Join us for a Pumpkin SMASH and Fall Festival!

Saturday, Nov. 2, 5:30-8:30 p.m.| Camp Greene Wood, Naperville, IL

It’s finally getting chilly out there, and Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana has some fun lined up for girls this season!

Pumpkin Smash and Fall Festival at Camp Greene Wood

Get ready to SMASH SOME PUMPKINS! Girl Scouts of all ages are invited to join us for the second annual Pumpkin Smash and Fall Festival on Saturday, November 2 at Camp Greene Wood. Drop your pumpkin from a ladder, go at it with a baseball bat, shred it up like Billy Corgan… whatever you decide to do, you will help us in the effort to divert compostable materials from landfills! This is the perfect opportunity to get rid of your old jack-o-lanterns, let out some frustration, and do good for the planet all at the same time!

You’ll also get a chance to participate in some post-Halloween spooky activities (because Halloween should be all year-round anyway) including:

  • Time around the campfire enjoying hot chocolate and cider
  • Getting your own fall cornucopia cone
  • Making caramel apples at the caramel apple bar (with tons of yummy toppings)
  • Taking photos with family and friends at the Fall Photo Station with fun props and backdrops
  • Applying fun temporary tattoos
  • Participating in fall themed Minute-To-Win-It Challenges, a variety of fun opportunities for girls to race against their friends or family to fin a small prize
  • Making three separate crafts, including a Fall Fabric No Sew Scrunchie, a Pinecone Turkey, and a Fall Candle
  • Going on one of two exciting hikes: a fun, non-scary glow-stick illuminated Glow Hike, and a Spooky Hike, where we hope to get a scare out of a few girls!

Register to attend Pumpkin Smash Fall Fest on Nov. 2 5:30-8:30 p.m.!

To be clear, the community is more than welcome to just smash their pumpkins with us, or drop them off and we’ll smash them for you! Everyone is welcome to join us around the campfire at the Program Center for a hot cup of something and information about our upcoming Green for Good Expo.

More Than a Smash

We are so happy to be partnering once more with the organization SCARCE Every year they help us organize this event and encourage other organizations and groups to host their own Pumpkin Smash events to promote composting.

Food composting is more than just having a great time smashing some pumpkins–– it has real world implications for the health of our environment. When food is thrown into a landfill, it breaks down and releases methane, a chemical that aids to the thickening of the ozone layer and the production of greenhouse gases. Essentially, composting stops this process in its tracks, instead diverting the energy toward the enrichment of soil and drastically reducing food waste (according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency).

This exciting event is just one of many lined up to get ready for next year’s environmental expo, Green for Good! We’re sparking inquiry, inspiration and innovation in the field of environmental stewardship–– and we’d like you to come along with us. Find out more about the expo and how you can join the Girl Scouts in going greener.

Register for the Pumpkin Smash and Fall Fest here before October 19!

Autumn is Callng!

There’s clearly a lot to do with the Girl Scouts this fall… and that’s not all. Camping and outdoor programming, council sponsored trips, exciting special events: you name it, Girl Scouts are doing it!

Check out our programs page to explore everything going on this year and the next!

Meet the Girls the World Needs

Today, as we observe International Day of the Girl, I am proud to see girls stepping up as today’s leaders. At Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, our local Girl Scouts are #changemakers and work with their Girl Scout sisters, family, friends, and communities to BE THE CHANGE THEY WANT TO SEE

Meet Your Match from GirlScoutsUSA on Vimeo.

Earning their Bronze, Silver and the highest award, the Gold Award, Girl Scouts learn the importance of service by identifying issues and taking action. Not only do they make the world better, the girls learn the importance of purpose that ignites their souls.  They are the GIRLS THE WORLD NEEDS

As we celebrate this day,  I challenge you to match the efforts of the powerful young women in the video and read more on our council blog about these powerhouse Gold Award recipients. To change our society for the better, it will take the efforts of ALL GENERATIONS and Girl Scouts is leading the way!

Your ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER when you join the Girl Scout movement. Mentor a girl as a volunteer, or invest in her future by donating. Become a champion for girls by sharing that ALL GIRLS deserve the chance to realize their true potential. Join us and show these young women that they are not alone in their quest for better.

Visit our website to MEET YOUR MATCH today. 

Thank You,

Nancy Wright, CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana

Volunteer Leadership Expo 2019!

On October 5, close to 300 volunteers and Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) gathered at the Tinley Park Convention Center to celebrate volunteers who are proactive, dedicated to girl empowerment, and demonstrate that Action Speaks Louder!

Whether the volunteers were brand new to the role, bridging to the next level with their troops, or seasoned members of service unit teams, all in attendance were provided with new resources, insider tips, and much more at several educational group sessions!

While volunteers attended different Breakout Sessions, Girl Scouts in attendance participated in all environmentally themed craft activities: taking old t-shirts and making them into bags, using natural dyes for water color painting, and recycling paper drawings. The girls also met Daisy, the Girl Scout character from WTTW’s Nature Cat and our Nature Cat program!

Breaking Out Of The Box

The Breakout Sessions at this year’s Leadership Expo were designed for volunteers to dive deep into two of five subjects of their choice: Think Outside the Cookie Box, Drop-In Tech Corner: Log on, Link & Explore, Create Your Own Dream Team, Go Beyond the Badge, and The Ultimate Balancing Act!

The Ultimate Balancing Act session was facilitated by two of our volunteer trainers who are also experienced troop leaders: Lindsay Hayden and Melissa Young-Bridgeforth. They ran two sessions aimed at helping leaders understand how to utilize all of the available resources: Volunteer Tool Kit, National Program Portfolio, Expert Connection, Program Wall, and Camp Programs.

Our year’s theme, Action Speaks Louder, resonated throughout the session and each participant was asked to make a commitment to help her troop become more girl led. Our leaders are on track to take their personal commitments and make this a great troop year!

In addition, volunteers learned about council updates like becoming a National Delegate, our environmental expo Green for Good, Product Program and Fall Product for 2019-2020, outdoor programming, and more!

Some Very Cool Volunteers

Alice Perez Calzada and Alexandra Calzada

Alice Perez Calzada and her daughter Alexandra are third year troop leaders of Daisies and Brownies, and this was their second year attending a Leadership Expo! Alice was Alexandra’s troop leader, and got back into the game again because of her younger daughter.

Alice and Alexandra came back to this year’s Leadership Expo because they wanted to make connections with other service units, learn tips and tricks to become better and more open leaders, in the hoped to connect more with their Girl Scouts!

Their advice for leaders? “If you have Girl Scouts in high school, make sure you are providing girl-led programs, and being there as a guide and not a leader.” This includes creating a relaxed environment where girls feel comfortable sharing their ideas. They also suggested getting girls especially excited for the amazing travel opportunities offered by GCWNI.

Leticia Carmona

Leticia Carmona, an adult volunteer who helps out with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, is yet another awesome volunteer who attended this year’s Expo! Her favorite part of being a part of the GCNWI council is “getting to see the girls do all their activities and the excitement in their faces… seeing the pride in the girls when they participate and complete a girl-led program.”

Leticia’s advice for troop leaders and volunteers is simple: take ownership of your role. “If you are a parent volunteer, really commit to that position and engage your girls into being in attendance to every meeting and participating in as many programs and activities as possible.”

Lead The Way!

If you missed this session of the Leadership Expo, don’t fret! There is another session on Saturday, October 19, in Skokie, Illinois at the Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore!

Check out our Leadership Expo page for more info, registration details, and more!

Interested in fostering girl empowerment? Find out how you can volunteer with the Girl Scouts today.

Announcing Phase II of our Master Property Plan!

Girl Scout councils love to launch exciting, new program experiences for girls, and Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) is certainly no exception. 

Recently, we celebrated the grand opening of our new ​high adventure climbing tower, zipline and high ropes course  at Camp Butternut Springs, thanks to the generosity of philanthropist and adventurer Al Hanna. Seeing girls fly overhead, laughing and screaming with delight as they zoom by, is one of the best parts of what we do to fulfill our mission. 

It’s the kind of experience we want more girls to encounter at our properties, especially our camps. But to bring to life the type of activities and amenities girls and volunteers tell us they want, we also must make difficult decisions. 

It has been eight years since GSGCNWI announced the first phase of our initial Master Property Plan. It is now time to evaluate where we are today, and where we want to be in the future. 

The objectives of Phase II of the Master Property Plan are to: 

  • keep our focus on the evolving needs of girls; 
  • thoughtfully and thoroughly align to our 3-year strategic plan; 
  • acknowledge the council’s healthy financial position today, and keep our limited resources focused on the future; 
  • reflect our readiness to invest in enhanced experiences for future generations; 
  • transparently engage stakeholders in next steps and solutions; 
  • reduce our need to divert dollars to deferred maintenance issues; 
  • and shift to leased office solutions to keep focus on mission, not repairs. 

Our focus on creating a master property plan began years ago, when we inherited a large portfolio of properties in 2008 after merging seven previously independent Girl Scout councils into one. We knew at the time that caring for more than 20 different camp and office properties would be too heavy a financial burden for us. 

In 2011, with the help of a committee of volunteers and property experts over the course of two years of research, we made the difficult decision to retire and sell several properties. At the time, our overall economy was struggling and so were most nonprofits, including GSGCNWI. We simply did not have the resources to make any investments in property repairs or amenities between 2010 – 2015. 

Then, between 2016 and 2019, we started to invest again. Using a combination of our operational budget and money we received from the sale of the properties, we have been able to put approximately $7 million into new or improved amenities at several of our properties. 

Yet even with those improvements, we are still faced with a daunting deferred maintenance issue, with needed repairs and updates exceeding $30 million. Too many of our properties, some used far less than others, need significant attention just to be operational and safe.

After much consideration, and again with the guidance of girls, volunteers, and many others, we have decided to concentrate our resources on building enhanced experiences for girls at four primary camp properties that cover the full footprint of our council: Camp Juniper Knoll (Wisconsin), Camp Greene Wood and Camp Palos (both in Illinois), and Camp Butternut Springs (Indiana). 

That means we will list for sale three camp/program properties (Pokanoka, River Trails, and Friendship Center). These  properties have  significant deferred maintenance issues and  are  not  fully utilized  by girls and families for myriad reasons. 

We’ll also list two very tired, maintenance-heavy gathering places for sale (Homewood and Merrillville), and look for leased space that will represent those communities instead of owning property. And finally, we will review options for our Chicago space at 20 S. Clark since that lease expires in 2021. 

Please note: Each property will continue to be open and in use until the property is sold.  This may be a lengthy process, so programs will continue to be scheduled as long as maintenance issues do not prevent activities from taking place. 

Visit our website for more information about our master property plan, and  to stay informed about future announcements.

Please send any questions and comments related to our properties to  longrangeproperty@girlscoutsgcnwi.org

Join a Girl Advisory Committee!

Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors: we’re calling on you to help us develop new and exciting programs for Girl Scouts council-wide!

Do you think outside the box? Have you been day-dreaming about Girl Scout programs you haven’t seen yet? Are you itching to take part in a girl-led project to benefit the council?

A Girl Advisory Committee is the place for you!

Make a Difference

This is an incredible leadership development opportunity to help create programs that reflect what you want to see in the future of Girl Scouts. As a member of a committee, you will have the chance to share your ideas on one of four topics: Cultural Awareness, Civic Engagement and Service, STEAM, or our new big expo, Green for Good!

Don’t miss out on this chance to collaborate with your peers and lead the way for your fellow Girl Scouts. We’re looking to you–– and we look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Share Your Voice

Committees will meet at the Vernon Hills Gathering Place on October 19 from 2-3:30 pm. Registration for the Green for Good and Civic Engagement committees closes on October 12, and the registration for the Cultural Awareness and STEAM committees closes on October 16, so make sure to reserve your spot soon!

Check out our programs page to find more amazing opportunities for girls of all ages!

Guide to Planning a Girl Scout Troop Trip to Savannah, GA: Part 1

Birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low

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!

What You Need To Know

  1. Accommodations
  2. Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
  3. Girl Scout perks and fun Girl Scout activities
  4. Non-Girl Scout sightseeing
  5. Travel to/from Savannah
  6. Travel around Savannah

Accommodations

Camp Low

Leaders have suggested the following possible accommodations for your troop:

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

JGL Birthplace

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:

  1. Make sure to book your visit early, as it is a popular attraction.
  2. Plan your pinning ceremony prior to attending.
  3. Read up on JGL before visiting.
  4. Don’t forget to wear your Girl Scout gear!
  5. Bring spending money for the gift shop.
  6. Remember, even if you use a tour group, you have to book this visit yourself.
  7. They also offer classes and workshops, so book those early!
  8. There is a Girl Scout discount; email in advance to receive this.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Birthplace website for more information.

Girl Scout Perks and Activities

First Headquarters plaque

Being a Girl Scout is awesome. Being a Girl Scout while visiting Savannah is even more awesome! There are many interesting things to do:

Non-Girl Scout Sightseeing

Tybee Island beach

Apart from the Girl Scout-related landmarks, there is plenty of going on in the beautiful city of Savannah:

Traveling to and from Savannah

There are multiple options for traveling to Savannah.

  • Some leaders suggested driving a van or an SUV–- by having your own vehicle, you have easy access around Savannah. One leader rented a 12-passenger van!
  • There are very few direct flights to Savannah from Chicago, but while flying saves you time, it is more expensive. Be prepared to have a layover if you choose to fly.

Traveling around Savannah

If you choose not to have your own car, you can

  • Take the public buses around the city
  • Take the hop-on hop-off trolley tour
  • Walk!

Note that parking can be tricky around Savannah, and is rarely free.

Southern Hospitality from GCNWI

Please note that as a council, we aren’t endorsing these places, but passing along advice from others. All places should be further researched to see if they fit your needs and wants!

We would like to thank these leaders for their wonderful advice! Stay tuned for another blog post featuring the rest of their advice on where to eat, Savannah favorites, money earning, and more!

Check out our travel page for more opportunities!

What is the Girl Scouts GCNWI Fall Product Program?

It’s Back to School season and you know what that means! It’s time for our Girl Scout’s Fall Product Program!

What is Fall Product?

From Oct. 1-20, 2019, Girl Scouts and troops can build business experience by selling Fall Product—which includes candy, nuts, magazines, Cool Cards™, tumblers, and candles—to their friends and families.

By selling Fall Product, girls can earn fun rewards while generating funds that support troop adventures, community projects, council programs, camps, and more, while also developing the five essential skills of the Girl Scout Fall Product and Cookie Programs:

  • Goal Setting
  • Decision Making
  • Money Management
  • People Skills
  • Business Ethics

The Fall Product Program is a fun and easy way for girls to earn their first set of patches and rewards, and help earn funds to kick start the Girl Scout year!

It also gives back to our organization for the maintenance of our camps and Gathering Places (which is what we call our office locations), plus helps with financial assistance, training, programs, and so much more!


Getting Started is Easy!

Getting Started for Girls and their Parents/Caregivers

Starting September 25, girls should have received a welcome email from UNIFY to set up their online store (contact us if you didn’t receive it).

The Girl Order Taking Period runs Oct. 1-20, 2019. Each Girl Scout can send emails through her online site to families and friends to support her and her troop, or take in-person orders on her order card!

Customers can order and pay for nuts/candy, magazines and more online and have the option for the fall product items to be directly shipped to them (shipping charges apply) OR have the Girl Scout deliver the nuts/candy from the order card (Girl Scout’s family decides who gets the option of girl delivery) Customers can also donate nuts or magazine vouchers to support our military and community based organizations with no additional handling fees.

Girls earn rewards cumulatively, and her troop earns 15% of troop sales. Older girl troops have the option of opting out of rewards and earning 18% of troop sales.


Getting Started for Troop Leaders and Troop Fall Product Managers

Watch your email inbox for your initial welcome email from UNIFY! If you didn’t receive this on Sept. 24, please contact our Product Program team.

Review the training materials and resources (i.e. videos). Please log onto UNIFY and familiarize yourself with the website.

Attend your Service Team Meeting, or contact your Service Unit Fall Product Manager (SUFM).

Don’t know who that is? Contact our Product Program team and they can connect you with the right person!

Please remember that if you have a question, never hesitate to reach out to your SUFM or call your Product Program Team at 855-ILOVEGS ext. 6722.

Plan a Family Meeting for your Girl Scout Troop and their families.

At the meeting you should:

  • Share the benefits of the Fall Product Program
  • Review the product offerings, the rewards girls can earn, and the important dates to know
  • Discuss what your troop will do with the proceeds earned (like go on an adventure, make blankets for a pet shelter, bring care packages to nursing home residents)
  • Provide each girl/parent in the troop with the program materials to get them started. Please ask them to participate to the best of their ability! (We have items for as low as $5! What great hostess gifts those can make!)
  • Make plans to celebrate your success!

Remember…Participation is a family decision. As the leader of your troop, we count on you to share this opportunity to participate in our program with your Girl Scouts.

Forging Girls of Courage, Confidence and Character: a Camp CEO 2019 Recap

Girl Scouts and mentors at Camp CEO.

It was warm Saturday afternoon as Girl Scouts and their female mentors gathered for the day’s first Dreaming Your Future seminar.

A Little Background

Since 2007, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana has welcomed high-level professionals and teen girls from across our council geography to Camp CEO®, the premiere leadership camp for teen girls. Now in its 13th year, Camp CEO® continues to provide girls with valuable mentorship and leadership experiences that last a lifetime.

This year 57 Girl Scouts and 33 mentors gathered at Camp Greene Wood for a weekend full of fun and camaraderie as girls utilized their mentors’ knowledge of the professional world to help guide and inspire them as they continue their journey to high school, college and beyond.

Program Highlights

Unspoken Skills of Leadership with Lurie Center for Childhood Resilience

“Being in organizations like Girl Scouts helps build relationship skills,” said a Girl Scout.

Dr. Colleen Ciccheti, Dr. Karen Gouze and Mental Health Consultant, Caryn Curry of Lurie Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago’s Center for Childhood Resilience led a workshop on social-emotional learning for both the mentors and the girls. This interactive workshop allowed girls to explore the importance of relationships both personally and professionally.

They spoke about characteristics they felt are important to have in a group setting, how they value themselves, and how they practice self-care all while in a welcoming and honest space provided by the Lurie Children’s hospital staff facilitating the program.

Personal Branding and Interviewing Skills

Traci Fiatte and Carrie Lannon presenting on the importance of personal branding.

Hosted by Carrie Lannon of Lannon Consulting and Traci Fiatte,CEO of Randstad, girls had the first-hand opportunity to gain not only insight into the world of job-searching but expert tips and tricks to use when they begin their career journey.

Girls learned proper interviewing skills, dressing appropriately for interviews and the job-sphere as well as what interviewers are looking for in resumes. Both Lannon and Fiatte engaged the girls in an open discussion about skill-attribution for both college applications and the professional world. The girls had a great time receiving this life-changing advice from leading professional women in their perspective fields.

Dreaming Your Future

“Things are shifting now, barriers are lessening, women are rising,” said one mentor during Dreaming Your Future.

One of the most anticipated workshops offered at Camp CEO is Dreaming Your Future. Throughout the day girls had the opportunity to hear from a panel of women and learn about their positions in their respected fields. Girls and mentors were divided based on career interests and had the opportunity ask questions of the panelists.

Please see inspirational highlights below:

Nancy Wright—Girl Scouts GCNWI CEO: “Don’t be afraid to F.A.I.L—first attempt in learning.”

Dr. Catherine Dimou—New Market Medical Executive at Cigna: “I would tell my [teenage] self [two things]: 1. to prioritize self care, 2. approach people and situations with wonder and not judgment.”

LTJG Sasha Edwards—Assistant Chief, Inspection Division, United States Coast Guard: “Don’t give yourself any boundaries, sign up for everything and anything.”

Suzet McKinney—CEO/Executive Director, Illinois Medical District: “I will never put other women down and every opportunity I have to lift other women up, that’s what I do. You need to use the mean people as fuel because they aren’t worth wasting your time over and you can leave them in your dust.”

Cassia Baker—Manager of Client Accounts at Hindman Auctions: “Sometimes it’s good not to know what you’re up against because you have your own strength. You need to decide for yourself how you want to be and live in that. For those that are rude to you and want to tear you down, you move forward, because they are building the rubble that you’re going to stand on.”

This girl-led discussion was a great opportunity for girls to learn more about their fields of career interests.

Meghan Czechowski—Managing Director at Cushman & Wakefield: “The future is fun, don’t need to make all the decisions right now.” 

Laurie Barry—Senior Vice President of USB Financial Services: “Look at what’s important to you and build your career and your ‘everyday’ around it.”

Suzy Smyth—Managing Engineer at Exponent: “Don’t worry about it, just try things. Finding out you don’t like something is just as valuable as finding out you do like something.”

Learn More and Get Involved

Want to be a part of Camp CEO in 2020, applications will open for both Girl Scouts and Camp CEO Mentors next year. Keep an eye out for more to come by watching our site.

Smart Cookies: Savoring Science!

On Thursday, September 19, nearly 300 attendees gathered at the Ivy Room in downtown Chicago for an evening of beverages, bites, and food science exploration at our annual Associate Board led fall fundraiser, Smart Cookies: Savoring Science!

Emceed by pastry whiz and owner of Bon Vivant Cakes Emily Nejad, and Girl Scout Cadette co-host and sous-chef Natalia, the evening was full of sweet and savory experimentation.

Culinary Chemists

At this year’s event, Girl Scouts showcased their expert food-science knowledge with attendees from the opportunities they had with innovative program partners Ingredion and RXBAR. These girls each walked away with a deeper interest in STEM, stronger entrepreneurial skills, and some unique, delicious creations!

Ingredion recently hosted Girl Scouts at The Hatchery Chicago for a day of food-science investigation. The girls, led by Ingredion Chef Nelson Serrano-Bahri and two culinary entrepreneurs, broke down the anatomy of a chocolate chip cookie, and replaced different ingredients to see the effect it would have on the cookie. Abigail C., one of the Girl Scouts participated in the program enthusiastically described the day of interactive learning: “It was fun! Our cookies ended up looking like melting blobs of dough.”

The other girls featured at this year’s Smart Cookies were Ava and Carlie, the Girl Scouts who participated in the visited the RXBAR program in August. Both girls were especially impressed by the women-run aspect of the experience–– Carlie said it was inspiring to see “intelligent, nice, meticulous women” who have “care, heart, and motivation.” The girls took home their own creations of RXBARS, and a sparked interest in entrepreneurship and culinary science.

Let’s Get Cooking!

The evening featured on-site fundrasing from a call to action to a silent auction. Representatives from the Associate Board did the ask of attendees to donate on the spot–– with every $500 donated, they lit up LED bracelets all around the room that changed colors!

The total raised prior to the event and on-site was more than $100,000 for our council!

With the funds raised this year, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana will continue to provide exciting and cutting edge learning opportunities like these Smart Cookies: Savoring Science programs.

The Girl Scouts provides a wealth of opportunities to experience STEM first hand, opening up the doors for the next generation of women leaders. Whether its robotic programming or environmental stewardship, these programs are just one of many ways Girl Scouts can get a kick-start in STEM–– and there is so much more to explore! Isn’t STEM pretty sweet?

Thank you to our sponsors and donors, the Associate Board, our hosts and staff, and our platinum sponsor, Diner’s Club International, a part of the Discover Global Network. A special thanks to the Girl Scouts who showcased their stories!

Support Our Smart Cookies

We are so appreciate of all support and generosity as a result of Smart Cookies: Savoring Science. If you’re interested in participating in our silent auction, we have some items available for purchase.

You can also support Girl Scouts GCNWI by donating here!

Girl Scouts Will Travel: Wyoming to India

Written by Maureen Ewing, Global Action Volunteer Team member
Destinations India trip hosted by Girl Scouts GCNWI, where Maureen was a chaperone.

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.

A GCNWI Girl Scout exploring Yellowstone National Park.

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.

Destinations India trip hosted by Girl Scouts GCNWI.

New Adventures

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!

Check out our other contributions from the Global Action Volunteer Team!
Who We Are Part 1 | Who We Are Part 2 | Why You Should Try Backpacking | Study Abroad |Adventure in Mexico|Safety While Traveling|Traveling as a Gen Z-er

Check out our Adventure in India blog series, written by the girls on the trip!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Learn more how you can travel with the Girl Scouts by visiting our travel web-page or emailing Ashley Christensen.