions, had a hard time making friends at first, and missed my friends and family back home like crazy, this was an adventure that I had chosen and was excited about.

It took me many months to find my confidence. One month to go to a coffee shop and actually eat there by myself, not just take it and run back to the safety of my tiny apartment. Two months to go a movie alone. Three months to make my first real friend outside of the school where I taught. Four months to stop crying to my parents every week on our weekly Skype dates (this was before smartphones, mind you!).

And yet I found my confidence. For that, I am really grateful. Not only did I survive those first few hard months, I flourished for my nearly two years there. Hong Kong helped me to become a published writer, a certified yoga instructor, a world traveler (country #28 was ticked off in September!), and a confident, brave woman.

At first, I was honestly so worried about doing any single thing alone. “How in the world will I ever meet a friend if I can’t even leave the house?” I often asked myself. Then one day, I grew the gumption. I was gonna do it! I went by myself, of course, to see one of my now all-time favorite sites: Ten Thousand Buddhas. I’d been putting it out into the universe that I wanted to make a new friend, and lo and behold on this day that I’d shoved myself outside of my apartment, I met a friend.

I titled my blog post that day “Ten Thousand Buddhas and One New Friend.” From there, my social life skyrocketed. I have been in a friend from Hong Kong’s wedding, traveled to several countries with others after moving back to Illinois, and have Whatsapped for hours on end. In fact, one friend is even visiting Chicago as I type this!

Ten Thousand Buddhas
Ten Thousand Buddhas, Hong Kong

Not only was I changed during those two years, I often look back at my time in Hong Kong and the difference I made with my students. By profession, I’m an elementary school teacher, so I was able to teach third grade at an American school. When I went back to Hong Kong in 2016 to visit, I went to my school and saw some of my former students.

I wish I had a video camera recording their faces the day when they realized who I was; their faces of surprise and excitement were priceless. It still makes me teary-eyed thinking about the kids whose lives I impacted. On my birthday in September, I received an email from a former student wishing me a “Happy Birthday” from Hong Kong! I hadn’t seen this girl in five years!

Hong Kong students
Visiting my students in Hong Kong, December 2016

Some of my fondest memories of my time in Hong Kong are with my students, first in our tiny, dripping classroom, and then to the new school. Though I am no longer a teacher, I still hope that in my current position at the Girl Scouts planning travel opportunities, I am able to make a difference in the lives of the girls.

I hope that through this work I can inspire these girls to be more globally aware and worldwide, lifelong travelers. Maybe, someday, these girls, too, will take that first step off the plane and just know, “Someday, I’m gonna live here!”

Girl Scouts in Mexico
With Girl Scouts in Mexico, August 2017

Learn more about the travel programs Ashley plans at girlscoutsgcnwi.org

What I Learned from Traveling as a Girl Scout

What I Learned from Traveling as a Girl Scout

The following is a guest post from Girl Scout Lillian H…

The Eyes to the Skies Destination at Camp WaBak in Marietta, South Carolina has inspired me to do things differently in many ways. One of those ways is to always look up, because you never know what you might see. Another one is to try new things, even if you think you won’t like them at first. Finally, don’t be afraid to mess up or fail, everyone makes mistakes.

During the solar eclipse, we all thought that the sky was going to remain cloudy during totality. However, when it reached totality we all looked up and the clouds had parted.

Even when it was cloudy we all kept looking for changes in the environment. On the brink of totality an owl flew from the woods surrounding us to a secluded pine tree.

At this destination, at least for me being from Illinois, there were tons of new opportunities. We all went for barbecue, I tried hush puppies for the first time. There was a flight simulator at the Challenger Learning Center, I was a little scared at first, but it turned out to be tons of fun. Trying new things will never be a disappointing opportunity to experience.

There were a lot of things that I messed up on. We made bottle rockets out of two two-liter bottles, mine wasn’t the best but I wouldn’t necessarily say that it failed. We also did creek walking and I have to say, that’s the one thing that I messed up. Once we had gotten to the waterfall I slipped and fell into the knee deep water and skinned my knee on a stone. After that I had tons of fun wading in the ankle deep water with some of my new friends.

This destination has really taught me to always look up, try new things, and not to be afraid of messing up.

 

If you’d like to learn more about our council’s travel opportunities, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Traveling with Troop 50384

Traveling with Troop 50384

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The following is a guest post from members of Girl Scout Troop 50834…

Recently, our troop traveled all throughout Europe visiting London, Paris and Barcelona. The trip was very interesting. We were able to see many famous landmarks: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Tower of London, Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, La Sagrada Familia.

We also saw famous people: Queen Elizabeth, Prince Edward, Prince Charles, Camilla – Duchess of Cornwall, Felipe VI and Letizia – King and Queen of Spain. We also enjoyed seeing the play Wicked in London, it was amazing! We were able to meet one of the actors after the show.

Wicked

We rode the train everywhere we went and met different cultures of people from around the world; we also saw many different currencies. We visited PAX Lodge in London and received a Girl Scout pin. The Spanish markets had so many different foods and the crepes in France were fabulous! It was a trip of a lifetime that we will always remember.

Savannah

We also went to Savannah, Georgia. Getting the opportunity to experience the history of how Girl Scouts began was amazing. We were accompanied by another Girl Scout troop from Kansas during our time there as well.

Some of the highlights of our trip were visiting the birthplace of the Girl Scout founder, Juliette Gordon Low, and learning about how she interacted with and helped girls. Other high points were going on a dolphin cruise on Tybee Island and collecting seashells on the beach. We had a great time discovering our Girl Scout history and more about each other.

If you’d like to learn more about our council’s travel opportunities, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Your donation of any amount can help girls continue to experience adventure!
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You-and-Me: The First Step in Travel Progression

You-and-Me: The First Step in Travel Progression

You-and-Me on Mackinac Island 2018 marks the fifth Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana-sponsored trip to the Michigan island.

During this three-day, two-night adventure, Girl Scout Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes travel with their mom, grandma or favorite female adult friend for a fun-filled weekend adventure. The total price of the trip is approximately $350 per person which includes coach bus, accommodation, multiple meals and activities.

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The trip takes place from Aug. 5-7, 2018, and the group stays at the iconic Mission Point Resort in shared accommodation. Group activities include a horse-drawn carriage ride, butterfly house and admission to Fort Mackinac.

Girl Scouts and their family members get a full afternoon and evening to explore – whether that’s renting a bike to circle the 8.3 miles around the island, horseback riding, eating free fudge samples or shopping.

Following the success of GSGCNWI’s You-and-Me on Mackinac Island, the council has now added a second You-and-Me option in Door County, Wisconsin. Travel dates for this new opportunity are June 24-26, 2018.

Door County

Again, Girl Scout Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes travel with their mom, grandma or favorite female adult friend for a three-day, two-night adventure. The total cost of the trip is approximately $275 per person, and includes coach bus, accommodation, multiple meals and activities.

Door County Trolley

The group will take part in a trolley tour, guided hike at the Ridges Sanctuary and a boat tour. There will also be free-time to explore the towns of Egg Harbor and Sister Bay. Accommodation is shared-suites at Newport Resort in Egg Harbor.

Registration for both trips closes on January 31, 2018 and requires a $150 deposit. You can register for the Mackinac Island trip here and register for the Door County trip here.

If you’d like to learn more about our council’s travel opportunities, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Girl Scouts Visit Our Cabaña in Mexico

Girl Scouts Visit Our Cabaña in Mexico

Ever wonder what it’s like to travel with Girl Scouts? In this guest blog post, members of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana share their experience at Nuestra Cabaña in Mexico…

Mexico 2

Day One

Greetings from Mexico! This is Gillion (Joliet, IL) and Leianna (Chicago, IL) writing to you all. Today, we went to Plaza De Las Tres Cultras and we learned about the history of the Mexican government and why it is important to the Mexican culture.

When we went to Teotihuacan we learned that it is the “City of Gods” and there is a plant that gave the Aztecs the basic needs (paper, soap, needle and thread). We also learned that they made their blankets and sweaters out of the cactus fibers. We then went to the Teotihuacan (pyramids). The majority of the girls walked up and down the pyramids, and let us tell you; the view was beautiful. There were shops throughout the pyramids (technically called temples) that sold bracelets, shirts, shoes, etc.

Then we went for lunch at a buffet where a mariachi band played for us. Our tour guide Marco sang a song for us and he had a beautiful voice. After lunch we went to the Nueva Basilica de Guadalupe (the Shrine of the Virgin Mary). We visited the old and new shrine then walked into the chapel. When we were just about to leave the shrine, it was pouring rain. When it calmed down, only by 10 percent, we ran to our cars to head for dinner. We had a ton of fun at dinner. Last, but not least, we got churros to end our night. Overall, our day was very long, but it was all worth it in the end.

Mexico 3

Day Two

Greeting from Ticalli! This is your amigas Nina and Taryn. We had a jam packed day full of fun. To start our day we went to Xochimilco and rode on a boat through the last Aztec canal in Ciudad de Mexico. Xochimilco is known for its floating gardens and is a colorful burst of Mexican culture. While on the boat we enjoyed elote, quesadillas, and many vendors showing off their trade. We used our new-found bartering skill, courtesy of Jan, to get the best deal!

Afterwards, we travelled to Coyoacan where we enjoyed a lunch of tostadas and aqua de fruta. From there we walked to Casa Azul, the home of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, and her husband Diego Rivera. While we were there, we learned more about the difficult and painful life that Frida endured and how it inspired many of her famous works. Inside the house there is not only many beautiful works of art, but also articles of her clothing and other remnants of her life.

On our way to the restaurant, we stopped to take pictures at “Alas de la Ciudad,” “The Wings of the City.” When we arrived to the restaurant, we saw the locked doors and the vacant restaurant, so we made other plans. The brave Jodi Lynn and Ashley ventured through the thunderstorm to get us our delicious pizza. Although the day was filled with twists and turns, it ended with lots of laughter, smiles, and beautiful memories.

Mexico 4

Day Three

This is Jordan (Green Bay, WI) and Gillion again writing to you from Our Cabaña in Cuernavaca, Mexico! Today we woke up and ate breakfast at Ticalli, like usual and then went to Zocalo, a large town square in Mexico CIty. There is the Palacio Nacional, the Gran Hotel, and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Then, walked to a restaurant near by to eat lunch. After lunch, we drove near Central Alameda Park and the Fine Art Museum to get back to Ticalli in time to get picked up to head to Our Cabaña. When we arrived, we got a tour of the World Center and ate dinner. After dinner we played games with all 60 girls staying with us to get to know them. It was a day filled with fun activities and meeting many new people.

Our Cabana

Day Four

This is Jenna (Wisconsin) and Jaelyn (Virginia) coming to you live from Our Cabaña. Today we woke up and had breakfast. We then participated in team building activities where we met girls from all around the world. At lunch we got to try the best chocolate flan cake ever. We then played a real life version of chutes and ladders. We were split up into groups and went to different stations; some of the stations were Our Cabaña trivia, Mexican food, camping tips, Day of the Dead (face painting), and water activities. Some of the girls also worked on a challenge to earn a limited edition patch for the 60th anniversary of Our Cabaña. After dinner we had a campfire and sung campfire songs.

Day Five

Hola! This is Kate (Lewisvile, NC) reporting on the activities of this past day. Today, the entire camp ran activity stations for the kids of a local orphanage, boys and girls ages 3-12. Our table held the materials to design your own paper plate sun catcher, complete with sequins, colored cellophane bits, and stickers. LOTS of stickers. Later into the day, the majority of us split off with one child to have fun hula-hooping, eating popsicles, and dancing our hearts out.

After we said “Adios,” our group set off in shifts to a nearby mall, only 25 minutes away by walking. We didn’t find much, but our leaders did find a McDonald’s – a MEXICAN McDonald’s. We wrapped up the evening with games that the whole center played, Jenga, Head’s Up, a clapping concentration game, and a round of Bang where the leaders (Mrs. Machota) were especially trigger-happy. As I am writing this, Nieve, the camp cat, has claimed Ms. Christensen’s lap for herself, and is working on a campaign for her laptop bag. We will continue the war front updates tomorrow. Cheers!

Mexico waterfalls

Day Six

This is Caroline (Boston) and Sierra (Iowa) writing to you from Our Cabaña. After a rushed breakfast, we headed out on an adventure with our group, girls from Pennsylvania, and girls from an island in the Caribbean. We took a bus and a truck to Mil Cascadas (the site of the waterfalls) then hiked the rest of the way. There were seven waterfalls of varying heights that could be attempted.

Every girl hiked and most jumped at least one. The tallest was 10 meters and the shortest was 2 meters. The instructors were helpful with getting our equipment (helmets and life jackets), steadying us along the way, and guiding us once we were in the water. No one hit a rock, but there was at least one accidental belly flop. Following the jumping, we had lunch by the water then hiked back. We saw lots of donkeys, horses, and cows on our journey. Some locals were even waterfall jumping too. Lots of girls took advantage of the ride back by taking naps.

Day Seven

Writing to you is Sophia (California) and Zuri (Pennsylvania) live and in stereo. This morning, we had a buffet-style breakfast. Then at 10 a.m., we boarded a tour bus to drive to a cathedral in downtown Cuernavaca where we learned the history of the location and Hernan Cortez.

Then, we had free time to go shopping at the local craft market where girls bought authentic Mexican items such as hammocks, dresses, and handmade bags. We arrived at Our Cabaña at 1:30 p.m. where we had a delicious lunch which was followed by a fun-filled pool party. Later this evening, we had a traditional dinner and a Nuestra Cabaña scavenger hunt. Now we are off to bed awaiting the 60th Anniversary party tomorrow.

Mexico 5

Day Eight

Hola, it’s Taryn and Sierra writing to you about yesterday. The morning started off with an optional trip to the local pyramids called Teopanzolco. Girls could walk there or have a free morning. After returning, we came back for lunch. The 60th anniversary party was in the afternoon. Girls got dressed up in party clothes.

There were super fun arcade games, a cute photo booth with costumes and props, a piñata filled with traditional Mexican candy, Spanish, American, British, and Brazilian music, and lots of high energy dancing. During dinner there was even a mariachi band. They brought in caterers for dinner with traditional Mexican food- tacos, elotes, quesadillas, etc. To end the party, girls jumped fully clothed into the swimming pool.

Day Nine

This is Leianna (Chicago) and Celina (Missouri) writing to you all about our day. Today we worked on our scrapbook page for the Cabaña’s scrapbook. The book is basically full of all the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides that have visited the Cabaña. Then we planned out our international night swaps. We practiced our song and a brief sentence about each of our swaps. Then we had free time to do what we wanted like swim or go to the craft house.

The Cabaña had set up two programs for us to choose from. One was about self-confidence and the other was about types of violence. The classes they set up for us was to learn different views of what goes on in today’s society. When dinner time came the leaders left for dinner. The Girl Scouts stayed at the Cabaña to eat dinner and play capture the flag with the volunteers. All the girls are really enjoying themselves and don’t want to leave just yet.

If you’d like to learn more about our council’s travel opportunities, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.