Girl Rep McKenzie inducted into Top Teens of America! 

This week we’re giving a special shout-out to Girl Scout Cadette McKenzie, Girl Representative to the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) Board and recent inductee into Top Teens of America Will County Black Diamond! The purpose of Top Teens of America is to “teach teens leadership skills, help develop caring characteristics, and to advance teens in life.”  

Read on to meet Girl Rep McKenzie and her vision of the future for girls! 

McKenzie’s Girl Scout story started at church. “This girl in front of me [in the pews] was in Girl Scouts, so I asked my mom about it. I haven’t stopped ever since.” 

McKenzie has participated in many Girl Scout events and activities over the years, including Summer Camp Revamp, STEMapalooza, and Project Law Track, all of which provided her “exposure to different career tracks, cultural awareness, and plain old fun.”  

These experiences lead McKenzie to become involved with the Girl Reps to the GCNWI Board. As a Girl Rep, McKenzie works with a group of Girl Scouts around the council, attends board meetings, and represents the Girl Scout movement as a spokesperson. 

“My term is almost up and the experience has impacted me in many ways. I’ve met new people, gained leadership experience and board meeting etiquette, and so much more!” McKenzie continued, “I’ve always wanted to be a leader. It’s been terrific to help Girl Scouts even if it’s been one term.” 

Now, as a member of the Top Teens of America-Will County Black Diamond Chapter, McKenzie will continue her growth as a leader for her community. She wants to continue to break the stereotype that Girl Scouts are “only suburban white girls,” and sees even more diversity and inclusion in the future for girls.  

For McKenzie, the value of Girl Scouts is in the experiences the program provides, stating, “You get to experience all of these things with girls who come from different backgrounds, ethnicities, places, and work on one common goal. Or support each other on our different journeys.”

“We do more than just sell cookies. We do great things and help the community, society, and the world become a better place, one girl at a time.”  

Don’t miss out on your chance to lend your voice to change! 

Calling older girls! Now’s your chance to lend your Girl Scout expertise and energy to our Board of Directors by applying to be a Girl Representative to the Board (Girl Rep). 
Applications open through May 31.

Girl Scouts Connect with Groupon for Spark Day!

On April 27, Juniors and Cadettes joined Groupon’s incredible team to learn about careers, listen to dad jokes, participate in hands-on activities, and speak to women in STEAM.

Spark Day programs with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) are instrumental to getting Girl Scouts hands-on career experience in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM)! When girls participate in Spark Day programs, they connect with industry professionals, participate in creative activities, and gain skills and knowledge that last a lifetime!

The keynote speaker at Groupon Spark Day, Christine, shared her and her three daughter’s individual career journeys and spoke about the importance of being true to yourself and identifying your unique skills and interests as you consider careers. Girl Scouts had the opportunity to get a little on-the-job experience through debugging, developing the perfect pitch, or taking a scavenger hunt virtual tour of Groupon’s website.

The event ended with a panel of inspiring women, who shared their stories, talked about what they love about their jobs, and introduced their pets. Girls had the opportunity to share their favorite subjects in school and what careers they are interested in.

The panel emphasized that no matter what your favorite subject is, from math to art, there are careers for you in technology. Girl Scouts left the event full of energy and excitement, saying that they hope to visit Groupon in person sometime in the near future!

Thank you, Groupon, for encouraging and inspiring Girl Scouts to explore STEAM!

Summer (and STEAM) Programs Are Now Open!

Girl Scouts is an integral part of this mission and has pledged to add 2.5 million girls to the STEAM pipeline in the next five years. At Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, we are committed to motivating a new generation of young women and girls to explore future careers in STEAM.

Register for a STEAM program today!

As part of Kellogg’s commitment to creating Better Days for 3 billion people by the end of 2030 and inspire healthier eating habits in children, the company is partnering with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) to create 5,000 specialty Wellbeing Boxes, filled with fun activities and information focused on educating and nurturing your physical, emotional, and societal wellbeing. 

You can get a FREE Wellbeing Box when you register for a GCNWI program!

Learn more on our blog.

Learn more about career exploration with GCNWI on our website!

Girl Scouts are Earning the Silver Award for Menstrual Justice!

Girl Scouts are known for their commitment to service and creativity: put them together and you can get amazing results! Girl Scout Cadettes Olivia, Abby, Lily, Violet, and Kara from Troop 40965 in Des Plaines, IL, did just that recently in the process to earn their Silver Award and assist their community in a very impactful, special way: through hand-sewn “Period Packs.” 

Read on to learn about this amazing community service project! 

Behind the “Pack”

Their motivation was simple: to help get menstrual products in the hands of people who need them. “After some deep discussion, we decided this would be the most beneficial to our community,” Olivia explained. “We wanted to help people less fortunate than us— pads and tampons can be really expensive, and we wanted to help to make sure it was available to people who can’t afford them,” Violet continued. 

The girls then set on a mission to make that happen! They learned how to create patterns and use a sewing machine to make the “Period Packs”, then emailed CEOs of menstrual product companies for donations and coordinated the donations with local shelters. Their efforts have been incredibly successful: now, over eight thousand tampons and sixteen thousand pads are ready to be stowed in the handmade packs and donated to those who need them. “When we donate the pouches, I know that many people will be grateful that they received them,” Kara shared. 

These girls are determined to make community service something everyone does, not just Girl Scouts: Olivia shared, “I have always loved helping people, especially people in need. Doing something like this makes me really hopeful that other people will get inspired and start doing more good things in the world.” Lily continued, “I see Girl Scouts affecting change by coming together. If we spread awareness about these issues, we can get other people to take a stance.” 

By the end of the summer, these “Period Packs” will be completed and distributed! 

Great job to everyone involved and thank you for sharing your story with us. 

Create Your Own Community Impact With Highest Awards

When Girl Scout Cadettes focus on an issue they care about, learn the facts, and take action to make a difference, they gain the confidence and skills that will catapult them to lifelong success. It all adds up to the Girl Scout Silver Award—the highest honor a Cadette can achieve. 

Learn more about earning a Highest Award!

Volunteer Appreciation Month In Review!

From troop leaders to cookie captains, you are the heart of Girl Scouts, and in this past year, you’ve kept our pulse strong.

This year we’re commemorating National Volunteer Month by sending a shout out to all of our amazing council volunteers! Thank you for lending your energy and talent and for believing in the power of the girl. Thank you for giving girls the space to test their ideas and express their feelings about our ever-changing world.

We see the results. We see the confidence, the “we’ve got this” troop energy that only you can inspire. Because of you we have community. Because of you we have resilience. Because of you we have Girl Scouts. 

Additionally, every year on April 22—Girl Scout Leader’s Day—we give extra kudos to you. Troop leaders: we love you, and we’re forever grateful to you for being the role models girls look up to, especially in challenging times like these. 

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

Judith Batty, Interim CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, couldn’t let Volunteer Appreciation Month go by without giving thanks to our incredible volunteers. Hear how Girl Scout volunteers made a difference in her life, and see why volunteers are the backbone of this organization.

Read on to learn about some of our amazing volunteers and how we’ve been celebrating all April long.

Because Of You

Throughout the month, we featured the inspiring words and stories of volunteers from across our council, like Jakki and Bria:

Starr Power

We also celebrated volunteer Starr on our blog, whose 22-year-long service to Girl Scouts continues to make an impact on our girls! Read more about her and her leadership.

It’s Never Too Late to Be a Girl Scout

You can also listen to troop leader Natalie, who shares her story of her first-year of leading during a pandemic, above, or to Girl Scout alum Anusha and GCNWI Board Member Monica in conversation about their life-changing moment during Camp CEO, below!

More Girl Scout Shout Outs

The celebration does not have to stop when April ends! There are so many ways to thank the volunteers in your life (or give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back): visit our website to learn more.

Make a Difference with GCNWI

It’s not too late to embark on an incredible adventure with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana! If you’re looking for ways to have a powerful, lasting influence on girls in your community, we’d love to chat.

Visit our website to learn more about volunteer opportunities.

Join us for Becoming Me with former First Lady Michelle Obama

Girl Scouts is launching a new “Becoming Me” program series in collaboration with former First Lady Michelle Obama and Penguin Random House!

Inspired by themes from Mrs. Obama’s Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers, Girl Scouts’ new Becoming Me program aims to help girls become their best selves. Check out our blog to learn more!

Volunteer to guide girls as they explore the truth in their own stories and the power of their voices! You will work with girls during 6-8 fun-filled and inspirational virtual sessions.

Sign-up to get started »

How GCNWI Celebrated Earth Day, All Month Long!

Troop 55532

Every year many people celebrate Earth Day on April 22 by taking impactful action to help to stop climate change. But for us Girl Scouts, we took it to the next level and celebrated all of April! All Girl Scouts are stewards of the environment: it’s in the Girl Scout promise! That’s why Earth Day is so important to us at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI): we make a commitment to making the world a better place, one tree at a time.

Keep reading to find out how staff and Girl Scouts from GCNWI made the most of Earth Month!

Planet Protectors in Action

Girl Scouts got together virtually and in-person to celebrate the completion of the It’s Your Planet, Love It Journeys over the weekend. Daisies made seed bombs with native plants, Brownies enjoyed a Cadette troop’s water presentation and worked on the challenge of removing oil from water, Juniors channeled solar energy, and Cadettes constructed windmills (pictured above)!

Thanks to our Save Our Energy patch volunteer, Ivy, who met with each group to talk about how they can save energy at home.  And thanks to Exelon, who provided the funding to fuel these Journeys for the planet earth!

Troop 45420 decided to dedicate their Take Action project to a community cleanup!

Girl Scouts from Troop 46004 spent the whole month learning about Earth Day in multiple ways: virtual meetings about how to protect the planet from home, planting their own seeds to help air purification in their homes, and then, they decided to use some of the money from their cookie sales to plant a tree in their local park!

Planting flowers, pulling weeds, making space to welcome new plants in the fresh air and sun: that’s how Girl Scout Troop 55532 celebrated Earth Day!

Troop 75111 celebrated Earth Day with a guided hike along the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The weather held up perfectly for them to learn the history of Earth Day while being out in nature!

Girl Scout Troop 55355 completed their Bronze Award by installing bee hotels around their neighborhood! These bee hotels will serve as a home for different species of bees, bugs, and butterflies while helping to build the pollinator population.

Staff Day at Englewood Heritage Station

Girl Scouts weren’t the only ones celebrating Earth Day— our staff joined in on the action for a community service day at Englewood Heritage Station. They spent the day beautifying and rejuvenating this space together, and we have Laureen, Jakki, and Latoya, our planning committee, to thank for this awesome day out!

Take Earth Day to the Next Level

Today, millions of people around the world celebrate Earth Day by taking action, advocating, and learning how to help the Earth! We invite you to join in with the millions of other people and join in on the celebration–– and we have plenty for you to do. 

Catch up on some activities we had to celebrate the day’s 50th Anniversary last year (and some new activities too) on our blog.

For additional resources on planet protecting and eco-advocacy, visit our website.

Plant, Protect, and Honor 5 Million Trees by 2026

With support from the Elliott Wildlife Values ProjectAmerican Forests, and SciStarter, GSUSA is launching the Girl Scout Tree Promise, a national protection initiative to plant 5 million trees across the United States by 2026. Fueled by their passion for protecting and preserving our planet, Girl Scouts throughout the country will lead these efforts as well as educate the public about why trees are such an imperative piece of the climate change solution.

Learn more on the GSUSA blog.

Announcing—The Pinnacle Award!

Act fast! Applications are due June 1, 2021 for the 2021 Pinnacle Award class!

For the first time since 2012, we have a new council award, and it’s for girls!  The award was created in consultation with our Adult Recognition Committee and council staff who work directly with girls.

  • The award is called the Pinnacle Award.
  • The Pinnacle Award honors Ambassador Girl Scouts who have demonstrated outstanding leadership through their Girl Scout experience.  
  • To qualify for the award, girls must document their experiences by earning at least 7 “leadership points.”  The leadership points are achieved through a combination of Girl Scout and other extracurricular experiences.
  • Various adults will verify the girls’ leadership experiences via email.
  • Our CEO approves the slate of girl nominations after June 1 deadline.
  • A Pinnacle Award pin, council recognition at various events. (by budgets)
  • First “class” of awardees will be announced this summer/fall.

Click here for Application

Julie Gilmartin,

Camp at Home with Zoom into Summer Camp (ZISC)

Not quite ready for in-person camp? For Girl Scouts who are interested in participating in camp from the comfort of their own home or backyard, we introduce you Zoom into Summer Camp (ZISC)! See our featured programs below as well as all the information you need to participate.

Program Structure

Hosted by our program and community engagement teams, all program materials will be provided when you sign-up for a week of ZISC. These programs were designed with limited screen-time, to inspire Girl Scouts to learn a new skill, explore a topic of interest further and more!

When you sign up for these multi-day programs, you will participate in a program-welcome webinar on the first morning, daily check-in webinars, a Thursday evening family night activity, and a printable activity guide to follow at home. Featured ZISC programs will have additional webinars taking place that week as well. Girl Scouts who participate will also receive a fun patch that will be mailed at the end of summer!

Featured Program!

Hackathon | May 15-16

Before we get into ZISC, we have one special program for Girl Scouts of all ages! Join us for our first ever hackathon on May 15! Girls will receive a challenge and a STEAM kit, and spend the day creating and designing their solution. Challenges will be age appropriate, so Daisies will work on Recyclable Art, Brownies and Juniors will find creative ways to assist animals, and Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors will create solutions in the areas of health, education, and gender equality. Register by April 30 to receive the STEAM kit in time.


Watch our Hackathon promo video!

Featured ZISC Programs

Earth Defenders | June 21-25

Are you passionate about helping other people, the environment, and animals be healthier? Then join us for this week of virtual summer camp, as we work together to become Earth Defenders. In partnership with the Truth Initiative, girls will learn about leaving the world better than they found it and taking action to get rid of cigarettes in their communities, schools, parks, and beyond! Girls who participate will receive a custom patch and Earth Defenders cape.


Girl Security | July 7-9

Seniors and Ambassadors, join us for a three-day program with Girl Security! During this session you’ll learn cybersecurity skills: ethical hacking, artificial intelligence, and cyber security. All girls will receive a certificate of completion from Girl Security and Microsoft. Register by June 23, 2021!


Camp CEO | July 26-30

Since 2007, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana has welcomed high-level professionals and teen girls from across our council geography to Camp CEO®, the premiere leadership camp for teen girls. Now in its 15th year, Camp CEO® continues to provide girls with valuable mentorship and leadership experiences that last a lifetime.

We offer transformative virtual workshops hosted by professionals in our community, open to all Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors! All girls who register and attend Camp CEO will receive a complimentary program box to go along with the program 


More ZISC Programs

A World of Girls: Our Global Sisterhood | June 29-July 1

Celebrate our Global Sisterhood with this Brownie and Junior virtual camp! You will tour different cultures with an arts focus while exploring the A World of Girls Brownie Journey. We’ll explore food, music, and girls’ stories from around the world.

*Even though this is a Brownie Journey program, Girl Scout Juniors will have lots of fun learning about girls around the world!


Imagination to Creation | July 12-16

Anything is impossible through the power of imagination. Throughout the week, girls will explore and create characters, tell stories and learn how movies are made through hands-on, interactive activities. This is your chance to tell your story, or introduce your peers to your favorite characters.


Global Girl Scouting | Aug. 2-6

Grab your suitcase, we’re headed on a trip – virtually! Spend the week with the Global Girl Scouts adding to your travel bucket list. We’ll take a virtual trip to all of the WAGGGS World Centres (Our Chalet in Switzerland, Our Cabana in Mexico, Kusafiri that travels around Africa, Pax Lodge in England, and Sangam in India) through music, fashion, food, sports, movies, and more! You’ll hear from our Global Girl Scouts and get the chance to create your own video or presentation on the culture of another country.


GIRLapalooza | Aug. 9-13

Step right up! Join us for our second annual GIRLapalooza Festival! Like every fun festival, we’ll eat tasty carnival-inspired food, play outdoor festival games, and create lots of colorful art. You will learn about famous festivals that take place around the world and create your very own festival booth!


Renew or Join Girl Scouts to Participate in ZISC

Join or Renew now for $35 and your Girl Scout will be set until 2022!

At Girl Scouts, she’ll practice making the world a better place by doing community service projects, coding, exploring the outdoors, and so much more. And when you sign up with her now, you’ll be covered for the rest of this membership year AND the next, plus she’ll get a Kellogg’s Wellbeing Box! 


Volunteer Spotlight: Starr Hochbaum!

We can’t celebrate Volunteer Month (and Girl Scout Leader’s Day) without thanking all our volunteers, especially this week’s volunteer spotlight: Starr Hochbaum. And to all our amazing volunteers who provide invaluable support to our Girl Scouts and our community. Your leadership inspires us every day—thank you! 

A Starr in Her Own Right

Starr Hochbaum, just one of our dedicated volunteers, has been involved with Girl Scouts for 22 years, serving 12 years as a Service Unit (SU) Manager. Starr began her Girl Scout journey as a Leader for her daughters’ troop when her daughter was in fourth grade and she has continued her commitment to Girl Scouts ever since. 

When asked why she volunteers for Girl Scouts, Starr says “Girl Scouts is a great program that truly makes a difference in a girl’s life, even if they are only in for a year or two; or all twelve years. Watching the girls grow with the program, learn and discover, seeing that spark in their eyes when they are introduced to something new, always melts my heart.” 

“Being here as the SU Manager allows the leaders to keep their focus on their troops, and I have been so blessed to have met so many wonderful people through these years. “ 

Her favorite memory as a Girl Scout volunteer has been visiting Washington D.C. for the 90 Year Sing-along. “That was such an incredible event to be part of.  Just seeing a carpet of Girl Scouts covering the Monument lawn. It was truly amazing!” 

Starr told us, “Girl Scouts is so much beyond just the badges, vests, and cookies!  It’s an amazing group of volunteers (moms, dads, and grandparents even) who want to make the world a better place. Such a great foundation for our girls’ lives!” 

Starr always makes time to talk with and acknowledge her Girl Scouts and volunteers. She truly highlights Girl Led leadership at her Service Unit meetings, letting girls take the lead and share their Take Action Projects, and award information with leaders and volunteers.  

All of us at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana say a big thank you, Starr! We appreciate you, your dedication, work, and wonderful contributions!  

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month!

From troop leaders to cookie captains, you are the heart of Girl Scouts, and in this past year, you’ve kept our pulse strong.

This year we’re commemorating National Volunteer Month by sending a shout-out to all of our amazing council volunteers! Thank you for lending your energy and talent and for believing in the power of the girl. Thank you for giving girls the space to test their ideas and express their feelings about our ever-changing world.

Visit our website for ideas on how to celebrate the volunteers in your life.

Join us for Becoming Me with former First Lady Michelle Obama

Girl Scouts is launching a new “Becoming Me” program series in collaboration with former First Lady Michelle Obama and Penguin Random House!

Inspired by themes from Mrs. Obama’s Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers, Girl Scouts’ new Becoming Me program aims to help girls become their best selves. Check out our blog to learn more!

Adventure to the World Centres: Pax Lodge London!

We’ve traveled to Pune, India, Adelboden, Switzerland, and Cuernavaca, Mexico (all stories in our blog!): now, London is calling! Girl Scouts have had amazing opportunities to travel to these World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts World Centre locations, and while these experiences are on pause, there’s no reason we can’t explore and get inspired for the future!

Pax Lodge, located in London, England, is one of the WAGGGS locations you can learn about even from the comfort of your computer, or by exploring British Culture here in the Chicagoland area. Read on to learn how you can get going on your own tour!

  1. Learn about the British love of tea by learning about different types of tea, perhaps even doing a tea tasting at home! After the pandemic is over, make a plan to enjoy high tea in Chicago at the Palm Court at the Drake Hotel or the Pavilion at The Langham.
  2. London Guarantee Building at 360 N Michigan Avenue was first built for a British insurance company; today it is the home of the London House Hotel.
  3. The Great British Baking Show on Netflix has captured the baking dreams of people all over the world. Watch a few episodes and try your hand at some of the recipes!
  4. Want to try out English food? Check out Pleasant House Pub for a traditional English pie. 
  5. Go on a scavenger hunt on Sherlock Holmes Day, May 22, named in honor of the famed British detective. Learn about Chicago detective history online.
  6. Everyone loves The Beatles! Learn more about it virtually by visiting The Beatles Story in Liverpool.
  7. Start a book club and read the Harry Potter (or another British) series together! After you finish reading, watch the films and discuss what was different than the books! With regards to Harry Potter, learn more at Wizarding World online, take quizzes, and learn more about the characters. Want to learn about Harry Potter even in Chicagoland? Go to Hero Coffee, Pickwick Lane (so very Diagon Alley-esque). Head to your local magic shop (might we suggest Magic, Inc.?).
  8. Castles abound in England. Explore the English Heritage sites virtually and the Royal Residences. After the pandemic, plan to take a short road trip to Givins Castle in Beverly, Chicago, Clayshire Castle in Indiana, or Ravenstone Castle in Harvard, Illinois.
  9. In the summer, London swells with people shopping at markets. Most famous is the Portobello Road market, very similar to the Maxwell Street Market in Chicago.
  10. While Brits may play some of the same sports as we Americans do, why not try one of their oft-played sports like badminton or cricket? Watch Bend It Like Beckham, a movie about girl soccer (called football in England!) players.
  11. How do you get around the big city of London? Find out more about the London Underground and the famous Tube Map. How does it compare to Chicago’s CTA, Metra, and Pace transit systems?

Travel expands your horizons; travel as a Girl Scout and you can take that experience and add leadership skills and a sisterhood to back you up. Whether you’re interested in going abroad to Paris or exploring the states, you can go with Girl Scouts. Learn more on our website!

Also make sure to check out the Travel playlist on our YouTube, which includes videos about Sangam, Our Chalet in Switzerland, and more!

Prepare Your Girl for Kindergarten with the Girl Scout Daisy Launch!

As a rising kindergartner, your girl will begin to discover her own abilities, emotions and interests—and Girl Scouts is here to help!

Consider Girl Scouts to be your one-stop-shop to building your rising kindergartener’s social skills, boosting her confidence, and providing that extra bit of stability in this ever-changing world with our Girl Scout kindergarten readiness program, also known as Daisy Launch.

Similar to what Girl Scout Daisies do, the Daisy launch readiness program will allow her to make new friends, grow in confidence, and build skills that will help her in school and beyond. 

You can also purchase a Welcome Daisy Troop Leader Kit or a Welcome Daisy Family Kit when you register.

How Daisy Launch will Prepare Her for Kindergarten

Our virtual program is designed to promote successful learning by aligning early childhood instruction with opportunities for exploration, discovery, and problem solving.

The Daisy Launch program also addresses key competencies needed for kindergarten, such as strengthening her social and emotional development and her approach to learning, increasing her motor skills and physical development, and improving her language and literacy skills.

By participating in the Daisy Launch program your girl can:

  1. Spark initiative and curiosity about the world around her
  2. Learn techniques on how to manage her emotions and behaviors
  3. Feel comfortable with following class rules and routines and will learn to do things for herself
  4. Retain information and will be flexible in her thinking in order to perform a task
  5. Maintain focus with little to no adult support

Join us for our next Daisy Launch event and even try a Girl Scout program for free!

Let our team of dedicated staff help jumpstart her education and catapult her into lifelong success! Her dreams are our dreams, and we can’t wait to make them come true together.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Purchase a Welcome Daisy Troop Leader Kit or a Welcome Daisy Family Kit when you register. Check out all our kits here!

What Kindergarten Moms have to say about Girl Scouts