Girl Scouts Give Back for the Holidays

Our Girl Scouts make service a tradition just like any holiday, and this year, community service and spreading kindness is more important than ever. There are still plenty of ways to do good and make the world a better place. Be inspired by these stories and learn how Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) are keeping the community service going!

A Special Holiday Tradition

Girl Scout troop leader Tina and her girls know the value of community service well: together, they have filled over hundreds of baskets full of Thanksgiving food for years, and their service has become especially essential this year.

The annual service project began years ago as a coordinated effort between local troops and the Mundelein Police Department. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the project continued, and with the help of local schools and Girl Scouts throughout Service Unit 415, Tina and her girls were able to help serve over 100 families in their small community this year!

“Teaching my girls to be kind and humble is very important,” Tina explained. “I try to [have the girls] do things they can see and feel are impacting others,” even as the troop stays apart. “I constantly remind my girls that, as Girl Scouts, we help people at all times.”

More Ways to Give Back!

Check out this shoutout to Service Unit 596 for their very generous donation to Journeys Home!

Read more about their Bronze Award service project on our blog.

Girl Scouts from Troop 71503 based in Romeoville recently were featured on the Daily Herald for their Bronze Award service project! The girls added a micro-pantry to the Romeoville branch of the White Oak Library District, now providing a place for people to anonymously donate and pick up food.

Looking for more ways to give back? Read all about local Girl Scouts earning their Bronze Award on our blog!

Read More Girl Scout Stories!

Our Girl Scouts are giving back to their communities, making waves as National Delegates, creating beautiful collaborative art, and much more. Catch up on all of our Girl Scout stories—you don’t want to miss them!

For a chance to be featured on our blog or social media, share your story with us on our website!

Join us for December Programs!

It’s a Winter Wonderland this December with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), and you’re invited! 

Find out what awesome virtual programs we have planned for next month!

December Programs for Girls and Adults

It’s a Winter Wonderland this December with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), and you’re invited! We might all be staying at home, but that’s no reason we can’t have a good time together. Whether it’s celebrating Holidays Around the World, learning about the universe at our Space Science webinars, or participating in some special surprises throughout the month, we’re sure to have a wonderful winter together!

Virtual Programs for All Ages (K-12)

Winter Holidays Around the World

How do girls in other countries celebrate the winter holidays? Join us on Dec. 12 for an afternoon FULL of virtual holiday cheer to learn! We’ll make crafts from holiday celebrations and send recipe suggestions for delicious cultural treats.

Girl Scouts of all levels, and their family members, are welcome to cozy up around the fire (and computer!) with hot chocolate in hand to experience winter holidays around the world.

Register here!

Learn how you can Go Gold!

Sign up for this Gold Award training webinar and receive a recording that you can view anytime! This recording will give you the tools you need to put your Gold Award Project Proposal together and prepare for your interview.

Register here! Recordings will be released on Dec. 7, 14, and 21.

Space Science Webinars

Get ready to investigate and explore the universe with your Girl Scout sisters! Brownies through Cadettes can get started on their Space Science badges with these badge starter webinars on Dec. 9. We will explore everything from invisible light to how light impacts our environment, the planets, the moon, the stars, our solar system, and more!

Register here.

Programs for Adults and Volunteers

Get ready for the holidays with GS gifts!

Stop by our new Gift Guide to start making your wish list!

Don’t miss our Facebook Live on Nov. 24 at 1 p.m.! Join us for a sneak peek of our Black Friday deals!

Happy Holidays from GCNWI!

Looking for age-specific programs? Follow the links below!

Member Monday: Leading the Way!

Our Girl Scout troop leaders are more than just leaders: they are exemplary role models to their girls and pillars of their communities. Our troop leaders take difficult situations and turn them into enriching, memorable experiences for girls across the council.

We had to chance to talk to two troop leaders from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI), leaders who took “pivoting” to the next level this year and stood strong for their Girl Scouts. Read on to meet Jeneya and Kerri, just two of GCNWI’s outstanding troop leaders!

Stepping Out of the Box

Girl Scout Troop 65708 making cookie care packages for essential workers

“I became a leader out of necessity,” leader of Cadette Troop 65708, Jeneya Hampton, explained. Jeneya stepped up to the role when her daughter bridged to Brownies and needed a troop leader. “I’m the leader that didn’t want to be a leader, but I soon found that it has truly become a ministry. I decided to just jump in with both feet.”

Now, after five years with the girls, Jeneya knows the true value of the leadership position. “I’ve learned more from the girls than I initially thought I would… I tell anybody, ‘Yes, it’s work, commitment, dedication,’” but to Jeneya, the work is absolutely worth it. Jeneya explained, “Girl Scouting is especially important for African-American girls… I made it a point to be more visible in the community because we do exist.”

This year, Jeneya is continuing to push, challenge, and keep the girls engaged as they all navigate unexpected turns. “As leaders, these challenges give us an opportunity to step up and step out of the box and be creative.” Jeneya listens to the girls and lets them take the lead in brainstorming the troop’s goals and plans for the year. “It’s important to listen to what they want to do, to support what their ideas are.”

And Jeneya is not afraid to change course and be a little unconventional; “Normally I have the whole year planned out, but it’s not that type of year… I may not run my troop like others, but it works for my girls.” Now, Jeneya leads a combination in-person and virtual troop, and the girls have plenty of plans to serve their community throughout this Girl Scout year.

“What types of things can we instill in our girls so they walk away with something? It doesn’t have to be a huge lightbulb moment, but even just a small flicker, or just some inspiration to step out there,” Jeneya advises, is essential.

Setting up for Success

Daisy Troop 75783, co-lead by Kerri Kinnett, is on the way to a fun and successful year of Girl Scouting, Kerri’s excitement and enthusiasm plays a huge part. “This year, as second year Daisies, the girls are most excited about just being together and keeping connected. It is so important for our girls to remain friends, as they are experiencing quite a shift in the universe at such a young age.”

For this troop, meeting in-person (masked and socially distanced) makes the most sense, and the girls have been enjoying the combination of virtual opportunities, in-person meetings, and outdoor get-togethers at state parks. “We are so proud of our girls for keeping up with the guidelines and having such positive attitudes… We have such a brave group of girls, and they look forward to making memories together.”

“It is an attitude of empowerment, that no matter what we face, we can shift our attitude to succeed! Our purpose as leaders is to teach our Scouts to bring a little more beauty to the world, and I love Girl Scouts, for it brings a light to my soul to see these young ladies working and growing as a team.”

Thank you to Jeneya and Kerri for sharing your leadership wisdom with us!

Zoom Licenses Are Now Available!

Zoom licenses are now available for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana troops and volunteers who want to meet and participate in council programs virtually! Your girls can stay connected, continue building their skills, and have a blast no matter where they are.

Request a Zoom license on our program site!

Share Your Story

Let us know about your plans for the Girl Scout year, big or small, for a chance to be featured on our social media or blog!

What’s Happening this Fall at Girl Scouts GCNWI!

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) is gearing up for another amazing membership year!

So much has changed, and so much is changing, but the fun Girl Scout programming you know and love is here to stay. We have so much to look forward to for girls, troops, volunteers, and families, from new Badge Activity Kits, more virtual and in-person programming, and plenty of opportunities to build skills and make memories, wherever you are.

Most importantly, you are not in this alone! Know that we at GSGCNWI are here for you, whether you’re a new member or a seasoned pro. And don’t forget to renew by August 31 so your troop can be entered to win!

Upcoming Programs

Stay in touch this fall, because we have extra-special virtual AND in-person programming planned for troops, families, and girls! Registration for October programs will open on Tuesday, Sept. 15!

We’re connecting Girl Scouts throughout our council and beyond with our special interest groups, like our Older Girl Hangouts, Astronomy Club (registration coming soon), and Cadette and Junior Book Clubs!

Girl Scouts will also continue to explore our community through service, take a trip to another country through virtual travel, and change the world through a series of Journey workshops.

Get ready for our larger programs we’re hosting this fall, including the Parking Lot Art Showcase on Oct. 3, a Trunk and Treat on Oct. 17, and a Girl Scout Photo Scavenger Hunt during October.

And of course, we have programs just for fun! Find out more on our Programs site and stay updated with our Virtual Events Calendar!

Girl Scouts ❤️ State Parks!

Join Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) for the second annual Girl Scouts Love State Parks weekend from Sept. 12 to 13!

Open to all girls and families, join us and thousands of people from across the nation for a weekend full of wildlife discovery, skill-building, and nature exploration through live webinars, in-person events, and independent activities!

Register for GCNWI events on our programs site and find national programs on the GSUSA website!

Troop Support and More

Troop leaders, you have stepped up in a major way this year, and we are stepping up, too. We’re hosting monthly Girl Scout Leader Chats to assist you in making peer to peer connections surrounding topics that are important to you, and helping new troop leaders with start-up planning and support, including meeting plans, icebreakers, games, and more!

We have plenty of resources to help support and increase family engagement, including our Family Connections guide, Keep Girl Scouts Going guide, and Family Meeting Templates, as well as our Leader 411 email series. Plus, look out for more information about Fall Product and more in the coming weeks!

Our Troop Advisor roles and peer-to-peer network have expanded to provide you more support than ever, on and offscreen. Find additional online resources and training in the GSGCNWI Learning Portal. Meeting plans have been updated and continue to be added through September!

Fall Product Program is Coming!

Our Fall Product Program is about to start! From Oct. 1 to 21, don’t miss out on your chance to participate and earn awesome rewards AND a personalized patch with YOUR name and avatar on it!

Watch your inbox for more information to be released soon!

Visit the GSGCNWI Online Shop!

Head’s up: curbside pick-up will be available in mid-September at all shop locations except our Chicago Gathering Place! In the meantime, make sure to pop on over to our online shop, where we’ve got brand-new Girl Scout badge requirements, merchandise, and more!

Our 24 brand-new badges now have downloadable badge requirements available on the shop site! Badge activity kits are also coming soon.

New customized troop t-shirts and sweatshirts are available, as well as pre-assembled uniforms including the flag, council ID, troop crest and numbers! And don’t forget to celebrate your troop leader or someone special with our new Happy Birthday and Leader Thank You gift sets.

Celebrate your Resilience and Ambition

Join us on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m., for Smart Cookies: Stand for More to celebrate the resilience, flexibility, and strength of Girl Scouts and our supporters.

Hosted by the Girl Scouts GCNWI Associate Board, this will be a virtual celebration, and call to action for all of us to stand up and support this and the next generation of change-making girls.

Admission is free! Register today.

Support the mission today by purchasing a Smart Cookies Enhancement Package. Raffle and auction items coming soon!

Renew by August 31 and Your Troop Could Win!

Continue blazing trails with us! Troops who have 90% of their girls renewed by August 31 are eligible to receive a free Zoom account and more goodies, including a $200 Amazon gift card. Eligibility is automatic once 90% of the girls are renewed, and is available for all troops who renewed before August 31.

Learn more and renew on our website!

Girls, renew your membership today!

Managing a Multi-Level Girl Scout Troop Virtually: Tips from a Troop Leader

Shift the Lens on Girl Scout Volunteering: Part 2

This photo was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The possibilities are endless with the way girls and their leaders are staying connected through Girl Scouts. Maintaining routines is important to a girl’s development, and this troop leader has shifted the lens on the way she engages with her girls, proving a pandemic doesn’t have to stop them from receiving a true Girl Scout experience!

Superstar volunteer Annette manages a diverse, multi-level troop of girls ranging from Brownies to Cadettes (grades 2-8). Her troop meets weekly to focus on badge work and their Silver and Bronze Awards.

“I chose not to stop because the girls need us. They are here for a reason. They need Girl Scouts not only socially, but emotionally. I didn’t want to give up on them,” Annette recalls on her reason to make the shift from in-person to virtual volunteering.

Since sheltering in place, Annette and her troop have focused on simply having fun and doing things to take their minds off what was going on around them. They did fun badge activities, played trivia games, and even dedicated some meetings to just have girl talk.

It’s that simple.

Annette shares her tips on how to manage a virtual troop:

Try to make things as simple as possible for your families

“When my troop did badge work, I would send a care package to each girl with all of the materials needed to complete the requirement. Even if a girl couldn’t participate in that particular meeting, she could still do it on her own and show me the proof to receive her badge.”

Have the girls lead meetings

“In our troop, if a girl knows how to complete a journey or badge, she will teach it to the rest of the girls so that everybody has the new skill.”

Try not to stress

“It’s OK not to have an agenda or to wing it. Sometimes you’ll have an activity planned and the girls just want to chat and vent and see their friends. The girls will not be mad if you mess up or have a bad week.”

Stay connected

“Check out what GSUSA, and other councils are doing to engage their girls. There are a ton of resources out there!”

Make it fun!

“Always remember, the girls having fun is just as important as them doing badge work,” says Annette.

Don’t give up on your girls! Renew your troop today.

One Week Left! Renew Your Troop by August 31 for a Chance to Win!

Only one week left to take advantage of our new promotion to help you get ready for a knockout new year!

Renew at least 90% of the girls in your troop by August 31 and your troop will receive:

  • A free Zoom account for your troop
  • A $20 gift certificate for the Girl Scouts GCNWI online shop
  • TWO entries into a drawing for a $200 Amazon gift card (10 prizes available)!

Renew at least 75% of your troop by August 31 and your troop will be entered into a drawing to receive a $200 Amazon gift card (10 prizes available)!

It’s easy to renew your whole Girl Scout troop at one time, and a great way to use troop funds—by powering another year of amazing experiences! Follow these step-by-step instructions to renew your troop.

Related links

We’ve got more than a few things to look forward to as we enter the new year.

New virtual meeting plans are uploaded to the Volunteer Toolkit and resources added to the Learning Portal

Read our newly expanded guideline for in-person meetings.

AND we’re working hard on programs for the fall, both virtual AND outdoor! Continue to check our website page for updates.

How to Manage Your Girl Scout Troop Virtually… Like a BOSS: Tips from a Troop Leader

Shift the Lens on Girl Scout Volunteering: Part 1

The possibilities are endless with the way girls and their leaders are staying connected through Girl Scouts. Maintaining routines are important to a girl’s development, and this troop leader has shifted the lens on the way she engages with her girls, proving a pandemic doesn’t have to stop them from receiving a true Girl Scout experience!

Girl Scout Troop Leader Marissa leads a troop of Girl Scout Cadettes (grades 6-8) and has continued to meet bi-weekly on a virtual platform since the shelter-in-place ordinance began in March 2020. Each meeting, Marissa thought of fun, interactive activities to keep the girls engaged while learning and earning Girl Scout badges organically. Check out this newscast her troop created to participate in the Cadette Media Journey.

Marissa’s strategy to maintaining a virtual troop: “Take one big project and break it up into several meetings. The newscast project took up at least three meetings: one to give the girls a chance to plan, the second to rehearse, and the third to record,” she says.

Below Marissa shares more tips on how to manage a Girl Scout troop meeting like a boss!

Utilize breakout rooms

“Badge work can become a bit tedious for girls sometimes and they need a change of pace every 15 minutes or so,” Marissa says. “Use the breakout room feature  to help them release energy by having a friendly chat or playing games. Our troop did a virtual escape room and did fun quizzes using an app called Kahoot.” 

The breakout room feature is available through Zoom, which your troop can get for FREE when 90% of your girls renew by August 31! Learn more.

Understand your audience

Girls may experience remote learning in different ways. Think about what you can do to keep that girl engaged. “Consider mailing or safely delivering an activity packet to the family at home so that she can review it on her own before we come together as a group,” Marissa says.

Don’t be afraid to adjust badge requirements

“If your troop is working towards a badge, don’t be afraid to scale the requirements to cater to your girls, especially if you have a multi-level troop. They can organically earn badges by just participating in an activity that is along the same lines as a badge requirement,” Marissa says.

Marissa shared these virtual activities ideas for your troop to enjoy!

  • Find a fun, interactive virtual escape room to participate in to earn this escape room fun patch
  • Play online games and quizzes or even make up your own (such as Kahoot!)
  • Do your own newscast! Check out these quick instructions

Continue the connection with your girls and renew your troop today.

Renew Your Troop by August 31 for a Chance to Win!

We just announced a new promotion to help you get ready for a knockout new year!

Renew at least 90% of the girls in your troop by August 31 and your troop will receive:

  • A free Zoom account for your troop
  • A $20 gift certificate for the Girl Scouts GCNWI online shop
  • TWO entries into a drawing for a $200 Amazon gift card (10 prizes available)!

Renew at least 75% of your troop by August 31 and your troop will be entered into a drawing to receive a $200 Amazon gift card (10 prizes available)!

It’s easy to renew your whole Girl Scout troop at one time, and a great way to use troop funds—by powering another year of amazing experiences! Follow these step-by-step instructions to renew your troop.

Related links

We’ve got more than a few things to look forward to as we enter the new year.

Create Your Own Newscast!

Follow these instructions to create your very own newscast. Renew your membership today and try it at your first back-to-troop meeting!

Objective: Create a feel-good news show

Time Limit: 10-15 minutes

Each girl has to play a role (someone can be a producer or a writer if they aren’t comfortable with being in front of camera).

Name your news show and include the following segments:

  • Opening from the anchor. Think of this like an introduction to an essay. Remember to include your name and your TV station. (Think: “Good Evening, this is Cheryl Burton with ABC 7 News“).
  • 1-3 feel-good stories
  • 1 or 2 sports or entertainment news
  • A breaking news story. Create a script to follow and come up with a breaking news story related to Girl Scouts (i.e. cookie donation drive announcements, first in-person meeting under newly expanded guidelines, etc.)
  • Closing from the anchor. Some anchors have fun with their sign-off, such as, “Good Night and Good Luck!” or and “that’s the way it is!

Virtual Troops Are Here!

You can be a Girl Scout anywhere, even from home!

We’re working hard to ensure your girl has access to the Girl Scout experience she knows and loves, even in our current reality. And as things continue to evolve and change, we will continue to ensure she is having fun, connecting with other girls, and building skills.

Virtual troops focus on earning badges, fun patches and giving the girls a full troop experience online.

There is a Junior troop as well as two Daisy and two Brownie virtual troops available for your girl to join right now! Check out the meeting schedule below:

  • Daisy Troop #85000 – Tuesdays at 3 p.m. CST
  • Daisy Troop #85001 – Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. CST
  • Brownie Troop #85002 – Wednesdays at 3 p.m. CST
  • Brownie Troop #85003 – Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. CST
  • Junior Troop #85004- Wednesdays at 4 p.m. CST

Join now to be part of the fun. In August, all three levels will meet virtually together for a S’mores party! 

Virtual troops will run now through the end of August and are open to all girls, new and already registered.

Check out what our current virtual troops are up to!

If you wish to continue her online experience after August, you can renew her membership and participate in our Girl Scouts from Home activities.

In-person troops are also available under newly updated COVID-19 guidelines. Renew her membership and continue her journey with Girl Scouts!