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.

Girl Scouts Celebrate Friendship Center

Girl Scouts Celebrate Friendship Center

Make new friends and keep the old is not just a classic Girl Scout song, it’s also the idea behind Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s Friendship Center.

Located in Country Club Hills, Illinois, the Friendship Center opened in September 1991 much to the delight of the community, especially then Mayor Dwight D. Welch who thanked Girl Scouts for selecting the city as the site for the program center.

“Girl Scouts are the spirit of America,” he told the Southtown Economist at the groundbreaking in September 1990. “Someday these young ladies will be standing behind the podium.”

According to the same article, the center was designed to “give area Girl Scouts a place to pursue activities and hold programs on topics such as drug prevention, literacy, family crisis matters and disability awareness.”

Mary Rose Main at F.C. Reception
Mary Rose Main, National Executive Director of Girl Scouts of the USA, visits the Friendship Center on April 14, 1992

“In retrospect, we were way ahead of our time,” said Karen Schillings, a GSGCNWI council historian and former board member. “It was the first facility of its kind in the country. I remember the CEO from Girl Scouts of the USA came to visit within six months after it opened because she wanted to see what we had built. It was an awesome time.”

Today, the 32-acre facility boasts walking trails, as well as four individual suites containing kitchenettes, sleeping areas and restroom facilities, in addition to a large assembly hall and attached kitchen for day events.

2015 GirlSpace Holiday Party 082
Girl Scouts dance on stage at the first GirlSpace holiday party in 2016

But after more than 25 years of serving thousands of Girl Scouts and the community, the beloved Friendship Center is in need of some upgrades, including a new security system, roof and windows.

“It really has been the heart of the South Suburbs,” said Schillings. “I know some troops meet there and we host different events for a large number of girls and the staff has meetings there as well. It’s really an important facility not just for Girl Scouts, but for the community around it.”

To learn more and donate to the Friendship Center, click here.

A Day in the Life of a Cookie CEO

A Day in the Life of a Cookie CEO

While every Girl Scout is a #CookieBoss, it takes a lot of enthusiasm and determination to become a Cookie CEO. On Monday, Oct. 12, the top five cookie sellers from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) visited the Chicago Gathering Place and were Cookie CEOs for the day.

This year, the Cookie CEOs were Holly Doyle, 12 of Lake Forest; Nina Grotto, 16 of Hinsdale; Morrigan Macho, 14 of Chicago; Taylor Magruder, 18 of Tinley Park; and Mairead Skelton, 16 of Chicago. Together, they sold more than 26,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies.

“It feels rewarding and exciting,” said Nina, who raised nearly $18,000 to send about 4,500 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to members of the armed forces through the Gift of Caring program. “I’m excited to give feedback to the actual CEO and help improve Girl Scouts as a whole.”

The Cookie CEOs began their busy day by meeting GCNWI CEO Nancy Wright and giving suggestions for improving the member experience, camping and travel programs, as well as incorporating the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

Cookie CEOs with Nancy
The Cookie CEOs start their morning by meeting with GCNWI CEO Nancy Wright (center) to suggest improvements to the council.

Afterward, the girls enjoyed a light breakfast with the staff where they received special “My CEO Met Me” patches from Wright. “This patch is really about you and what you want to be,” she said while presenting the patches. “We’re all here to empower you and who you want to be. The patch says ‘live your dreams.’ As you go out in the world, we want you all to live your dreams wherever they may take you.”

Following breakfast, the Cookie CEOs toured the Gathering Place, learned about the various Girl Scout artifacts on display throughout the office and met with several teams, such as marketing, retail and programs. Later in the day, the girls addressed everyone during an all-staff conference call.

Cookie CEO conference call
Nina, a 16-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador, addresses staff during a midday council-wide conference call.

“I love being here,” Holly, a third-year Cookie CEO, said during the meeting. “Each year, it motivates me to sell a lot of cookies.”

In addition to learning important life skills from selling cookies, such as goal setting, decision making and money management skills, several of the Cookie CEOs said the Girl Scout Cookie Program helped develop their confidence.

“I used to be shy and have low self-esteem,” shared Morrigan. “But Girl Scouts helped me build my people skills. I’m more confident in myself and I have Girl Scouts to thank for that.”

Afterward, the Cookie CEOs had lunch at Maggiano’s Little Italy and visited the set of a hit television show being filmed in Chicago.

“I like being a Cookie CEO because everyone is so welcoming and they’re really nice,” said Taylor, a first-time Cookie CEO.

Cookie CEO selfie
(From left to right: Morrigan, Holly, Mairead, Taylor and Nina) The Cookie CEOs take a #selfie after meeting with marketing as part of their Twitter takeover. All smiles, here!

Mairead, who returned for a second year as a top cookie seller, agreed.

“It feels good to be a Cookie CEO because you earned it,” she said. “It’s exciting to meet everyone and make new friends.”

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Send your ideas to gsmarketing@girlscoutsgcnwi.org!