Celebrating Black History Month: Meet Girl Scouts for Black Lives!

In celebration of Black History Month, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) is uplifting and applauding the essential work of our Black Girl Scouts, volunteers, and staff in a weekly blog series. Black History Month is a special month that provides all of us the opportunity to celebrate Black success, Black voices, and Black leaders, and bring to the spotlight those who are often in the shadows.

This week, we are spotlighting a very special Girl Scout leader from Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, Erica Cox, who leads a troop of fifteen Girl Scouts and, with her family, runs the Instagram account @GirlScoutsForBlackLives. The page is a hub of information on Black history, current sociopolitical issues impacting the Black community, and groundbreaking Black women and girls who deserve their flowers. Read on to meet Erica and learn all about her incredible initiative to inspire Girl Scouts across the country.

@GirlScoutsForBlackLives was born out of a necessity to explain the nationwide civil unrest after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor: “It was really hard to explain vocally was what going on because it was really hard for us to take in,” Erica explained, “and my oldest girl is very inquisitive. That’s one of the reasons I started the page, because I thought, ‘I’m going to educate my daughter but I’m also going to educate other people.”

Erica’s urge to educate her girls brought them to a peaceful march where the girls were able to express their anger at the injustices toward the African American community, and eventually, she felt compelled to create a resource for her girls (and everyone else) to remain empowered. “It really became a movement for us. I wanted to represent Black Girl Scouts, give them that voice so they are able to be proud of who they are, what they stand for, and what their history is. I wanted to open their minds up and say, ‘There’s more to history than what they teach you in school.’ The page became a teaching point for everyone,” especially for Girl Scouts and volunteers that don’t always feel represented in the organization.

The @GirlScoutsForBlackLives Instagram has become a family project: “Every day, [my daughter] Michaela brings me a Black history fact. It opens the conversation between us and helps me post! [My daughter] Morgan actually made a slideshow about Harriet Tubman– I love their passion.” Her husband even manages the merchandise they sell!

Erica reflected on her Girl Scout origin story: “I always wanted to be a Girl Scout growing up, but my mother had different reservations.” Like many Girl Scout leaders, Erica became a Girl Scout leader out of necessity and gathered up a troop of girls that continues to meet today. “What motivates me to continue is my girl’s passion behind not just selling cookies, but really wanting to help, be a part of community service, earn the Silver Award. It really pushes me to work hard.”

“The true value of Girl Scouts is the socialization they get; they begin to understand that sisterhood can go beyond blood.”

Thank you, Erica, for speaking to us and sharing your amazing story!

Look out next week for another installment of this series!

Black Girl Magic

From taking civic action for social change to expanding access to clean air and water, to championing STEM education for marginalized populations, to addressing food insecurity, there’s no limit to what Girl Scouts can do—because they show us just that.

Read GSUSA’s blog to meet just a few of our Girl Scouts who are impacting their corner of the world in major ways to create a better place for us all.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We are asking for all Girl Scouts—girls, volunteers, alums, supporters, families, staff, and our suppliers and service providers—to commit to taking action to make the world a more equitable place. We have a lot of work to do—join us. You can start by signing the Girl Scout Anti-Racism Pledge.

Visit our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Page for more resources and ways to take action and take a stand.

Join the 21 Week Equity Challenge!

United Way of Grundy County and Will County are proud to join United Way of Illinois, and other local United Ways across the state to embark on the “21 Week Equity Challenge” and invites everyone to take this learning challenge.

This free, online learning program will provide lessons and resources for Illinoisans to learn about racial issues and systemic inequalities, together. The “21 Week Equity Challenge” encourages individuals, families, friends, and co-workers to have racial equity conversations to gain a deeper understanding of the impact systemic racism and inequality have on our state and in our local communities.

Learn more on their website.

Girls Explore Careers at Spark Day with LGIM America!

People skills, creativity, and analytical thinking: these are three skills Girl Scouts have in spades. In the world of investment management and financial services, those three qualities come in handy. Cadettes and Juniors from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) had the awesome opportunity to develop these skills and connect with LGIM America (Legal and General Investment Management of America) to explore the world of the client services industry.

Girls curious about computers, working with people, and managing money virtually gathered on Jan. 14 to get an extra-special look directly into the world of financial services! The girls got a taste of many different career fields through a Q&A with members of every department. Participants also got to play the market like LGIM America professionals and test out their skills to see who could make the most revenue in the virtual world.

Here’s what some of these LGIM America Professionals had to say about the day:

“Participating in the Girl Scouts Career Day was an incredibly rewarding experience. The girls were all friendly, bright, and engaging. It was great seeing the gears turn in their heads as some made investment decisions. All of the girls are setting themselves up for success!” – Jillian Johnson

“It was great having the Girl Scouts at LGIMA. It was exciting to explore the world of asset management with them.” – Alejandro Sepulveda

“We were thrilled to host the Girl Scouts and happy to see how engaged they were with the stock-picking game. We hope they had fun and learned something new!” – Emma Cameron

Thank you so much to LGIM America for partnering with us to provide this very special program for our girls!

Interested in more STEAM opportunities?

Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors are invited to join us on Feb. 15 to meet with the employees of Exelon to learn about renewable energy, play games, and take a crack at building windmills!

This is a great opportunity to learn all about the many careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) and engage in a hands-on challenge!

Register here to join us!

Join us for World Thinking Day 2021!

Observed by 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 150 countries, World Thinking Day is a wonderful Girl Scout tradition that celebrates what it means to be a peacebuilder, an important component of our global movement. We invite girls of all ages to World Thinking Day 2021, a week-long celebration of global girl power this Feb. 16 to 21!

From peacebuilder panels to virtual world travel, GCNWI has a week full of exciting programs for all girls looking to expand their horizons! Pick and choose or join us for the whole week of fun and earn your World Thinking Day Award!

The Whole Week of Fun!

Attend all of the World Thinking Day events in February by registering for the whole week of programming! Includes access to the Meet a Peacebuilder program on Feb. 16, the World Thinking Day award programs and presentations by the Global Girl Scouting Group on Feb. 20, the family trivia game on Feb. 20, and the Country Open House on Feb. 21.

Register here!

Meet a Peacebuilder Panel

Join us on Feb. 16 as we kick off World Thinking Day week with conversations with a few active peacebuilders, including Jennifer from The Peace School and returning Peace Corps volunteers. Hear their stories and get the chance to ask them questions about their careers in activism! Participating in this program will help girls of all ages to complete step 4 of the World Thinking Day Award.

Register here.

The Main Event

Learn more about World Thinking Day!

During the World Thinking Day Main Even on Feb. 20, girls will work on some of their World Thinking Day award requirements and hear from our Global Girl Scouting group about different countries!

Make sure to meet the Global Girl Scouting group on our blog!

Go Head-to-Head at Family Trivia Night

Test your Girl Scout and World Thinking Day knowledge at this family trivia game night on Feb. 20! Grab your buzzer and your family with the most Girl Scout know-how because we’ll be quizzing you on the history of Girl Scouts, GS traditions, World Thinking Day, the World Centres, and WAGGGS (the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts). Do you have what it takes?

Travel the World at the Country Open House

Let’s travel the world – virtually! Learn about various countries around the world from your fellow Girl Scouts at the Country Open House on Feb. 21. All audience members will receive a recipe book with recipes from the countries presented!

Additionally, GSGCNWI is looking for 18 individual Girl Scouts or troops that are interested in researching a World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) country to present to other Girl Scouts. You’ll research, put together a virtual and/or table display, and present it to a Girl Scout audience! This event is free!

World Thinking Day: Home Edition

Celebrate World Thinking Day at home and learn about a WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) country by ordering the World Thinking Day Cultural Celebrations Box! There will be five country boxes – and the country you get will be a mystery until the box arrives at your home! In each box, you’ll get a snack item, fun patch, recipe, language cards, a craft, and more!

Reserve your Celebrations Box here.

Explore the World through Literature!

Volunteers: take a literary trip around the world with us! Join us on Monday, Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. for a riveting discussion about books from around the world!! Register here!

More Resources

Snag Your World Thinking Day Award

Girls who earn the World Thinking Day 2021 Award by attending these events can show off their commitment to peacebuilding with the official award! Celebrate World Thinking Day every day and buy your award today!

2021 World Thinking Day award activities:

Activity Guide for Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors [PDF]
Activity Guide for Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors [PDF]

And make sure to read up on other civic engagement stories on our blog!

Grubhub National Cookie Program Partnership – FAQs for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana

Image via New York Times

This season, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) announced a national partnership with food ordering and delivery platform Grubhub so girls have an additional way to facilitate contact-free cookie orders. In our council of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, consumers in areas determined by our Gathering Place locations can order Girl Scout Cookies for delivery on Grubhub.com or the Grubhub app. A hands-on experience in managing e-commerce, local Girl Scouts will track and fulfill orders, manage inventory, and more, all using Grubhub’s back-end technology. As always, the proceeds benefit the troop and council while providing another innovative way to safely run the cookie program virtually. GSUSA is grateful to Grubhub for waiving all fees for the organization to make this new delivery option feasible for sales without reducing proceeds.

What does this mean for Girl Scouts in our council?

In our council,  girls will be partnering with GCNWI staff and volunteers to hone their skills and gain some new experiences along the way.

Which Girl Scouts are eligible to participate in the Grubhub partnership?

Just as in all Girl Scout programs, girls build essential skills each year they participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program. GSUSA, in partnership with councils, have identified this as a progressive opportunity that insures it is girl-led and to provide an extra layer of e-commerce experience gained by offering this cookie selling pathway to them. There are several factors involved, but this does involve a girl “staffing” a Grubhub distribution point in conjunction with GSGCNWI to fulfill orders and gain a greater perspective for the processes and decisions entrepreneurs make every day. The number of girl(s) and staff/volunteers at each location will be limited to ensure COVID safety guidelines are followed. Additional training will be required for all girls, staff and volunteers who participate in this partnership program. All participants must comply with all GSGCNWI COVID safety guidelines as well as the guidelines required by our partner, Grubhub to ensure consumer and driver safety. 

Where will the “cookie cupboards” be located?

Per our national contract with Grubhub, GCNWI may only offer pick-up locations at our Gathering Place locations. Drivers will only service Grubhub diners within a 20-mile radius of each location. Each location will have established hours of operation.

Who will provide the cookies used in this delivery?

The inventory supplied will be managed by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana and will not come out of the individual girl or troop inventory. Troops will not be allowed to bring cookies from their inventory. Girls and their troop will get credit for packages sold through this model during their “shift.”

How will customers place an order?

Customers can visit www.grubhub.com/food/girl_scouts to find out if/when contact-free delivery from Grubhub is available in their area. When the program launches, customers may order through Grubhub.com or via the Grubhub mobile app.

Do Grubhub diners have the option to pay cash for orders?

No, all orders are required to be placed electronically via the app and/or website.

What times will the booths operate?

Booth times are 4pm to 8pm CST (Thursday thru Saturday). We may add Sunday as an option in the future.

How will this program be marketed in our area?

Grubhub is investing in advertising in the areas it services to promote the Grubhub partnership. We do not have information on where or how frequent ads will run. GSGCNWI, in partnership with Little Brownie Bakery, will be advertising the cookie finder tool starting in February – with a focus on encouraging consumers to purchase cookies from local Girl Scouts. We have also heavily invested in our PR campaign to encourage consumers to purchase through Digital Cookie, visit a local booth location or order from their favorite Girl Scout.

Can customers donate to Gift of Caring through Grubhub?

No. Per our contract and legal requirements with Grubhub, customers may not opt to donate to Gift of Caring (or similar program) at any council.

What fees are diners responsible for paying when ordering?

Diners are responsible for paying a service fee, delivery fee, and small order fee (only for orders under $10), along with an optional driver tip for delivery orders. Councils and troops participating will not be charged any fees by Grubhub for utilizing this program to aid in cookie delivery.

Is there a recommended minimum order amount for delivery orders?

No – diners may order as few as one package.

How are Grubhub drivers screened to protect the councils and the diners?

Grubhub runs criminal and motor vehicle background checks on all drivers and sends them best practices on how to conduct themselves in a professional environment. GSGCNWI staff and adult volunteers will be on-site at each pickup location.

How else can consumers safely purchase Girl Scout Cookies this season?

Consumers can support Girl Scouts by purchasing cookies in a few ways:

  • If you know a registered Girl Scout, reach out to her to find out how she is selling cookies – many girls participate in Digital Cookie and may have a link they can share to help you purchase cookies online.
  • Beginning February 1, enter your zip code into the Girl Scout Cookie Finder at www.girlscoutcookies.org to purchase from a local Girl Scout troop.
  • Stop by the Girl Scout Virtual Pop-up Shop (https://www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org/en/cookies/find.html) and support a troop near you

Troops can begin signing up for a Grubhub Booth Site opportunity starting January 24 in eBudde on the Booth Site tab.

Girl Scouts Across the Country Reflect on Historic Achievements for Women

Post originally published by Girl Scouts of the USA

They say you can’t be what you can’t see. And Girl Scouts around the country are watching with eyes wide open as the newest slate of elected officials transcend barriers for women in office. Girls have plenty of examples to look up to: at least 122* women representatives and delegates will serve in the 117th Congress—the most ever! And 55% of them are Girl Scout alums. 

“As a Girl Scout, when I see other women that have been in Girl Scouts, I feel like I have representation. I also feel confident because I know that they will live by the Girl Scout Law, which outlines principles that everyone can strive to live by such as being responsible for what I say and do, and respecting myself and others.”

—Girl Scout Cadette Lily, Nebraska

“I feel proud that we have women who can change the world! It’s important for people to know that girls can do the same things that boys can!”

—Girl Scout Brownie Mara, Florida

“Observing the passion and persistence of our congresswomen inspires me to continue my work to change the law locally and make Alabama a ‘hands-free’ state. All the Girl Scout alums holding public office show that working on service projects at the local level sets Girl Scouts on a path to accomplishing greater things!” 

—Girl Scout Ambassador Alex, Alabama

Among notable, history-making firsts in the 2020 election, Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to hold the office of Vice President of the United States, as well as the first Black and South Asian American to hold the office. 

“I am happy and excited to see the first woman vice president because it changes history. It makes me glad to look up to black women leaders and lets me know that my skin color doesn’t stop me from changing the world.”

—Girl Scout Brownie Emarie, Florida

“Being someone who is South Asian and seeing Kamala Harris as the first woman with a South Asian background to enter the office is really meaningful. Kamala is someone who has great influence towards making meaningful change, and I really look up to her. It shows all of us how important it is for girls to get involved in their community—and of course, a great way to become more involved with the community is through the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards! When we see all of these girls making changes in their individual communities, it adds up to great change happening all over the world, leading to the greater good.”

—Girl Scout Ambassador Roshni, Texas

“It is appalling that after 45 vice presidents, only in 2021 has a woman been elected to the executive office of the United States government. I see great things for women in the future; women aren’t going backwards, they are going forwards.”

—Girl Scout Cadette Sylvie, New York

And it doesn’t end there! A record number of 18 Republican women were newly elected to the U.S. House, nearly 40% of whom are Girl Scout alums. And a record number of 52 women of color will serve in the 117th Congress and—no surprise—almost half of them are Girl Scout alums. 

With so many trailblazing women as examples, Girl Scouts can see that they, too, belong in the room where decisions are made.

“Girl Scouts is all about empowering young women and girls, and it’s nice to have that continued outside of Girl Scouts. It’s important for girls to know that they are able to hold positions of power and have women in power that they can look up to. It’s also especially important that our government has many different types of people with various identities within it since the government is supposed to represent the people it serves. There are many different types of people in our population, so our government should have plenty of diversity to represent everyone.”

—Girl Scout Ambassador Justine, Michigan

“I feel very excited with the inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as the record number of women entering national public office this year!! It encourages all girls that hard work and confidence in ourselves make it possible to achieve our dreams. To space and beyond!”

—Girl Scout Cadette Sienna, New York

Feeling inspired? Girls can start flexing their leadership muscles and discover how they can make a difference right now. From January 21 to February 4, 2021, troops can download—for free!—the booklets and requirements to earn their Democracy badges. They’ll learn how local, state, and federal government works, how laws are created, how they can connect with their own government officials—and how they can be the change they want to see. 

From city halls to the halls of Congress, tomorrow’s leaders are today’s Girl Scouts!

*One Congressional race in which a woman is running (NY-22) has still not been called. 

Local Girl Scouts Donate 1,000 Bags of Hope!

Girl Scouts from Troop 30158 have been working for two years to make their community (and the world) a better, safer, more comforting place, especially for other young people. These girls took their initiative and desire to help others to their Silver Award project, culminating in the donation of 1,000 “Bags of Hope” for children in the Lake Country DCFS system. Read on to meet the girls and learn about their impressive work!

Hope in a Bag

In the fall of 2018, the girls and their troop leader Tiffany began to call on their community, their first goal being to donate 2,000 bags filled with stuffed animals, blankets, toiletries, and any comforting donated items. The resourceful girls, over the next two years, used their cookie money, sourced reusable canvas bags from an anonymous donor, collected blankets in partnership with Relay for Life fundraiser, and placed donation bins in numerous community locations to prep for their amazing initiative!

By early January of last year, the girls were able to assemble and fill the remaining bags; however, by March, they were unable to safely deliver the bags to DCFS. They sat in Tiffany’s basement until October, and though they didn’t reach their initial goal of 2,000 bags, they were able to make a huge impact, donating over 1,000 Bags of Hope.

“We spent a lot of hours together,” Girl Scout Hailey described, “but I’m really happy with the results. If I was a foster kid, I’d want to have something of my own.” Ella continued, “We definitely learned how to work as a troop together because of how much time we spent. I also learned that I shouldn’t take things for granted. After putting all of these bags together, I realize how many things I get for myself.”

“These girls do it with a smile on their face: that’s the best part,” their leader Tiffany said.

Fantastic job, girls! We are so impressed with your dedication to community service.

Share Your Story With Us!

We want to hear your stories: community service, civic engagement, troop activities: show us how you’re living the Girl Scout way!

Submit on our website!

Girl Scouts Take On Weekly Service Sundays!

Our Girl Scouts are committed to community service, even during the holidays. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) and the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) recently partnered up to offer a service opportunity to girls and troops in our Community Service Sunday group. We asked that girls and troops work to create ornaments for patients at the CTCA in Zion, IL, with words of encouragement and spirited designs.

The girls outdid themselves: the CTCA received hundreds of handmade ornaments from girls all over our council, and the patients were overwhelmed with gratitude and holiday cheer! “My daughter, Mia, and I had a great time making them and hoped that it brought a smile to someone,” troop leader Angelica told us. CTCA patient Reopal certainly smiled: “As a former Girl Scout, I was elated to receive the beautiful ornament made by a current Girl Scout. Knowing that these girls were thinking of cancer patients during the emotional times of the holidays really warms my heart.”

Take a peek below for some photos of the ornaments and kind words!

If you’d like to sign your girl or troop up for our Community Service Sunday group, you can do that by registering here! Service opportunities are emailed on the second and fourth Sunday of the month.

Year-End Wrap Up: Looking Back at 2020

You name it, Girl Scouts have done it. Donating cookies to essential workers, organizing community food drives, taking the lead on Highest Awards, participating in brand new virtual programs, “pivoting” to a whole new way of living the Girl Scout way. Girl Scouts, volunteers, and staff have proven time and time again that they are resilient and can weather the storm as a team. We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for staying with us as everyone processes and makes their way through the year.

And even as we’ve struggled, we’ve had immense successes. Let’s take a look back at 2020, and what Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana have done along the way.

Facing Unexpected Turns

In the beginning of this monumental year, Girl Scouts were all ready for cookie season, Green for Good, and summer camp—but as circumstances changed rapidly because of COVID-19, all of us buckled-up for the bumpy ride. Girl Scouts quickly began to shift their plans and serve their communities in times of urgent need in creative ways. Girls donated cookies and formed their own independent service projects: girls were even featured on Chicago CBS for their work assisting first responders. We are so impressed with all of the impact our girls have had on their communities and the work our volunteers have done to support them.

Read our Girl Scout Service Spotlights:
Girl Scouts Take the Lead in Times of Need
Naperville Girl Scout Troop Gifts Cookies to Rush Medical Center Healthcare Workers
Girl Scout Strong from Home
Girl Scouts Staying Strong!

Girl Scouts Remixed

Girls also transitioned to attending virtual programs from home, including badge starters, campfire singalongs, and cooking workshops. We loved seeing everyone’s pictures: from seeing how you celebrated Earth Day to being inspired by your artistic creations!

We also hosted the first ever Great Family Camp-In, and hosted campers and families join us from all over the council throughout Illinois and Indiana as well as across the country including California, Nevada, Texas, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Washington DC, and more!

Taking a Stand

This year, our country experienced a collective grief for many people, but in June were forced to face the loss of Black lives at the hand of racism, including those of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many others. As a community, we stood, and continue to stand, against all forms of racism, violence, injustice, institutional and otherwise, and made an enduring pledge to change the world. That is an integral part of the Girl Scout mission: making the world a better place.

Our Girl Scouts showed their commitment to this pledge time and time again this year, and Troop 40681 (pictured above) showed that action speaks louder. The girls hosted a Black Lives Matter demonstration in their community, featuring speakers, performers, and a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd’s life, which was unjustly ended on May 25, 2020.

Girl Scout Kailey, when speaking to the Chicago Tribune, noted: “Black Lives Matter is an issue for everyone,” Lopez said. “It’s not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s a human issue.”

We are inspired by our girl’s commitment to advocacy, allyship, and justice, and we promise to stand alongside them.

Staying Connected

As the summer continued, we hosted numerous virtual programs for girls to remain engaged and in touch, including our brand-new Summer Camp Revamp series! Girls got together every week for different themed activities, and some amazing creations came out of the experience! A highlight was our girls revamping famous art pieces and photographs.

Girl Scouts have been so generous sharing their work, thoughts, and stories with us. We are so grateful for the opportunity to share girl stories weekly, and if you haven’t read them, make sure to catch up on our blog. Girl’s voices MATTER! Hear from Nooriyah, Girl Representative to the Board, as she speaks about what Girl Scouts really need from troop leaders now and in the future.

Smart Cookies: Stand for More

Girl Scouts, this year especially, have shown how vital it is to stand up and act for themselves and others. As we all faced national lockdowns, civil unrest, and an uncertain future, our Girl Scouts stood for more, every day, through their continued acts of service and community engagement, and unbreakable spirits.

On Sept. 24, we hosted our first ever premiere virtual fundraising event, Smart Cookies: Stand for More, an evening dedicated to uplifting our tireless girls and members, and thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors, we raised over $85,000!

Watch this premiere event below:

Groundbreaking Girl Scouts

We also had the chance to hear from each and every one of our amazing Gold Award Girl Scouts, amazing and groundbreaking leaders in the fields of service, STEAM, philanthropy, education, and so much more. Our Girl Scouts accomplished truly amazing feats, making waves in their own unique ways. Read all about them in our Gold Award blog series.

We also heard from other girl leaders in our council, including our Girl Scout Delegates, who made waves at the 2020 National Convention, (pictured above), our Eco-Advocacy Grant Awardees, and girls facilitating programs for the council, including girls from Service Unit 406 who hosted Democracy Badge events, our Global Girl Scouting Group, and more. We cannot forget our adult leaders: two proposals, authored and presented by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), were passed at this year’s National Convention!

In 2020, Girl Scouts from GCNWI reached new heights of ambition and accomplishment, and Therese, a recent alum, made history last October, as she was named one of the 2020 National Gold Award Girl Scouts. We had the special opportunity to sit down with Therese for an in-depth conversation about her Gold Award initiative, Project Dandelion, and the power of the Girl Scout in the mission toward equality and anti-violence.

Therese is just one of these amazing National Gold Award Girl Scouts—be sure to meet all of them!

The State of the Nation

Girl Scouts who were not old enough to vote in this year’s Presidential Election were not discouraged: in fact, they make calls to the community and country to vote and play a part in our nation’s democratic processes. From Democracy Badge workshops, public demonstrations, and politically-themed camp, our girls made the most of their voices and made sure everyone heard them.

Through the holidays, our girls continued to give back and say thanks: take a look at what our girls are grateful for below.

Looking Ahead

This year was unlike any other, as our social, political, and personal lives experienced unexpected upheavals, drastic changes, and serious griefs. We also experienced so many moments of joy, inspiration, hope, resilience, and achievement.

Because of our girls, volunteers, staff, and supporters, we can continue to forge the future for young women everywhere, in 2021 and beyond. We thank you immensely for your support and community, and look forward to connecting, learning, and growing even more.

Support the Mission

When times get tough, Girl Scouts show their resiliency and heart. In moments marked by the unknown, they walk boldly to help others.

Walk side-by-side with girls and provide the support they need to thrive with a gift today.

Tips For Engaging Girls Virtually!

Girl Scout troop leaders, think back to your childhood. What do you remember the most? If you are a Girl Scout alum, what do you remember about Girl Scouts?

We bet it’s not the grades you got on tests, awards you received, badges you earned in Girl Scouts, or what your Girl Scout troop accomplished. Most of us remember places we traveled, the things we experienced, the friends we had, and the way we felt during those times – the moments we felt most engaged in whatever we were doing and having fun!

Your girls will remember how their Girl Scout sisters and leader made them feel safe and included during this time of isolation. While you may feel the pressure lately, please know that now is not the time to be a perfect leader. Give yourself some grace, you don’t have to have it all figured out! Empower yourself to let the girls lead this virtual experience with you.

Here are 7 tips for keeping girls engaged virtually:

Keep the Sisterhood Strong

Building in social time is important to keep your girls engaged virtually. Let the girls have conversations and be silly together. This strengthens the bonds among the girls when they can’t be together in person!

Tip: Designate the first 10 minutes of your meeting to allow girls time to share what they’ve been up to and how they are feeling. Build in time to give the spotlight to the girls, whether it’s a sketch, striking a pose, leading jumping jacks, yoga poses, or reciting the Girl Scout Promise.

Make it Girl-Led

Giving girls choices virtually can seem tricky at first but is made easy with virtual meeting tools like polls, virtual reactions, or raising your hand. What girl-led looks like at each Girl Scout level is a little different:

  • Daisies – Provide girls with “this or that” choices like which activity they’d like to do first
  • Brownies – Girls vote between a short list of badges or activities using the poll feature in Zoom
  • Juniors – Ask a girl to facilitate a game or activity within the meeting or have a girl ask questions to lead a troop discussion
  • Cadettes – Girls decide what they want to do during their meetings – whether that’s deciding which badge to earn, which guest speakers to invite, or the schedule of the meeting.
  • Seniors and Ambassadors – Girls should work together to run the virtual meetings – planning, researching, and facilitating

Change Up Your Meeting

Taking advantage of learning tools online and different visual stimulation for your meetings will help keep the girls’ attention and interest. Switch things up between leader presentations, videos, quiz games, girl-led discussions, or even virtual field trips. Check out our Girl Scouts from Home page for ideas and inspiration!

Tip: Have you tried an unplugged activity during your meeting? Give the girls 15 minutes to complete an activity on their own away from the computer. Set a timer for them to come back and share what they did!

Play a Game

A game is a great way to keep virtual engagement high while letting the girls interact with each other! You can even tie your game to your badge or Journey work (such as themed charades)!  Here are a few ideas:

  • Try out these digital icebreaker games
  • Create a game like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune using an online tool
  • Lead a scavenger hunt for items girls can find in their home
  • Start or close a meeting with Show-and-Tell

Make Appropriate Meeting Adaptions

It’s no surprise that a Daisy’s attention span is much shorter than a Cadette’s. In order to keep girls engaged at every level, you should make age appropriate meeting adaptations. GSUSA has recommendations for the length of virtual meetings– make sure to read up.

Shared Ground Rules

Make girls part of the troop decision making right from the beginning. Have the girls help establish rules that everyone can agree to, like when to keep cameras and microphones on or off, raising hands when girls want to speak – or a fun rule like at the end of every meeting we do show-n-tell!

Tip: Share your screen with girls as you type out the list of virtual troop rules and store them in a folder with other troop documents online

Be Flexible

Sometimes meetings will run short depending on the girl’s attention span that day or the girls may be really excited about the topic you’ll run 20 minutes over the planned meeting time! It’s perfectly okay and a result of having a truly girl-led troop! Following the girls’ lead on what they are interested in might mean taking a break from your planned activities to explore a new topic. Have fun and learn along with them!

More questions about setting up your virtual meeting?

Visit the Learning Portal for all the related resources and the Girl Scouts from Home webpage for new ideas.

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.

Also make sure to check out our Zoom resources for volunteers on our webpage.

All GCNWI programs for January through March are now LIVE!

Get excited and start registering today.

Mark your calendars because registration for Camp and and Outdoor Programs opens on Feb. 1!

Meet the Global Girl Scouts from GCNWI!

Did you know that Girl Scouts surpassed the geographical confines of our council AND even the United States? There are Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 150 countries! All of these girls (and you, too!) are a part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, commonly referred to as WAGGGS.

Eight Girl Scouts from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GGCNWI) – now called the Global Girl Scouting group – heard about WAGGGS and couldn’t wait to learn more about international Girl Scouting. They started to explore: what are Girl Guides/Scouts like in other countries? What is the day in the life of a girl in another place? What do they eat, how do they dress, and what is their home like?

We talked to five of the Global Girl Scouts about their process, what they’ve learned about the world, and what they love about Girl Scouts. Read on to meet the girls!

Global Adventures from Home

The girls first chose Iceland as their country of focus and made a list of all the things they wanted to learn about the country: the Girl Guides who live there, the famous food, geography, holidays, their stance on sustainable energy, and more. To prepare, the girls all researched on their own time, finding out interesting facts (Kathryn told us Iceland’s electricity is nearly completely powered by nature) and awesome photos. They compiled it all into a beautiful presentation and showed their work to nearly 100 Girl Scouts at the end of October. Mali tried her hand at fluffy Icelandic air cookies and shared the recipe with attendees (pictured above!).

The girls didn’t stop there! In November, the Global Girls presented their findings about France, and are about to present on Nigeria on Dec. 20! Girl Scouts of all ages are invited, so don’t miss out! The girls have learned so much and are excited to share their knowledge: Maysa will be explaining the history of Nigerian hairstyles and fashion trends along with her other presenters. Sofia was especially impressed by Nigerian cuisine: “I’ve learned how seriously underrated it is.” Speaking of cuisine, check out Sofia’s French yogurt cake tutorial below!

The girls are also working on a program about China in January, AND are hosting programs for World Thinking Day in February, and are presenting at our first ever #GIRLFest on Mar. 13!

“I think my favorite part of doing all of this is that I love traveling, learning about countries, and I love, love, love trying new foods,” Sofia told us, and Maysa likes getting an insight on how other countries work: “There is so much that we can learn from other people. It’s eye-opening and reminds you how big the world is, and how there’s so much creativity, tradition, food, and culture.” Kathryn agreed, saying, “I think it’s really important to learn about other cultures because it brings people together.”

These Girl Scouts are learning skills for life that can learn beyond school. For Peyton, Girl Scouts gives her an opportunity to share knowledge: “What I love about Girl Scouts is that we can do things that really mean a lot to us. Girl Scouts can make teaching and learning exciting and fun in a new way.”

“The best part of Girl Scouts is that every time I earn a badge, I’m a step closer to making the world a better place,” Mali explained, and we certainly agree.

If you are interested in learning more about other places around the world and presenting to other Girl Scouts, check out our World Thinking Day Country Open House on Feb. 21 or email Ashley Christensen to join future cultural awareness girl-led programming.

Register for Upcoming Programs!

All GCNWI programs for January through March are now LIVE!

Get excited and start registering today.

Mark your calendars because registration for Camp and and Outdoor Programs opens on Feb. 1!