Girl Scout National Center West Set Back in Time 

Have you ever had the wider opportunity to sleep under the Milky Way in a Girl Scout platform tent in the Big Horn Mountains in Tensleep, Wyoming? Welcome to Girl Scout National Center West (NCW). 

In 1968 Girl Scouts bought 15,400 acres of rugged wilderness in the Big Horn National Forest, making it the most significant purchase Girl Scouts made at that time. The center was a national destination for many. NCW’s primary emphasis was on the Girl Scout Program in The Great Out-of-Doors for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, ages 14 to 18. 

The camp was a place to explore Native American pictographs or for future geologists to sleep under a rock shelter called The Pow-Wow. Hiking The Peak was a 19-day pack trip up to Mesa and the backcountry. For novice backpackers, you could Tote n Trek 9 days out in the eastern foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. If you had a LOVE for horses, NCW was the Girl Scout Camp you sold a lot of cookies and fundraised for. Camp had three corrals on the property, and the programs included Ride Rap and Wrangle, Cadettes on Horseback, Buckskins, and Calico or Saddle Straddle. Each year a few new programs were added. Imagine your view of this country’s rugged wilderness from atop a horse, a priceless Girl Scout opportunity at its BEST!! 

If you loved western arts, the camp offered Stage in the Sage, Paint the West, Windows n Wildlife, Furs Feathers, and Fun for the eye behind the camera. NCW also offered Focus I & II, where you learned the art of developing your black and white, some color shots, and slides in the darkroom—capturing such beauty and friendships of the country and wildlife around them! Wyoming Trek offered a program for Girl Scout troops and families traveling to other destinations out west. 

National Center West ran programs from five base camps with pit latrines, running water, platform tents, a kitchen fly, a unit house with a staff office, showers, a food commissary, and a meeting room with a fireplace. We need to remember that NCW was a journey set back in time. For most participants, it was the first time they flew in an airplane. Just the red gravel Rome Hill Road up to camp had to freak the daylights out of you. But these strong Girl Scouts were prepared for this wider opportunity at National Center West. They each worked hard to be a participant in these programs and have the T-shirt, patches, and diddys to show from the famous Trading Post Log Cabin. 

Camp had full-time staff throughout the year and hundreds of summer staff members that came back year after year bonding with their Girl Scout sisters and brothers. Girl Scout sisters mostly ran the camp and were the hardest workers I had ever been around in the summers of 1983 and 1984. 

Sadly, in 1989, NCW saw the last campers. Due to high maintenance costs, the property was sold in 1991 to the State of Wyoming and Clay Ranch. 9,851 acres are preserved with the State of Wyoming Nature Conservatory, now called the Tensleep Preserve, and are open to the public. Clay Ranch picked up 4,749 acres. 

On July 5, 2018, after 35 years, I returned to the site of NCW, now Ten Sleep Preserve, for a bucket list trip and reunion on the property. More than 100 staffers/campers reunited like Girl Scout sisters do by picking up where we left off. On the day of the reunion, we hugged, hiked to The Pow-Wow, gathered for a pack-in lunch, sang and sang some more, toured the property on 

the cool school bus, and had the best Chuckwagon Dinner to end our day!! Time to get off the mountain and head into town to enjoy some live music.  

I can’t thank my mother enough, the Best GS Leader ever, for helping me make my dreams as a young adult to reach for those stars, even in the longest days. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer during my stay and passed away in May of 1984. I returned to the place National Center West that summer, where I knew I needed to be with my Girl Scout sisters and brothers. 

To this day, I (we) treasure these Girl Scout memories. When I hear the word “camp,” I know that these memories and moments truly last a lifetime! Thank you, Girl Scout National Center West! 

Yours in Scouting 

Kathy Webb 

gsgcnwi SU 714 support Council Historian 

The Cookie Rally Is Back! Join GSGCNWI for a Day of Fun.

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is thrilled to bring the Cookie Rally back as an in-person event at the Allstate Arena on January 7, 2023. GSGCNWI’s Cookie Rally is for Girl Scouts of all ages and their families to have some fun while preparing to #GoBrightAhead into everyone’s favorite program, the cookie program!

Doors will open only for Girl Scout Cookie Rally attendees at 3 p.m. There will be many family-friendly activities and photo ops, including:

  • Dunk your favorite Girl Scout Staff Member with our Dunk Tank
  • Family-friendly carnival games
  • Meet the Cookie CEOs 
  • Get a sneak peek of new Programs in STEM, Arts, and Outdoors
  • Get your photo taken at the Action Photo Booth

Have a pair of ice skates? Open skate will be from 3-5 p.m. Attendees must bring their own skates if they want to go onto the ice. Skate rental will not be available.

At 5 p.m., the Cookie Rally will take the ice to discuss all things cookie-related and tips on how to finish out phase 1 of the cookie program with a bang, and get ready to reach their goals in phase 2.

At 7 p.m., GSGCNWI will drop the puck and host the color guard presentation to kick off the hockey game and cheer on the Chicago Wolves!

Purchasing a ticket to our 2023 Cookie Rally includes entrance to the cookie rally, a commemorative T-shirt, a Chicago Wolves game ticket, and a Rally Patch for the Girl Scout. Tickets are $22 until December 4. Starting December 5, ticket prices will increase to $24.

Click here to purchase tickets. 

Get ready to rally this cookie season by learning this special cheer:

“C-o-o-k-i-e, Selling cookies is great for me.

C-o-o-k-i-e, We’ll reach our goals just wait and see.

C-o-o-k-i-e, Making a difference for you and me.

I’m a go-getter, nothing could be better.

I’m an innovator, nothing could be greater.

I’m a risk-taker, a mover and a shaker.

And I’m a leader, nothing could be sweeter.

C-o-o-k-i-e, selling cookies is great for me. 

C-o-o-k-i-e, We’ll reach our goals just wait and see.

C-o-o-k-i-e, Making a difference for you and me.”

Hope to see you at the Cookie Rally!

Why You Should Join the Girl Scout Go-Getters Chicago Marathon Team

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is incredibly proud to be a charity partner of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The Chicago Marathon is one of six Abbott World Marathon Majors and an experience of a lifetime. Each year, runners from 50 states and more than 100 countries run through 27 Chicago neighborhoods on a flat and fast course that starts and finishes in Grant Park.

Girl Scouts GCNWI is honored to compile a team each year to complete 26.2 miles around the city. The best part is — our runners work hard to raise funds that help to empower more than 25,000 girls in our council. 

A special shout-out to our 2022 Chicago Marathon runners; you fought through the muscle aches and fatigue and proved just how strong and resilient you can be. 

Take a look at what some of our Girl Scout Go-Getters said was the best part about running the Chicago Marathon. 

Experiencing 26.2 miles in a brand-new city — and supporting an incredible organization.

– Aliza Anderson

Finishing it! Honestly, the Chicago Endurance Sports community, the training, and the GSGCNWI support. It was incredible to feel the energy and cheerleading going into the race that morning – and on the course!

 – Jessica Wetmore

The community. The city of Chicago turns out for the marathon, and you feel the love and support along the entire course. I was so moved by the support from people I knew and strangers who gave their everything to cheer everyone on! Also, the community I built through the summer in my training program. I made some great friends who kept me going week after week! 

-Alaina Greene

“I am a Girl Scout alumnus, volunteer, troop leader, and lifetime member. I wanted to support Girl Scouts GCNWI and bring awareness to all the amazing things they do.”

-Katie Zabielski

Do you want to join the Girl Scout Go-Getter Team for the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon?

We are now accepting applications for the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which will take place on October 8, 2023. SPACE IS LIMITED – don’t wait to apply! 

Apply to run the 2023 Chicago Marathon with us » 

The fundraising minimum is $1,250 prior to November 16! After November 16, the required fundraising amount is $1,750.  

We will provide you with a personalized fundraising page and be with you every step in raising funds and running miles for the Girl Scouts! 

When you run with the Girl Scout Go-Getters, you will receive the following: 

  • Guaranteed entry into the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon  
  • Free virtual and in-person training options with Chicago Endurance Sports 
  • Official Girl Scout Go-Getters team running shirt and running belt 
  • Customizable fundraising page to help reach and surpass your goal 
  • Access to all team events (kick-off meeting, pasta party, and other events decided by team) 
  • Free access to Race Day Resort on race day (located next to the start line with food, drinks, and indoor restrooms) 

If you have any questions or need more information, contact Holly Johnson at 312-912-6329 or hjohnson@girlscoutsgcnwi.org

Troop 20450 Volunteers at Camp Trek

Safe, fun, and accessible to all is what Girl Scout programs are all about. Partnering with the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) – another community organization whose mission aligns with Girl Scouts – was game-changing in creating memorable experiences for all. 

A volunteer opportunity came from GLASA’s Camp Trek, a camp for youth with disabilities to participate in sports in an inclusive setting, which was looking for camp counselors for their weeklong summer camp, and 10 Girl Scouts answered.

The 10 Girl Scouts from Troop 20450: Aaliya, Aila, Alisha, Alyssa, Arianna, Ayra, Iman, Nuha, Zenia, and Zoha gained valuable leadership skills and experienced life from another person’s perspective, which they will carry for a lifetime.

“It was a great way to build leadership skills and help others while having fun!”

– Alyssa, Girl Scout Troop 20450

Before attending the camp, the girls had to complete training to learn about the responsibilities and duties of being a camp counselor. Camp started on August 1, and the girls worked Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their days consisted of providing day-long one-on-one support to camp attendees, who varied from ages 5-16, assisting them as they participated in every activity.

Take a look below at their activity schedule for each day.

Monday: Wheelchair Softball, Arts and Crafts, and Wheelchair Rugby

Tuesday: Wheelchair Basketball, Yoga, Tennis, Arts and Crafts, and Tennis

Wednesday: Kayaking, Fishing, and a Scavenger Hunt

Thursday: Wheelchair Football, Disk-Golf, Arts and Crafts, Obstacle Course, and Capture the Flag

Friday: Meeting Paralympians, Cookout, Talent Show, and Awards

When the troop was not providing one-on-one support, they assisted with management and administrative work as they shared ideas on marketing future programs for GLASA. The troop also helped with other camp logistics, such as meals and event planning.

Kelly Candotti Habas, Development Director from GLASA, shared that they expanded their programs to more students because Troop 20450 served as camp counselors.

“Camp Trek was a great experience – it helped me grow, learn, and meet many new people, and it was some of the most fun days I’ve ever had!”

– Alisha, Girl Scout Troop 20450

“I think volunteering at GLASA Camp Trek was an amazing experience, I loved meeting the campers, and I was filled with happiness and fulfillment after each day of the camp.”

– Zenia, Girl Scout Troop 20450

Thank you, Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, for this opportunity, and the Girl Scouts and leaders of Troop 20450 for being a part of Camp Trek and making great memories for campers this year.

Troop 606 – Leave: July 28, 1991, 8:30 a.m. from Mrs. Caragher’s House 

<strong>Troop 606 – Leave: July 28, 1991, 8:30 a.m. from Mrs. Caragher’s House </strong>

By Chris Caragher, Girl Scout Historian

After years of being a Girl Scout troop leader for Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes, I yearned to visit the birthplace of Girl Scouting, Savannah, Georgia. I viewed that as the ultimate pilgrimage to our founder’s home and, by extension, the birthplace of my Downers Grove-based Cadette Troop 606. It was the girls’ last year in this troop as they were faced with the decision to move on to a long-standing Senior Girl Scout troop, a “Mariner troop,” known as Ship 167, or end their active membership as they started high school.  

At our meeting, we decided the trip would be a great idea, and we had enough cookie money in the bank to do it! 

The troop applied for a date, as required by the birthplace, and chose a “high tea” program and house tour. Our reservation was for August 1, 1991. Now, all we had to do was to figure out the transportation costs, logistics, and the care and feeding of each member. Our troop loved camping and had been on short trips to Mackinac Island and Wisconsin and used Camp Greene Wood often, even in the winter, but this was much bigger! So, I called an airline. Tickets to fly would take all our cookie money plus more! We had to figure out another way. 

My co-leader, Ginger, and I wondered if we could drive to Savannah, so we thought we’d check with the parents.  We knew that we had parents who owned vans. We asked, and two dads volunteered, but they would need gas reimbursement  to drive and would go for free. We calculated the miles, cost of gas, food, and activities.  

At that time, the birthplace provided a booklet called Birthplace Bound.It had ads for accommodations, restaurants, local attractions, and some discount admission coupons for Girl Scouts. I called the hotels recommended for Girl Scouts and got a special Girl Scout rate reservation at Budget Inn.  

The trip down to Savannah would take time, so we decided to leave early to do some activities on the way down and some on the way back; it turned into a 10-day trip. It was like a family vacation. We had snacks, drinks, games, camping equipment, luggage, and uniforms in each van.  

The itinerary as told by a Girl Scout:    

7/28 We visited the Kentucky Derby Museum and toured Churchill Downs. Afterward, we drove to Cave City, tent camped and cooked at Mammoth Cave National Park. 

7/29 Mammoth Cave Tour and lunch in their cafeteria, then departed to Indian Springs State Park near Macon, GA, where we visited the Historic District. When we arrived at the campground at 7 p.m., we discovered we had lost our campsite for being late, so we just found a long stretch of grass, set up our tents in a single line, and shared a fire with the friendly campers next door. We made a snack and settled into our tents. After breakfast in the morning, we waded in the creek before we left. 

7/30 We visited the Macon Historic District and a trinket store tourist trap, then drove to Savannah, GA, through a torrential rainstorm and arrived at a flooded Savannah. As troop leader, I was elected to wade through the water to check in to the Budget Inn, 3702 Ogeechee Rd., Savannah. It was an old, one-story motel with outside doors looking nothing like the ad in the Birthplace Bound booklet, but it was clean enough and turned out to be safe. The promised swimming pool was out of order and filled with rainwater, but we went swimming at one of the owner’s other properties. We ate at a real sit-down restaurant and ordered off the menu! Thank goodness! 

7/31 Toured the Savannah Visitor Center, the Savannah Experience, and the Ships at Sea Museum. We walked along the ocean, visited the Andrew Low House and other mansions, learned about the city’s squares, had fun, ate popcorn, shopped for souvenirs, saw a movie about Juliette Low and her childhood, and more. We walked ’til we dropped and ate out, but not at the famous restaurant everyone else was eating at. It was way too long of a wait time for hungry girls! 

8/1 Birthplace Day! – JULIETTE LOW DAY AT HER HOUSE! We had a lovely tour and took pictures. Saw all the rooms, including her bedroom and the old library. We went to the garden and learned all about JGL, her art, her wedding, the history behind the birthplace, and some things about the Civil War. We saw the real oil painting of Juliette Low in her pink party dress hanging in the living room. The docent answered all our questions. Then it was time for our activity program in the basement. We did a project to learn about the Girl Scout history of helping others and interacted with another troop that had signed up to try-on dresses that girls and women might have worn in JGL’s time. We invited the “dress girls” to our tea party.We had fun. Then we went to the gift shop for souvenirs. We all got a Birthplace Pin with a Daisy on it. Our precious spending allowance was also used, so everyone could bring home a keepsake. 

One of our troop’s favorite fun songs was Boom Chica Boom.We came up with new lyrics that didn’t really fit the tune but went like this:  

I said a Boom Chica Boom – a little bit Southern Style: 

“So down to Savannah we went, I said a Boom Chica Boom, 

Little did we know that the Budget Inn, I said a Boom Chica Boom!  

Would be only a little better than a TENT, 

I said a Boom Chica Rocka Chica Rocka Chica Boom!” 

8/2 We started heading home but not stopping the fun. We made our way north to Stone Mountain. This was a place where a large bare rock was carved to show the Confederate Generals. Although we were mostly Northerners, it was interesting to see and part of our country’s history. We stayed in the beautiful campground behind the rock. It was a lovely place. At night, a laser light show reflected off the rock carving and special effects to make it look like the generals were actually riding their horses across. It was kind of like a fireworks show. Very cool. We had a good time, and I shared with the girls that my maternal grandfather, Josepha Bouska, who had been a stone cutter in Chicago, was one of the cutters hired to work on carving the rock.  

I bought a book with a picture of all the stone carvers in a big group. I told the girls I could not figure out which one was my grandfather, but I wanted it anyway. 

8/3 We went home a different way through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We stayed at the Tanglewood KOA Swannanoa, North Carolina, near Ashville, which had a swimming pool! It had a big hall in a red building with screens all around, but no windows. We visited the National Park Shop and signed up to learn horseback riding. We had hoped to do this activity while planning the trip, so we packed the helmets. We learned how to lead a horse, not be scared of the horse, and we went on a trail ride. Then we brushed the horses and helped put them in the stable. It was great! There were many water activities around the area as well. Although we could not do the tubing activity because no lifeguard was going down the stream with the group. We still interacted with the water at the edges of the stream and got very wet. This area was beautiful to drive through.  

8/4 Driving home through Indiana, it got to be late, so we decided not to camp. We found a nice hotel and a restaurant for a late dinner and collapsed from all the vacation activity.  

8/5 Arrived back home. We called our moms to let them know we were home. We cleaned out the vans and gave them a car wash to thank the drivers. We had a little goodbye ceremony on the front lawn. It was not only the end of the trip but the last thing for our beloved Troop 606, as we disbanded with hugs and tears all around. 

An Inside Look at How Council Historians Preserve Our Girl Scout Treasures

Who are the Historians you might ask? The Historian Team at GSGCNWI is made up of 26 volunteers who are interested in the history of Girl Scouts and actively work to preserve and present the story to our community.

History of the movement

Begun by Juliette Gordon Low on March 12,1912, Girl Scouts quickly spread throughout the country. Girl Scouts offered young women the opportunity to learn important life skills, as well as to live by the values of the Promise and Law – unselfishness, patriotism, loyalty and truth. Our current Council was formed in 2008 from seven councils in the Chicago media market following the guidance of Girl Scouts of USA (GSUSA). Those seven councils were the result of over 40 smaller councils that had been established, functioned and eventually combined over the years.

In the early days of the movement, individual towns were set up as councils that governed and guided their girl and adult members. Logistics, better governance and the opportunity to bring a better program to the girls brought these smaller councils together. What it also created was story after story about the local Girl Scout program.

Enter the Council Historian Team.

Historical Treasures

Some members of the team have been actively involved in preserving our memorabilia and stories since the 1980’s. GSUSA encouraged historians to step forward and provided professional level training in the preservation of all aspects of the history of Girl Scouts. Many of our team members have traveled to the Macy Program Center in New York, as well as multi-day programs held before National Council Sessions to learn the proper techniques to accession and store all the bits and pieces of history donated to us by our local community. Members of our team hosted “Learn to Preserve” in 2014 and were privileged to have experts from GSUSA and volunteer historians from throughout the Midwest attend our training.

When the words Girl Scout history come up, most people think of the uniform they wore and the handbook they used. We have all that and so much more. Each item that is donated to us is recorded and then passed along to the team member responsible for accessioning that category of material. We use simple excel spreadsheets to record our work and have over 70 categories of physical items in the council collection. Yes, we have magazines, dolls, camp canteens, mugs, postcards, volunteer gifts, tins, cameras, pens and pencils, membership cards…and the list goes on.

The collection is currently housed in the annex at the Joliet and Vernon Hills Gathering Place (GP). Team members meet on Mondays and Tuesdays each week at one of the GPs to process the literally thousands of pieces of historic memorabilia that have been donated to us over the years.

Over those same years, we have opened the gray archival boxes and shared the collection with our local communities. Sometimes it’s smaller displays at libraries, community meetings and events. We have produced fashion shows of uniforms for Alumnae and Service Unit events, as well as large scale shows at local malls. To celebrate our special anniversaries, we have held programs at Navy Pier (90-year anniversary) and at some of Chicago’s premier museums in 2012 to commemorate the 100 years of Girl Scouting. Currently there are displays in the Gathering Places in Chicago, Joliet and Woodridge. The displays are changed regularly to showcase just some of the treasures from the collection.

The team has offered Victorian themed tea parties throughout the council, taken books and uniforms to troop and Service Unit meetings, and participated in other council events, such as Trunk or Treat. We have put together kits that can be checked out by troops for use at their meetings – ranging from tea parties to history themed book and uniform bins from the 1960s and 1980s.

Take Home a Piece of History

This upcoming September 29 (10am – 4pm), 30 (10am – 6pm) and October 1 (10am – 2pm) will be our first sale of excess historical items from our inventory. We are always grateful for any donations, but we have limited storage space and must be selective about which items we accession. We invite you to the Joliet Gathering Place to shop for books, uniforms, badges and patches, and many of those extras that might be new to you.

Most of us are Lifetime Members of Girl Scouts and have served in many volunteer positions over the years. Our love of Girl Scouts and her history keeps us active in the movement and having fun. If you are interested in learning more about the team or donating some Girl Scout treasures, please contact our Archivist, Rosemarie Courtney at rdcourtney1940@gmail.com.

Colgate Brings “Bright Smiles and Bright Futures” to Girl Scouts with New Patch Program

Let your smile shine!

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is partnering with Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures to encourage Girl Scouts to learn about oral health and wellness. Since 1991, the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® initiative has touched the lives of more than a billion children in over 80 countries. Their mission is to connect underserved communities to oral health educationfree dental screenings and treatment referrals.

Working with members of the community, Colgate strives to promote lifelong learning opportunities and create a world of bright smiles and even brighter futures by ensuring that prevention and good oral hygiene remains a top global health priority. Colgate believes every child and their family has a right to a lifetime of healthy smiles, and to help promote its initiative, they created the Colgate Bright Smiles Patch Program where families can complete fun science experiments and build healthy oral habits.

Learn powerful habits like brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, how to build healthy oral habits, making snacks that are good for your teeth, and discover something new about your dentists.

Check out Girl Scout Daisy Troop #35683 having fun completing some of the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures activities below!

During their troop meeting, girls collectively completed the apple experiment. Rather than allowing the “tooth” (apple) to decay in the brown bag, they expedited the process by adding food coloring in the “cavity” (pencil hole):

After drawing a tooth on a Styrofoam cup, troop leaders added paste (flour + water). Decorating with sprinkles were the best part because the girls thought they tasted so GOOD. But what a messy “tooth decay” watching the Styrofoam cup dissolve in the acetone:

Next it was time to get those bright smiles checked out by a dentist!

At the end, girls created dental posters to help remind them to take care of their teeth. The troop completed their smile posters on different color paper to collectively show a rainbow!

Get Involved

Help Colgate in their efforts to reach two billion children by 2025 by completing the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program with Girl Scouts! Download this workbook to help get you started on this patch program as a troop or with your family! You can pick up additional copies of the workbook at our Girl Scout GCNWI shop (while supplies last). Learn more at www.ColgateBSBF.com.

Girl Scouts Gain Powerful Lessons in Confidence, Friendship, and Success at Camp CEO 2022

Nothing is more empowering than having someone believe in you!

Camp CEO is dedicated to creating a safe space for Girl Scouts to network and interact with women from a variety of industries and backgrounds who believe in girls and all that they can accomplish. 

The environment is fun, camp-based, and full of unique opportunities to hear about the twists and turns of the women mentor’s career paths and ask questions about how they got to where they are today. Their stories give Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 a “peek behind the curtain” and reinforce how tenacity, persistence, being curious, and taking risks without fear of failure can be the catalyst for interesting careers.

Read below as Girl Scout Program Specialist, Jauzlyn, shares highlights of the three-day event held at the Chicago office, culminating with an overnight stay at Camp Greene Wood.

Day 1

On the first day, 10 girls arrived to the Chicago Gathering Place with a look of uneasiness. Sure, there were a few who allowed a sliver of a smile to show on their faces, but underneath there was surely anxiety. Most of the girls were very quiet and hesitant to actively participate, while a couple of them were able to break out of their shells more as the day went on. The girls were able to make their first connections with the mentors during an activity where they created vision boards, in which many of the mentors and girls were engaged in thoughtful conversations.

The biggest highlight of the day was when we played “Cross the Line”. This is a game where the facilitator makes various statements and participants take a step forward if the statement applies to them. During this game, there were a variety of serious statements, with some goofy ones in between. When we discussed how the game made them feel, many of the girls shared that it allowed them to feel closer to other people in the room, it helped them trust us as mentors and other girls, it allowed them to learn new things about each other, and it made them feel better about speaking up.

As time went on, the girls began to come out of their shells and expressed how doing this game made them feel more open and excited for the next two days.

Day 2

The girls worked through a coding badge, thanks to our partner Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, at HCSC. The girls were tasked with taking data and creating a visual representation of the data to present to everyone. The girls were nervous at first, but once they began to work on the projects and had the guidance and coaching of HCSC volunteers, a whole new feeling of confidence was able to emerge. When asked who wanted to go first, there were a couple of girls who raised their hands quickly. In fact, a few of the quietest girls were first to raise their hands. The girls all did so well in presenting their projects. Some of the girls even helped their shyer peers speak up when it was time to present. Many of the girls stepped into the role of a leader during this time.

Once back at the Chicago Gathering Place, the girls participated in an activity called “Life Mapping”. During this activity, the girls were given the opportunity to identify different areas in their life that help them understand who they are and who they want to be as they develop and progress in life. Many girls shared that this activity helped them be more open and understand themselves a little better. They also enjoyed being able to learn more about each other and their mentors.

Later in the evening, we went to Camp Greene Wood. When we arrived at camp, it was safe to say that the girls trusted the facilitators and each other a lot more. By this time, the girls were looking as if they all came into this program knowing each other. During an activity called “Fear in a box,” we had the girls write down a fear and put it into a box, then, we sat around the campfire and I read each person’s fear. During this activity, the girls were given the choice to claim their fear, speak about it, and give advice and feedback to each other or not.

Each girl claimed and elaborated on their fear, and openly received advice and feedback from each other and the facilitators. The girls were then given the chance to burn them in the campfire. After discussing the activity, girls expressed that they felt comfortable because of the vibe of the group and because they felt like they could trust us and each other. Many of them said that they can see themselves being friends with all of the other girls after the program was over.

It later came to our knowledge that after lights out, the girls used the flashlights on their phones as light so that they can sit together and make friendship bracelets. They did that until they all fell asleep.

Day 3

On the final day, the girls were split into smaller groups with mentors and participated in a variety of leadership activities. Each girl was expected to take turns leading the group in an activity and work on their communication and leadership skills. The mentors guided them and gave feedback about their performances. Mentors shared that many of the girls were excellent in how they led activities and how creative they were.

During lunch, the mentors had an insightful discussion about networking and using social media as a way to promote themselves. In return, many of the girls downloaded LinkedIn and created accounts the same day. They spent the rest of the day getting each other’s LinkedIn information and the information of facilitators and mentors.

The end of the day concluded with a business pitch competition. During the competition, the girls had twenty minutes to come up with a business and pitch it to an audience. Many of the girls became more animated and livelier when presenting. They used this opportunity to show off their personalities and their creativity, which resulted in some amazing business pitches. It was clear that by the end of the program, many of the girls had a newfound confidence in themselves.

According to Girl Scout Alonda, her biggest takeaway from Camp CEO was that, “passion drives everyone to success. Having drive and passion will always keep you focused on your career path and understanding your purpose.”

“I really felt honored to be part of the conversations,” Girl Scout Program Specialist JT said in regards to an activity centered around being your authentic self and finding commonalities between the girls. “I think a lot of the girls were skeptical about how the day would turn out, but our mentors’ genuine interest in learning more about them and especially the vulnerability as they told their stories really resonated with the girls.”

Girls shared that their opinions of the program changed as their day progressed. They expressed being glad to be there and felt more connected to each other.

“I was really nervous to come here but after meeting everyone and getting to talk, I enjoyed myself!” exclaimed a Girl Scout.

Here are some more highlights from the event:

We want to thank all of the incredible women involved in making Camp CEO a success, from our sponsors and community partners, to the mentors, to the staff, to the Girl Scouts themselves!


Girl Scouts Brings All of the FUN with These Activities You Can Try at Home with Family!

What do we mean when we say we’re bringing all the FUN, without the filter? It means we are relieving ourselves from the pressures of being perfect and being unafraid to laugh and be silly. Girls have fun learning new skills, earning badges, and testing their abilities—but most importantly, they have fun while doing it.

Check out these cool Girl Scout activities you can do at home with family or friends! Be sure to renew your membership before the new Girl Scout year begins October 1.


Creating “calm kits” will help us to focus and process our feelings. Whether we are feeling happy, sad, frustrated, or mad, having something to turn to during a time of need is always helpful. Take time to make calm kits with your family and then discuss what everyone put in theirs. You’ll each build a go-to source of comfort and learn a little about one another in the process.

Directions

  1. Once you’ve gathered everything, decorate the box and fill it with the things that could help you feel better when life gets hard.
  2. Use the sheet of paper to write a list of simple activities that make you feel good— whether you love running and making art or playing with your pet and baking, write them all down.
  3. Once you’re done, fold the paper and pop it in the box to remind yourself of healthy ways to deal with stress.
  4. Consider writing a pep-talk letter to yourself to remind you of your strength and resilience in tough times.
  5. You might want to include a small toy, book, photo of someone who inspires you, or other trinket that makes you happy.
  6. Keep your calm kit in a safe spot and know that it’s there for you whenever you need a pick-me-up!

God’s Eye or Ojo de Dios is a craft that can be traced back to the Huichol people of the mountains of Central Mexico.  The Huichol people crafted these as shields, with God’s eye in the center to watch over and protect them. The center is historically woven with black yarn or a mirrored disk to see the gods better.  Children would make these crafts so that the gods might learn who they were so they could be protected.  

Directions

  1. Cross the sticks in the middle to make an ‘X’ formation.  
  2. Using one of the pieces of yarn, tie the sticks together in the middle of the ‘X’ (or glue them together with glue, keep in mind this might take a while to dry).  
  3. Take the yarn and wrap it over the top and then under the first stick.  The yarn should be wrapped completely around the stick. (See photos below) 
  4. Rotate the ‘X’ to the left and repeat step 3.  Continue until you run out of yarn or want to change colors. (See photos below) 
  5. To add another color of yarn, tie the end of the first string of yarn to the end of the next color of yarn string.  Continue to repeat step 3.  
  6. When you are ready to finish, use the last 2-3 inches of yarn to tie a knot around the last string.  
  7. Use a 6-inch piece of yard to make a loop and tie it to one end of one the sticks to hang your God’s Eye. (optional) 
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Creative Ideas 

  • Add different colored beads to your yarn to add pop of color.  
  • Swap the yarn for plain or patterned ribbon.  

Directions: 

  1. Set up your workspace by placing down newspaper or setting up a bin for you to work in. This activity can get messy!  
  2. Measure out 1 cup of flour and use the funnel to pour it into the empty plastic water bottle. Use a pencil to help push the flour through the funnel into the water bottle. Keep the lid off.   
  3. Blow up your balloon and pinch the opening, keeping it inflated. Do not tie the end off.   
  4. While still pinching the balloon shut, take the opening of your balloon and stretch it over the opening of the water bottle. If you have done this correctly, you will have a water bottle filled with flour with an inflated balloon over the opening. You might need someone to help with this step, as it might be easier with two people.   
  5. If you have done this correctly, you will have a water bottle filled with flour with an inflated balloon over the opening. You might need someone to help with this step, as it might be easier with two people. 
  6. Slowly release the extra air in your balloon. Be careful and take your time! Sometimes the flour will escape with the air, so make sure that you do this step over your newspaper or bucket.   
  7. Tie off your balloon to secure the flour inside.   
  8. Add yarn and use a permanent marker to draw a fun face!  

Directions: 

  1. Squeeze and strain juice from a lemon into the glass.  
  2. Add 1 teaspoon baking soda to the glass and stir. Do you see what is happening?  
  3. Add water (roughly an equal amount as the lemon juice) and sugar to taste. Try your lemonade—how does it feel on your tongue?  
  4. This works because the baking soda, a base, has a chemical reaction with the lemon juice, an acid.

When you mix them together, they react to create carbon dioxide, the same bubbly gas you find in soda. You just made lemonade soda!

GCNWI Shifts the Narrative on Outdoor Experiences for Families of Color

Girl Scouts of USA recently released a funding opportunity for up to six councils to each receive a $10,000 grant to support multicultural family camp events. Research showed that less than 10% of people engaging in outdoor experiences at recreational parks and camps included people of color. These events aimed to increase racial, ethnic, and social-economic diversity among our resident and day camps. 

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana invited specific girls to participate in the grant-funded program as part of an effort to include girls who would not typically engage with summer camp programs. A part of this program included early registration for summer camp programs in order to ensure these girls, who we do not typically see at camp programs, had access to attend during the summer camp season this year. The goal was to transition 30 girls to day camp and 10 girls to resident camp by start of camp season. This work is part of GSGCNWI’s continued work to improve inclusion and access across our council offerings.

Read along to see how it all came together and how Girl Scouts GCNWI was able to transition 38 campers for day and resident camp, 12 of whom were first time campers.

To ensure the campaign’s success, the council aligned itself with partners who could assist with promoting its mission. Members of the GCNWI Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) committee met with Earl Hunter Jr., Founder and President of Black Folks Camp Too, an organization dedicated to outdoor lifestyle education and works to remove the fears and inhibition’s affiliated with the camp lifestyle. Black Folks Camp Too presented at a GCNWI staff meeting and provided insight to help the council recognize the generational and historical ties the idea of outdoor experiences may have on these communities. The council wanted to provide a platform for those trailblazers willing to flex their resiliency, break free from molds, and create some of the best memories of their lives! 

Girl Scouts sought out to help shatter myths, break stereotypes, even make some introductions regarding outdoor experiences and the involvement of Black and Brown communities. From that stemmed the “Life Outdoors is LIT” event series, designed to create a safe space for families of color to grow more comfortable with outdoor exploration and expose our members to a lifestyle that may differ from their everyday experiences.

Girl Scouts we’re invited to participate in a series of exclusive, complimentary experiences where they could engage in fun outdoor activities, make new friends and earn badges. Each progressive activity led up to a culminating, overnight-optional event at Camp Butternut Springs.

Check out the highlights from each event below!

Virtual Family Camp In

The first event in the Life Outdoors is Lit event included a virtual family camp-in. What better way to get introduced to the great outdoors than to create your own camping grounds right in the comfort of your own home? Families learned how to set up a campsite in a room in their home, how to prepare for a winter hike, and participated in badge activities and a cool science experiment by making fizzy lemonade!


Girl Scout Bonfire

Next, it was time to get outdoors! Families braved the cold at Big Marsh Park and got ready for the next phase in their outdoor exploration. GCNWI camp staff walked families through how to build a fire, how to create a camp setup with tents, and bonded together while making s’mores over the fire.

Overnight at Camp Butternut Springs

Families were encouraged to take all of the knowledge they had gained so far and put it to the test at the Life Outdoors is Lit culminating event at Camp Butternut Springs in Indiana. Families had a chance to enjoy such activities as as archery, boating, letterboxing and geocaching, fun tie-dye crafts, and even got a chance to have a cookout, make a meal over the campfire, sing songs, and of course, make s’mores!

“Thank you for the fantastic program you provided the Girl Scouts and families at the ‘Life Outdoors is LIT’ finale event this weekend! The tireless dedication of your staff surely comes from a place of love & community, and did not go unnoticed,” exclaimed one Girl Scout Mom in attendance.

“My girl loved every minute of being at camp. I cannot wait until the next event!” exclaimed another.

Check out more pictures from Camp Butternut Springs below!