Chicago, Illinois (May 17, 2019) — a day that forever changed the life of a young boy from Dolton, Illinois.
Today we have a special shout-out for a special Girl Scout. Junior Girl Scout Anne Nelson, 11, had a “simple” goal – sell 5,000 Girl Scout cookies to earn a trip to Disney World. But the goal wasn’t to do this for herself. Anne, inspired by a lesson in class about generosity, wanted to gift the trip to another child.
“Everyone should be kind to other people and generous because if someone wants to go somewhere or do something and they never have a chance to do it, it would make them feel amazing to do it.”
The Heart Behind the Gift
Anne went above and beyond those 5,000 boxes required to earn the trip for two to the ‘happiest place on Earth’ and is now a member of the Cookie CEO club at the council. Cookie CEOs are the top five local Girl Scouts who sell the most cookies during the season. With Anne selling more than 6,000 boxes total, she sets a wonderful example of diligence and dedication.
Anne’s mother, Michelle Nelson, encouraged her daughter’s dedication to her cookie sales endeavor, but even she was surprised by Anne’s desire to give back in such a grand way. “Anne learned about the needs of those less fortunate than others and it really resonated with her. She decided she want to give this trip away to a kid who wouldn’t be able to go otherwise, and she worked so hard to make it happen,” said Michelle.
The product team at Girl Scouts GCNWI was just as surprised, with this being the first time in the council’s history where a cookie program participant shared her travel reward so grandly. “Anne told our product team early on that this is why she was working so hard to sell 5,000 boxes and we are so glad to see that with Courage, Confidence and Character, any girl can meet and exceed her goals!” said Susan Rakis, Director of Product Program.
Anne’s surprise reveal took place on Friday, May 17th at the Disney Store located inside the Chicago Ridge Mall. Joined by her Girl Scout troop, family and friends, Anne was able to surprise the young boy, age 11, with a special Disney inspired video, detailing his gifted trip to Orlando.
When asked what she hopes to share with others about her gift she said, “I want all kids to know that they can do big things because kids have big hearts and enough in them to make a change. One small thing can make a big difference.”
Next year she hopes to sell 5,000 more boxes of cookies to give the Disney trip to another child in need and she encourages her fellow Girl Scouts to do the same, “What I like best about Girl Scouts is helping people. Helping other people makes me feel like I am making a difference and it can help to inspire other people to help out as well.”
What are your selling goals for next year? Next year I want to sell 5,000 boxes of cookies and I want to give the trip to another kid who is sick because, many of the kids in Dolton and Riverdale do not have the chance to travel and I want to give a sick kid the trip so they can forget about being sick for a few days and have fun like regular kids.
Anything else you’d like to share? Never give up on something you want.
What do you love most about being a Girl Scout? What I like best about Girl Scouts is helping people. Helping other people makes me feel like I am making a difference and it can help to inspire other people to help out as well.
What inspired you to donate your cookies/trip to a Girl Scout? And how close are you to your goal? I felt inspired to donate my trip after seeing a commercial with sick kids in it. It really made me sad for them because of how much they have to go to the hospital. It made me want to help someone.
What would you like everyone to know about your donation initiative? I want all kids to know that they can do big things because kids have big hearts and enough in them to make a change. One small thing can make a big difference.
Why should other Girl Scouts consider donating their rewards? Girl Scouts all over should consider donating their trip and other prizes because there are so many kids who are sick, poor, or going through tough times. Donating to needy kids will brighten their day because they know someone cares about them. It feels good to help out other kids and their families
Giving Back—it’s in a Girl Scout’s DNA!
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
Even more fun, adventure, and friendship. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what your girl and her troop might choose to do. Check out the Badge Explorer with her to see all the possibilities.
And as a massive bonus, the longer your girl sticks with Girl Scouting, the more she’ll get out of it. Studies show girls who participate in Girl Scouts for three or more years are significantly more likely to:
have a positive sense of self,
be civically engaged,
achieve higher education and income,
have healthy relationships,
and feel satisfied with their lives.
Who could want more? Invest in her future and secure her spot for the next Girl Scout year!
Just because it’s summer and your Girl Scout troop isn’t meeting doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun with Girl Scouts! Read about the many fun programs and events girls of all ages can take part in this summer—with or without your troop! Below are a few highlighted programs, or you can view all of the summer programs for your age group!
If you aren’t already a Girl Scout, that’s OK! To join in on this summer fun, you canbecome a Girl Scout today for only $35, and your membership will be valid all the way through Sept. 30, 2020. That’s nearly a year and a half of fun ahead!
Have a Sleepover Safari at Brookfield Zoo!
August 30– 31 | Brownies–Ambassadors (Grades 2–12)
See what happens after hours at the Zoo! Your whole family is invited to the Brookfield Zoo for a summer sleepover! You’ll get to go on a night hike around the zoo, examine real skulls, and make treats for the animals to enjoy.
Registration includes all activities, breakfast, and a fun patch!
Various Dates and Locations | Daisies–Ambassadors (Grades K–12)
Girls need a safe space where they can just be themselves, a space with an incredible view where they can relax and try new experiences. That place is Girl Scout camp! Our council offers summer camp programs at eight locations in Illinois, Indiana, and even Wisconsin.
Girl Scouts will get to participate in a wide variety of program activities including hikes, crafts, and the opportunity sing songs by the campfire.
Friday, July 12-Sunday, July 14 | Camp River Trails, Sheridan, IL All ages!
Enjoy a weekend at camp with the whole family! Fourth graders and older can try archery. You’ll stay in platform tents, screened-in cabins, or bring your own tent! Learn more and register for Family Camp!
You & Me: Summertime Fun
Weekend of June 21 and Weekend of July 19 | Camp River Trails, Sheridan, IL All ages!
Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and female guardians: spend a weekend at camp with your Girl Scout at a You & Me Camp Weekend! Each year we celebrate with a different theme, and this summer’s theme is “Hogwarts: Journey to the Forbidden Forest.” “Swish and flick” your way to summer fun with your girl! You’ll have your choice to stay in a lodge, prairie cabin, or screened in platform tent. Learn more and register for You & Me Summertime Fun!
Community Resource Listings
Ongoing Dates in Various Locations | Daisies–Ambassadors (Grades K–12)
Ongoing Dates in Various Locations | Daisies–Ambassadors (Grades K–12)
Girl Scouts have a rich history of giving back to their communities. Be a part of this tradition by participating in a service project over the summer. We have a few options that you can complete on your own. View Service Projects on our website.
Bring Her to a Daisy Party!
Various dates and locations | For girls entering Kindergarten or 1st grade in Fall 2019
Let’s kick-off your Daisy year with a summer party! You’ll get to meet other Daisy Girl Scouts, play games, have a dance party, and learn all about the Girl Scout Promise and Law. You’ll even get a fun patch to add to your apron or sash! We can’t wait to show you how fun Girl Scouts is! Learn more and register for a Daisy Party!
FREE Summer Drop-In Days across the council!
Various Dates in Various Locations | For Daisies–Cadettes (Grades K–8)
Stop by our Gathering Places throughout the summer for a FREE Drop-In Day! You’ll have fun with themed activities, meet other Girl Scouts, volunteers, and staff! Learn more and register through the links below.
Love Harry Potter? Bring your friends and family & come join us to celebrate Harry Potter’s Birthday! You’ll get to make potions, play quidditch, drink butterbeer & more!
Don’t Let Her Miss Out!
Girls must be current Girl Scouts to participate in these fun activities! To join in on this summer fun, you canbecome a Girl Scout today for only $35, and your membership will be valid all the way through Sept. 30, 2020. That’s nearly a year and a half of fun ahead!
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
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!)
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!
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 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!”
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!
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!
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!
Opening her eyes to a world of possibilities? Helping her transform into a force for good? Unleashing her most confident self? As a Girl Scout volunteer, you’re an everyday hero with an extraordinary super power: you prepare girls for a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure. Being a Girl Scout volunteer is one of the most powerful, rewarding journeys you’ll ever embark on.
That’s what makes National Volunteer Month so near and dear to our hearts! Every April, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) celebrates the meaningful and inspiring contributions our volunteers make all year long. Join us in celebrating these amazing volunteers who have dedicated their lives to supporting our girls! These volunteers were recently honored at our Annual Meeting and Adult Recognition (AMAR) event. Read the event recap.
Hall of Fame 2019
Heidi began her Girl Scout career in the 1940’s on the South Side of Chicago where she grew up. As a girl member her favorite memories include earning her First Class Award, camping at Sweet Woods in Glenwood, Illinois, and selling LOTS of Girl Scout Cookies during the annual Cookie Sale. Heidi accredits her continued participation in the organization due to the continued efforts to support and grow girls into women leaders, as well as the camaraderie the organization provides for both fellow Girl Scouts and adults.
She became an adult leader for her daughter in Dolton as part of the legacy South Cook County Girl Scout Council (SCCGS). Heidi was a Troop Leader from 1967-1979; a Service Unit Manager (known as an Association Chair) in the 1970’s; was on the Board of Directors for SCCGS in the 80’s and 90’s; and was a National Council Delegate for the GS convention in Minneapolis in 1987. Heidi has also received many of the Adult Girl Scout awards, including the Thanks Badge, Thanks Badge II, and she received her 50 year pin last year.
Heidi is currently involved with GCNWI as a council historian, working to preserve the history of the former South Cook County Girl Scouts. Outside of Girl Scouts, Heidi is involved in her church, Bible Study Fellowship, and women’s Bible Study.
Hall of Fame 2019
Marlene was in Girl Scouts as a girl, in East Lake Porter Council, from second through sixth grade. Marlene became an adult Girl Scout member in 1983, when her daughter started as a Brownie. When she transitioned from assistant leader to troop leader, she stayed with the girls until they completed their Ambassador year. Her fondest memories include watching her daughters grow and mature through Girl Scouts. She loved seeing their communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills develop, and how they applied the skills beyond the organization.
Marlene has served in many roles in her 37 years as an adult Girl Scout. Positions include: Treasurer, Service Unit Manager, Consultant, Trainer, and Troop Organizer and well as a member of the Programs team of Drifting Dunes Council.
Marlene, for her amazing work, has received the Appreciation Pin, Honor Pin and Thanks Badge. She has also received the Porter County United Way Award. She is also the treasurer at her church and has served on many committees as chairperson.
Christine Alfred started as a girl member of Girl Scouts from first through fourth grade. Since becoming an adult volunteer, she has served in many roles including Leader, Troop Cookie and Fall Product Manager, Service Unit Cookie Manager and Fall Product Manager, Cookie Cupboard, Service Unit Manager, Council Delegate, all while serving on various committees. Along the way, she has received the Outstanding Leader Award, Outstanding Volunteer Award, and the Honor Pin. She has even received the St. Ann Medal for her work with helping Catholic Girl Scouts earn their religious awards.
The girls have always given Christine great inspiration, and volunteering has taught her how to work with a diverse group of people. Chris credits Girl Scouts with turning her into a social worker, event planner, master negotiator, financial analyst, master chef, and expert multi-tasker! She realizes that it’s not just the girls who develop skills through Girl Scouting, but also the adults who acquire so much more than could ever be imagined.
Melissa Young-Bridgeforth was never a girl member in Girl Scouts, but she did become an adult volunteer for the legacy Chicago council, and now for Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. There have been numerous reasons over the years for Melissa to continue to serve Girl Scouts. She believes in the mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character. Her enduring loyalty to Girl Scouts was demonstrated in 2018 when Melissa made the commitment to become a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society.
Although Melissa has had a wealth of experiences as a Girl Scout volunteer, the one she recalls vividly includes sirens and flashing red lights! It seems a Chicago police officer was suspicious of her having a car full of Girl Scout cookies. Fortunately, the experience has not deterred Melissa from continuing her volunteer work for Girl Scouts!
When her daughter wanted to sign up to be a Girl Scout, Carol Stahnke agreed to become a Girl Scout leader for Lone Tree Council in 1968. Carol continued her involvement as a volunteer after her daughter was no longer a girl member because she had such a positive experience. She served as Service Unit Manager for Berwyn and became a member of the Board of Directors for Lone Tree.
Carol also served on various committees, such as the search committee for the new Lone Tree Service Center and the Cookie Selection Committee, and she held the position of Field Vice-President. One of her prize possessions is a sliver tray she received in 1978 which acknowledges her service as Field Vice-President.
Carol has fond memories of camping at Wild Rose in St. Charles, Illinois, and Wild Deer in Wisconsin, both former properties of the Lone Tree Council. She credits Norma Brown and Shirley Eatwell from the Lone Tree staff with giving her excellent support to fulfill her duties as a volunteer. Although Carol was only able to be an adult in Girl Scouting, the experience of being there for the girls has meant a lot to her. She has been a lifetime member—a gift her thoughtful husband had given to her knowing how much Girl Scouts meant to her.
Rosemarie Courtney began her long association with Girl Scouts in 1950 when she joined Intermediate Girl Scout Troop 298 at Immaculate Conception Parish. She received her Curved Bar (forerunner of the Girl Scout Gold Award) in 1954. She remained a girl member with Senior Troop 1615 until 1958 at which time she registered as an adult with that troop. Rose continued with Troop 1615 throughout her college years. She credits her assistant leader and then Senior Adviser Anna Mae Idestein with giving her the confidence to attend college. Besides encouraging her to study science in college, Anna Mae helped Rose find part time jobs, so she could save the money needed for her tuition. She credits Anna Mae as being the most inspirational Girl Scout adult in her life and recognizes the importance that great adult leadership can impact a girl.
Since then, Rose has gone on to receive every adult national recognition there is, including the Thanks Badge II. She was also inducted into the Girl Scouts GCNWI Hall of Fame. From Secretary to the Board of Directors for DuPage County Council, to Council Trainer, to National Council Delegate, to Council Historian, Rose has held almost every volunteer position there is. She is truly one of Juliette’s pearls.
60 Years Pin
Joy Johnston is celebrating 60 years as a registered Girl Scout having started her Girl Scout career at the age of seven. Joy’s first Girl Scout Troop was number 78 in Chicago. People from legacy councils may remember that Joy’s parents were the caretakers at Camp Butternut Springs for many years. Her mother was a Girl Scout herself for over 50 years and was widely known as Mother Nature around Butternut. Joy’s parents, the Andersons, were very much admired for their service and dedication, and the lake at Butternut Springs is named after them.
Volunteering was an important part of Joy’s upbringing and she continues that tradition. She and her husband are the directors of the Duneland Resale Shop in Chesterton, Indiana. This adult community center serves the surrounding areas not only with a resale shop, but also a medical supply cabinet, and a food pantry that services more than 300 families and has given more than $1.5 million back to the community. Always a big dream of Joy’s, she has demonstrated that determination and hard work can make dreams come true.
On Saturday, April 6, 2019, more than 500 Girl Scout adult
members gathered for the annual council meeting, and to celebrate the service
and tenure of dedicated Girl Scout volunteers!
With this year’s council theme being Action Speaks
Louder, Nancy Wright, CEO, gave a riveting State of the Council
keynote, sharing details about the work that has been done over the past year,
and more importantly, the strategic work of the council for the current year
and beyond. Board President, Kathy Scherer followed and with the help of girl
board representative, Colleen Christian, installed new officers and directors
to the Board of Directors.
Several stand out, celebratory moments from the day
Heidi Gannon and Marlene Knapp were added to the
Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Hall of Fame.
We celebrated the following GSUSA honorees:
Christine Alfred, Thanks Badge
Melissa Young-Bridgeforth, Thanks Badge
Christina Robinson, Honor Pin
Tonya Belcher, Appreciation Pin
Scott Bennett, Appreciation Pin
Dawn Brook, Appreciation Pin
Cori Chojnacki, Appreciation Pin
Keth Goodman, Appreciation Pin
Starr Hochbaum, Appreciation Pin
Johnson, Appreciation Pin
Kizman, Appreciation Pin
McClendon, Appreciation Pin
McCoy, Appreciation Pin
Mitchell, Appreciation Pin
Mosshamer, Appreciation Pin
Skogsberg, Appreciation Pin
Stewart, Appreciation Pin
Two staff members were honored with the
D.A.I.S.Y. (Dynamic and Incredible Staff of the Year) award: Peggy Brothers, AVP, Camp Program and
Property and Jenny Waszak, HR Director.
We celebrated the dedication and action of 30
Service Units who received the President’s Award—this is a record number of
Service Units earning the award!
Also, part of the celebrations were volunteers
who’ve provided service to Girl Scouts from 5 to 60 years! A record number of volunteers received their
5 and 10 year pins at this year’s event.
Guests enjoyed continental breakfast, empowering
music, a photo montage of awardees, cupcakes and time to reconnect with Girl
Thanks to everyone who made this year’s Annual Meeting such
a great success. We remain grateful for all our staff and volunteers who make
the Girl Scout world a wonderful place to work and serve!
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!