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!

A Girl Scout Treasure: The Herstory of Heidi Gannon

A Girl Scout Treasure: The Herstory of Heidi Gannon
GSGCNWI Council Historian Heidi Gannon proudly displaying two of her uniforms; on the left, an Intermediate uniform from the 1940’s and, on the right, an adult uniform from the 1990’s.

The Council Historians for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana are constantly seeking out and preserving the treasures of the Girl Scout movement.  However, “treasures” come in many forms, so it’s no wonder that Heidi Gannon, a Council Historian, is also considered to be one of the council’s most cherished treasures.

As a volunteer for over 50 years, Heidi has worked tirelessly to support Girl Scouting in as many ways as possible. As we continue to celebrate our volunteers all April long, let’s take a look back at the herstory of a Girl Scout leader and real life “treasure.”

On My Honor

Heidi started in Girl Scouts in 1947 at the age of 11, becoming an Intermediate Girl Scout on the Southside of Chicago, and later moving up to Senior Girl Scouts. She earned her First Class Award and continued as a girl member throughout her high school years. Heidi has fond memories of her girl years, especially of camping, troop trips, selling Girl Scout cookies, and various troop activities.  The camping trip that stands out in her mind was to Sweet Woods in Glenwood and that it was freezing cold!  Going to Springfield with her troop was another significant and memorable experience, which was a real bonding time for her troop. Heidi also recollects being the top cookie seller for her troop one cookie season. However, she does admit that her Dad helped her by taking the order form to work with him.  And the troop activity which Heidi will never forget was a Halloween scavenger hunt in the neighborhood because of all the crazy items the girls had to find.

To Help People at all Times

In 1967, Heidi started her journey as a volunteer when she became a leader for her daughter’s troop.  At that time, she was part of the Dolton Association in what was then the service unit in South Cook County Council (SCC).  She remained in her position of troop leader from 1967 to 1979, staying with her girls through Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors.  However, when her girls aged out, Heidi never stopped volunteering.  She had already stepped up to be Association Chair (service unit manager) for the Dolton Association during the 1970’s and was a member of the Service Team from 1979 to1992, taking on such roles as Association Secretary, Association Organizer/Consultant, and Association Sunday Service Chair.  She also served as Dolton Association’s Delegate to the Council.

Heidi’s volunteer service did not end at the association’s borders; she took on many roles that were council-wide positions.  Heidi was a Council Trainer and even chaired the Council Training Committee. Heidi was then asked to serve on the SCC Board of Directors, which she did for several terms during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  As a member of the Board, she was assigned a variety of positions, such as Nominating Committee Chair, Adult Selections Committee Chair, Council Self-Evaluation Task Group Member, and Council Pluralism Task Group Member.  Heidi was also on the Board of Directors when it was decided to build the Friendship Center and funds were being raised for the project, something in which she continues to take pride in.

Heidi Gannon (right) with fellow historian Veronica Pradelski at a Promise Circle 100th Anniversary Display of Girl Scout history.

To Make the World a Better Place

Heidi has always served where needed, so when South Cook County Council started a Heritage Committee in 2007, Heidi was quick to come on board.  Her knowledge of the history of SCC made her an excellent volunteer for this committee.  After the merge of the seven metro councils, Heidi continued to serve in the capacity of Council Historian, faithfully executing all her duties.  She has been an invaluable member to the group of historians preserving South Cook County’s Girl Scout history, always willing to assist in any capacity that she can. Whether she is helping to identify people and/or places in old photos or creating a display for an event or for the cases at 20 S. Clark, Heidi eagerly offers her assistance. 

Because of her dedication to the movement, Heidi has received many Adult Recognition awards, including the Thanks Badge in 1979, Thanks Badge II in 1992, and induction into the GSGCNWI Hall of Fame in 2019. Heidi also received a 50 years of service pin in 2018.

A Sister to Every Girl Scout

Heidi stayed in Girl Scouts because she felt the program was good for the girls, and she continued to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow Girl Scout adults.  Memorable experiences with her Girl Scout sisters include the 1993 Convention in Minneapolis and the GSGCNWI Historians’ visit to Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland.   The 1993 Convention was a great bonding experience for all of the delegation from the South Cook County Council.  Heidi thoroughly enjoyed the “road trip” with many of the volunteers riding in a van that was driven by fellow volunteer Deb Dilley.

Heidi feels that visiting Our Chalet was a wonderful way for her to form an even deeper relationship with her sister Council Historians. In September of 2018, a small group of council historians spent a week in the Alps at this WAGGGS World Center.  Heidi will always remember what a special time this was for all who were there.

Although volunteering for Girl Scouts has been a focus for Heidi, her heart for services reaches many areas. She also volunteered as her son’s Den Mother for Boy Scouts. She is very active in her church, volunteering in the Infant Program and leading her Bible Study Fellowship group for over 20 years.  Heidi has also served as a census taker.

Heidi Gannon has certainly led an exemplary life of service to Girl Scouts and to her community.  She is definitely a “treasure” to all those who know her.

Happy National Volunteer Week from GCNWI!

Thank You for Powering Community at Tribute to Achievement

On March 29, 2022, the power of community enveloped us as we celebrated our Tribute to Achievement Event at the Four Seasons Chicago Hotel. 

It felt amazing to be together, and not just in spirit. We celebrated, reconnected, laughed, and felt energized by the heartbeat of our mission. We were honored to recognize our awardees who have made the world a better place by advancing opportunities for girls and women. 

Learn more about our three extraordinary honorees who are perfect examples of what makes a community powerful – civic engagement, empathy, determination, selflessness, and leadership.  

Another highlight of the evening was seeing the stories of girls, parents, and troop leaders come to life in this short video.

Thanks to the support of everyone who attended or donated to the event, more than $675,000 was raised to advance our mission and build more girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. 

To relive the magic of the evening, or to share it with others, check out the recording above and see the slideshow below!

A Special Thank You to our 2022 Tribute to Achievement Sponsors! 

Powering Community at Tribute to Achievement

People power communities. Every person who steps up to engage, listen, and act with compassion and purpose contributes to the health and wellness of a community. Especially girls.

Girls see a world of possibilities. They demand equity, offer compassion and kindness, and jump into action to resolve social issues whenever and wherever they see a need. But right now, girls also need support as they navigate peer pressure, unrealistic expectations, racial inequity, gender bias, and other threats to their social/emotional and mental health. To thrive, girls need advocates who rally around them, encourage them, and invest in them. They need you.

Please join us on March 29 to support the critical work of Girl Scouts and sustain access to leadership and formative experiences for every girl in our community.

We are honored to recognize our awardees who have made the world a better place by advancing opportunities for girls and women.

Meet the Honorees:

Luminary Award

Jessica Sarowitz will be receiving the prestigious Luminary Award. Jessica is the Managing Partner of 4S Bay Partners LLC, a family office management company that oversees several private businesses, real estate, and investments in diverse industries such as domestic and international payroll, UK payroll, film-making and commercial & residential real estate holdings.

Jessica is also the Managing Family Director of her family’s charitable foundation, the Julian Grace Foundation, which funds various philanthropic ventures through an entrepreneurial and social impact lens. These ventures have included orphanages and clinics in Central America, innovative education programs for foster kids, state-of-the art urban centers for arts and technology education, vocational training, environmental causes, the preservation of indigenous cultures and many other educational and social justice programs.

Jessica is passionate about correcting the source of a problem in authentic partnership with communities in need, as well as providing people a steppingstone to transformative opportunities and experiences. Jessica is also an avid tennis player and believes that a healthy lifestyle can fuel the mind and body to positive outcomes.

The Girl Scout’s Own Award

The Girl Scout’s Own Award honors our very own GSGCNWI Board Member, Sherina Maye Edwards. Sherina is the President and Chief Executive Officer of INTREN and joined the company in 2020 having originally served as a member of the Board of Directors.

Sherina has led INTREN to a significant increase in operational efficiency, cost reductions, and safety excellence, resulting in record-breaking financial results. Sherina has held a broad range of leadership roles that provide the breadth of experience and understanding required to lead innovative change.

In addition to her extensive involvement with various civic organizations, Sherina is founder of the Women’s Energy Summit and the Women’s Energy Network of Chicago. She is nationally recognized for championing diversity and inclusion within the utility and energy sector and her leadership led to the creation of the Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council and the ICC’s Office of Diversity and Community Affairs.

“I could not be more proud to serve the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana as a board director and as a friend,” says Sherina. “The mission of this phenomenal organization aligns with everything I believe in – nurturing and cultivating leadership amongst young women and training them up to be our future leaders with the ultimate courage, confidence and character.”

Corporate Award

Receiving the Corporate Award is Bank of America, a long-standing partner of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Accepting the award will be Cindy Murray, Managing Director of Global Operations. Bank of America has been a valued collaborator with Girl Scouts GCNWI over many years and we are thrilled to honor this relationship.

Cindy is the executive for Unemployment Operations within Global Compliance and Operational Risk (GCOR). Prior to joining GCOR, Cindy was the head of Loan, Lease and Trade Operations. This team has responsibility for the global end-to-end implementation, servicing, and operations for credit offerings to business banking, commercial and corporate clients, leasing products, trade finance solutions, and traded loan products. Cindy was instrumental in leading the efforts to develop and implement automation solutions and technology enhancements to improve the overall client experience.

On receiving the Corporate Award, Rita Cook, President Bank of America Chicago said, “It’s a tremendous privilege to accept the Corporate Award from the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, which recognizes Bank of America’s longstanding partnership with this esteemed organization. For nearly two decades, we’ve proudly supported Girl Scouts programming that puts young girls on a path to positive futures and helps them become agents of change in our communities. There’s no greater honor than supporting our next generation of young women.”

Don’t Miss Out

Join us on March 29 to celebrate these incredible honorees, along with girls and women who are leading with purpose and passion.

Thank you to our sponsors

Sponsors as of March 2, 2022

A Sister to EVERY Girl Scout: The Influence of African American Leadership and Girl Scouts

February commemorates the month of African American culture, accomplishments, and historical contributions to society. It is a time to celebrate and uplift Black voices and champion their stories of triumph throughout American history.

Girl Scouts honors Black History Month by sharing with you four trailblazers who helped shape the Girl Scout Movement. The contributions of these women allowed young African American girls to increase their visibility and leadership skills on both a local and national level.

Dr. Gloria Dean Randle Scott: President of the Negro Girl Scout Senior Planning Board (1950’s) who—despite segregation—was able to gain the leadership skills needed to be the first national president of Girl Scouts of USA. The Girl Scout Trefoil was redesigned during the last year of her presidency to highlight and add visibility to the diversity of the organization.

Josephine Groves Holloway: Josephine Groves Holloway was a champion of diversity and was instrumental in founding the first all-Black Girl Scout troop in Nashville, helping to desegregate troops in Tennessee. Josephine was also the first African American Girl Scout staff member, serving as a field advisor, district director, and camp director.

Bazoline Usher: A distinguished educator whose ambition and tenacity led to the opening of seven new elementary schools to spearhead Black education in Atlanta. Bazoline then recruited 30 black teachers, mothers, and female volunteers to create the first African American Girl Scout troops in Atlanta in 1943.

Taryn-Marie Jenkins: A National Gold Award Girl Scout who, to earn the highest award in Girl Scouting, made it possible for foster kids to have what they need to attend college with her Jumping the Hurdles – Foster Care to College project. She connected students to college professionals and provided resources and helpful tips to help students manage the transition from high school and the foster home to college. Taryn-Marie’s project was able to sponsor 12 students with supplies and dorm room necessities.

Girl Scouts celebrates these women and Black History within our organization as we continue to pioneer inclusivity, and pledge to continue the fight against racial injustices.

Check out more stories of how Black Girl Magic continues to make an influence in Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts turned “Mad Scientist” gets Introduced to Careers in Engineering with NiSource

Girl Scouts turned “Mad Scientist” gets Introduced to Careers in Engineering with NiSource

Part of what makes the Girl Scout leadership program so unique is our connection to real-life industry experts who spark girls’ interest in career fields they may not have been exposed to otherwise.  

Our STEAM program is no different, as our expert connections provide engaging experiences that allow girls to see themselves leading in spaces that are traditionally dominated by their male counterparts.  

GCNWI Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts, both of which begin to explore science and perform energy audits with other girls at their grade level, had an opportunity to put their knowledge to the test with an introduction into the field of engineering with utility and sustainability company, NiSource.

The “Mad Scientist” themed event encouraged girls to dress like scientists and perform at-home science experiments, participate in hands-on engineering activities and featured a career discussion led by women in leadership at NiSource. 

Girl Scout participating in hands-on activity with NiSource

“My daughter (and her neighbor friend) enjoyed the activities and especially enjoyed the lava lamp experiment,” one mom spoke about her daughter’s experience.  

“My daughter had a blast! Slime and lava lamp were her favorites!” exclaimed another mom.  
 
This “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” event was a part of the Girl Scout “Spark Day” initiative, a career exploration program designed to peak interest in various fields from STEM to distribution to animal care.  

Check out more Spark Day stories on our blog! 

About NiSource  

NiSource Inc. Serves over 3.5 million customers and operates as one of the largest utility companies in the nation. The company provides natural gas and electric services to its customers and is committed providing sustainable business solutions. 

Interested in learning more about STEM? Register for an upcoming program for any Girl Scout level!