We are so excited to introduce 28 new badges for Girl Scouts of all ages!
Become a digital activist; make your own Cookie Business plan; explore the natural world through the lens of math; it’s time to take on something new! With these 28 new badges in Math in Nature, Entrepreneurship, and Digital Leadership,and new Global Action Awards, Girl Scouts will have the chance to break new ground in whatever they’re passionate about, whether it’s reinventing the way they sell cookies or finding out that STEM is for them.
All Girl Scouts in grades K-12 can now earn Cookie Business and Digital Leadership badges!
13 Cookie Business Badges
Girl Scout Daisies to Ambassadors will be challenged to think beyond the cookie booth and become Cookie Goal Setters, Bosses, and Influencers! Digital sales and marketing will be just part of this curriculum where Girl Scouts will learn how to make the most of the Cookie Season and the Digital Cookie® platform!
6 Digital Leadership Badges
Sponsored by Instagram
Girl Scouts of all ages looking to explore the power of social media should look no further than the Digital Leadership badges! Learn to be safe online and manage screen time, how to create social impact and become a digital activist, and connect with your local and global community!
2 Global Action Awards Badges
There are two new major awards for Girl Scouts of all ages: World Thinking Day Award and Global Action Award. Girl Scouts will be able to start creating global impact today with these two new awards–one for each Girl Scout level.
New for Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors
Girl Scouts in grades K-5 can now earn brand-new Math in Nature badges!
9 Math in Nature Badges
Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson
Get outdoors and explore the worlds of mathematics and nature, at once! These badges help Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors (K-5) live in the intersection of science and math, discovering the Fibonacci sequence, finding patterns in the planet, and much more.
Get Started Today!
These badges are ready to go, and through Girl Scouts at Home, GSUSA has free self-guided activities available online now!
You can also access a suite of Girl Scout programming online through the Volunteer Toolkit, including troop meeting plans, tips for volunteers, and other resources to help Girl Scouts earn badges and awards! There are also 28 training videos for volunteers: search gsLearn for “Badges” to watch all the mini-courses!
Join Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) at our premier fall fundraising event, Smart Cookies Badge Bash, this September 23 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago! Hosted by our Associate Board, this event will give our supporters and community the chance to experience the fun and meaning of Girl Scouting firsthand, by meeting and learning from our Girl Scouts themselves.
At this signature cocktail reception event, we are showcasing the unique experiences Girl Scouting provides at 6-8 booths headed by Cadette and Juniors Girl Scouts from our council! Attendees will participate in hands-on activities and learn more about what Girl Scouting is like by visiting booths such as Cadette Space, Science of Happiness, and the Coding Basics booth.
We are excited to feature the Newton Busters, the FIRST LEGO League World Championships competitors, who will be present at the Smart Cookies Badge Bash with their own booth! This is an incredible team of robot designing Girl Scouts in 7th to 12th grade who utilize several programs to showcase their technical design and team performance at local, state, and national competitions. They aim to raise awareness that women represent 25% of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workforce, and to raise the participation of girls in STEM activities through community outreach programs. Don’t miss out on a chance to see how these robots are made and get an opportunity to drive one!
Don’t miss out!
Bring your “troop” of friends and test your skills in earning badges and patches, led by today’s Girl Scouts, while enjoying bites, beverages, music, and much more.
Gold Award Girl Scouts are the dreamers and the doers who take “make the world a better place” to the next level. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable and proof that not only can they make a difference, but that they already have.
Seniors and Ambassadors who earn the Gold Award tackle issues that are dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. Think of the Gold Award as a key that can open doors to scholarships, preferred admission tracks for college, and amazing career opportunities.
The Gold Award Class of 2021 from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) are young changemakers; they are innovators, organizers, and advocates. Each of these Girl Scouts poured their hearts and energy into projects that will leave a positive and lasting impact on others, and we are so proud of them!
Scroll through to meet the Gold Award Class of 2021!
Alexis T. Staying Alive
My original idea for my project, “Staying Alive,” was to CPR-certify members of my community. This new skill would allow people to act in the case of an emergency and have the potential to save lives. Due to the pandemic, I had to slightly change my project. I decided to start making face masks for people within my community and I attached a card that outlines the basic steps of CPR. These cards can be kept in wallets, cars or wherever else may be useful. The face masks I made were used by members of my community in order to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. It was important to me that I incorporated a new plan of action once I determined that I could no longer safely certify people. Even though I could no longer certify people in person, I knew that I still wanted to share this skill with others. By making the cards and masks, it allowed me to share this skill while still staying safe.
Allie D. From Eigth Grade to High School
My project is a presentation that is going to be put up on Bannockburn Elementary School website. The project gives tips and advice to help the eighth graders transition to the major high school in our town. The topics are clubs, academics, athletics, and some other social aspects.
Allison S. Pollinator Garden
Our church had a third of an acre “forest” full of invasive plants. I cleaned and mulched the area and created a pollinator garden using native plants. We also removed invasive trees and bushes, replacing them with native species.
Alyssa N. Fish Measuring Boards and Portable Tables (FLAG)
I made fish measuring boards and portable tables for the Will County Forest Preserve.
Alyssa S. Gaming for Women
I created a tournament for competitive Pokemon specifically designed to welcome women to play. Named the “Women’s Tournament,” I was able to create a safe space for women to feel welcome and play Pokemon, and also interact with other women in the community. I also created a Discord server for people to join and use that as the hub for women to practice and meet each other and view tournament information. I was able to livestream the event on Twitch so that everyone else in the community could watch and support the women playing in the tournament.
Amber D. Growing With The Elderly
I built and painted two raised gardening beds with wheels and have them to the American House Cedarlake Assisted Living Facility. Each bed has four wooden walls, caster wheels (for mobility), soil, and seeds. Since the residents are not allowed outside of the homes, adding a garden with fresh vegetables and herbs would gave them a new hobby (gardening), some new scenery to look at while inside of the home, and a new garden filled with fruits and vegetables that they can eat.
Amelia R. Prayer Garden
In order to bring attention to the ever growing awareness around mental health, a garden for prayer, reflection, meditation, and mindfulness was made to be accessible to the students and staff at the Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart. Complete with a bench, carefully hand painted rocks, and a mailbox with wonderful messages of positivity and mindfulness along with guides to meditation, this garden has been an exceptional addition to the school especially due to how no spaces at the school were specifically designed for students to go to for complete privacy prior to the completion of the garden. Located in the school’s outdoor garden, it gives students the chance to reconnect with nature and to take a moment to destress, away from the stressors of every day life at school.
Anna B. Mokena School and Park District Pet Cleanup
My Gold Award addresses the issue of pet waste left on the grounds of the community park and on the grounds of the adjacent school. The park and the large area around the school are very popular places for members of the community to walk with their dogs and these areas see a great deal of foot traffic. By providing pet waste receptacles, I have helped the community maintain the health and beauty of the grass and keep it free of pet waste, thereby allowing members of the community to better enjoy these outdoor areas.
Aren S. Supply Station
My project was created to help students who may not have access to important daily school supplies. I selected a school that over 76% of the population is on the free and reduced lunch plan. I wanted students to focus on their education and not on the financial burden that buying supplies places on those kiddos. I fundraised and had many supplies donated. After supplies were donated bags were created with school supplies the students needed. The additional school supplies were in a general location at the school for students to access when they were needed throughout the school year.
Arwen R. St. John’s Cemetery Veteran Memorial Map Project
My project makes sure that all veterans buried at St. John’s cemetery in Mokena, Illinois receive proper recognition by flag placement at the foot of their grave for Memorial Day. To achieve this goal, I worked with both the head of St. John’s Cemetery and the Mokena VFW Post 725 to produce a map of the cemetery that has the locations and names of all deceased veterans. This map is reproduced and distributed to those placing flags on the graves the weekend before Memorial Day and helps to ensure that no veteran is forgotten or left behind.
Ashley S. Comfort Carts
My project addresses the need for providing children’s ministry services for families with special needs children. After working in the Peer Partner program at my high school, I realized the importance of having more opportunities for inclusion for these children in my community. As a result, I researched, designed, and created a special needs program for Alleluia Lutheran Church called Caring Connect whereby special needs children can be assimilated into age appropriate Sunday School classrooms to promote independence and growth as well as build self-esteem for these children. The project also included the development of two mobile comfort carts that contain fidgets and specialized equipment needed to incorporate these children into a classroom in a safe and comfortable way. To reduce costs, I constructed several items such as sensory bottles, weighted lap pads, and weighted stuffed animals. The project also involved development of the program procedures and a training program and manual to qualify and train volunteers. After training, each special needs child is provided with a “buddy” each week to serve as their mentor.
Avery M. Distance Marker Project
I worked to support my community by implementing distance marker signs along the path in a local park. Also included with the distance markers is an opening sign with a summary of the history of the town and park. The goal is to encourage outdoor activity and beautify the park.
Brianna D. For the Love of STEM
I planned and hosted a virtual STEM event for 100 third and fourth graders in my community. Additionally, I made a website with curriculum, instructions, and required materials for future use. I aimed to decrease stigmas within STEM classes and courses that lead to disinterest. While instructing participants through a variety of STEM-related activities, I taught technical skills and soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.
Cali L. Mental Health Videos
During our turbulent teenage years, there’s a lot of things that can wrong and that can change. One thing that is affected during this time, though, is mental health. When I first started this project, I identified that my mental health was not the strongest and that led to a series of issues, such as me losing friends and stopping activities that I was passionate about. I wanted to make videos to help try to reverse those things.
Caroline E. Outdoor Oasis
The Outdoor Oasis project entailed creating a garden for hands-on agricultural and biological experiences for school children. In this project, I created a tiered “vertical” garden with many garden boxes in order to efficiently use the space, as well as created a traditional raised garden bed. The grade levels have split up the various gardening areas and will include it as part of their curriculum when teaching about plants. Additionally, they will be able to use the vegetables once they are grown. Finally, the garden also serves to beautify the courtyard that it is located in.
Claire B. Little Free Libraries
I went out and built/installed three Little Free Libraries around my community in places where they would be helpful and/or spark interest in reading. I aimed to provide as diverse stories as possible to expose my community to a broad variety of different narratives!
Delaney B. Diapers for Dignity
Nationwide, researchers estimated that 7 million children need diapers, and only about 300,000 of these children receive support from diaper banks. Diapers are an essential and often an overlooked need for families who are struggling financially. Dignity, and overall family well-being are at stake when parents and caregivers cannot afford an adequate number of disposable diapers. Diaper Depot provided low income families in the North/Northwest region of Chicago the support they needed.
Eden H. Kenilworth Union Church Cares
I created a junior care guild to provide support to those struggling with mental health issues in my community. My project directly fought the negative impacts that COVID-19 had on the mental health of youth in my community. My junior care guild provides all types of support to teens in the area who are struggling such as delivering goodies and mailing cards.
Elliana B. Remodeling the Early Childhood Education Center at Concordia University
As schools are reopening this fall, they have an unexpected challenge to address, especially how to safely educate students during a pandemic. The Early Childhood Education Center at Concordia University Chicago has been working for many years to improve their playgrounds but they still had a few issues to address. These issues include having unusable outdoor storage for their toys and equipment and needing a wider variety of areas for children to play and explore.
I created two platforms that lifted the storage containers out of the mud and allowed the doors to swing freely. This also allowed for the toys inside to be stored cleanly instead of having them sit directly in the mud. I also created a kitchen to match the pots and pans that the teachers already had. This created an entirely new play area for the preschoolers who must spend most of their day playing outside due to COVID-19.
Heidi S. Raised Herb and Flower Boxes
My Gold Award involved the creation of three elevated garden bed boxes at a local retirement home in my community. These boxes allowed residents to have an outlet for the planning, growing and harvesting of their own herbs, vegetables and flowers. It also allowed for the socialization of the residents and collaboration of their efforts.
Janine G. Girls in STEM
I hosted three workshops with 29 girls. I did five experiments that related to science and also gave a presentation that looked at what STEM was and other resources that girls can use to continue their learning in relation to STEM. Each workshop was about an hour and a half and most of the girls were Girl Scouts; all of them were in grades 3-5.
Jenna H. Butterfly Prairie Garden
For my Gold Award I designed a butterfly garden at Camp Greene Wood. I did this by cutting and mulching a sitting area and path through a prairie, building butterfly houses which were placed along the path, and built an entrance arbor for the garden. I also made informational booklets to guide troops through the path and educate them about prairie plants and flowers as they walk through the garden. For the garden, I picked and harvested seeds to spread and plant in the spring to continue to sustain the prairie.
Jennifer B. Composting Makes Changes
I created a double decker compost bin at the garden plots at the Lisle Food Pantry. The goal of my project was to find a more sustainable way to get rid of waste that comes from a garden. I used two large drum barrels as the composters and used wood supports in order to stack them and make the barrels easy to turn. Another goal of the composter was to make it easy to use.
Jordan E. Grab and Go Book Bags
I collected reusable bags and books for children at the Lake County Children’s Advocacy center to choose from. The LCAC deals with children and teens who have been abused and the teens are often forgotten when people are giving donations. I collected books geared towards teens and they can fill up a bag to take with them.
Jordan K. “Pop In” Boxes
I organized a donation drive for two homeless shelters in my area. I made the boxes myself, developed social media sites for the drive, and also created a website. This drive was created because these specific shelters were struggling throughout the holiday season during the pandemic, and I wanted to find a way for myself and the community to help out.
Jordanne N. Hey Pretty Girl
Many girls develop low self-esteem and body image issues due to how media portrayals. I created the website www.heyprettygirl.net, a safe space where girls can discuss and express their feelings and emotions about themselves through links to books, poetry, and affirmations that uplift. My final pieces were a self-esteem workshop, creating a club at my school, and growing a long-lasting social media presence.
Karina V. Be Smart, Don’t Start
My project was about raising awareness on the dangers of drug abuse amongst youth. I spent time researching, interviewing experts, and creating a presentation that I gave to youth groups. I also shared the presentation with local schools and a non-for-profit organization as an additional tool augment their health curriculum. My presentation also created anti-drug youth ambassadors.
Katie C. Befriend a Butterfly
My Gold Award addressed the decreasing Monarch butterfly population, and the steps that community members could take towards positively impacting the species. I lead educational classes that taught how to identify butterfly eggs in the wild and raise caterpillars from home. At the end of each class, I gave participants take-home kits which included instructions on how to raise them, two or three butterfly eggs, and a stalk of milkweed that was grown from seed. The intention of including the kits was to not only help inflate future monarch generations by adding to their population, but also promote awareness within younger generations. Additionally, I worked with my local public works department to install a large monarch habitat in the community park. The butterfly garden included several caterpillar and butterfly food sources, as well as an assortment of perennials and a flagstone path for kids to walk across.
Kayla A. How to be a Teen Advocate
According to Everytown USA, nearly 2,900 children and teens (ages 0 to 19) are shot and killed annually, and nearly 15,600 are shot and injured—that’s an average of 51 American young people every day. My project is to increase awareness of this problem by being a teen advocate to reduce gun violence against kids ages (0-19) while helping others advocate for their cause.
Keeley M. Girls in STEM!
My Gold Award addressed the underrepresentation and stereotypes of women in STEM fields. Often, girls are not encouraged or directed to pursue a passion in a STEM field. In order to address this, I completed a two-part project. For the first part of my project, I attended 11 younger Girl Scout troop meetings in my local area and I coordinated STEM based troop meetings. I directed activities such as a coding team-building maze, building platform shoes from recycled materials, making kinetic sand, a math scavenger hunt, and a race car coding activity. For the second part of my project, I moderated a live, 2-hour zoom webinar, in coordination with the Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien, Illinois. Five accomplished women in STEM fields were on the panel. They answered various questions relating to STEM, including their experiences in the workplace and how they became so successful. Through this, I was able to give and provide opportunity to my community at large.
Kendall B. Climate Connection
I built a bridge to ensure safety to those horseback riding or hiking over a small creek. Additionally, I further educated younger scouts and children how to take care of the outdoors and love the Earth!
Korey Z. Bethel Church Micro-pantry
Located in Lansing IL, I created a micro-pantry at Bethel Christian Reform church, where I saw a need for struggling families. A micro-pantry is a small box-like structure that offers non-perishables and other basic necessities to anyone who needs them. This created an anonymous place where people can get items without judgement and donate without contact of others.
Lia P. Community Benches
I researched the importance of social skills, friendship, and cooperation among the youngest of school children, and decided to develop a community bench. To do this, I assisted in the researching, building, and execution of plans to build the bench for a local preschool. In addition, I created an instructional video and survey to measure the effectiveness of my project in the classroom.
Lillian R. Girls Leadership Club
The Girls Leadership Club is a space dedicated to the young women of my school community’s personal empowerment and promoting both female empowerment and discussion of women’s issues school-wide. Girls Leadership Club invites girls from grades 9-12 to gather in a space that is safe and comfortable to express themselves, develop leadership skills, and broaden their own understanding of women’s issues, all while cultivate a culture of female empowerment in our school. We engaged in service for women facing housing insecurity, spent time discussing ways to improve our school’s culture surrounding women, and spent time reflecting on our own self-image as young women. Girls Leadership Club is both an all-purpose empowerment space and advocacy group for the women of my school and the world.
Lily P. Domestic Violence Prevention
Education outreach in schools and in the community and promoting healthy relationships was my main goal for my project. I wanted to bring awareness of unhealthy relationships and to provide a source of support to those who may find themselves in an unsafe environment. By going out into the community, I was able to collect much needed donations for the Apna Ghar Women’s Shelter as well as sharing educational materials and tools to the community.
Lindsey M. Shelter Garden
[I beautified] a shelter for the homeless to make clients feel better about where they are. Just because they are homeless, doesn’t mean they should have to go to a shelter that looks like it isn’t cared for. Having a beautiful place to call home will inspire residents to keep going on their path.
Madeline H. Empowerment Program
My Gold Award addressed teen girl empowerment and was designed to serve teenaged high school girls as part of a new program being developed at Naperville’s Alive Center. The project focused on the development of program content and activities for the newly created teen-led, teen-driven program as well as the creation of a resource brochure on teen issues. The brochure, designed to help teens navigate various teenager challenges, was distributed free distribution at Alive Center’s various locations as well as provided in electronic form for continued distribution.
Maeve D. Duck Deck Construction
For my Gold Award, I worked alongside Willowbrook Wildlife Center to build “duck deck.” These are raised, waterproof platforms made from decking material to provide shelter for the ducks at the Willowbrook nature center. With a hide-box and a hinged ramp, these decks can be submerged in a adequate environment for waterfowl and serve as a habitat for up to 25 years. The construction took about 4 days start to finish, with several months of planning and communication between those involved and myself.
Maheen S. Adopt-a-Grandparent
A safe space where youth and senior citizen members from the local community could come together to share experiences and learn from one another. Events included game night, storytelling, arts and crafts, small group interviews and gardening.
Margaret S. Beautifying Countryside Park
My Gold Award addressed the issue of improving the ecosystem and beautifying Countryside Park. It is important for my project to improve the ecosystem of [the park] and to enhance the presence of native plants as well as water ecosystems in the area. If this area is well maintained, it can impact the ecosystems around the park which would impact the [community] as a whole. This project did teach my community about native plants and the work it takes for a community to make something sustainable. My community will takes care of Countryside Park while I am away. As an example, I hope my community realizes not littering can help the garden and ecosystem flourish.
Neeharika K. Facilitating Intergenerational Engagement and Improving the Livelihood of our Elderly
Many local low-income senior citizens face challenges such as food insecurities, health issues, financial struggles, and loneliness. Additionally, there is seemingly little communication and understanding across generations. I decided to address these issues by hosting a care package event to support the senior community and create an opportunity for students and seniors to interact. Just as I had finalized my plan, the pandemic hit canceling my event indefinitely. I persevered and made adjustments to fit new regulations, eventually delivering care packages to 100 local seniors. After distributing the care packages, I was grateful to listen to stories from seniors and hear I inspired new hope for youth leadership. Further motivated by this, I coordinated an intergenerational pen-pal project to create a lasting impact. I believe my project showed seniors a community of youth that cared for their health and wanted to bring them some joy.
Olivia J. STEM in the Park
“STEM in the Park” are signs that combine Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities that use the playground equipment. Elementary school children can experience engaging learning activities while playing at Union Creek Park in Frankfort. Children will explore concepts like shapes, friction, gravity, speed, angles and much more.
Patricia M. POW/MIA Memorial
In my local cemetery I created a Prisoners of War (POW)/Missing in Action (MIA) memorial for the military. I also refurbished an old wooden chair for the local American Legion to use in their annual Memorial Day parade. This was a reminder for the community to always pay their respects to the ones who gave their lives for us at the Civil War cannon.
Rachel D. Christmas Shelter Store
My Gold Award addressed the issue of poverty by working with local homeless shelters to help reorganize and remodel their Christmas store in time for the holidays. This store allows people in the community to buy newer clothes and necessities with “Hesed Bucks” to help with the stressors the holidays can bring.
Rebecca F. Small Changes, Big Differences
I created a three week long video program where I reached out to young ladies and we talked about exercise, healthy eating, yoga, skin care, and mental health! Each day of the week I put out a new video I made onto our group Facebook page talking about one of our five core concepts, sharing tips and tricks to improve their everyday lifestyle! Throughout the three weeks I had talked to many of the girls via email and surveys to hear feedback from them and about the positive impacts that this experience gave them!
Scarlett O. Hats for Little Warriors
For my project, I learned to crochet hats for premature babies. I made four different sizes of the hats, as a way to impact a larger group of people. The hats that I made, I donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Edward-Elmhurst Hospital. These hats were brightly colored, and served as a way to remind the families of the babies in the NICU, that someone is thinking of them as they go through this difficult time in their lives.
Shaela O. Coal City Community Care Project
My goal was to increase the physical and emotional support for clients of Help for Hope and those in need in my community. Help for Hope is a local food and supply pantry in Coal City. I was able to achieve this by first implementing collection bins for supply donations at local churches, businesses, schools, and organizations. I also constructed a micro-pantry and donation drop-off box that provides anytime access to food, personal products, or other household supplies to those in need. In conjunction with the micro-pantry, I also created an instructional video on how to construct one as well, so that others may learn and become inspired to build one and spread love and assistance around their area as well. Additionally, I built a Letters of Love box, which allows community members to write letters of encouragement and hope to frequenters of the Help for Hope pantry, and help to bring a ray of sunshine to their day. Finally, I organized a drive-thru food and supply donation drive in order to be able to continue spreading awareness and support for Help for Hope, as well as restock their shelves annually. Overall, I was able to achieve my goal of lending a hand physically and emotionally to help those in need in my community.
Sheila T. Little Free Libraries
I built three Little Free Libraries and collected over one thousand books to stock them with. I gave three townships in Lake County a Little Free Library and at least two bins full of books for them.
Sloane J. The Importance of Freshman Year
My project was created to help incoming high school freshmen balance high school life. I talked about how it is important to stay focused freshmen year to be on track for what comes after graduation. I talked about how to balance social life with school work, how to manage time, SAT tips as well as options for after high school.
Taylor M. Niles North High School College Resource Center
The college resources center at Niles North High School did not maintain a list of educational summer programs. Currently, few students participate in summer programs, but I feel that more would enroll if the information was available. I created a comprehensive website containing educational summer programs. The site has over 25 different subject areas, each populated with info and the links to access these programs of their day playing outside due to COVID-19.
Teagan W. Theatre Content Organization Initiative
My project was centered around cataloging and organizing the storage spaces of my school’s theater program. I started by sifting through all of the materials in the storage spaces and separating the useful materials from the unusable materials. Next I cataloged the remaining materials in a spreadsheet. Finally I organized the materials by function, using shelving units and storage containers.
Tess O. RBHS Volunteer Choir
I founded and directed a student volunteer choir to perform at local nursing homes. The project addressed issues of senior isolation, while also providing choir students with opportunities for service. It was a great way for high school students to connect with the community, and to bring music to places that needed it most.
Drive-through, outdoor celebrations at both Camp Greene Wood and the Vernon Hills Gathering Place honored dedicated individual young Girl Scouts from throughout our council who earned their Gold Awards in 2020 and 2021: read our blog to see pictures and hear the story!
In 2020 and 2021, Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Girl Scouts, volunteers, family, and friends made the most of what was a uniquely difficult year. Girl Scouts pulled through; and we deserve to celebrate and look back on last Girl Scout year with pride!
Let’s take a look back at what we got up to and what our Girl Scouts accomplished.
Their efforts proved (like the 2020 Cookie Program theme) that no matter what comes their way, “We’ve Got This!” Congrats to these Girl Scouts and all of the volunteers AND our supporters that helped make this cookie season thrive!
The Girl Scouts of the USA 55th National Council Session (NCS) saw 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. For our council, this NCS was a momentous success! Two proposals authored and presented by GCNWI were passed, the first time two proposals from the same council have been approved! We are incredibly proud of everyone who made this happen; read more about it and our amazing National Council Delegates.
Last September, we hosted our first ever premiere virtual fundraising event, Smart Cookies: Stand for More, an evening dedicated to uplifting our tireless girls and members. The night showcased powerful stories from our members and Girl Scout champions, inspiring words from our CEO Nancy Wright and Associate Board members, and a council-wide and community pledge to support the future success of our girls.
Watch the Smart Cookies program above!
During this year’s Tribute to Achievement program, we focused on Moments that Matter: those moments in life, big or small, that forever change your future, your life, or the lives of those around you. And you, our supporters, made the Moment Matter like never before: thanks to generous donations, the council raised over $517,000 for our Girl Scouts! You can watch the program above if you missed it!
Thank you for an amazing year together!
We are so proud of everything our council members have accomplished and overcome this year, and we’re so excited for a year full of excitement, friendship, and even more fun!
We’re in the full swing of summer now, and already getting excited for the new Girl Scout year!
Before we get to fall, though, there’s still more to do! Read on to learn about what’s coming up this summer and fall with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI).
Get Outdoors This Summer!
Let’s GO! Summer is here and it’s the perfect time to head outdoors. Join the Girl Scouts Love the Outdoors Challenge—complete the designated number of activities and unlock a cool new patch. Use #gsoutdoors to share your story and to see how other girls are completing this fun outdoor challenge.
Every year, Girl Scouts explore the natural wonders found across our country during the Girl Scouts Love State Parks weekend. Save the date for September 11 & 12 to share the love of the outdoors at your local state parks!
There are big things coming next Girl Scout year (like new programs from GCNWI and GSUSA), so make sure to follow our social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to stay updated on what we’re getting up to!
Stay Tuned for Fall Product 2021!
The Fall Product Program is coming back this fall! Stay tuned for updates from our Product Program team!
Your time to shine? Now!
Time to Renew, Girl Scout!
Connecting. Testing your strength. Making a difference. Renew today to make sure you continue to shine your brightest.
Your gift to GCNWI is an investment in the lives of Girl Scouts, empowering them to be resilient leaders who make the world a better place. Give Girl Scouts the tools they need to thrive by making a gift of your choice on our website.
Our Girl Scout volunteers are just like our Girl Scouts: fearless and determined! If you haven’t heard of the Global Action Volunteer Team (GAVT), it’s time to get to know them! This month’s Volunteer Spotlight goes to a special group of volunteers from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) who are passionate about travel, cultural awareness, and sharing their knowledge with the Girl Scouts.
The Global Action Volunteer Team began in 2012 in conjunction with the GSUSA Global Girl Scouting initiative, and is lead by Maureen Ewing and council staff liaison Ashley Christensen. Current team members include Camille Gonzalez Jensen, Davia Wilkerson, Denise Urban, Fawna Black-Cicotte, JodiLyn Simmons-Machota, Karen Zeller, Kimberly DeWitt, Shari Schmidt, and Taylor Tengelsen, with new members Yaqoota Aziz and Geraldine Adams joining in 2021.
All the members LOVE to travel! The GAVT uses their experiences to engage and inspire girls to want to learn more about the world around them. They aspire to increase awareness of Global Girl Scouting amongst girls, parents, volunteers, and staff. The team wants to help other Girl Scout volunteers, especially leaders, understand the importance of and feel comfortable with travel and its progression throughout the Girl Scout program.
Maureen said, “Travel fosters confidence, compassion, curiosity, leadership, and independence. [Through travel,] girls learn to be citizens of the world and commit to making the world peaceful and equitable for all.”
Shari also believes that traveling with Girl Scouts helps girls in many ways: “Travel is an education that cannot be replicated with a video game or in a book or in a classroom. The best part of travelling is that the lessons are embedded. You don’t have to have a formal plan, even wandering from one place to another creates lifelong learnings that create the foundations for new adventures.”
The GSGCNWI GAVT believes that those who expand their worldview through global programming and travel opportunities will become more knowledgeable, compassionate citizens of the world. The team hopes that every Girl Scout has the opportunity to become a responsible and effective global leader. They want Girl Scouts to understand the world in a more open-minded, empathetic way. By seeing, and hopefully understanding other cultures, Girl Scouts can grow into conscientious citizens of the world.
If you want to learn more about traveling as a Girl Scout or about the Global Action Volunteer Team and how to join, check out our council’s travel webpage. If you are interested in giving a gift to the Travel Scholarship, you can do so on our website!
All of us at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana say a big thank you, to the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Global Action Volunteer Team (GAVT). We appreciate you, your dedication, work, and wonderful contributions to Girl Scouts!
The GAVT has their own blog series so you can get to know them a little better (and hear some awesome travel stories and tips, too!).
Girl Scouts, family, friends, and more from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) recently gathered on Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, to explore the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago and learn about the historical significance of Chicago’s Black Metropolis! This was the council’s very first gathering in honor of Juneteenth (learn more about the history of the holiday) and one of our first gatherings in person, and we were very excited to see everyone.
Read on below to learn about this awesome event (and see some pictures!).
At one stop on the scavenger hunt, Chicago muralist Chris Devins gave a surprise pop-up talk about the 2020 mural series, “Stations: Scenes from Bronzeville’s Family Photo Album,” and discussed with Girl Scouts the importance of “placemaking” (building art into communities to protect historical memories) in the Bronzeville community.
We were so happy to celebrate and honor Black culture and history on such a significant day and on Chicago’s south side, and we look forward to more neighborhood exploration together!
One of the organizers and Troop Support Specialist Latoya Bearden-Gardner reflected on the event: “To see Girl Scouts from all over the council come together to learn about the rich history in this community was amazing. It represented more than just another program or event and was instead a prolific statement. One that says COVID-19 cannot stop the work that we do to impact the lives of girls; one that says that we are strong enough together to overcome even the greatest of challenges; and one that says to the community and to the city, in big bold GREEN letters, that we are here!”
Scroll through to see pictures from the event!
Didn’t make it to the event? No problem!
You can still participate in the Photo Scavenger Hunt!
This week we are spotlighting the amazing work of Girl Scout volunteer Melissa Young-Bridgeforth, who has been a part of the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) community for more than 20 years as a member, a national and council delegate, Democratic Process Task Group chair, a troop leader, service unit manager, and MORE! Melissa’s service has gone above and beyond (and she is a recipient of the Thanks Badge for her volunteer work!), so this week, we are turning the tables and thanking her.
Read on to hear from Melissa about her Girl Scout legacy and relationship with GCNWI.
Volunteer Exemplifies What It Means to Be a Girl Scout
Melissa has been involved with Girl Scouts at almost every level of service. She first volunteered as a troop leader for her daughters, then as a service unit manager, and after voicing her concerns about Girl Scouts in the West Side of Chicago, she became a Council Delegate, “and somewhere in between there became a trainer.” After 10 years as a Council Delegate, Melissa has served as a National Delegate, and also serves as Delegate Chair. “Sprinkled throughout there, I still co-chair for the product programs (volunteer committees supporting both the Girl Scout Cookie and Fall Product Program) and still train if I’m needed.”
“When I started out as a service unit manager, I wasn’t liking how things were being communicated. Somebody [at the council] told me I needed to step up, so I kept stepping up. As my service started to grow, I became a mentor by default, because you have to recruit people if you have no one there to help tell them how to do things!”
Melissa leads by example, and people respect that. Her advice to younger or new volunteers: “Voice your opinion and make sure it’s heard and understood, period. That confidence and rapport with everyone around you will build. I think new leaders need to have that confidence; if you have it in your personal life or your workplace, bring it to Girl Scouts, also.”
As far as the future of Girl Scouts is concerned, Melissa has plenty of hope. “If enough of us are making this day better than the next, the world will become better… We are making baby steps, and baby steps are good because we still have glass ceilings everywhere. Each generation we’re building girls who are more robust, more willing to get up and start talking to people.”
“My personal perk from being a Girl Scout is that it helps me, we, find the skills we already have, period. The best part is being put in situations that constantly challenge me to refine my skills, especially the ones I think are my weakest link.”
Thank you so much to Melissa for sharing her story with us!
Lead Girls Through Our Becoming Me Program Series
Inspired by themes from Michelle Obama’s Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers, this new program series will guide girls of all ages to become their best selves.
Volunteer to guide girls as they explore the truth in their own stories and the power of their voices! You will work with girls during 6-8 fun-filled and inspirational virtual sessions.
Renew by June 30 and Enjoy Exclusive Membership Perks!
When you stick with Girl Scouts, you’re not just giving your girl something to do, you’re giving her someone to be. The bravest, boldest, best version of herself. The version of herself walks with her head a bit higher and acts with confidence.
June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating and uplifting LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and more) individuals and communities across the world. We love and support ALL of our Girl Scouts: they’re changing the world and making sure the future is brighter!
One Girl Scout Senior (soon to be Ambassador!) from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, Mac, recently developed an app at our first-ever Hackathon sponsored by Motorola, an app designed to educate users on everything from appropriate pronoun usage, the diversity of gender and sexual identities, and more.
Read on to hear Mac’s story in her own words!
The battle is far from over.
Written by Girl Scout Mac
The LGBTQ+ community is surrounded by a lot of misinformation both internally and externally. The lack of information surrounding the topic usually leads to a lot of confusion and fear of LGBTQ+ individuals. The general public may not understand the community and the seemingly foreign terms they use such as cisgender, genderqueer, and asexuality. My app aims to provide a basic understanding of the LGBTQ+ community to eliminate some of the misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding it. My app also provides a wide variety of useful information from the proper usage of pronouns, to the definitions of common sexualities.
Every day, I see news of LGBTQ+ individuals facing discrimination and the constant trivialization of their rights. Anti-trans legislation and the erasure of LBGTQ+ celebrities are just a few examples of issues I see. As someone who knows many in the community, seeing their rights being taken away daily enraged me! I wanted to make a difference and spread awareness, even if it only reached a small number of people. That small difference could save an individual’s life, with the suicide rates of LGBTQ+ individuals still shockingly high, especially in the times we live in. People assume now that LGBTQ+ individuals can get married in the United States, that the battle is over. However, this development only came six years ago. The battle is far from over, and I’m ready to fight it.
Normalization of LGBTQ+ individuals is really important to prevent them from feeling excluded. I would like to see the normalization of asking for pronouns and the support of trans and those of differing sexualities in Girl Scouts. I hope that above all, I can stop an LGBTQ+ individual from facing bullying and harassment. I’ve wanted to change the world for a while now; it’s just something about making an impact and leaving behind a legacy has been really important to me.
Girl Scouts allowed me to grow as an individual and develop new skills. From fire building to problem-solving, the experiences I’ve learned help me every day. It has also let me make friends and share new experiences with them. My love for Girl Scouting fostered my leadership skills and provided new opportunities.
Thank you so much to Mac for sharing her story with us!
We’ve Got This, Together!
Strength, resilience, togetherness, and the support of community—that’s what Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is all about. So in this uncertain world, you can count on one thing for sure: today, tomorrow, together, we are on your team.
Surrounded by family, friends, and cheers, the members of the 2020 and 2021 classes of Gold Award recipients from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) stepped into the limelight on Saturday, June 5, and Sunday, June 6, to receive bountiful accolades for their accomplishments.
Drive-through, outdoor celebrations at both Camp Greene Wood and the Vernon Hills Gathering Place honored dedicated individual young Girl Scouts from throughout our council who poured their hearts and energy into projects that will leave a positive and lasting impact on others. Each Gold Award Girl Scout received an official certificate, a Gold Award pin, and a binder of congratulatory letters and notes.
Though celebrated in a novel way this year, due to the impact of the pandemic, each Girl Scout had a moment in the spotlight, a moment to take in car horns honking on their behalf and photo booths to forever capture the memory of outstanding accomplishments with those who supported them along the journey of achieving the Gold Award. The Girl Scout Gold Award is a major accomplishment that requires each person pursuing it to identify a community or social issue, implement a detailed project plan, and carry out the implementation of the project showcasing their leadership, public speaking, and project management skills.
Congratulations to the Gold Award Class of 2020 and 2021. We are so proud of your achievements! Keep using your voice and advocating for change.
Note: With safe distancing, girls removed their masks for photos outside.
The Gold Award Difference
Gold Award Girl Scouts are the dreamers and the doers who take “make the world a better place” to the next level. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable—proof that not only can they make a difference, but that they already have.
Seniors and Ambassadors who earn the Gold Award tackle issues that are dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. Think of the Gold Award as a key that can open doors to scholarships, preferred admission tracks for college, and amazing career opportunities.
Renew by June 30 and Enjoy Exclusive Membership Perks!
Strength, resilience, togetherness, and the support of the community—that’s what Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is all about. So in this uncertain world, you can count on one thing for sure: today, tomorrow, together, we are on your team.