Part of what makes the Girl Scout leadership program so unique is our connection to real-life industry experts who spark girls’ interest in career fields they may not have been exposed to otherwise.
Our STEAM program is no different, as our expert connections provide engaging experiences that allow girls to see themselves leading in spaces that are traditionally dominated by their male counterparts.
GCNWI Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts, both of which begin to explore science and perform energy audits with other girls at their grade level, had an opportunity to put their knowledge to the test with an introduction into the field of engineering with utility and sustainability company, NiSource.
The “Mad Scientist” themed event encouraged girls to dress like scientists and perform at-home science experiments, participate in hands-on engineering activities and featured a career discussion led by women in leadership at NiSource.
“My daughter (and her neighbor friend) enjoyed the activities and especially enjoyed the lava lamp experiment,” one mom spoke about her daughter’s experience.
“My daughter had a blast! Slime and lava lamp were her favorites!” exclaimed another mom.
This “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” event was a part of the Girl Scout “Spark Day” initiative, a career exploration program designed to peak interest in various fields from STEM to distribution to animal care.
NiSource Inc. Serves over 3.5 million customers and operates as one of the largest utility companies in the nation. The company provides natural gas and electric services to its customers and is committed providing sustainable business solutions.
Take a look at the origin story of the the Girl Scout Cookie Program—from what started as a small localized fundraiser in the early 1900’s to a culturally iconic institution of American culture today.
For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts and our supporters have helped ensure the success of the iconic annual cookie sale and fundraiser—and Girl Scouts who have participated in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, developed valuable life skills, and made their communities a better place every step of the way. Want to read more about our Girl Scout Cookie history? Continue reading from contributor and historian Karen Schillings
From a Tiny Crumb of an Idea to a Whole Cookie!
By Karen Schillings
The 2021-2022 Girl Scout Cookie Program is currently in full swing. Our faithful customers across the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Council (GSGCNWI) are anxiously awaiting these annual sweet treats. However, did you ever think about how this yearly tradition got started? Well, as one of the Council historians who oversees the GSGCNWI cookie collection, I’ll do my best to give you an overview of how a local troop fund raiser ended up becoming an $800 million per year nationwide girl-led business.
It all started in 1917 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. The cookies were personally baked by the Mistletoe Troop and sold in their school cafeteria as a service project. The profits were used to send gifts to doughboys fighting in World War I. A statue of a Girl Scout stands at the entrance to the Three Rivers Museum in Muskogee to commemorate this historical event.
As Girl Scout troops across the country contemplated ways to raise funds, the bake sale concept became more prevalent. In July, 1922, The American Girl magazine published a recipe that was being used by troops in Chicago—a simple sugar cookie. The troops sold their cookies for $.25 to $.30 per dozen. Later that decade, the bake sale model was turned into a door-to-door campaign with the girls packaging the cookies in wax paper bags.
Tiled Gallery: (left image) Original Girl Scout sugar cookie recipe published the July, 1922 edition of The American Girl. (right image) This verse was printed on cards and distributed to potential customers.
So, how did the Girl Scout cookie sale go from the girls’ kitchens to having commercial bakers? It all started in 1934, when the Greater Philadelphia Council contacted the Keebler–Weyl Company, requesting their assistance. The company agreed to bake and package vanilla Girl Scout Cookies in the trefoil shape. Thus, the first council-wide sale of commercially baked cookies was initiated. Other nearby councils were impressed with the success of the Greater Philadelphia council and requested to be included in the bakery orders. Hence, Keebler-Weyl was the first commercial company to bake the cookies and became the official baker of Girl Scout Cookies.
Because the cookie sale was becoming so profitable for Girl Scouts, it went national in 1936. Girl Scouts of USA (GSUSA) began licensing commercial bakers in all parts of the country to make sure that Girl Scout cookies could be found in every corner of the U.S. And by the way, those trefoil shortbread cookies developed by Keebler-Weyl are still sold by Girl Scouts. However, now they are under the Little Brownie Bakers moniker, which is a division of Keebler.
Tiled Gallery: (left image) Keebler Weyl Baking Company in the 1930’s. (right image) Early shortbread cookie box, from the 1930’s.
By 1937 more than 125 Girl Scout councils were holding cookie sales. The licensing of bakers continued to grow, and at one time there were 29 bakers. Burry became the largest supplier in the nation during the 1960’s. In 1980 it became Burry-Lu and was later purchased by ABC Bakers of Richmond, Virginia in 1989. Today, there are only two official licensed bakeries, Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakers. Both companies make the five standard cookies offered yearly, although each company has its own names for these cookies. The exception is the classic Thin Mints, the name used by both companies for this cookie.
Little Brownie Bakers calls their cookies Trefoils, Samoas, Tagalongs, and Do-si-does.
Whereas ABC Bakers uses the names Shortbread, Carmel Delights, Peanut Butter Patties, and Peanut Butter Sandwich.
Both companies are also making the new cookie, Adventurefuls, for the 2021-22 cookie season.
As you can see, the Girl Scout cookie program has come a long way from the its start over 100 years ago, and during that time, it has become one of our organization’s (and nation’s) most treasured traditions.
Support Girl Scouts During the Girl Scout Cookie Program
When you buy Girl Scout cookies, you aren’t just enjoying a delicious treat, you’re helping Girl Scouts gain the skills and confidence to change the world—one box of cookies at a time.
From hiking in the woods to community service, your cookie purchase helps Girl Scouts learn, grow, and thrive through adventure. Now that’s a powerful cookie! Ready to taste the adventure?
Want to be a part of this awesome program and build upon five life skills like goal setting, decision making and money-management? Join Girl Scouts today!
We’re excited to share a touching story about our Girl Scout council’s history!
Our staff receive many phone calls and email messages from former Girl Scouts, often people looking to donate items to our historical collection. A recent phone call came from Girl Scout alum Mickey, who had song lyrics from the 1940’s in Chicago. When called, Mickey shared her great love for her time spent at Camp Juniper Knoll, still one of our beloved camp properties. She described her dream of revisiting the camp and at the age of 95, her wish came true. Mickey came back to Camp Juniper Knoll on October 15, 77 years after her last summer camping experience.
Mickey was born in Germany in 1926 and immigrated to the United States in 1938 with her family. By the summer of 1939, she was a camper at Juniper Knoll in Frontier unit. She went back to Juniper Knoll for the next six years; first as a regular camper for two years, then two years as an unofficial go-between camper and pre-counselor and kitchen helper. Finally, her last two years at camp were as an unpaid volunteer counselor.
She always camped in Frontier! On her recent visit, the first stop was Frontier, of course. Mickey commented on the tents now having Velcro fastenings, instead of canvas ties. She also saw that the units now had running water, flushing toilets, and electricity for lights, big changes since she was there.
While Mickey was actually a Mariner Girl Scout in the Rogers Park area, her troop did very little that excited her. She participated so that she could go to camp every summer. Her best memories of her youth were being able to escape from the city to the country, to participate in everything camp had to offer. Canoe trips, hikes, dramatics, woodworking—whatever activities were planned, she was involved. She even loved the storms at camp. When the campers went hiking along the sides of the highways, Mickey made a point of stepping in the melted tar on the roadway and then stepping on the gravel to make her shoes crunch and grip as she hiked.
Mickey kept one of the half-sized scrapbooks and filled it with many photographs. The photographs recorded what she and her camp friends did. Years ago, she donated that memory book to Chicago but this October, one of our historians was able to pulle Mickey’s scrapbook from our archives so she could view it on her visit. She looked over each page, recounting each activity and reminiscing about each camp friend. Naturally, all the names written in the book were camp names! Mickey lit up as she reflected on the wonderful times she had at Camp Juniper Knoll as a Girl Scout.
After the summer of 1944, Mickey graduated out of Girl Scouts and camp, heading to Northwestern University and eventually earning degree in education and science. She married, had children (all boys), but never gave up her dream of returning to see Juniper Knoll.
The trip around camp was exciting for all of us as Mickey talked about what things were like when she was a camper. Frontier, Clippership, Shongela, and Greenwood are still units that she knew, but the Yurts were quite different than anything she had experienced. Low Lodge still has its fireplace, and is a place to gather, even though it is no longer a dining hall. The small cabins, however, still seem the same, in spite of added electricity. Mickey’s visit was a highlight for all of us who participated—and, as a thank you note from Mickey’s sons stated, “our mom was so excited she couldn’t sleep for days before the visit.”
Thank you so much to all our Girl Scout alum! We love hearing your treasured memories.
Girl Scouts can do incredible things, especially when they have the drive to do good and make the world a better place with ingenious and creative solutions. Girl Scout Senior Madison is one of these awesome Girl Scouts! Madison shared her story of developing the ThinMints4ThickSocks initiative, aimed at providing support and comfort to community members struggling with homelessness.
Read on to learn more about Madison’s story and her community service efforts, in her own words, and learn how Girl Scout Cookies do good for communities and more!
My Girl Scout origin story started when I was in pre-K. I frequently saw my sister, who is 8 years older than me, leave to go to Girl Scouts. I wanted to be a Girl Scout so desperately, I would often sit in the same room to watch their meeting.
Eventually, I was able to [be] a Daisy and it was the best day ever. I got to do cookie sales, meet new friends, do community service, and spend time with my peers at Girl Scouts. I’m continuing my Girl Scout journey in my freshman year of high school. Girl Scouts has been an enriching experience, providing me with an opportunity to fulfill my full potential in life.
According to several news articles and reports, socks aren’t frequently donated to homeless shelters and are often in high demand. ThinMints4Thicksocks is an initiative that I created to provide socks to the homeless by allowing the public to donate a new pack of tube socks in exchange for a box of Girl Scout Cookies. Rather than buying a box for five dollars, people bought a box by donating a pack of new socks. We then donated all the socks we collected and gave them to homeless shelters.
I created this project because the pandemic presented a challenge for the 2021 cookie season. Because I couldn’t conduct business as usual, I decided to think outside of the box and create a way to combine this cookie season with a charitable drive, assisting people impacted by the pandemic and driven to homelessness.
ThinMints4Thicksocks directly provided socks to the homeless, which aren’t in adequate supply in some homeless shelters locally and across the nation. I was motivated to pursue this project because I realized the positive benefit it would have in the community in helping disadvantaged people, like the residents of Chicago’s UCAN facility, which is social service agency serving over 10,000 individuals annually through compassionate healing, education, and empowerment.
By raising awareness of the shortage of socks, I believe ThinMints4ThickSocks will continue even after I’ve finished working on the project, by inspiring others to continue donating socks, and other much needed items, (like thermal underclothes, toiletry items, etc.). My plan was to plant a seed and my hope is that it will provide an abundant crop of caring.
I wish others knew about how Girl Scouts is preparing me, and other girls, to assume leadership roles in our future endeavors. Girl Scouting gives me a sense of responsibility and community. Girl Scouts is not just about selling cookies, or community service projects. Many of my closest friends are Girl Scouts. We’ve maintained our friendships through mutual respect, trust, and honesty, which are all promoted in Girl Scouting.
Thank you to Madison!
Learn About Cookies
Welcome to the Girl Scout Cookie Program, the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world. The Girl Scout Cookie Program helps your girl succeed today and prepare for future success. With every box she sells, she builds on 5 essential leadership skills she can use for a lifetime.
Participating in the cookie program powers Girl Scouts’ adventures throughout the year as they learn key business skills to excel in future careers and in life. By participating in different sales methods, girls gain more skills, including: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.
Stay up-to-date with 2022’s Cookie Program when you register to be a Girl Scout! Join today!
All of us at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) want to say THANK YOU to all our incredible volunteers! We appreciate the time and talents you share with our council, and most importantly, with Girl Scouts themselves.
We want our volunteers to hear how much they are appreciated from the people they impact the most! For our Just Say Thanks initiative, we asked girls, families, and co-leaders to share why they’re grateful for their favorite volunteer—whether that’s their supportive troop leader, the cookie manager who always brings their A-game, or their service unit volunteer who comes through when you need them—and what they said melted our hearts! Here are some recent Thank You’s to our volunteers.
Thank you to Julia Jones!
“Julia organized Service Unit 518 Nogs Hill’s first Service Unit Event of the year at Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva, IL. The Food Bank serves our neighbors in 13 counties by providing over 250,000 meals a day. During this time of the year, the Food Bank also distributes Holiday Meal Boxes. Holiday Meal Boxes contains a turkey/ham, potatoes, stuffing and all of the trimmings for a festive and filling meal for 8 individuals.
Although only two troops participated, it was a wonderful turn out. There were 28 Girl Scout members (17 youths and 11 adults) that helped package items for this year’s Holiday Meal Boxes that will be distributed to provide a meal for 8 to those who need it. Together 2,030 satchels of Cocoa (16,240 individual servings) were packed for these Holiday Meal Boxes.” – Beverly Macrito
Thanks to Bunny Brown!
“Bunny Brown, my Mom, who was also my Girl Scout Leader growing up, has conquered her frustration with Zoom and attended every meeting with both of the troops I lead for my girls (Brownie Troop 45993 and Junior Troop 45530). She has attended Blanket of Dreams with us for the last 4 years. We were not going to let a little pandemic get in our way. So we set the date and bought the kits and we even drove the hour and a half to pick up her blankets in order to donate them for her. She continues to show up as a Girl Scout and encourage generations of Girl Scouts with a type of enthusiasm that is inspirational. I love her and her love for Girl Scouts.” – Nicole Grelecki
Thank you to LaTonya Allen!
“LaTonya Allen is no stranger to Girl Scouting. Her journey started as a Girl Scout Junior, under an unforgettable Girl Scout leader. Then, she guided her daughter and granddaughter into Girl Scouting as Daisies. Her daughter has since become a Girl Scout volunteer. And, her granddaughter has taken strong leads in excitement, dedication and product goal achievements.
LaTonya has been dedicated and supportive to the cause each time, wherever it leads. We would like to thank and show this appreciation to her. She is an asset to our sponsorship and any group she participates.” – Jessica McDonald
Thank you to Rebecca Resman and Jena Farnsworth!
Rebecca and Jena co-lead Troop 25774! For Rebecca, GS was a refuge from school life and the hierarchy that often comes from school. Jenna agreed, and because of this, run a community based troop. They often meet with girls coming from six different schools at a time. They hope that the friendships the girls make can last a long time and grow with the girls, even if they change schools or move to another part of the city.
On being a leader, Jena advises, “Don’t over think it. A lot of people don’t do it (become leaders) because it’s another commitment and they feel like they can’t add another thing in. Communicate and find the right partner to do it, a person who cares and wants the same thing for the girls.”
Thank you to ALL of our volunteers!
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank each and every volunteer involved with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Your commitment and care for our Girl Scouts keeps the organization going and is what makes it possible for so many girls to achieve their dreams and become compassionate citizens of the world. Thank you.
Thanks to our Girl Scout Historians, we’ve been able to take a look back at some incredible Girl Scout moments of the past in our blog! This month, we’re celebrating the holidays and learning about the Girl Scout Wish Books from the 1920s (and some awesome Girl Scout gifts from today!).
Did you know the Girl Scouts had a Wish Book before the famous Sears Wish Book? Beginning in 1934, Sears mailed out an annual holiday catalog filled with toys, games, sports equipment such as bicycles and sleds and almost anything a child might hope to see under the tree on Christmas.
But the Girl Scouts issued their first Christmas catalog entitled “Christmas Gifts for Girl Scouts and Their Friends” in 1926! There was nothing particularly holiday-oriented inside, but the catalog included everything from dolls and records to head scarves and camp equipment.
Lifelong Girl Scout and Historian Rosemarie Courtney remembers wanting an official Girl Scout First Aid kit that was in the 1951 catalog and her sister wanting the autograph hound that was in the 1958 catalog. She quips, “we must have been good because Santa brought us both what we wanted.”
By the 1970s these catalogs mostly disappeared, but gift catalogs reappeared sporadically in the 2000s and were more inclusively titled, “Gifts” and featured winter items like hats and scarves, snowman and snowflake designed presents!
Here, Karen shares her timeline for planning a Girl Scout trip:
18 months out
Brainstorm ideas for 3-4 locations that would be age appropriate for your group to travel to. A great place to start is GSUSA’s travel webpage!
Let your Girl Scouts’ parents know that you’re beginning to plan a travel adventure and ask them to “save the date!”
Depending on the ages of your Girl Scouts, ask them to research potential locations, how to get there, where to stay, what to do etc. This takes some time, but eventually the girls will want to have a vote!
12 months out
Leaders will need to make sure they have trainings up to date and their paperwork filled out. GCNWI is here to help with this, and our travel webpage has it all listed!
Keep your parents updated with travel plans including how your troop has decided to pay for their trip and any special items they might need for the adventure.
Start looking at making your reservations for overnight accommodations and travel. Always ask if discounts are available for Girl Scout troops—you would be surprised by how many do!
6 months out
Double check that all of your paperwork has been approved via Girl Scouts. Put together a binder with a day-by-day outline of your trip and Girl Scout paperwork including release/medical forms for your girls. You will need to have this with you everywhere you go!
3 months out
Everyone should be very excited! You might want to think about making a troop t-shirt, bandana, headband, bucket hat, etc.—not only a fun souvenir but a great way to visually keep track of them in busy areas.
This is also when you want to confirm all your reservations you have made, including hotels, tours, and restaurant reservations.
As a volunteer traveling with Girl Scouts, you will have the greatest adventures of your lifetime. Check out GSUSA’s Travel Resources for even more great info!
Help make travel adventures like these possible for more Girl Scouts through the GCNWI Travel Scholarship! Scholarship funds provide girls facing financial hardship with the resources to plan and pursue travel, from council-sponsored day trips to international journeys through the Destinations program. Together, we can help Girl Scouts become more knowledgeable, compassionate citizens of the world through global programming and travel opportunities.
We’re so excited to launch our programs for winter because we have in-person and virtual opportunities for Girl Scouts to press play and get back in the swing of things. Get ready to start the New Year off with new programs!
Are you a STEAM enthusiast? Then join Team STEAM, where you can connect with other girls who love STEAM and women in STEM careers. Once you complete your first STEM badge as a troop, individual, or council, you can sign up to join the team! You will receive some Team STEAM swag and information about our meetings every other month to connect to other STEAM enthusiasts and hear from women who work in STEM careers.
The digital world is run by technology. If you want to change the real or digital world, technology can connect you to people, information, and causes in an instant. It provides tools to help you inform, organize, and mobilize others.
For more than 100 years, Girl Scout camp has brought girls outdoor adventures full of learning, challenges, a whole lot of friendship, and tons of fun. This happens through a community—each girl who comes to camp is welcomed into a group of girls who together can:
Discover their ability to better solve problems and overcome challenges.
Develop leadership skills, build social bonds, and become team players.
Increase their level of overall happiness and gratitude, and care for the environment.
We know the past two years have been more than difficult—which is why Girl Scouts is so important. Girl Scouts is a place where girls know they belong. It’s a safe place and a support system. It’s a community where people care what happens to them and what they have to say. Being connected to Girl Scouts is more important than ever before.
Even through the complications of the pandemic and social isolation, Girl Scouts have still managed to do all sorts of amazing things: like Girl Scouts from our LEGO robotics team, who used their robotics ingenuity to provide fitness opportunities and long-term lifestyle benefits for incarcerated youth in juvenile detention centers. Or like our class of Gold Award Girl Scouts, who launched and completed community service projects that made a lasting impact in an arena of their choice.
With your support, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana can continue to ensure Girl Scouts, and all girls, can turn their ideas into realities.
Most years, the fall season means L.E.A.P. (Leader Enrichment Activity Program) for many Girl Scout volunteers, an event that carried over to Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) from the former Girl Scouts of Chicago council. L.E.A.P. is coordinated by a group of dedicated volunteers to offer peer-to-peer networking, enrichment activities and fun. This year, L.E.A.P.—“Tricks and Treats with Daisy”—took place at Camp Butternut Springs from October 22– 24. Approximately 90 Girl Scout adults attended L.E.A.P. this year, and about half the volunteers had never attended L.E.A.P. before, so it was truly a “make new friends” event!
Annie Gilmartin, GCNWI Program manager from the zip-lining team, shared, “This year, at LEAP, I had the opportunity to facilitate the zip line course for our adult volunteers. We spent two sessions getting to know these volunteers and their thoughts on heights, zip-lines, and climbing high towers. It was wonderful to see that the majority of leaders who chose to attend this session were nervous, just like girls are! The main consensus between leaders who were zip-lining were that they were challenging themselves to do the zip-line so they could tell the girls how exciting it was. Even though many leaders were a bit scared, they all encouraged each other, just as I saw Girl Scouts do all summer at Butternut Springs. It was wonderful to see leaders encouraging one another and challenging themselves all to be able to share the experience with their Girl Scouts.”
Volunteer and L.E.A.P. attendee Noha ElSharkawy-Aref shared, “My experience attending L.E.A.P. for the first time was incredible! To be honest, it was my first time to ever camp in the woods. I have only ever stayed in family accommodations or hotels before this experience, and I have to say that I went in with a lot of fears and apprehensions. I had so much fun bonding with my co-leaders from my troop as well as other leaders from other troops throughout the Chicago and Indiana region. We talked through common scenarios and challenges and shared so much advice and experiences with one another during meal times and transitions. I learned so much from my peers and I left so inspired and motivated. I definitely think it should be a requirement for any leader who wants to take their girls camping to attend this event or something similar!”
Thank you to everyone involved in making this year’s program a great success!
The deadline to apply to be a National Council Delegate for the National Council Session has been extended to Nov. 21!
Apply to be a part of the 56th National Convention in July 2023 (dates TBD), an opportunity for Girl Scouts and volunteers to play a vital role in providing strategic direction to the Girl Scout Movement.