Girl Scouts Give Back for the Holidays

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!

Read more about their Bronze Award service project on our blog.

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.

Looking for more ways to give back? Read all about local Girl Scouts earning their Bronze Award on our blog!

Read More Girl Scout Stories!

Our Girl Scouts are giving back to their communities, making waves as National Delegates, creating beautiful collaborative art, and much more. Catch up on all of our Girl Scout stories—you don’t want to miss them!

For a chance to be featured on our blog or social media, share your story with us on our website!

Join us for December Programs!

It’s a Winter Wonderland this December with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), and you’re invited! 

Find out what awesome virtual programs we have planned for next month!

Girl Scout Troop Connects Over Art!

Troop 40048 with their collaborative creation

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.

Interested in trying your hand at a group art project and empowering yourself through friendship? Check out the GIRLtopia Journey!

Read more girl stories on our blog!

Observe Veterans Day with Girl Scouts GCNWI

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

Brownie Troops 45713 and 45936

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!

Girl Scout Troop 75466

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.

Download the patch program guidelines [PDF] »
Share your story to earn the free patch »

Interested in another service opportunity? Participate in the USO Care Package Program to provide Snack Packs and Toiletry Packs with hygiene essentials to active U.S. and overseas service members!

Read other stories!

Girl Scouts celebrate Memorial Day this year with service projects »

Learn all about the Honoring Our Veterans Patch Program »

Girl Scouts get the vote out this year »

Become inspired to earn the Democracy badges »

Local Girl Scouts Earn the Bronze Award for Community Service!

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

Learn more about earning a Highest Award with GCNWI.

Share Your Stories With Us!

We want to hear all about your service projects, success stories, and even your struggles! For a chance to be featured on our blog and social media, submit your story to our website.

GCNWI Makes History at the National Council Session!

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana CEO Nancy Wright

“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!

Our girl delegates made amazing strides in leadership (read all about them on our blog), and we also want to acknowledge and thank our council’s adult National Delegates who, over the last three years, poured their hearts into learning all about Girl Scout governance and created proposals that would forward our movement. We dedicate this blog post to them!

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:

Adults (Delegates and Alternates)

Christine Alfred
Levita Anderson
Marty Devereux-Poch
Athena Gallian
Christine Graves
Maureen Jamrock
Kathy Lakowski
Heather Larson
Patricia Lasley
Heather Linehan
Beverly Macrito
Michelle Maracic
Katie McCoy
Dietra McKamey
Noreen Merchant
Amy Morin-Martin
Cathy Neely
Christine Potermin
Selena Randecker
Sylvie Salazar
Kathy Scherer
Karen Schillings
Denise Urban
Davia Wilkerson
Nancy Wright
Melissa Young-Bridgeforth
Jody Collins
Kelly Pavlik
Kelly Philbin
Tresa Radermacher
Rachel Rodriguez
Karla Weiss

Girls (Delegates and Alternates)

Alonda
Leah
Carlie
Erin
Dakota
Caroline
Katherine
Alany
Ariana
Sadie
Emily
Laura

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.

Learn more about our Democratic Process and other opportunities on our website.

Learn More About Democracy

Girl Scout Delegates Take the Lead at the 2020 NCS

Virtual Camp Liberty program empowers girls to speak up

Read about this creative way to earn the new democracy badges

NEW Civic Engagement Badges for K-12 Girls

View all GCNWI Programs for Girls and Adults

Member Monday: Camp Liberty Empowers Girls to Speak Up!

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.

The new Civics badges from GSUSA provide Girl Scouts an opportunity to become familiar with the United States federal, state, and local political processes, and this year, Girl Scouts from GCNWI have taken the badges on in creative ways. Just last month Girl Scouts from Service Unit 406 participated in a Democracy Badge Series online, where girls logged on to talk to local mayors and judges from their area.

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!

Get out the Vote!

Our girls are using their voices to urge everyone to get to the polls tomorrow! Girl Scouts from Troop 45521 earned their Suffrage Centennial Patch by organizing their very own voting demonstration, marching their community to get the message out. Read more about the girls and their celebration of the right to vote!

Check out this PSA from Troop 75450:

Earn the Democracy Badges

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. 

Girls of all ages can earn the Democracy badges to learn more about the democratic process: learn more on our blog!

Earn the Suffrage Centennial Patch!

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.

Learn more about the Suffrage Centennial Patch!

Girl Scout Delegates Take the Lead!

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.

Shifting Gears

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.

Learn more about our Democratic Process and other opportunities on our website.

Thank you to the Girl Delegates and Alternate Girl Delegates:

Leah
Alonda
Caroline
Dex
Alany
Emily
Ariana
Kate
Erin
Dakota
Carlie
Laura

And thanks to Karen Schillings and Alaina Greene for their mentorship!

Look out next week for a blog post all about the adult Delegates whose achievements have been three years in the making.

Learn More About Democracy

NEW Civic Engagement Badges for K-12 Girls

Read about this creative way to earn the new democracy badges

View all GCNWI Programs for Girls and Adults

Member Monday: Sparking Interest in STEM!

Women hold less than 28% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs in the United States, but make up more than 47% of the U.S. workforce. We look to girls and women, then, to become part of the 1 million new STEM professionals needed in the workforce by 2025.

Girl Scouts is an integral part of this mission and has pledged to add 2.5 million girls to the STEM pipeline in the next five years. At Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, we are committed to motivating a new generation of young women and girls to explore future careers in STEM.

West Monroe Partners is one of the visionary companies we have partnered with to spark an interest in STEM for girls in our council, culminating in two Spark Day programs earlier this month!

Continue reading to meet Carrie Camino, Director of Operations Excellence and co-chair of the West Monroe-GCNWI partnership, and learn all about the Spark Day initiative.

Girls of Tomorrow

For the first-ever virtual Spark Day with GCNWI, Girl Scouts had the opportunity to “visit” West Monroe Partners and get an inside look at what business and technology consulting is really all about. The girls had opportunities to speak with many people in a variety of fields, from green energy and water management, cybersecurity, software development, supply chain manufacturing, and more.

They engaged in hands-on activities developed by a team of 30 professionals at West Monroe, including deconstructing the manufacturing of a pencil, and simulating a Great Cookie Hack on the Digital Cookie platform, all to get insight on what day-to-day operations look like at West Monroe Partners.

The program was a huge success, and many girls left with a renewed interest in a future career in STEM. For Carrie Camino, Joel Brock, and Jodi Bednar, the co-chairs in our West Monroe collaboration, enriching the lives of girls with the STEM perspective is essential to building the next generation of leaders.

“My personal passion is to help girls of tomorrow think about what the future could look like.”

“My personal passion,” Carrie explained, “is to help girls of tomorrow think about what the future could look like.” West Monroe Partners is a firm focused on diversity of thought and experience, “and women and girls come at problems with a very different perspective,” one that is incredibly important to the consulting process and an economic imperative to the firm.

Carrie, a Girl Scout alum and parent herself, believes that the Girl Scout program can be a major stepping-stone to an interest in STEM. “Girl Scouts provides a structure of activities and opportunities to experience things you might not be afforded in any other environment.”

Her advice for Girl Scouts looking to make the most out of the experience? “Say yes to as many opportunities as you can.” And to young women interested in pursuing a career in STEM, Carrie says, “There is so much in the environment telling you what you can or shouldn’t do. Don’t listen. You can do or be whatever you want to be.”

Thank you to Carrie Camino for sharing with us, to partnership chairs Joel Brock and Jodi Bednar and to everyone that lent their expertise and creativity to bring the activities to life, and to West Monroe Partners for collaborating with us for this fantastic Spark Day initiative! Without them, Spark Day would not have been possible.

Curiosity Never Stops!

The new frontier of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is already here, and girls are taking the lead. The STEM Career Exploration badges for Girl Scouts in grades 2-8, funded by IF/THEN, an initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, are perfect for girls interested in breaking the mold in the world of STEM. Read our blog to learn about these badges!

Looking for STEM programming? Find some on our registration website!

Become Inspired by our National Gold Award Girl Scout

National Gold Award Girl Scout Therese combined her passion for STEM and social justice into a Gold Award project that won her national recognition. Watch the video above to learn more about her story!

Member Monday: Leading the Way!

Our Girl Scout troop leaders are more than just leaders: they are exemplary role models to their girls and pillars of their communities. Our troop leaders take difficult situations and turn them into enriching, memorable experiences for girls across the council.

We had to chance to talk to two troop leaders from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI), leaders who took “pivoting” to the next level this year and stood strong for their Girl Scouts. Read on to meet Jeneya and Kerri, just two of GCNWI’s outstanding troop leaders!

Stepping Out of the Box

Girl Scout Troop 65708 making cookie care packages for essential workers

“I became a leader out of necessity,” leader of Cadette Troop 65708, Jeneya Hampton, explained. Jeneya stepped up to the role when her daughter bridged to Brownies and needed a troop leader. “I’m the leader that didn’t want to be a leader, but I soon found that it has truly become a ministry. I decided to just jump in with both feet.”

Now, after five years with the girls, Jeneya knows the true value of the leadership position. “I’ve learned more from the girls than I initially thought I would… I tell anybody, ‘Yes, it’s work, commitment, dedication,’” but to Jeneya, the work is absolutely worth it. Jeneya explained, “Girl Scouting is especially important for African-American girls… I made it a point to be more visible in the community because we do exist.”

This year, Jeneya is continuing to push, challenge, and keep the girls engaged as they all navigate unexpected turns. “As leaders, these challenges give us an opportunity to step up and step out of the box and be creative.” Jeneya listens to the girls and lets them take the lead in brainstorming the troop’s goals and plans for the year. “It’s important to listen to what they want to do, to support what their ideas are.”

And Jeneya is not afraid to change course and be a little unconventional; “Normally I have the whole year planned out, but it’s not that type of year… I may not run my troop like others, but it works for my girls.” Now, Jeneya leads a combination in-person and virtual troop, and the girls have plenty of plans to serve their community throughout this Girl Scout year.

“What types of things can we instill in our girls so they walk away with something? It doesn’t have to be a huge lightbulb moment, but even just a small flicker, or just some inspiration to step out there,” Jeneya advises, is essential.

Setting up for Success

Daisy Troop 75783, co-lead by Kerri Kinnett, is on the way to a fun and successful year of Girl Scouting, Kerri’s excitement and enthusiasm plays a huge part. “This year, as second year Daisies, the girls are most excited about just being together and keeping connected. It is so important for our girls to remain friends, as they are experiencing quite a shift in the universe at such a young age.”

For this troop, meeting in-person (masked and socially distanced) makes the most sense, and the girls have been enjoying the combination of virtual opportunities, in-person meetings, and outdoor get-togethers at state parks. “We are so proud of our girls for keeping up with the guidelines and having such positive attitudes… We have such a brave group of girls, and they look forward to making memories together.”

“It is an attitude of empowerment, that no matter what we face, we can shift our attitude to succeed! Our purpose as leaders is to teach our Scouts to bring a little more beauty to the world, and I love Girl Scouts, for it brings a light to my soul to see these young ladies working and growing as a team.”

Thank you to Jeneya and Kerri for sharing your leadership wisdom with us!

Zoom Licenses Are Now Available!

Zoom licenses are now available for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana troops and volunteers who want to meet and participate in council programs virtually! Your girls can stay connected, continue building their skills, and have a blast no matter where they are.

Request a Zoom license on our program site!

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Let us know about your plans for the Girl Scout year, big or small, for a chance to be featured on our social media or blog!

Meet our Eco-Advocacy Grant Awardees!

Girl Scouts power the future—and eight Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) are doing just that! Our Becker Eco-Advocacy Grant honorees are Girl Scouts currently working on a service or highest award project exclusively dedicated to serving and preserving the environment and are great examples of what it means to really go green for good.

The Philip J. Becker Eco-Advocacy Endowment Fund honors the memory of Philip J. Becker, a life-long educator who was devoted to inspiring young people to embrace careers in the sciences, especially physics, energy, and astronomy. He felt a deep calling to help his children, grandchildren, and all young people understand the urgency of transitioning to innovative, renewable, and sustainable energy sources. His family, with strong Girl Scout ties, honors his memory and his passion for the environment by funding these grants to inspire girls to take action to make the world a better place.

Meet these girls and read about their efforts toward making the world a better, healthier, and safer place to thrive for us and all creatures!

Powering Pollinators

Sarah, Girl Scout Ambassador, has a long history of community service, completing both her Bronze and Silver Awards during her time as a Girl Scout. Now completing her Gold Award, Sarah was awarded a grant for her continued work in supporting local pollinator populations, and her plans include installing a pollinator garden at her high school.

Her garden bed will include native Illinois plants and flowers to help pollinators increase in number by providing them food and proper resources for continued survival. “There are so many ways that the environment is being degraded,” Sarah shared, “and I feel that by taking this step, I can inspire change in my community, nationally, and globally.”

“I hope to help the community understand why pollinators are so important and inspire others to create their own pollinator gardens. I want to make people aware of exactly how important it is to have an environment that is healthy and sustainable, both now and for future generations.”

Spreading Your Wings

“If we do not take care of the earth, we will all lose,” Girl Scout Cadette Katherine shared. “We need to do all we can to preserve and repair the earth so we can leave it better than when we came. That is the Girl Scout Way.”

To accomplish this, Katherine, together with her troop, is designing, building, and planting a butterfly garden for St. John’s Church and School. This will help increase the butterfly population, improve air quality in the area, and beautify a public space. “Our impact on the environment will be strong by providing a space in the urban landscape for nature to thrive and grow.”

“We all must do a better job of caring for the earth,” Katherine asserted. “If everyone just does a little to make the earth a better place, then perhaps we can slow or reverse global warming,”

Creating Buzz

Girl Scout Ambassador Priyanka has always loved the outdoors since camping as a young Girl Scout. She believes “knowing more about animals and nature, the things that surround us all, is the only way for the world to thrive.”

In partnership with the Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center, Priyanka is earning her Gold Award by installing bee houses at the Center, and the construction has already begun. She’s responsible for designing and creating these bee houses, as well as creating an educational component for visitors.

“I think that allowing more and more people to learn about the environment, like the pollinators that help grow our food and the plans around us, will ultimately benefit both people and nature,” Priyanka stated. “People may start to make wiser, healthier decisions when it comes to taking care of the environment once they understand the importance of things normally overlooked.”

Our Nocturnal Allies

“I feel strongly that we should do everything we can to help the environment, including protecting animals and preserving their habitats in a way that allows people and animals to live in harmony.” Girl Scout Cadette Meredith is taking on her challenge, and to earn her Silver Award, is constructing bat houses for GCNWI campsites.

“I am making these bat houses so bats don’t try to make their homes in the cabins,” Meredith explained. “With the houses, the bats can make their homes safely away from predators and can play their important role in the ecosystem.”

“I hope to help people enjoy and appreciate being able to share an environment with bats, and I hope to help the bats to be safe and respected by the community.”

Trees for the People

Girl Scout Cadettes Summer, Lindsay, and Celia each have a passion for environmental advocacy, and this passion lead the three to earn their Bronze Award planting trees in parks in and around their area. “Through our research,” Summer explained, “we learned that our area lost two hundred thousand trees a few years ago due to an invasive bug.”

To combat this issue, the girls found a program in their community that will match every tree they plant, and they hope to create more oxygen in the environment, provide more habitats for insects and animals, and reduce home cooling and heating costs.

Lindsay is driven to help the environment “because I feel like I need to do something. I want to do whatever I can to help!” Celia says “it is our duty to help save our planet and reduce our carbon footprint. I believe that if enough people focus on this issue, we can obliterate global warming,”

Take it Outside

Congratulations to these trailblazing Girl Scouts for earning this fantastic grant! We wish you all luck in completing your goals and making the world a greener place.

Share Your Story!

We want to hear all about your eco-advocacy projects, initiatives, and ideas! Share your story with us today for a chance to be featured on our blog and social media.