Our Girl Scouts make service a tradition just like any holiday, and this year, community service and spreading kindness is more important than ever. There are still plenty of ways to do good and make the world a better place. Be inspired by these stories and learn how Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) are keeping the community service going!
A Special Holiday Tradition
Girl Scout troop leader Tina and her girls know the value of community service well: together, they have filled over hundreds of baskets full of Thanksgiving food for years, and their service has become especially essential this year.
The annual service project began years ago as a coordinated effort between local troops and the Mundelein Police Department. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the project continued, and with the help of local schools and Girl Scouts throughout Service Unit 415, Tina and her girls were able to help serve over 100 families in their small community this year!
“Teaching my girls to be kind and humble is very important,” Tina explained. “I try to [have the girls] do things they can see and feel are impacting others,” even as the troop stays apart. “I constantly remind my girls that, as Girl Scouts, we help people at all times.”
More Ways to Give Back!
Check out this shoutout to Service Unit 596 for their very generous donation to Journeys Home!
Girl Scouts from Troop 71503 based in Romeoville recently were featured on the Daily Herald for their Bronze Award service project! The girls added a micro-pantry to the Romeoville branch of the White Oak Library District, now providing a place for people to anonymously donate and pick up food.
It’s a Winter Wonderland this December with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), and you’re invited! We might all be staying at home, but that’s no reason we can’t have a good time together. Whether it’s celebrating Holidays Around the World, learning about the universe at our Space Science webinars, or participating in some special surprises throughout the month, we’re sure to have a wonderful winter together!
Virtual Programs for All Ages (K-12)
Take it outside on Dec. 1 to identify different types of snowflakes and then defy the laws of science by building a snowman indoors!
Get ready to investigate and explore the universe with your Girl Scout sisters! Brownies through Cadettes can get started on their Space Science badges with these badge starter webinars on Dec. 9. We will explore everything from invisible light to how light impacts our environment, the planets, the moon, the stars, our solar system, and more!
Meet with other Juliette mentors and council staff from camp, program, product program, and membership departments at our Juliette Mentor Chat on Dec. 9. Bring your questions and excitement about our Juliette, self-directed Girl Scouts!
All returning, new and potential volunteers are invited to attend the Mock Virtual Troop Meeting on Dec. 14 to experience what a virtual troop meeting could be like! You’ll see how the VTK meeting plans can be combined with your own personal style.
Girl Scout troops are staying connected as best they can, and they are coming up with some beautiful, imaginative ways to come together! Girl Scout Seniors from Troop 40048, who are currently working on the GIRLtopia Journey, completed a fantastic art project as a part of the Journey, and as you can see, the results were fantastic, even though the girls worked separately on their own time.
Read on to hear directly from the troop how they put together this amazing work of art, and how they’re staying connected through difficult times.
The Power of Friendship
“My group really likes working together,” troop leader Patty explained. “These girls are very bonded to each other. When we come together as Girl Scouts, they really enjoy collaboration.” Their tight friendship inspired Patty to challenge the girls with a group art project, with each girl completing two squares to form a portrait of artist Frida Kahlo. “You can see how it unraveled. It was very cool to see their personalities in the different squares.”
Girl Scout Audrey explained further: “It’s kind of a representation of our relationship as a troop because we’ve known each other for years.” For these girls, connecting with each other has become more important than ever. “Just being able to see that handful of my friends a couple times every few months was so grounding, and reminded me that I have people that care about me.”
Zoe agreed: “It was really nice to see familiar faces,” and Audrey continued, “Normal friend groups obviously don’t have scheduled meetings, but it’s really nice to have this. [Girl Scouts] is something that’s always there for you.” Even as restrictions on meeting in person continue to tighten, “we’ve always found a way to stay together– that’s how important we are to each other,” Samantha shared. Jahnavi added, “These are lifelong friends.”
“When you come to Girl Scouts, you see people who know you for you,” Violet added, “especially being on Zoom all day long with your classes.” Clearly, Girl Scouts is valuable to these girls. Julia believes Girl Scouts is a great way to set yourself up for the future, Brooke has enjoyed the leadership opportunities presented to her, and to Pavithra, “the most valuable part of Girl Scouting is friendship.”
“I’ve seen so much growth,” Patty reflected, “and that is just remarkable to me.”
Great job to these girls! We love your art work and hearing about your amazing friendship!
Share Your Story!
Do you have a story to share with us? We want to hear it!
Tag us on social media (@GirlScoutsGCNWI on all platforms) or submit your story on our website for a chance to be featured on our blog.
Girl Scouts are known for their allegiance to our nation’s veterans and have found creative and impactful ways to continue engaging with service members.
Since last year’s launch of the Honoring Our Veterans Patch Program, created in collaboration with army veteran, Girl Scout alum, and United States Senator Tammy Duckworth, Girl Scouts from around Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) have connected with and honored veterans in their communities.
Listen to Senator Duckworth speak on the importance of service:
Whether by completing a service project, visiting veterans to connect personally, or telling the stories of veterans, girls can earn the Girl Scouts GCNWI Honoring our Veterans patch and make a difference in the lives of veterans around them.
Read on to learn how our girls are celebrating this year’s Veterans Day, and how you can join in!
Honoring the Nation
Girl Scouts as young as Brownies (grades 2-3) are earning the patch, and these two troops 45713 and 45936 made a special and creative video encouraging everyone to thank our nation’s veterans!
Watch the video above and get inspired to take action and thank a veteran today!
Service animals, pets that are trained to provide comfort and assistance to veterans, can be essential to healing after stressful and dangerous circumstances. Girl Scout Troop 75466 felt they could do good by providing a service animal to someone who needed it— and they accomplished their goal!
The girls worked hard selling cookies to fund the adoption of a service dog, and with the help of a local organization, were able to provide a local veteran with a much-appreciated furry friend. As you can see from the picture, both the dog and the veteran were very happy to meet each other! Congratulations to him and the girls for their amazing act of kindness!
Honoring our Veterans from Home
Girl Scouts interested in completing the Honoring our Veterans Patch Program should complete at least two of the criteria from the list below and share their story in order to earn the patch.
Take inspiration from the stories above or read this list to get some ideas:
Complete a Service Project Benefitting Veterans
You may complete two service projects to earn the patch. Below are some ideas:
Send cards of appreciation
Donate Girl Scout Cookies to a veteran home or program
Coordinate and lead a virtual activity with a veteran
Work with a local veteran or senior center to coordinate the delivery of hygiene supplies, clothes, and other needed items.
Visit with a Veteran
While meeting in person may not be currently safe, coordinating online meetings with veterans you know or in a program can fulfill the requirement.
Tell a Veteran’s Story
Interview a veteran virtually and tell their story through writing, video, or another way! Use digital resources and get creative with how you tell and share their story.
During this unprecedented year, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) has had to pivot and adjust so we can continue to support Girl Scouts as they serve their communities and making change in whatever ways they can, despite current meeting restrictions.
Local Girl Scouts from all over our council continue to make the world a better place: read on to learn about just three of our council’s troops who came up with creative ways to make the best of a difficult situation and spread kindness to their communities!
Girl Scouts Work Together!
Troop 55191 of Itasca worked together with their community for Journeys: The Road Home, which oversees the PADS shelters. After previously working with the PADS shelters, the decided to repeat their service, using technology to their advantage to collect donations through Facebook. The girls picked up the donations, and made a substantial contribution to the organization.
Their troop leader Denise reflected on the Bronze Award project: “We are working together to make the world a better place, even with new restrictions on how we can meet!”
Girl Scout troops 50074 and 55990 completed their Bronze Award last month in collaboration with Mayor Richard Irvin of Aurora and Ward 9 Alderman Edward J. Bugg! These community leaders joined the Girl Scouts to plant trees at Ridge Park after presenting their project in a city council meeting all the way back in February. Nine trees were planed in an effort to replenish the trees impacted by the Emerald Ash Borer beetles.
Great job to these go-getter girls for doing their part to better their local environment!
Juniors are also getting in on the service action, as Troop 45133 in Buffalo Grove found a new way to do service safety. The girls spent an afternoon outside at a senior community in Wheeling, painting the residents’ windows with beautiful fall-themed scenes. Several residents watched them through the windows, and they waved and smiled!
What an awesome way to spread some cheer: we love it!
Earn a Highest Award!
Bronze. Silver. Gold. These represent the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn. As girls earn one of Girl Scouts’ highest awards, they change their corner of the world—and beyond. The possibilities are endless, even now!
“The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”
Juliette Gordon Low
This year’s National Council Session (NCS) was historic! Originally scheduled as a fun and exciting experience of sisterhood in Orlando, due to the pandemic was flipped to the first all-virtual National Session. National delegates from across the country gathered virtually to present, discuss, revise and vote on proposals that would indelibly affect the National Girl Scout movement.
For our council, this NCS was a momentous success, as two proposals, authored and presented by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), were passed. This was the first time two proposals from the same council have been approved, and we are incredibly proud of everyone who made this happen!
Making your proposal come to life at any National Council Session is no small task, and this year, the circumstances were even tougher. For months prior to NCS our delegates poured over every word of the 2 proposals to be able to present them in their best version. Delegates participated in countless small group discussions with other delegates from around the country to answer questions, hear opinions and comments, and gather support.
Our convention team came together, and girls and adults participated in meetings and learning opportunities for all our council’s National Delegates. Through this safe platform of sisterhood, girls new to the role of National Delegate, listened, learned and took the lead to ask questions, share their ideas and offer suggestions. It was wonderful to watch our seasoned adult delegates lend their expertise and guidance to our girls to carry the movement into the future.
The virtual platform proved a challenge for the delegates, but through mutual support and an active WhatsApp chat group, they were able to overcome all obstacles. Over the three days of the convention, our delegates, and thousands of others, including girls, volunteers, staff, and board members, presented, debated, amended, and voted on proposals relevant to Girl Scout members from every state. The work paid off, and GSGCNWI has a lot to celebrate.
2023 is already on the way—and the discussions on what to bring to the table are already underway. While we wait, let’s congratulate everyone involved in the huge success:
In December, Girl Scouts will debut a refreshed member account management system designed with you in mind. The new environment will provide increased visibility to your Girl Scout member account, make it simpler to manage household (and troop) memberships, and make it easier for you to find more fun for your Girl Scout!
However, to implement these changes, all member systems will be unavailable from November 18 through December 7. This includes:
Volunteer Toolkit (VTK)
New membership registration/s and membership renewals
Looker (used by service unit data reporters)
Background check completion and submission for processing
What does this downtime mean for you?
Read below to see steps you can take to prepare for downtime.
You will not be able to access anything within your MY GS account (including your family profile, troop profile, and the VTK) from Nov. 18-Dec. 7.
Troop leaders/assistant leaders and parents/caregivers of Individually Registered Members (IRMs or Juliettes) should download any VTK meeting plans, rosters, and contact information before Nov. 18 as you will not be able to access the VTK during downtime.
Service Unit team members (mentors, program coaches, trainers, etc.) should reschedule all VTK trainings from Nov. 18-Dec. 7.
You will not be able to access anything within your myGS member account from Nov. 18-Dec. 7.
Current members should review their household memberships (in myGS) and complete any necessary renewals by November 18.
In the new platform, all parents/caregivers must have a unique email address. In our current system, many parents/caregivers share one email address to access their family’s Girl Scout account. To ensure a smooth transition for your family, please take a moment to review and prepare your household for our fresh new environment by following these three steps:
Log in to MY GS. (Note: In the new system, MY GS will become My Account.)
Review your household’s email address. Are the adults in your household using the same email address? If yes, complete the next step.
Provide a new email address for the secondary parent/caregiver.
This is also good time to confirm the school we have listed for your Girl Scout(s) is correct.
Girl Scout staff members also will be unable to access any member systems during the downtime. This means we will be unable to help you in the VTK, make troop changes, change contact information, complete background checks, add volunteer roles, or perform other similar tasks.
All members and volunteers should watch for an email from Girl Scouts in early December announcing the debut of our refreshed member account management system, updated login information, and instructions on how to access their refreshed Girl Scout account (myAccount) .
Looker, the service unit admin team reporting resource, will be unavailable from November 20 through December 7.
Volunteers who use Looker should download a copy of the reports used. In some instances, you may be able to use the most recent data available to meet your needs.
Background Check Processing and Screening
Background checks will be unavailable for processing and screening from Nov. 18-Dec. 7. If a volunteer’s background check is incomplete prior to Nov. 18 you will have to hold on volunteer activities until post Go-Live when eligibility status has been confirmed.
All volunteers who have received an invitation from the background check vendor to complete (or renew) their background check should submit their background check prior to November 14 to allow time for processing.
As Go-Live approaches we want you – our members and volunteers – to know that we will be here to guide you through the transition from beginning to end!
And, help us spread the word! Please share this information with other Girl Scout members. It’s very important that everyone knows that MY GS, the VTK, and Looker will be unavailable from November 18 through December 7 in order to ensure everyone is prepared.
Thank you for your patience while we work to enhance your Girl Scout member experience. We’re excited to support you through the transition and welcome you to our new member platform!
Girl Scouts are civically engaged, passionate about social justice, and eager to use their voices for the greater good. Girl Scouts who are not old enough to vote are not discouraged: in fact, they make calls to the community, and the country, to vote and play a part in our nation’s democratic processes.
Girl Scout Service Unit managers 409 also took on the challenge of shifting programs from in-person to virtual, and this year, piloted Camp Liberty, a program dedicated to educating girls about civic engagement and suffrage. Read on to hear from managers Chris Graves and Claire Mosshamer about Camp Liberty!
The State of the Girl’s Nation
Camp Liberty was inspired by necessity and ingenuity on the part of Chris and Claire. When plans for Camporee, an annual outdoor event where older girls mentor younger girls through their first camping experience had to restructure because of COVID-19 restrictions, leaders and girls were yearning for ways to stay connected and engaged.
This sparked the Service Unit managers to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances, creating a hybrid event of virtual and in-person activities designed to help girls earn the Democracy badges. The girl-led Camporee program, shifted to become “Camp Liberty.”
To Chris and Claire, the idea was a no-brainer: “It fits right in with the 100-year anniversary of the suffrage movement,” Chris explained, and educating girls on the upcoming November presidential election is especially important. She continued, “It really teaches the right type of civics that we want kids to know.”
Claire added, “We were bent on the girls not losing out on things because of the [current socially-distanced] situation. We really tried to think of different ways to deliver content to them.” Their plan is to help Girl Scouts and volunteers remain engaged in the program is whatever what they can: “Girl Scouting is really important now to get them to expand beyond their homes. It’s important for us to try and provide as many opportunities for connection as possible.”
The work of the girls and volunteers culminated in a series of in-person and virtual events, including webinars on the subjects of local suffrage movements in Oak Park and River Forest, discussions with Oak Park Village Clerk Vicki Scaman and President of the Park District of Oak Park Sandy Lenz, and an open forum with Cook County Probate Court Judge Aicha MacCarthy and local lawyer Donna Ioppolo.
The girls also modeled their own suffrage march and scavenger hunt, where smaller groups of girls hiked Camp Greene Wood and learned facts about the diverse women responsible for the passage of the 19th amendment and simulated an election among the participants.
Girls who participated (nearly 200 girls from the Service Unit!) earned their Democracy badges, as well as this year’s commemorative Suffrage Centennial Patch, both available for all ages of Girl Scouts. “We’re trying to get the girls to understand how our government works,” Chris said, “so maybe they’ll be inspired to maybe run for office, or at the very least, pay attention and be involved. We want our girls to reach high, and the only way we can do that is to try to show them what the possibilities are.”
Thank you to Chris and Claire for inspiring our Girl Scouts to dream big and participate in the future of this nation’s history!
Civic engagement is just one way Girl Scouts advocate for positive change and make the world a better place. And though some girls may be too young to cast a ballot, they can still mobilize their communities to take action.
Discover the history of women’s voting rights and civic engagement through the Girl Scout Suffrage Centennial patch. You’ll wear the patch proudly after learning about the gender barriers that have been broken and the women who broke them.
The Girl Scouts of the USA 55th National Council Session (NCS) was unlike any before: nearly 1,200 voting delegates, along with girls, volunteers, staff, and board members from across the country, gathered virtually to celebrate Girl Scouts and consider six proposals affecting the Girl Scout Movement.
Twelve fantastic Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) played an important role in the weekend and NCS proceedings: Leah, Alonda, Caroline, Dex, Alany, Emily, Ariana, Kate, Erin, Dakota, Carlie, and Laura. Two of the girls’ mentors, Alaina Greene and Karen Schillings, provided the opportunity for the girls to take the lead and make real change in Girl Scout legislation. Read on to hear from Alaina Greene, a GCNWI staff member, who helped the girls take the lead and start their own girl-led forum!
Girls are Shaping the Future
Guest-post by Alaina Greene, Troop Support Specialist at GCNWI, member of the National Convention team, and mentor to the GSGCNWI girl delegates.
I am still processing the amazing weekend I just experienced with our delegation, as we attended the 55th National Council Session. It was a groundbreaking, challenging, fun, and Movement-shaping weekend that I am sure you’re excited about—but I am here to tell you about the work of our council’s amazing girl delegates leading up to that weekend.
The GCNWI girl delegates applied to the three-year position last winter, before we knew we would have to pivot to a virtual platform. By the time our nine girl delegates and three alternates were elected in the spring, we were deep into social distancing, and our Orlando trip was no longer possible.
Even with the rapidly changing circumstances, the girls were excited to participate in decisions that would shape the future of the nation’s Girl Scouts. “I enjoyed all of the fun experiences with the badges, but I wanted to see how I could get involved beyond traditional Girl Scouting,” Kate explained in conversation about her NCS experience.
Dakota wanted her opinions to be heard and actually make a change: “I wanted to show the other girls in my troop that if you want to do something big, all you have to do is try.”
“At first,” Alonda revealed, “I didn’t understand any of it. I know now that the things we do and say shape the future for girls.”
The girl delegates’ mentor Karen Schillings—who also serves as a Council Historian, Chair of Adult Recognitions, AND a troop leader—finds this to be the most valuable part of chaperoning the girls through the NCS process: “I want to hear the girl’s point of view.”
And these girls took on the responsibility with great enthusiasm: “They seem to sense that their role as a delegate is historical and will have an impact, not just for today, but for the future of the movement,” Karen reported.
So we persisted, and remained engaged not only in numerous Zoom calls with each other, but countless forums, caucuses, and trainings hosted by GSUSA. They were tasked with learning about their role as a national delegate, including a deep understanding of the six proposals that were up for consideration at NCS, and parliamentary procedures.
Even with the unconventional virtual structure, the girls rose to the challenge and exceeded expectations.
As we inched closer and closer to NCS, our girl delegates started to express that the national forums they were participating in weren’t exactly what they wanted. They didn’t want forums moderated by adults—they wanted a forum where they could talk to other girl delegates without having an adult direct the conversation. From this sprang the idea of a girl-led delegate forum, hosted by our GCNWI girl delegates.
In under a month, our girl delegates brainstormed, planned, and re-planned a forum led solely by girls. Four GCNWI girls hosted, and delegates from across the country were invited to attend. Delegates from at least 11 councils joined the forum to share their opinions.
Did everything go smoothly? No. In fact, our girls had to shift quickly, and our facilitator, Leah, had to get creative with her tactics. Conversations struggled at the top, but soon, more and more attendees were unmuting. Delegates were sharing their ideas, but also voicing when they were uncertain, something we all know can be intimidating to say to a group.
“As a host for the girl delegate call,” Leah said, “even if things went differently than I had prepared for, I had to go with the flow. I’m proud that I was able to help give those girls a meaningful experience.”
“One thing I’ve noticed,” Karen explained, “is that girls are capable of significant accomplishments if we just give them the support and confidence they need to lead. When we, as adults, show that we believe in them, they ultimately believe in themselves.”
I am so proud of the work our girl delegates put into this, both behind the scenes leading up to the day, and during the forum. The teamwork, leadership, and innovation they demonstrated allowed them to create the safe space for the dialogue they hoped for.
Attendees of the forum commented that they were so happy to have the opportunity to attend and connect with other girl delegates. At the end of the Forum, they all said, “See you next weekend at NCS!”
In the past year a lot of our plans have changed, and many of us have been forced to shift. What has not changed is the determination and spirit of our girls. They continue to blaze new trails and inspire.
“It’s important for girls to take leadership positions so they can make a change in their lives, instead of letting someone else do it,” Dakota said.
“Girls have a specific point of view that adults don’t—it’s important for girls to be able to share that point of view,” Leah explained, and Alonda added, “I feel like there’s not enough recognition for young girl’s and women’s leadership.”
Carlie also agreed: “Girls are often told it’s bad to be loud, and Girl Scouts teaches us that our strength is our voice, our actions, us. Creating spaces for girls to learn voting, business, public speaking, and diplomatic skills is crucial to creating a world that is meant for us, too.”
Kate concluded, “I’m excited to be a part of something that will impact not only my community, but girls throughout the United States.”
Save the Date for the next National Council Session!
Girl Scouts are welcome to attend the next National Council Session in July 2023 on their own, as a troop, or you can apply to be a delegate.
Applications will open in 2022 for the 2023 National Council Session. Adults and Girls that are 14 and up will be able to apply.