It’s a Winter Wonderland this December with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), and you’re invited! We might all be staying at home, but that’s no reason we can’t have a good time together. Whether it’s celebrating Holidays Around the World, learning about the universe at our Space Science webinars, or participating in some special surprises throughout the month, we’re sure to have a wonderful winter together!
Virtual Programs for All Ages (K-12)
Take it outside on Dec. 1 to identify different types of snowflakes and then defy the laws of science by building a snowman indoors!
Get ready to investigate and explore the universe with your Girl Scout sisters! Brownies through Cadettes can get started on their Space Science badges with these badge starter webinars on Dec. 9. We will explore everything from invisible light to how light impacts our environment, the planets, the moon, the stars, our solar system, and more!
Meet with other Juliette mentors and council staff from camp, program, product program, and membership departments at our Juliette Mentor Chat on Dec. 9. Bring your questions and excitement about our Juliette, self-directed Girl Scouts!
All returning, new and potential volunteers are invited to attend the Mock Virtual Troop Meeting on Dec. 14 to experience what a virtual troop meeting could be like! You’ll see how the VTK meeting plans can be combined with your own personal style.
“The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”
Juliette Gordon Low
This year’s National Council Session (NCS) was historic! Originally scheduled as a fun and exciting experience of sisterhood in Orlando, due to the pandemic was flipped to the first all-virtual National Session. National delegates from across the country gathered virtually to present, discuss, revise and vote on proposals that would indelibly affect the National Girl Scout movement.
For our council, this NCS was a momentous success, as two proposals, authored and presented by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), were passed. This was the first time two proposals from the same council have been approved, and we are incredibly proud of everyone who made this happen!
Making your proposal come to life at any National Council Session is no small task, and this year, the circumstances were even tougher. For months prior to NCS our delegates poured over every word of the 2 proposals to be able to present them in their best version. Delegates participated in countless small group discussions with other delegates from around the country to answer questions, hear opinions and comments, and gather support.
Our convention team came together, and girls and adults participated in meetings and learning opportunities for all our council’s National Delegates. Through this safe platform of sisterhood, girls new to the role of National Delegate, listened, learned and took the lead to ask questions, share their ideas and offer suggestions. It was wonderful to watch our seasoned adult delegates lend their expertise and guidance to our girls to carry the movement into the future.
The virtual platform proved a challenge for the delegates, but through mutual support and an active WhatsApp chat group, they were able to overcome all obstacles. Over the three days of the convention, our delegates, and thousands of others, including girls, volunteers, staff, and board members, presented, debated, amended, and voted on proposals relevant to Girl Scout members from every state. The work paid off, and GSGCNWI has a lot to celebrate.
2023 is already on the way—and the discussions on what to bring to the table are already underway. While we wait, let’s congratulate everyone involved in the huge success:
Girl Scouts are civically engaged, passionate about social justice, and eager to use their voices for the greater good. Girl Scouts who are not old enough to vote are not discouraged: in fact, they make calls to the community, and the country, to vote and play a part in our nation’s democratic processes.
Girl Scout Service Unit managers 409 also took on the challenge of shifting programs from in-person to virtual, and this year, piloted Camp Liberty, a program dedicated to educating girls about civic engagement and suffrage. Read on to hear from managers Chris Graves and Claire Mosshamer about Camp Liberty!
The State of the Girl’s Nation
Camp Liberty was inspired by necessity and ingenuity on the part of Chris and Claire. When plans for Camporee, an annual outdoor event where older girls mentor younger girls through their first camping experience had to restructure because of COVID-19 restrictions, leaders and girls were yearning for ways to stay connected and engaged.
This sparked the Service Unit managers to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances, creating a hybrid event of virtual and in-person activities designed to help girls earn the Democracy badges. The girl-led Camporee program, shifted to become “Camp Liberty.”
To Chris and Claire, the idea was a no-brainer: “It fits right in with the 100-year anniversary of the suffrage movement,” Chris explained, and educating girls on the upcoming November presidential election is especially important. She continued, “It really teaches the right type of civics that we want kids to know.”
Claire added, “We were bent on the girls not losing out on things because of the [current socially-distanced] situation. We really tried to think of different ways to deliver content to them.” Their plan is to help Girl Scouts and volunteers remain engaged in the program is whatever what they can: “Girl Scouting is really important now to get them to expand beyond their homes. It’s important for us to try and provide as many opportunities for connection as possible.”
The work of the girls and volunteers culminated in a series of in-person and virtual events, including webinars on the subjects of local suffrage movements in Oak Park and River Forest, discussions with Oak Park Village Clerk Vicki Scaman and President of the Park District of Oak Park Sandy Lenz, and an open forum with Cook County Probate Court Judge Aicha MacCarthy and local lawyer Donna Ioppolo.
The girls also modeled their own suffrage march and scavenger hunt, where smaller groups of girls hiked Camp Greene Wood and learned facts about the diverse women responsible for the passage of the 19th amendment and simulated an election among the participants.
Girls who participated (nearly 200 girls from the Service Unit!) earned their Democracy badges, as well as this year’s commemorative Suffrage Centennial Patch, both available for all ages of Girl Scouts. “We’re trying to get the girls to understand how our government works,” Chris said, “so maybe they’ll be inspired to maybe run for office, or at the very least, pay attention and be involved. We want our girls to reach high, and the only way we can do that is to try to show them what the possibilities are.”
Thank you to Chris and Claire for inspiring our Girl Scouts to dream big and participate in the future of this nation’s history!
Civic engagement is just one way Girl Scouts advocate for positive change and make the world a better place. And though some girls may be too young to cast a ballot, they can still mobilize their communities to take action.
Discover the history of women’s voting rights and civic engagement through the Girl Scout Suffrage Centennial patch. You’ll wear the patch proudly after learning about the gender barriers that have been broken and the women who broke them.
The Girl Scouts of the USA 55th National Council Session (NCS) was unlike any before: nearly 1,200 voting delegates, along with girls, volunteers, staff, and board members from across the country, gathered virtually to celebrate Girl Scouts and consider six proposals affecting the Girl Scout Movement.
Twelve fantastic Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) played an important role in the weekend and NCS proceedings: Leah, Alonda, Caroline, Dex, Alany, Emily, Ariana, Kate, Erin, Dakota, Carlie, and Laura. Two of the girls’ mentors, Alaina Greene and Karen Schillings, provided the opportunity for the girls to take the lead and make real change in Girl Scout legislation. Read on to hear from Alaina Greene, a GCNWI staff member, who helped the girls take the lead and start their own girl-led forum!
Girls are Shaping the Future
Guest-post by Alaina Greene, Troop Support Specialist at GCNWI, member of the National Convention team, and mentor to the GSGCNWI girl delegates.
I am still processing the amazing weekend I just experienced with our delegation, as we attended the 55th National Council Session. It was a groundbreaking, challenging, fun, and Movement-shaping weekend that I am sure you’re excited about—but I am here to tell you about the work of our council’s amazing girl delegates leading up to that weekend.
The GCNWI girl delegates applied to the three-year position last winter, before we knew we would have to pivot to a virtual platform. By the time our nine girl delegates and three alternates were elected in the spring, we were deep into social distancing, and our Orlando trip was no longer possible.
Even with the rapidly changing circumstances, the girls were excited to participate in decisions that would shape the future of the nation’s Girl Scouts. “I enjoyed all of the fun experiences with the badges, but I wanted to see how I could get involved beyond traditional Girl Scouting,” Kate explained in conversation about her NCS experience.
Dakota wanted her opinions to be heard and actually make a change: “I wanted to show the other girls in my troop that if you want to do something big, all you have to do is try.”
“At first,” Alonda revealed, “I didn’t understand any of it. I know now that the things we do and say shape the future for girls.”
The girl delegates’ mentor Karen Schillings—who also serves as a Council Historian, Chair of Adult Recognitions, AND a troop leader—finds this to be the most valuable part of chaperoning the girls through the NCS process: “I want to hear the girl’s point of view.”
And these girls took on the responsibility with great enthusiasm: “They seem to sense that their role as a delegate is historical and will have an impact, not just for today, but for the future of the movement,” Karen reported.
So we persisted, and remained engaged not only in numerous Zoom calls with each other, but countless forums, caucuses, and trainings hosted by GSUSA. They were tasked with learning about their role as a national delegate, including a deep understanding of the six proposals that were up for consideration at NCS, and parliamentary procedures.
Even with the unconventional virtual structure, the girls rose to the challenge and exceeded expectations.
As we inched closer and closer to NCS, our girl delegates started to express that the national forums they were participating in weren’t exactly what they wanted. They didn’t want forums moderated by adults—they wanted a forum where they could talk to other girl delegates without having an adult direct the conversation. From this sprang the idea of a girl-led delegate forum, hosted by our GCNWI girl delegates.
In under a month, our girl delegates brainstormed, planned, and re-planned a forum led solely by girls. Four GCNWI girls hosted, and delegates from across the country were invited to attend. Delegates from at least 11 councils joined the forum to share their opinions.
Did everything go smoothly? No. In fact, our girls had to shift quickly, and our facilitator, Leah, had to get creative with her tactics. Conversations struggled at the top, but soon, more and more attendees were unmuting. Delegates were sharing their ideas, but also voicing when they were uncertain, something we all know can be intimidating to say to a group.
“As a host for the girl delegate call,” Leah said, “even if things went differently than I had prepared for, I had to go with the flow. I’m proud that I was able to help give those girls a meaningful experience.”
“One thing I’ve noticed,” Karen explained, “is that girls are capable of significant accomplishments if we just give them the support and confidence they need to lead. When we, as adults, show that we believe in them, they ultimately believe in themselves.”
I am so proud of the work our girl delegates put into this, both behind the scenes leading up to the day, and during the forum. The teamwork, leadership, and innovation they demonstrated allowed them to create the safe space for the dialogue they hoped for.
Attendees of the forum commented that they were so happy to have the opportunity to attend and connect with other girl delegates. At the end of the Forum, they all said, “See you next weekend at NCS!”
In the past year a lot of our plans have changed, and many of us have been forced to shift. What has not changed is the determination and spirit of our girls. They continue to blaze new trails and inspire.
“It’s important for girls to take leadership positions so they can make a change in their lives, instead of letting someone else do it,” Dakota said.
“Girls have a specific point of view that adults don’t—it’s important for girls to be able to share that point of view,” Leah explained, and Alonda added, “I feel like there’s not enough recognition for young girl’s and women’s leadership.”
Carlie also agreed: “Girls are often told it’s bad to be loud, and Girl Scouts teaches us that our strength is our voice, our actions, us. Creating spaces for girls to learn voting, business, public speaking, and diplomatic skills is crucial to creating a world that is meant for us, too.”
Kate concluded, “I’m excited to be a part of something that will impact not only my community, but girls throughout the United States.”
Save the Date for the next National Council Session!
Girl Scouts are welcome to attend the next National Council Session in July 2023 on their own, as a troop, or you can apply to be a delegate.
Applications will open in 2022 for the 2023 National Council Session. Adults and Girls that are 14 and up will be able to apply.
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!
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!
Want to do more? Attend our Fall Fest on Sunday, Nov. 8 either before or after smashing your pumpkin! We’re making fall-themed crafts, adventuring through the forest, going on spooky hikes, and more, so don’t miss out.
Democracy Badge Webinars
Have you ever been curious about how our government functions, and how we elect officials? Now is a great time to learn! Together, we’ll learn the branches of government and find out what keeps our towns and states running! You’ll even learn the ins and outs of voting and governing, all while earning part of the Democracy badge for your level.
Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors looking to earn a Highest Award or complete a Journey are welcome to our Take Action workshops this Nov. 4! We’ll cover the differences between community service and taking-action, and how to best plan a take-action project. Come ready to brainstorm!
Juniors and Cadettes are invited to join our financial literacy badge starter workshops with Morgan Stanley on Nov. 18. Together, we’ll work on activities, learn financial literacy basics, and have time for participating adults to talk to a Morgan Stanley representative and ask questions, and get started on the Business Owner and Financing My Future badges!
In Latin America, the dead are remembered – and celebrated – in a unique way every year. Día de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is celebrated on November 2, All Souls’ Day, with colorful, joyous altars filled with mementos and photos of their beloved dead.
Even though travel might not be at the top of your list right now, dreaming and planning ahead should be! There are multiple fun ways that you can travel as a Girl Scout, including traveling with your troop, going on a Destination, or joining a council-sponsored trip.
Summer is a great time for exploring the great outdoors! Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado, offers many fun activities including canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, archery, ropes courses, zip lining, climbing wall, and much more. Group activities include a day at Rocky Mountain National Park, whitewater rafting and team-bonding experiences.
Apply for the chance to camp with 6,000 of your closest Scouting and Guiding friends on the lawn of Windsor Castle at the WINGS 2021 Jamboree. The group will spend 3 days in Liverpool before the Jamboree, and stay the night at Pax Lodge, the WAGGGS World Centre in London, afterwards. There are 8 girl spots to fill.
Calling all Cadettes! Girl Scouts of GCNWI will be inviting 12 girls and 2 adults to join us on a Canadian adventure! Next up in our Intro to Travel series for Cadettes, we’re headed to Montreal, Canada, the home of poutine, many churches, and steamed bagels. On this introduction to travel, you’ll learn the ins and outs of how to plan a travel adventure, including budgeting, itinerary planning, and how to find accommodation.
Take the Swiss Hiking Challenge with your fellow Girl Scouts! This once-in-a-lifetime experience will be full of adventure, challenge, nature, new friends, and LOTS of fun! The trip will include a visit to Our Chalet, a WAGGGS World Centre, where you’ll hike some of the most popular trails in the area, rock climb, learn about the Swiss culture, and make new friends from around the world. GSGCNWI is looking for six girls to serve on a Girl Planning Committee to help plan a Switzerland adventure before our time at Our Chalet.
All 2021 Destinations applications are due Jan. 15, 2021.
Travel Scholarships are available to girls who have been accepted to a GSUSA Destination.
Are the girls in your troop planning their own adventure? GSGCNWI has brand new training available on our Learning Portal for troop trip coordinators, including preparing for your first trip, overnights, and extended trips. Check out the training!
¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Latinx, un mes dedicado a celebrar los logros excepcionales y la rica cultura de todas las personas Latinas en los Estados Unidos! En Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), celebramos las vibrantes contribuciones de Latinos que dan vida a nuestra hermosa nación. Nos dedicamos a celebrar a las niñas de todas las partes ya sea que seas afrolatina o tengas raíces indígenas, celebremos la diversidad y la cultura hispana hoy y todos los días. ¡Siéntete orgullosa, habla fuerte y enséñanos tu cultura a continuación!
¡Sigue adelante para participar en la fiesta de este mes!
Bailaremos con actores de Broadway, tendremos muchos invitados especiales, premios, y mucho más, ¡así que no se lo pierda! Durante esta sesión interactiva, usted y su niña jugarán juegos que le enseñarán el método científico de observación y deducción y cómo funciona en su propia vida. ¡Es diversión, pero con un propósito!
Su niña no tiene que estar registrada como Girl Scout para participar (¡aunque estamos seguros de que querrá convertirse en una cuando haya terminado con este evento!)
Aprenda sobre la magia de STEM en este video sobre Girl Scout Veronica:
¡Celebraciones del Día de Muertos!
En América Latina, los muertos son recordados y celebrados de una manera única cada año. El Día de Los Muertos se celebra el 1 a 2 de noviembre, con altares coloridos y alegres llenos de recuerdos y fotos de sus amados muertos.
¡Aprenda más sobre el Día de Muertos y compra nuestra caja de celebración cultural para obtener todo lo que necesita para celebrar en casa! Dentro de la caja, recibirá instrucciones sobre cómo configurar un Altar para un ser querido fallecido, decoraciones para fiestas, suministros e instrucciones para manualidades, recetas para delicias deliciosas y un parche divertido.
¡También esté atento a un Programa de Parches extra especial que viene de GCNWI sobre las vacaciones especiales!
¡Conozca a alumnas latinas sin límite!
Todas las niñas merecen verse reflejadas en los líderes y los creadores de historia de nuestro mundo. Girl Scouts of USA lanzó recientemente una publicación de blog (en inglés) sobre algunas de nuestras alumnas de Girl Scouts latinas pioneras y revolucionarias, incluidas la activista Dolores Huerta y la jueza de la Corte Suprema Sonia Sotomayor.
Happy Latinx Heritage Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the exceptional accomplishments and rich culture of all Latino people in the United States! At Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), we celebrate the vibrant contributions of Latinos who bring our beautiful nation to life. We are dedicated to celebrating girls from all over, whether you are Afro-Latino or have Indigenous roots, let’s celebrate Latinx diversity and culture today and every day. Be proud and speak up!
¡Sigue adelante! Read on to get involved in the fiesta this month!
We’re going to dance, play, and learn all about the fun of science, and even get to meet Broadway actors and dancers! This is all about fun with a purpose: we’ll be also playing games together that teach your girl the scientific method of observation and deduction, and how it works in her own life.
Learn about the magic of STEM in this video about Girl Scout Veronica’s story (video is in Spanish):
Day of the Dead Celebrations!
In Latin America, the dead are remembered – and celebrated – in a unique way every year. Día de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is celebrated on November 2, All Souls’ Day, with colorful, joyous altars filled with mementos and photos of their beloved dead.
Learn more about Day of the Dead and order our cultural celebration box to get everything you need to celebrate at home! Inside the box, you’ll receive instructions for how to set up an Altar to a deceased loved one, party decorations, craft supplies and directions, recipes for tasty treats, and a fun patch.
Also look out for an extra special Patch Program coming to you from GCNWI all about the special holiday!
Meet Some No-Limit Latina Alumnae!
Every girl deserves to see herself reflected in our world’s leaders and history-makers. Girl Scouts of USA recently released an awesome blog post about some of our trailblazing, game-changing Latina Girl Scout alumnae, including activist Dolores Huerta and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor!
That’s right: the 2020-21 Fall Product Program for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is LIVE from now, Oct. 1 until Oct. 21! Bravely Be You and Trust Your Strengths with us this year!
Our Fall Product Program empowers girls and troops with skills in entrepreneurship, goal setting, and decision making, and provides girls an opportunity to earn rewards, patches, and generate start-up funds to support troop adventures and community projects.
Participation in the Fall Product Program is super easy, and your involvement helps our council remain Girl Scout strong! Not only can the troop earn funds, but girls can also earn cool rewards like our three-toed sloth plushie, the fuzzy sloth journal, a vlogging kit, and so much more!
Girl Scouts, you have a chance to win a 4′ sloth plush when you participate in both our Fall Product Program and our sloth challenge! Details will be revealed soon, so stay tuned!
This year, family and friends are going to love the products in our lineup from Ashdon Farms! You won’t want to miss the peanut butter trail mix, hot cajun crunch mix, and two new keepsake Girl Scout vintage uniform and holiday tins that are perfect for gift giving! Plus, all of your favorite Nuts & Candy and tons of magazines will be available, too!
This week and every week, we celebrate the resilience, ambition, and passion of our girls and members. Last Thursday, Sept. 24, we hosted our first ever premiere virtual fundraising event, Smart Cookies: Stand for More, an evening dedicated to uplifting our tireless girls and members, and it was a huge success!
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.
Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors, we raised over $85,000 to help ensure that ANY girl, and ALL girls, can participate in Girl Scouts! Read on to learn more about the evening and how we Stand for More together.
I Am a G.I.R.L.
Girl Scouts, this year especially, have shown how vital it is to stand up and act for themselves and others. As we all faced national lockdowns, civil unrest, and an uncertain future, our Girl Scouts stood for more, every day, through their continued acts of service and community engagement, and unbreakable spirits.
Take Every Opportunity
We heard from several game-changing women and girls, including CEO of WTTW and the 2020 Tribute to Achievement Community Partnership honoree, who spoke to Girl Scout Megan about the importance of resilience: “Challenges are going to come your way—how you handle it defines the future.” Her advice for busy Girl Scout and Girl Rep Megan? “If an opportunity comes your way, I encourage you to take it.”
Watch their conversation above!
From “Shy Girl” to Go-Getter
Girl Scout Naomi, in conversation with Lei Zheng Schlitz, our 2020 Tribute to Achievement Luminary honoree, shared her story of transformation from a self-described “shy girl” to a force to be reckoned with. In learning about different social movements, like the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and racial justice, “I have turned into the person who will call out other people when they’re saying something that’s not right… I educate people as much as I can.”
Watch their conversation by clicking the link above!