Choose Your Own Adventure 2019 and 2020!

A Choose Your Own Adventure trip (CYOA) allows Girl Scouts the chance to plan a trip from start to finish, including

  • Choosing where they want to travel;
  • Planning an itinerary;
  • Mapping skills;
  • Transportation—how to get there and how to get around;
  • and Budgeting.

GCNWI has offered a Choose Your Own Adventure trip for the past three years, and we’ve gone to such fun places like Indianapolis, IN, Milwaukee, WI and Madison, WI! This year, we stayed close to home because of a snow-storm, but the girls turned the trip around! Read their story!

Girls that went on these trips met on a Friday night at Camp Greene Wood and were given options on where to travel. They picked the destination that night and were off on the road the next morning! From playing laser tag to visiting museums, jelly bean factories, and historic homes, a lot of fun was had by all! Not only did the Girl Scouts choose the group’s activities, they decided on accommodations (a hostel in Indianapolis), restaurants, and even how to get around town.

Coming Up This Year!

GCNWI will be hosting two CYOA trips this year: Choose Your Own Adventure: Chicago Style, and Choose Your Own Adventure: Midwest Style!

Chicago Style

For the Chicago trip, Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts will meet and stay the night at Hostelling International-Chicago and have the choice of where in the city they want to go. Will they choose to visit the Bean, walk around the Art Institute, or take a city tour? Maybe they’ll visit cultural neighborhoods like Chinatown or Pilsen! Whatever they choose to do, the girls are sure to have a great time!

Register for the November 10-11, 2019 trip here!

Midwest Style

For the Midwest trip, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts will have four options within the Midwest from which to choose, including Milwaukee, WI; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; or Starved Rock, IL! The group will decide their adventure location Friday night at Camp Greene Wood and then head out Saturday morning.

Register for the January 17-20, 2020 trip here!

Making It Happen

Can’t make one of these council-sponsored trips? Your troop can plan their own! GCNWI created a CYOA resource guide with the steps you can take, trip planning resources, itinerary templates, and info on how to create a budget. Check out that resource here!

Want more info about how to plan your own trip, or how to join one of ours? Email Ashley at
Check out our travel page, too!

Gold Award Spotlight: Meet the 2019 Recipients, Part 6!

Girl Scouts can do incredible things–– 80 young women from the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana area proved that.

Individually, the girls tackled issues they couldn’t ignore. Together, they make quite an impressive group of changemakers.

With over 6,400 service hours combined, these Girl Scouts earned their Gold Awards, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, and exemplified the passion and determination required to make a difference.

Continue along to meet some of these Girl Scouts, and view photos from this year’s Gold Award Ceremony in our photo album on Facebook!
To learn more about Gold Award projects, check out the informational program booklet on our website.

Meet the Next 10 Gold Award Girl Scouts

Continue to follow along to meet more Gold Award girls throughout this blog series!

Grace M.

For her Gold Award, Grace fundraised money for an organization called Selah Freedom to assist their efforts in liberating women from sex trafficking. By selling baked goods and jewerly, Grace raised enough to gift the women in the residential program a couch and blanket. While working on her project, she was able to raise awareness on teenage sex trafficking.

Grace M.

Grace wanted to bring the service opportunity to volunteer for the organization Operation Support our Troops. Her Gold Award project was aimed at bringing awareness to the needs of military troops in her community. In order to build awareness, she showcased O.S.O.T. literature and hosted a food drive at her church to collect items for the organization.

Jane Caroline M.

With the help of her school’s thespian society, Jane Caroline started “Posen Performers,” a free two-week theater camp for kids in her community. She wanted to bring these kids the chance to build confidence, practice teamwork, and have fun, all while experiencing the theater. She created schedules, advertised and produced the show, and directed the kids and staff!

Sherry M.

After learning that hospitals in her community lacked funding to provide books for chronically ill children, Sherry knew she had to help. She raised money, collected board books for the developmental clinic at Lurie Children’s Hospital, sewed book bags with other Girl Scouts, and designed a brochure about child language development with pediatric specialists.

Sophie Cole M.

Sophie Cole focused her efforts on preserving the Monarch butterfly population. For her Gold Award, she passed on sustainable solutions to the issue by teaching seminars to elementary students, harveting and planting seeds, and distributing mudballs (or seed bombs) to help plants regrow, germinate, and multiply.

Tiffany M.

After meeting with staff at AMITA Hospital in Bolingbook, Tiffany decided to dedicate her Gold Award to comforting families during their time in the hospital. She designed and published an activity book for the patients staying in the emergency room for long or short term periods, and she hopes the project will be sustained for years to come.

Kari Alexandra M.

It is estimated that 85% of textiles in the United States end up in landfills. For her Gold Award, Kari Alexandra decided to tackle this by collecting over 1,500 textiles at a recyling drive at her high school. She then donated the textiles to SWALCO, an organization that recycles fabric into usable new products.

Ana Nikol P.

Ana Nikol wanted to offer a sense of warmth to the bodies and souls of the homeless people in her community, and wanted to raise awareness on how prevalent the issue is. She distributed 85 homemade tie-blankets to the homeless population, and made sure they would be continue to be made and distributed annually.

Sabrina P.

For her Gold Award, Sabrina built an outdoor classroom and garden at one of her district’s elementary schools. She curated a lesson plan for the students about the plants in the garden and how to help the environment. The classroom can be continued to be used on nice days to get a refresher from an indoor education.

Christine P.

Christine saw the need to increase awareness in her community about chronic illness, and to support local youth who are struggling with it. For her Gold Award, Christine created a website and blog, flyers, and a brochure for children recently diagnosed with juvenile arthritis that she distributed to local schools and pediatric offices.

The Golden Age

Bronze. Silver. Gold. These represent the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn.

When girls put their minds to it, they can achieve incredible things. Each of these awards give Girl Scouts the chance to make positive changes: whether its planting a vegetable garden for the Bronze award, creating care packages for cancer survivors for the Silver, or building an iPhone app for the Gold, they’ll change their corner of the world—and beyond. The possibilities are endless.

Learn more about earning the Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards.

Don’t miss out on meeting the previously featured Gold Award Girls Scouts!
Part One: Meet the first 10 girls (last names A-B) »
Part Two: Meet the second 10 girls (last names B-D) »
Part Three: Meet the third 10 girls (last names F-H) »
Part Four: Meet the fourth 10 girls (last names H-K) »
Part Five: Meet the fifth 10 girls (last names K-L) »

Choose Your Own Adventure 2019: A Winter Recap!

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.

Stay tuned to find out more about future Choose Your Own Adventure trips, and find out how you can explore the world with Girl Scouts!

Ready to Choose Your Own Adventure? You can sign-up for CYOA: Midwest and CYOA: Chicago Style! There is also a CYOA Resource Guide you can also include if you want, so troops can plan their own CYOA trip!


Say “Hello” to our 2019-20 Council Programs!

We are so excited to announce that this and next year’s events, programs, and travel opportunities are now live!

From city adventures and scavenger hunts, to Girl Scout celebrations and overnight camping trips, start planning your 2019-20 adventures in Girl Scouting!

View all programs for Daisies (Grades K-1) »

View all programs for Brownies (Grades 2-3) »

View all programs for Juniors (Grades 4-5) »

View all programs for Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors (Grades 6-12) »

Girl Scouts across the council, as a troop or an individual, can participate in programs, events, and activities that enrich, educate, and empower them.

Girls will have a chance to jump-start their journeys, workshop their badges, celebrate girls across the globe, and plan exciting trips on their own or with their troops!

Program Highlights

New Heights: High Adventure Day at Butternut Springs »
Various Dates, Camp Butternut Springs | Grades 4-12
Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassador, get a bird’s eye view of Camp Butternut Springs as you climb high on the Albert C. Anna High Adventure Course!

My Dream Life »
Nov. 9, Friendship Center | Grades K-8
Learn about different careers and adult life-skills in partnership with RSM. Simulate bank accounts, salaries, and vacations in this fun and interactive program that’ll give your Girl Scout the introduction to the adult-world! 

Day of the Dead Celebration »
Various Dates & Locations | All Ages
At this Día de los Muertos celebration, you are invited to create shoe-box Ofrendas (altars), decorate calaveras de azúcar (sugar skulls), fashion paper Marigold flowers, visit ofrendas, and have your face painted like la Catrina! 

Coding for Good »
Apr. 11, Joliet Gathering Place | Grades 6-12
Learn the basics of coding! Girls will learn how to use these skills to build memes, games, and features that spread positive messages and tackle important issues!

Junior Jetaway to Milwaukee »
Feb. 16-17 | Grades 4-5
Girl Scout Juniors are invited to a brand-new Juniors-only getaway to Milwaukee, Wisconsin! You will get a chance to check out a museum of your choice, eat cheese curds, walk through the historic Third Ward and more. 

Capital Tour: Nashville! »
Feb. 15-17 | Grades 6-12
50 state capitals, 50 new Girl Scout trips! Girl Scouts from grades 6-12 are invited the first stop on the tour of a cross-country adventure—Nashville, Tennessee! Once we get to Music City, we will tour the Nashville Capital Building, take part in a service project, and visit the sites. You’ll practice your budgeting and trip-planning skills while on the trip!

Unfolding Artifacts of Girl Scouts’ Past

Written by Susana Cardenas-Soto

How Girls Can Help Their Country Handbook and Photograph of Girl Guides in front of the Girl Scout Headquarters in Savannah, Georgia.

Every year at the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, council historians visit the Chicago Gathering Place and adorn the cases that line the hallways with artifacts of Girl Scouts’ past. Guide books, uniforms, badges and pins from the past 107 years of Girl Scouting now sit in display cases around the office for staff and visitors alike to admire and enjoy.

This year, the collection honors the vision of our favorite Daisy, Juliette Gordon Low, and the evolution of Junior Girl Scouts. It is a celebration of the triumphs, struggles, and transformations of the Girl Scouts from 1912 to now.

The Lady from Savannah

The display case dedicated to Juliette tells the story of her life. It features a pearl necklace similar to the dearly beloved one she sold to fund the fledgling Girl Guides organization in 1915. The “Lady from Savannah” was certainly devoted to her mission. It is a testament to her charitable nature, a value that has withstood the test of time and is ingrained in the Girl Scout philosophy.

Juliette Gordon Low herself was deeply embedded in the early history of the city of Chicago. As one historian said, Juliette and her family migrated to Chicago and resided in a building across the way from Fort Dearborn. It is fitting, then, that the council’s office is located not so far away!

Juliette Gordon Low’s campaign Stetson replica and Model Figure of JGL

The cases not only show J-Lo’s connection to Chicago, but also displays Girl Scout pride and history—through uniforms. The original Girl Scout uniforms were navy blue, as this fabric was more affordable than other colors in the early years of scouting. Eventually, as girls complained of the Alabama clay staining their uniforms, and the political climate of the United States changed, the uniforms were changed to the familiar khaki green.

The replica of the custom-made khaki green campaign Stetson Juliette favored also sits in the display case. This style of hat was typically worn by Girl Guides in her era. The hat can be seen on the beautifully detailed model of the Girl Scout founder, and on the girls in the photo in front of the Headquarters.

Juliette Gordon Low was, among other things, ahead of her time. She spearheaded the exploration of the new frontier of women leadership and empowerment, a tradition we continue to this day. The expression on the doll illustrates her legendary confidence and determination, qualities Girl Scouts continue to possess.

The Journey to Juniors

Did you know that the original Girl Scout troops were made up of teenagers? It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the Junior level was included. Among the fascinating early Junior artifacts is a collection of handbooks, one in Braille and one in large-print. The display case also features a photograph of a girl using the Braille book.

The 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s were times of rapid change within the Junior Girl Scout level, as uniforms and guidebooks transformed to suit the times. You will be able to spot a pair of vintage floral-printed uniform pants that certainly would have been popular in that era!

Junior Girl Scout Artifacts (1977-1999)

One rare artifact is particularly intriguing–– a doll of a Junior Girl Scout in her 1985 uniform, that can be seen on the top shelf of the display case shown above. This doll was part of a limited edition series of Avon collectible Girl Scout dolls of diverse races and ethnicities, all of which can no longer be found.

The personal history of the historian who owns the doll is ingrained in the doll itself. After her granddaughter gave the doll an unsolicited makeover: the doll now sports a choppy haircut and is missing her Junior handbook!

This doll is one of many pieces of Girl Scout history that not only reflects the larger rich-cultural time-period it is from, but tells the intimate personal history of an actual Girl Scout. What is so special about all of these precious mementos from Girl Scouts past is that each item has its own meaning, its own story to tell. They are not just pieces of history, but pieces of memory.

Those Who Learn From the Past

What, then, can we learn from the Girl Scouts of the past? What is the value in investigating and commending the efforts of Juliette Gordon Low and the countless other trailblazing Girl Scouts?

One historian answered succinctly: “It was Edmund Burke who said, ‘Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.'”

Indeed, it is incredibly important for Girl Scouts to know not only their personal histories, but the history of the organization and the stages of growth it has undergone. By looking at the past, we can be inspired to look forward and continue to effect groundbreaking change. What we learn from history enables us to understand what we should maintain, and where we can grow.

Juliette was ahead of her time–– Girl Scouts across the nation continue to be just the same.

We would like to thank the research and effort of these wonderful historians! The cases are currently on display at the GCNWI Chicago office, so come on by and see the precious historical Girl Scout items!

Learn more about our fascinating Girl Scouts history!

Walk Through History

This display is currently at the Downtown Chicago Gathering Place! If you are a Girl Scout and either you or your troop is interested in visiting, you can make an appointment by calling the Chicago Gathering Place: 312-416-2500.

Gold Award Spotlight: Meet the 2019 Recipients, Part 5!

What happens when a group of Girl Scouts dedicate over 6,400 service hours to their passions? Amazing things.

This year, 80 Girl Scouts from the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana council became Gold Award Girl Scouts. Each girl earned this highest honor by showing incredible dedication, foresight, and follow-through in their own ways. Together, they are certainly an impressive group of young women!

View photos from this year’s Gold Award Ceremony in our photo album on Facebook.
To learn more about the Gold Award, check out the informational program booklet on our website.

Part Five: Meet 10 Gold Award Girl Scouts

Continue to follow along to meet more Gold Award girls throughout this blog series!

Catherine K.

For her Gold Award project, Catherine painted a mural and created a mindfulness-themed craft binder for The Alive Center—a teen center in Naperville. She designed the mural with the goal of inspiring visitors into considering the art activities offered at the facility, while the binder itself offers multiple of those activities as mindfulness-themed crafts.

Skyler K.

Skyler wanted to improve the natural hiking path in the Lake Bluff Park District ravine, as well as expand the options for summer camps, local hikers, and future generations. Skyler’s project culminated in the design, construction, and installation of two wooden boardwalks throughout the ravine, allowing drainage and keeping foot traffic from pounding roots down further.

Katherine L.

When exploring her community, Katherine noticed the special needs programs in her area did not include music programs. Using her musical abilities, Katherine filled that need by working with a local organization, Seaspar, and composed a playlist of calming music to play during sessions in the sensory room.

Ashley L.

Ashley’s project, Red Shoe Project Indoor, collected gently used or new board games to provide to local elementary school teachers. These games provide educational benefits to students while they may be stuck indoors during bad weather or winter months.

Katherine L.

The Larry Fink Memorial Park had been flooded for months due to shallow rooted turf grass, making the area unattractive and unusable. For her Gold Award, Katherine worked with the Park District of Highland Park, uprooted the turf grass, designed a rain garden featuring native plant species, and planted over 1,000 seeds at the park. She also held a seminar on the ecological importance of rain gardens.

Helen Rose L.

Helen worked to raise awareness for COOL, a non-profit organization in that helps transition families who were previously homeless into affordable housing. With money she raised, she purchased plantings and a shed for one of the housing units, where volunteers could store grounds-keeping tools and maintain the unit more easily. She also routinely cleaned and painted different units, and installed new flooring in one unit.

Talicia L.

For her Gold Award project, Talicia created a fun area for children to read and explore literature in Oak View, IL. She supplied brightly colored bookcases, which are very inviting to the students, encouraging more reading.

Kathryn L.

Kathryn, for her Gold Award, redid classrooms at Wildwood Church. With volunteers, Kathryn painted three classrooms and painted the white board in the computer room. Thanks to Kathryn, there is now an all-new fun space to host Sunday school!

Abbey L.

Abbey transformed a heavily-weeded area at her school into a beautiful place students and faculty can enjoy. She planted herbs and vegetables and fruits for the culinary classes as well as planted beautiful flowers so the art classes and photography classes to get to use to take photos and create art.

Olivia L.

For her Gold Award project, Olivia rehabbed the library of a Chicago Public School and formed a Spanish reading book club. This book club was established with the goal of connecting Latino students back to their heritage by reading in their first language.

The Golden Word

Bronze. Silver. Gold. These represent the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn.

These awards each give you the chance to do big things while supporting an issue you care about. You might plant pollinating flowers at your school, or inspire others to go green for your Bronze. You might advocate for the homeless for your Silver, or create music programming for your Gold. Whatever you choose, you’ll inspire others and yourself along the way. 

As you earn one of Girl Scouts’ highest awards, you’ll change your corner of the world—and beyond. The possibilities are endless.

Learn more about earning the Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards.

Don’t miss out on meeting the previously featured Gold Award Girls Scouts!
Part One: Meet the first 10 girls (last names A-B) »
Part Two: Meet the second 10 girls (last names B-D) »
Part Three: Meet the third 10 girls (last names F-H) »
Part Four: Meet the fourth 10 girls (last names H-K) »

Girl Scout Adventure to India: Part 4

There is nothing quite like exploring a part of the world you’ve never seen before. It is exhilarating, inspiring, and life-changing. This summer, Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors from across the United States had the special opportunity to do just that: adventure in India for two weeks on the The Culture of India Destination trip!

Together, these girls experienced the sights, sounds, and culture of Pune, Delhi, and Mumbai, and connected with sister Girl Guides (WAGGGS) and international community partners. It was a trip they are sure never to forget!

Girl Scout Lucianna A. shares with us her perspective of the trip! Read on for her story, and catch up on parts one, two, and three of the Adventures to India blog series!

Destination Exploration

Contribution by Lucianna A.

Taking on this once-in-a-lifetime experience was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I expected the culture to be very different from mine, and it was absolutely beautiful in my eyes.

Cultural Communication

Upon arriving in Mumbai, we had a lengthy ride to Sangam World Centre in Pune, about five hours! When we arrived, it was around breakfast time, so we started the new day perfectly and had a very calm and relaxing evening.

Once we were settled, we took a tour of Sangam and the neighborhood of Pune, which was very helpful throughout our stay. The next day, we split up in groups for our first challenge—the Wadi Challenge, and spread out to find landmarks throughout town. Later that day, we took a class in Hindi where we learned the basics of the language, like the Hindi alphabet and numbers. We later participated in an amazing Zumba class, which was probably my favorite activity at Sangam!

We also had the opportunity to paint and embroider Indian art, and later we rode rickshaws throughout Pune and ate outside of Sangam!

International Kinship

Together with the Girl Guides, we met with the Nivedita Guides, Sangam’s local Girl Guide unit. We played games, taught each other songs and dances, had a celebration dinner, and played WAGGGS Jeopardy!

Our last few days in India were spent with our community partners at Sangam. We learned about the organizations Sangam is affiliated with, and why they are partners. We later had the chance to explore Pune for the Pune Leadership Challenge, and finished the day with a proper Maharastrian Jevan, an Indian feast.

Our few days in Delhi and Agra were relatively short, but we did many activities. We admired temples and mosques, visited an elephant sanctuary, and saw one of the most magnificent structures on earth, the Taj Mahal. 

Blooming Independence

This was my second Girl Scout Destination trip, and traveling to India was the furthest I have traveled away from home. I loved that the trip was girl-led and with the guidance of our mentors we were able to choose our own adventures and feel independent. I developed life skills such as money management and communication between new people. Overall, this unique trip positively changed my attitude and opened my eyes to see situations and cultures around the world other than my own.

Traveling to India with Girl Scouts this summer has brought me a love for travel greater than I have ever had. I will never forget the memories and friendships made on this journey.

Go With All Your Heart

For Girl Scouts, traveling is more than just an awesome adventure; it is an enriching, empowering experience. Being brave enough to explore different cultures is just a part of what makes Girl Scouts well-rounded citizens of the world.

We hope to encourage other girls to push their boundaries and venture into the unknown. Get out there, and learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

Catch up on parts one, two, and three of this blog series!