Destinations for summer 2020 and 2021 are now open!
Girl Scout Destinations are the ultimate adventures for individual Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador girls! With different trips every year, there’s something for everyone. Pack your bags full of life-changing experiences and make friends from all over the country as you travel with Girl Scouts from different states.
Destinations require an application and reference form. There are two application rounds:
Round 1 Applications/References due December 1
Round 2 Applications/References due February 15
Adventure Is Out There
One parent of twin Girl Scouts that went to a horseback riding camp said of the application process, “When they told people that they were accepted into the camp, they were certain to include an explanation of the application process. There was something about applying and being accepted that was quite exciting for them.”
Joining one of these trips takes an independent spirit and for girls that “love being on their own,” as one parent put it.
Emily Jones, Girl Scout Senior, says of her trip to the Channel Islands: “Going on the Channel Islands Destinations trip has inspired me to travel the world and explore what is out there for me to see. I want to see the world, not just from photos, but in person.”
“[My experiences here] inspired me to want to find a profession that helps people in poverty or those experiencing violence,” stated Molly Sheridan, Girl Scout Ambassador, who traveled on a Destination to India in summer 2019.
“My journey made me see the world differently,” said Aubri Matthews, Girl Scout Cadette, of her Destinations trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Girl Scout Senior, Danielle Knudson, says, “After my Destinations trip, I want to try new things that might scare me. I want to find new activities to challenge myself.”
Ready to go?
If you’re wondering how to afford all of this travel, don’t fret! Travel Scholarships are available for girls who have been accepted onto a Girl Scout Destination.
An unknown adventure awaited eight Girl Scout Cadettes and Seniors on winter 2019’s Choose Your Own Adventure trip!
What is Choose Your Own Adventure?
Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) is a girl-led trip, planned and executed by Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts. The girls can plan to venture to places like o Milwaukee, WI; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; or Starved Rock, IL! Or if they’d like they can keep it close to home with a Chicago adventure!
Whatever a group chooses to do, this is their own girl-led adventure where they will practice budgeting, planning and personalizing their own 3-day trip!
In January 2019, girls had multiple options of travel destinations to choose from for their voyage, but their plans were thwarted by a snowstorm. Together at Camp Greene Wood, the girls met for a night of bonding, planning, and budgeting for their Midwest 3-day trip. Then, they hit the road for their girl-led adventure!
Read on to hear a first-hand account of from our Girl Scouts regarding their Illinois journey.
Girl Scouts Make Do
By Kelsey, Megan, and Anya
We had a couple of options of places to travel to on the trip; however, the weather foiled our plans, so we decided to stay in Naperville. On Friday night, we stayed over at camp, bonded, planned our activities together and decided what we wanted to do over the weekend.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, we started our adventure by going snow tubing at the Blackwell Forest Preserve. It was very cold, but we had a lot of fun! After we went tubing, we went back to camp to pick-up our belongings and finalize our plans. We went to downtown Naperville and enjoyed lunch at Everdine’s Grilled Cheese. Afterwards, we explored downtown and had fun shopping and eating cookie dough. At night, we went to the Chicago Premium Outlets to shop and eat dinner.
We had so much fun on our first day of travel on the 2019 Girl Scouts Choose Your Own Adventure Trip! And while it wasn’t the initial trip we had in mind, we made the most of our time and had a blast exploring parts of the Chicago-land area we hadn’t been to!
Lasers and Laughs
By Lucy, Ava, and Adelina
Our second day was eventful! We did so many exciting activities. After breakfast, the group challenged each other to a couple rounds of laser tag. We played arcade games in between rounds and met other players!
After having a blast at laser tag, we ate a delicious lunch at Gemato’s Wood Pit BBQ. At first, we planned to swim at the Vaughan Aquatic Center in the afternoon, but after thinking it through as a group, we decided to go bowling instead. The bowling alley was packed with tons of people, but we had so much more fun than we expected! For dinner after bowling, we headed back to the hotel and ordered food for a fun “dinner-in-bed.”
Our last activity of the day was a super fun escape room. Half of our group did an Indiana Jones themed room, which gave them quite a scare! The other half of the group did a Sherlock Holmes themed room, and they escaped with 32 seconds remaining! After the escape rooms, we treated ourselves to some sweets at Baskin Robbins. To end our fun-filled day, we drove back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
American Ninja Girl Scout
By Calla and Rain
We had a lovely third day together. After waking up and starting our day, we headed downstairs for breakfast. Then, we headed to a place called Urban Air, where we jumped on trampolines, and made our way through a ropes course and an obstacle course that reminded us of American Ninja Warrior.
Later, we had lunch at Portillo’s together. After we finished lunch, we went to a movie theater and watched the new movie called A Dog’s Way Home. Finally, we made our way back to camp, where we parted ways and said goodbyes, then headed home with our parents and guardians.
Aspire to Adventure!
The world is your playground; where will you explore today? Where will you dream of conquering tomorrow?
Girl Scouts offers many travel opportunities to help girls to aspire to adventure. Whether it’s overnight camping trips, international voyages, or troop stay-cations, Girl Scouts are expanding their horizons.
Summer is the perfect time to experience the wonders of the great outdoors. This summer, GCNWI had two groups of adventurous Girl Scouts from around the council set off for a journey of horseback riding, hiking, archery, ropes courses, zip lining, climbing walls, and much more!
On June 22, I flew to Colorado with my Girl Scout troop and lots of other Girl Scouts from our council. This was my first big Girl Scout trip and I was so excited! When we arrived in Denver, we got on a bus and drove about 2 hours to Granby, CO and arrived at the Snow Mountain Ranch. We saw lots of snow on our drive, which was funny because it was summer!
Snow Mountain Ranch was beautiful. There were mountains surrounding the resort. We spent most of our first full day at the ranch exploring all the exciting things they had to offer. We participated in many different activities, like swimming, skating, volleyball, craft cabin and archery.
My favorite activity on the trip was whitewater rafting with MAD Adventures. It was my first time whitewater rafting, and I was a little nervous, but my friend Megan and I still volunteered to be the lead paddlers in the front of our raft. I loved when we hit rough waters and as leaders, we loved being challenged to take charge of a difficult part of the trip! We ended our day taking in the beautiful scenery and singing Girl Scout songs.
June 26 was my 11th birthday! My friends decorated my room and sang “Happy Birthday” to me at breakfast and lunch. We did some of my favorite things on my birthday: swimming, roller skating, volleyball, going to the craft cabin, eating a steak dinner, and horseback riding. It was one of my best birthdays ever!
Rocky Mountain National Park was also fun. The views of the mountains and animals were beautiful. We saw some elk as soon as we arrived and later while we were exploring, we saw a moose close-up. We took pictures at the Continental Divide and also had a mini snowball fight. It was really cool that we were wearing shorts while there was so much snow.
The last full day of our trip, we went summer tubing. It was so much fun! The first time, I went down alone on a single tube. The next few times, I went in a double tube with my friends Megan and Isabella. It was awesome!
Colorado was such an amazing trip. I had so much fun with my friends and I became closer with some of the girls on the trip. I’m so glad I was able to participate in such an amazing adventure. We made so many memories and really bonded.
I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who is considering it. The trip meant so much to me. I faced fears, experienced many new adventures, made new friends and became closer with old friends. I’m looking forward to my next travel opportunity with Girl Scouts!
Joining the Fun!
GCNWI will be offering the Colorado trip again in 2021. If you’re interested in joining the trip, email Ashley Christensen, our council’s Travel Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are so happy to share Peyton’s story with the council! Traveling with the Girl Scouts offers endless possibilities for excitement. The world is your oyster–– get out there!
Girl Scouts from across the US recently spent two weeks adventuring in the gorgeous cities of Pune, Delhi, and Mumbai, India to connect with their sister Girl Guides (WAGGGS) and Girl Scouts. On the second half of their journey, the girls met with international community partners, tried out “laughing yoga”, and visited the Taj Majal!
The girls had the incredible opportunity to visit one of Sangam’s community partners, MAHER, an organization whose work spans across India and aims at providing support, resources, and homes for women, children, the elderly, and the mentally ill, especially those who are victims of violence. During their visit, they learned about MAHER’s efforts in family reunification and social services for the disadvantaged.
One of their most moving experiences in India was their visit to another community organization, a cafe called Sheroes run by survivors of acid attacks. During their visit, they watched a documentary about the survivors, and the girls chose to donate to the cafe to help their efforts stopping acid attacks and limiting accessibility to acid.
Though learning about systemic violence is challenging and discomforting, it is imperative to the development of Girl Scouts to educate themselves on issues like these. Through their contributions and their conversations with the people at Sheroes and MAHER, the girls gained a deeper comprehension of the injustices towards women and children globally. By meeting with these organizations, the girls became empowered to take action and make their own contributions to struggling populations in their local and global community.
Explorations and Education
The cross-cultural ties continued as the girls completed the Pune Leadership Challenge, exploring different parts of the city and completing an assortment of quiz questions. The girls later celebrated with an Indian afternoon: they learned how to tie Sarees, paint henna, and play Indian games. For dinner, they had an Indian wedding feast, and finished off the evening with a dancing class. By honoring and participating in these diverse cultural traditions, the Girl Scouts were able to see the links between their world and the world abroad.
Along with these different impactful experiences, the girls embarked on several adventures: water-tower climbing, “laughing yoga,” and visits to the biggest Mosque in India—Taj-ul-Masjid, a beautiful tomb, and an exquisite Sikh Gurudwara (a Sikh place of worship).
On their last full day of sightseeing, the girls started their four-hour voyage to Agra, the city where the Taj Mahal is located. They visited the Red Fort, a cultural landmark surrounded by a deep moat, holding a multitude of palace-like buildings influenced by Persian and Islamic architecture. The Red Fort was partially designed by the man who built the Taj Majal. Their next stop was theMehtab Bagh (“Moonlit Garden”), where the girls took pictures in front of the close-up view of the Taj Mahal.
Finally, the girls made it to the Taj Mahal, where they explored the beautiful wonder of the world and took several hundreds of pictures.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go
The girls are back home, and we are so happy to share their experiences and photos with the Girl Scouts of Chicago and Northwestern Indiana.
We hope by sharing stories like these that more girls will be encouraged to explore this giant, beautiful world. We hope Girl Scouts continue to practice cultural empathy and appreciation. More importantly, we hope girls become inspired to take action and make positive contributions to the world, whether in their own neighborhood, or places far, far away.
After two days of bonding and exploring in Chicago, the group hopped on a 16-hour flight to Mumbai, something none of the girls had experienced before! Once they landed, the girls boarded a bus to take them to Sangam. Even after their long flight, their trip didn’t come without additional challenges. On the way there, they realized the road was closed, but, just like the resourceful Girl Scouts they are, the girls decided to ride rickshaws through the neighborhoods in Pune to their destination.
Upon arriving in Pune, they tasted delicious food, met and interacted with the locals, then visited ancient temples and a Punjabi fabric market. The Girl Scouts also practiced yoga, embroidery, painting, and explored the vibrant city around them. The girls met with local Nivedita Guides—local area Girl Guides—together, they sang and danced; teaching the WAGGGS Girls the “Cotton Eye Joe” line dance and in-turn learning a traditional Bollywood dance.
Serving a Community Internationally
After visiting holy temples in Alandi and Tulapur, the girls traveled to an organization called Ishwari—a Sangam community partner. The girls worked with Ishwari to help local women create crafts like embroidery, cards, and food, in order to make money to support their families.
Experiences like these are so important for Girl Scouts, not only because they get to see different parts of the world, but different parts of humanity. International travel and cross-cultural exchange is good for the soul!
In November 1975, I had the opportunity to visit Our Cabaña, one of the WAGGGS (Girl Scouts is part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) World Centers located in Cuernavaca, Mexico. My fellow Girl Scouts at Mitten Bay Council (now Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan) planned out trip to the center established in 1957, about 50 miles outside of Mexico City. We were incredibly excited to not only venture out of the United States, but also to have the opportunity to meet Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world. Although I don’t remember everything about the trip, it certainly was an experience of a lifetime and began a lifelong interest in travel!
Planning for Mexico
We started planning the trip a year earlier using funds we gained from many money-earning activities. We sold crafts we had made at a number of craft fairs; I especially remember decoupage soap – think I may still have a bar somewhere! We also hosted Sarah Coventry jewelry parties. The estimated cost of the trip was $462 (about $2,000 today) and as a troop, we collectively worked hard to achieve our goal of traveling to Mexico.
By the time we were ready to leave, I was a sophomore in high school. We had planned our trip to take place during the school year so we all got to miss school.
For most of us, it was our first airplane trip. We flew to Mexico City and visited a number of the tourist sites, including the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, meaning the “Place of Flowers”. One of the more memorable sites was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was amazing to watch some of the parishioners crawl on their knees on the cobbled stone to the entry of the Basilica as a means of giving thanks.
Hello Our Cabaña!
Then we were off to Cuernavaca. I remember Our Cabaña as having many flowers and great food. Trying the local cuisine, like pigeon, was a new and exciting experience—also delicious. During our time at Our Cabaña we met Girl Guides from other parts of the world including Mexico and El Salvador. We also volunteered at an orphanage. And we visited the city of Taxco, a city heavily associated with silver. We all bought souvenirs to take back home.
At the time, a trip to Mexico was quite unusual and we were in the newspaper several times before and after the trip. Back in 1975, it wasn’t that common to take an airplane trip out of the country (or in the US for that matter) especially for high school students. The fact that we were going to Mexico was a big deal especially in our smaller council in Michigan. Amazingly, I had saved most of the mementos from the trip in a travel bag we received from the airline – a trip that truly was the experience of a lifetime.
I encourage EVERY Girl Scout to travel to a new place with their troop or even on their own. Girl Scouts of GCNWI has amazing travel opportunities both nationally and internationally, and Girl Scouts USA has Destinations!—for those individual adventure seekers!
Travel with Girl Scouts
Learn more about the WAGGGS World Centres here, and more about how you can visit Our Cabana here.
GSGCNWI hosted a trip to Our Cabana in 2017; see more about our trip here.
Check out the GCNWI travel page for more information on how to plan your own trip or join a council-sponsored trip!
Ever been overwhelmed by the thought of planning a Girl Scout trip? We’ve got you covered! Global Action Volunteer Team member Madison Carroll shares her tips and trick for travel planning for the tech-talented Gen Z-er, as well as her take on why planning a trip teaches great skill-building skills any Girl Scout can gain and carry with her as she travels and beyond.
“Don’t call traveling a dream, call it a plan.”
Traveling somewhere new is a huge decision and takes a ton
of courage! Taking the first step to decide that you are going to travel as a
troop, on a council-sponsored
trip or GSUSA
Destination is always a step in the right direction – but it can be
How do you decide where to go? How will you get there? Where
will you stay? What do you need to know before you arrive? Are there language,
currency, or cultural differences?
The best part about traveling in today’s world, is that you
can find answers to all of these questions online in a matter of minutes. This
past year, I planned a trip to Peru to climb Machu Picchu and was super
excited, but also incredibly overwhelmed at the amount of planning needing to
be done! I used the following 6 resources to research my trip (which turned out
to be the trip of a lifetime!)
I always start with a google search of any place I’m headed. Googling the location is going to bring up MILLIONS of articles, information, history, politics, food, tourism, etc. – everything you could possibly want to know! Then, I always make sure to Google, “What should I know before traveling to X location?” This is where you’ll find awesome insights on exactly what you should prep and plan for!
Get a lay of the land and a look at the city before even leaving the comfort of your couch! There are tons of YouTube videos on tourism for nearly every city in the world that offer you the chance to familiarize yourself with the location so you know what to expect when you get there.
Pinterest is great for seeing suggested itineraries and things to do! And to be honest, you get to see tons of photos of your destination so you know where to head for the best photo-ops! You can also save all of your pins on one board and come back to revisit later. I call my travel planning board, “Take Me There!”
Do not underestimate the power of travel blogs. There are thousands out there and they can be found with a quick Google search. This is a great way to see how other people have visited the location you’re going to (and learn from their mistakes!). I recommend following blogs written by solo, female travelers; they are the best resource for tips and tricks–and safety measures– when it comes to both group and solo travel!
Although it may not be the most tech savvy way to plan a trip, I still love grabbing a travel guide on my destination from my local library before traveling there. It’s helpful to learn more about the city through a quick read. I love Rick Steve’s Travel Guides and he has them for nearly every place in the world! There is also the Rick Steve’s Travel App for your phone which I would highly recommend for free in-country walking tours!
You’re already a pro at it, so why not use your hashtags for travel good?! Search for the locations you’d like to go, or as a hashtag. Many tourism boards have made hashtags for their locations to help collate all of the photos for travelers (like #sunshinestate or #floridalife). We’re also loving the hashtag #girlscoutswhotravel!
Overall, no matter how you research your trip, as long as
you do so thoroughly, will make your trip an adventure to remember! And of
course, should you be planning any travel and want advice, help planning, tips
or tricks, reach out to the GSGCNWI Global
Action Volunteer Team! We are always more than happy to help make your
dream trip a reality!
As a Girl Scout, you’ve grown curious about the world, eager to ask questions and challenge yourself with new experiences. As a Girl Scout traveler, you’ve honed important leadership skills like budgeting for a trip, money-earning to make it possible, and working together to plan a great itinerary. You’re an independent young woman who wants to see the world!
Some of the most fulfilling benefits
of travel come from learning about new cultures and meeting new people. When
you think about travel, you might think about vacation with your family, a
troop trip, Girl Scout Destinations, or council-sponsored trips
– trips that are often a week or two. Now, it’s time to think longer!
See the World While You Study!
When you spend a summer, semester, or year studying in another country, you will immerse yourself in a new culture, expanding our horizons while learning more about the country and cultures around you. Start daydreaming now about where you’d like to study!
In high school, some schools offer
exchange opportunities through language departments. If your your school
doesn’t offer them, there are many organizations and companies that offer opportunities
for high school students, such as Rotary International
and EF Tours. There are
also scholarships available for travel through organizations like Hostelling International and ACIS. You might
even consider doing some travel and volunteering before going to college
through organizations like AIFS, Greenheart
Travel or Cross Cultural Solutions.
Most people study abroad in college because
there are more opportunities. When choosing a college and a course of study, do
research about what study abroad and exchange programs are available. Most
colleges and universities offer some type of study abroad, but each school
differs as to what credits transfer and when you can go during your degree. If
your school doesn’t offer programs that appeal to you, consider an organization
like IES Abroad,
which offers independent study abroad programs.
Dream It & Make It Happen
If you want to study abroad, you can
make it happen; it just takes curiosity and motivation! You’re a Girl Scout –
You’ve Got This! Start early by visiting the International Programs or Study
Abroad office on your campus to see what programs you can attend.
Here are some things to consider as you daydream:
Once you start asking daydreaming,
you’ll find it difficult to choose where to go. Travel is a lifelong adventure,
and there’s always somewhere new to go!
There are scholarships and
fellowships available to travel all over the world. You just need to do your
research and stay organized! As we say in the Global Action Volunteer Team: Dream It, Plan It, Travel!
Maureen Ewing is a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts with 12 years as a girl member and over 25 years as an adult volunteer. She currently serves on the Global Action Volunteer Team and is co-leading a Destination to India and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) World Centre Sangam this summer. Maureen studied abroad for a full academic year at Nottingham University in the UK and did graduate studies at Rhodes University in South Africa, where she earned her Master’s Degree.
Travel with Girl Scouts GCNWI!
If you are not headed off to college or university next school year, check out the GSGNCWI Travel page for information on how to plan a troop trip—where you can choose to go backpacking—or join a GSUSA Destination!
Want to try something new for you first or next Girl Scout travels? Consider backpacking for your next adventure! Global Action Volunteer Team member Alex Porter shares her take on why backpacking is an awesome option as well as highlights the benefits and skill-building skills any Girl Scout can gain with this challenging and rewarding form of travel.
You can also read more about our Global Action Volunteer Team! Check our Blog 1 and Blog 2 now!
Backpacking? You mean, you’re going to travel with just a backpack?
Those two questions summarize many of the responses I get when I tell people that I’m going on another “backpacking” trip.
To me, backpacking is about feeling free to move around easily and without restrictions. It is about being able to wake up in Paris one morning and arrive in Berlin the next. Backpacking also teaches you organizational and planning skills that are not easily mastered. When you are forced to fit all of your clothes/toiletries/etc. in one backpack for a week or a month (or in my case, four months+), you really test your understanding of necessity over convenience.
When it comes to the planning and execution of travel, you have to constantly make decisions based on necessity—this especially includes the items you carry with you on your back. For example, do you really need that hair straightener for the one to no times you will actually use it or would you rather have that headlamp to help you navigate?
Backpacking teaches you that you can live without nail polish, makeup, 100 different shoe and dress options, and still have an absolutely amazing time.
Since you are not fully stocked, you learn to be resourceful in many aspects. Through trial and error, you will learn, for example, what food you can take with you on a 12-hour bus ride overnight through Indonesia without it melting or smelling. You learn how to communicate in hand signals, smiles, nods, and gestures—essentially learning a different language!
One of my favorite parts of backpacking is staying in hostels. If you’re not familiar, a hostel is an inexpensive accommodation, similar to a hotel, where travelers, who are strangers, bunk together for a short time. Hostel-dwellers typically share a bedroom—think bunk beds or dormitory style—as well as common areas like a restaurant and/or a kitchen. My absolute favorite part of staying in a hostel is being able to meet people from all over the world! I would argue that I’ve learned more about different cultures from my time spent in hostels than all my time spent in both college undergraduate as well as graduate programs.
All in all, backpacking is a wonderful way to explore the world, meet amazing people, and learn more about yourself.
Travel with Girl Scouts GCNWI!
Check out the GSGNCWI Travel page for information on how to plan a troop trip—where you can choose to go backpacking—or join a GSUSA Destination!
The Global Action Volunteer Team (GAVT) is a group of volunteers who LOVE all things global and travel. They’ve traveled extensively locally, nationally and internationally with Girl Scouts and on their own. The team is here to serve the members of GSGCNWI to make global, cultural and travel experiences fun and accessible to our entire Girl Scout community. These adults are here to help you every step of the way, ensuring you are ready for your next adventure.
We interviewed each of the volunteers and asked them for their tips and tricks when it comes to local, national and international travel. Here are some of our favorite local destinations and where we’re headed next!
1. What’s your favorite local destination (no flights involved)??
Clarissa: I love to visit Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in DuPage County. I can hike for hours off-trail, climb up muddy walls, trek through water, and enjoy the peace and quiet. Sometimes I run, walk my dog, take my family, or take my Girl Scout troop.
Shari: Our next three trips are Portland, OR, NYC and Montreal, QC. We haven’t planned much yet. We’ll spend time on the coast in Oregon, horseback ride in the mountains and sight see with friends who live there. In NYC, we’ll see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, tour some attractions, hang out with some friends and then drive to Niagara Falls. We’re not certain about Montreal yet.
Clarissa: My family are going to Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize, to enjoy the local culture, scuba dive in the Blue Hole in Belize, ride on speed boats between countries, and swim in the ocean and cenotes (a natural sinkhole).