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!

Council Historians Share Beloved Memories from Their Times at Girl Scout Camp

Over the years, forty historical councils have merged into what is now Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.  In that time, Girl Scouts have owned or leased at least 91 camps, program centers and Little Houses. Below, historians share memories of some of their visits to a few of these camps and how much girls enjoyed being there. If you have stories or photos you would like to have preserved in the council’s archives please contact Rosemarie Courtney via email at info@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Camp Woody Acres; Owned by Chicago Girl Scout Council 1944-1981

Girl Scouts of Chicago purchased the property in 1944.  It had one lodge named Redwood.  The only other building was the caretaker’s small farm.  Except for latrines, it was a primitive camp.  The council sold the property in 1981.  Today it has luxurious homes on 1 acre lots.

Lifelong Girl Scout Rosemarie Courtney remembers: “When Troop #298 in Chicago was founded in 1950, it did not take long for the troop to find it a wonderful place to learn all the outdoor skills a Girl Scout should know and use every day of her life. By that time, there were 2 cabins, a screened in pavilion and pitch-your-own-tents camp areas. The big treat seemed to be Sunday breakfast using the caretaker’s eggs that were speckled; somehow, they tasted better. My troop camped there at least 3 times a year, from cabin camping to tent camping.  The most memorable experience was when some of us bridged to Senior Troop 1615 in 1954 and decided to bike to Woody Acres the first weekend of June each year, a 20-mile distance.  We did this for 3 years.  The straight route would be Harlem & the Kennedy Expressway to Irving Park Road.  But safety rules had us planning routes through neighborhoods, forest preserves and country roads.  All our gear and food for the weekend was in our backpacks.  We followed the rules in the Intermediate Handbook and made shelter, if need be, under our poncho over our bikes; otherwise, we slept under the stars.  Unfortunately, in 1956 the Bartlett Police found the 2 miles we had to travel on Irving Park Road to be unsafe for bicycling with gear on our backs, as the road was being widened to 4 lanes to reach a rural road.  So, a parent came and picked up our gear. The photo shows us waiting for the police to give us the OK to bike 2 miles to the rural road:

The widening of Irving Park Road ended this yearly event.  Also, note that we didn’t wear helmets when we biked back then, and all our bikes had one speed.”

Camp Hickory Hills; Owned by Northwest Cook Council sold in 1929-1964

 The land was purchased in 1929 by Mr. & Mrs. Charles F Loesch for the purpose of a Girl Scout camp. They immediately donated the land to the Des Plaines Girl Scout Council. The first building on the property was named Loesch Lodge which is pictured here. When Des Plaines Girl Scout Council merged to form Northwest Cook Council, the newly formed council took on ownership.  Today the property is Hickory Hills Campgrounds which has a display of what the place looked like when it was a Girl Scout Camp, and many former Girl Scouts stop by to reminisce about their days at the camp.

Elise Gould remembers attending the camp on weekend overnights:  “We slept in raised tents, 4 girls in a tent.  We cooked outside over an open fire.  The camp had 3 units: Merriwood, Sherwood Forest and Hilltop.”

Camp Pokanoka; Owned by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana sold 2021

The camp was originally purchased in 1965 by Trailways Girl Scout Council.  When Trailways Girl Scout Council merged to form Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana the newly formed council took on ownership.  The camp was sold in 2021.

Kathy Webb wrote, “Being a Girl Scout for over 40 years and calling Camp Pokanoka my camp has always been the norm. My first visit to Camp Pokanoka was back in the late 60’s with my older sister and Girl Scout leader, mom.  From that first visit this young Girl Scout was hooked and couldn’t wait to be old enough to attend resident camp for 2 weeks.  One of my first years at camp I attended ‘Ride in the Wind’ with my no-speed bicycle and backpack.  I can remember our pool times and showers in the old, little shower house until the new one was built.  Hiking to the clay pits where we would wallow in the mud or sailing bars of soap boats down the Illinois River.  I even remember making torches from Kotex dipped in Kerosene to light up the road so we could see our way north to the river.  Cleaning the Latrines was my favorite or maybe cooking over the fire. Or was it songs we would sing everywhere we went?

The song Slap Bang after meals was always a highlight to watch all those dishes bounce up and down on those old round tables in the Oriole House.”

Not many changes were made at Camp Pokanoka.  Canvas tents in the Whippoorwill, Chickedee and Flicker which became “cabins” with more sleeping room and a roof, while Blue Jay remained the fun platform tent area.

As years past and I became a Girl Scout mom, Pokanoka was first on our troop’s agenda.  We made it out to camp three to four times a year and helped at council events.  Even though my troop has bridged to adults, I will always love Camp Pokanoka which has been and will always be a Girl Scout Friend to many from all over the world.

Camp Thorn Creek; Leased by Girl Scouts of South Cook Council 1951-1988

Camp Thorn Creek was leased from the Cook County Forest Preserve.  In the spring of 1934 the camp was opened in Sweet Woods Forest Preserve as a home for the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The men built military style barracks on the site to use as their lodging.   It was named Camp Thornton and later used during World War II to house German prisoners of war.  From 1946-1947 the Illiana Christian High School conducted classes in the buildings.  Then in 1951 the Girl Scouts of South Cook Council entered into a lease agreement for the sum of $1.00 per year to use the property as a camp and the barracks were converted to cabins.  The camp was honored by a visit from Olave Baden-Powell in 1953.  In 1988 when the Forest Preserve would not agree to any improvements on the cabins which were in disrepair, the council relinquished its lease on the property.  The barracks were demolished in 1989. Because of its historic importance, the Illinois Historical Society placed a marker at the site on June 26, 2010.

Karen Schillings had the good fortune to bring both of her daughters’ troops to Camp Thorn Creek.  As Brownies, the girls had the opportunity to stay in the barracks that were built during the Great Depression.  These barracks were very primitive and perhaps a little bit “scary” for 7 and 8-year-olds, since they were basic wooden plank floors and walls that the wind could whistle through.  I vividly remember one Sycamore Association (Homewood) spring encampment in the mid 1980s.  The Brownies were housed in the barracks and the Junior, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts used the platform tents or pitched council tents that were stored at camp. 

Karen recalled, “my Junior troop pitched their tents Friday afternoon excited to be in tents for the first time.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate.  In fact, it seemed that a deluge had befallen us.  The rain started coming down during the night, and although I had warned the girls NOT to touch any part of the canvas on the tents, the warning was not heeded by everyone.  Some of the tents started to leak profusely.  When morning arrived, many of the girls and their gear were totally soaked.  As the rain kept coming down, we had to figure out a way to prepare breakfast without cooking, since there was no way, we could start a fire.  We basically ate bread with butter and jelly, along with some orange juice – not the scrambled eggs and toast we had planned.  By mid-morning, we could tell that the rain was not going to let up, so we decided to break camp and started calling parents to come and pick up their waterlogged daughters.  That was the most exhausting camp experience I’ve ever had in Girl Scouting, but it didn’t deter my desire to continue taking my troops to camp!”

Camp Chippewa Bay; Owned by Girl Scouts of DuPage Council 1955-2000

Since the formation of the DuPage Council one of the main objectives was to own a camp property with a waterfront.  A search committee was formed in 1953.  For the next five years, while the committee continued its search, the council rented facilities.  At first, the committee was told to limit their search to within a 150-mile radius which proved to be fruitless.  With the help of an estate agent two sites were found in Wisconsin.  The Girl Scout Region VII Camping Adviser visited the sites and made a recommendation to the committee.  The findings were presented to the DuPage County Council board in 1955 and the property which became Camp Chippewa Bay was purchased.  The first Girls camped there in 1958.

When asked to write about why Camp Chippewa Bay (CCB) was so special, Anne Brennan posed the question to the CCB Facebook page (currently 504 followers strong) and received 40 responses and 27 hearts.  Most of the responses expressed similar sentiments: “Camp Chippewa Bay was magic and still holds a special place in our hearts.  It helped women young and not so young find who they were and then allowed them to be that with support and without judgment.  To try new things and challenges and escape from the “real world.” We learned skills in leadership, teaching, empathy, outdoor life and more that has lasted in us all to this day.  Music and singing were also a major theme so I will leave you with a condensed version of our dedication song: ‘We came here as strangers, learned the way of the wind and of the wood and the waves, and left as lifelong friends.  We still gather as much as we can and thank the Girl Scouts for creating this wonderful place.’”

Camp Tocanja; Owned by Girl Scouts of Calumet Council 1956-1988

In 1956 Calumet Council purchased 315 acres on Clear Lake in Twin Lakes, Michigan for a summer camp.  The first girls to camp there were in 1957.  The Scouts did two weeks of primitive camping.  Over the next three years the camp was developed, and Calumet Council declared 1960 to be “Camp Tocanja Year.”  The last summer camp sessions were held in 1985 and the camp was sold in 1987.  The property remains undeveloped and forested. 

Beginning in 1961, the second year the camp was open, Peggy Tuck-Sinko spent many happy summers at Camp Tocanja.  She recalls, “while I enjoyed almost everything (with the possible exception of some of the government surplus food that was served in the dining hall), my favorite memories are of the canoe trips.  Camp was where I learned to canoe, but we all got very tired of practicing strokes, and tip-tests, and maneuvering on Clear Lake.  Why couldn’t we just go out and paddle on the river?  Two different trips around 1963 and 1964 on the White and Pere Marquette Rivers really stand out.  On the White River we slept under overturned canoes at Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery – which still operates today, burned leeches off each other, and tried somewhat successfully to keep the food supplies dry.  I think Happy Mohawk is where I lost my Girl Scout knife.

We also encountered a group of boys who, in one tricky part of the river crashed into rocks and trees, and even overturned some canoes.  They pulled over beyond the “white water” (not raging, but scary enough to us), ready to laugh and catcall at our mistakes.  Now we knew why we had practiced!  One by one, our canoes threaded their way through the snags and churning water.  I’m sure it wasn’t flawless, but there was no crashing of aluminum on rocks or tipped-over canoes.  We waved at the dripping and silent boys as we paddled by, barely containing our glee.  An active Camp Tocanja Facebook group keeps these and other memories of this special place alive.”    

              

Girl Scouts “Keep It Cool” as Engineers For a Day at NASA!

Girl Scouts “Keep It Cool” as Engineers For a Day at NASA!

Nearly 100 Junior, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts took part in the NASA Keep it Cool Engineering Challenge last month and got to walk a day in the life of a real engineer.

The workshops, held at the Vernon Hills and Joliet Gathering Places, provided the perfect opportunities for girls to connect with Girl Scouts outside their own troop, or even from another city. Girls were assigned to groups of four and worked as a team throughout the day. They learned about the history of cryogenics, the steps of the engineering design process, and picked up some basic vocabulary to use before it was time to dive into the first hands on activity of the day- ice calibration!

This step challenged the girls to work together to create ice melt using measuring cups first packed with ice, then sealed inside plastic Ziploc bags, and set inside large bowls of warm water. Girls used thermometers to track the temperature of the water and graduated cylinders to measure and record the amount of ice melt. As the girls tested their process out multiple times, it became evident just how many STEMinists there are in GCNWI!

Working in groups proved easy for some, tougher for others, but by lunch all of the groups were working together well and had formed a real comradery with one another. Girl Scout Juniors Madeline and Peyton met each other for the first time when they arrived at the Joliet GP at 9 a.m., and by the end of the day, the girls were exchanging phone numbers and making plans to see each other again.

For the afternoon session, groups were able to utilize a wide variety of materials with the goal of creating an insulation for their model cryogenic tanks that would keep the ice in its frozen state for as long as possible. Groups worked together to strategize how to improve upon their designed prototypes, and by the end of the day, there were some truly unique creations. Cryogenic tanks with multiple layers of cotton balls, duct tape, cork, foam, felt, paper, and aluminum foil. The sky was the limit, and the girls challenged themselves and each other to continuing improving their designs.

The day’s activities concluded with group presentations, sharing what worked well and what could be improved upon next time. These two-day long workshops were made possible through funding from the NASA Glenn Research Center. Program Specialist Jauzlyn Hardy and Program Manager Heather Wirth took part in three training workshops in March, led by subject matter experts from NASA, in preparation for guiding Girl Scouts through the challenge.

“My Mom always asks me after an event – was it worth it?  And this one definitely was!” said Annabelle M.- Girl Scout Junior.

Girl Scout Completes Bronze Award by Creating Fitness Program for Kids

Girl Scout Completes Bronze Award by Creating Fitness Program for Kids

Girl Scout Cadette, Kailee Robinson, saw the toll the pandemic was taking on not only her, but also kids everywhere. Social interactions were altered or put on pause, and people were restricted to the indoors and not being as active as they could be.

Kailee wanted to help people find strength during trying times. She began to work with her father, a personal trainer, to learn proper technique, study nutrition, and create workout plans to share with her peers. Kailee used her passion for fitness to create KR’s Kids Fit Patch Program- a virtual platform where people can engage in everyday workouts that keep you active and allow you to “Play hard and live long!” – the KR’s Kids Fit motto.

Check out Kailee showcasing her passion below:

In order to receive a KR’s Kids Fit patch, participants will need to go through a series of activities that include watching some of Kailee’s fitness video’s on Youtube to get a feel for the type of exercise you can expect to be doing while in the program, attending a free LIVE workout session with Kailee herself, and sharing what you’ve learned with family and friends. The program also includes education and activities centered around how to incorporate healthy eating into your everyday lifestyle.

Get Involved

Participate in Kailee’s KR’s Kids Fit Patch Program and start your journey towards healthy living today!

Prospective participants can visit our GCNWI Patch Program webpage and search for KR’s Kids fit to get started.

Once all of the KR’s Kids Fit program activities have been completed, families can order their patch at the Girl Scouts GCNWI shop.

Girls Like Bugs, Too! Spark Day at Rose Pest Solutions

Girls Like Bugs, Too! Spark Day at Rose Pest Solutions

Earlier this month, Rose Pest Solutions welcomed Brownie and Junior level Girl Scouts to indulge in their fascination with bugs and nature with a fun filled career exploration event at their headquarters.

Rose Pest Solutions provided girls with lots of great history about their company and its mission- to preserve and protect the environment with chemical free solutions- and gave them a tour of their home office. Of course, our inquisitive Girl Scouts had questions for the staff who made themselves available, including an operator who showed them the call system, talked about some of the craziest calls she’s received, and a technician who demonstrated his equipment and talked about the kind of calls he goes out on.

Then it was time to meet the bugs!

Girls got a chance to touch and hold live Madagascar cockroaches and examine specimens under microscopes! While working towards their STEM badges, the Brownies and Juniors also had the opportunity to look inside a real wasp’s nest and learn about the important role honeybees and other pollinators play in keeping our fruits and vegetables growing plentiful.

Other engaging, interactive activities included providing stations where girls could dress up like beekeepers, do bug/butterfly/ladybug/bumblebee themed crafts, and even included a pollinator station where girls could make gifts to bring home to the special person in their life.  

Check out some highlights below!

Girl Scout Spark days were designed to provide girls the opportunity to visit several different companies to learn about STEM careers. From engineering to distribution to animal care, there are many exciting careers to explore! Our girls have connected with industry professionals at such Spark Day events as Scout Out Engineering at Groupon, NIPSCO Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, Animal Aptitude at the Shedd Aquarium, and Spark Day at IKEA.

Want to facilitate a career exploration event with Girl Scouts? Join the Expert Connections!»

“They changed my life.” The Heartfelt Story of Troop 56505

“They changed my life.” The Heartfelt Story of Troop 56505

“This was the best decision of my life. The thought was to introduce them to new things and change their lives, but it turned out, they changed my life,” troop leader Darnetta Jones said on her decision to become a Girl Scout volunteer.

Darnetta’s journey with Girl Scout’s began when she was younger, in which those positive encounters with meeting new friends and enjoying the outdoors led her to want to create those experiences with her own daughter. Darnetta started off as a Daisy troop leader for the DuPage AME Church Girl Scouts with 5-8 girls before blossoming into a troop of 16 Cadettes.

Sister-Sister Connection

People in the community began to take notice to how active the girls in Darnetta’s troop were. A mother approached her with four kindergarten-aged girls who were eager to be a part of her troop. Though Darnetta had Cadette’s, she saw a need, and like a true Girl Scout, stepped up and took action! Darnetta agreed to start the Daisy troop while she trained and searched for a leader and co-leader.

“I paired Daisies with older girls… I told the older girls they have little sisters and I want them to help monitor them. They were so excited!” Darnetta said on her strategy to blend the girls so she could continue providing and exposing girls to Girl Scout experiences. “I keep saying I’m going to turn them over to another leader, but quite honestly, I’m finding it very difficult to let go. They are the most beautiful little girls I have ever met.”

Since January 2022, the blended Girl Scout family has participated in various community events, earned patches/petals, organized Girl Scout cookies and passed out to families, and plotted seeds for a garden they plan to grow this summer where they can learn about healthy living, eating and exercise.

Darnetta also has done as exemplary job in introducing the younger girls to fun outdoor experiences by taking them on a ski trip to Lake Geneva to sled and ice skate, and Timber Ridge Lodge for swimming and relaxing in the lazy river. Check out some of their adventures below:

Up for the Challenge

Darnetta is ready to flex her resiliency with a new territory, as she welcomed a girl with a physical disability to her new Daisy troop.

“I feel like she is a blessing because this allows me the opportunity to be more creative, more inclusive, and ultimately more knowledgeable about disabilities,” Darnetta said.  “This new member challenged me to take a closer look at the Girl Scout Promise/Law in order to teach the other girls in the troop: To help people at all times, to be friendly and helpful, to be considerate and caring, to be responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others.”

Thank you, Darnetta, for championing for our girls and providing them with the experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month!