Associate Board Reached New Heights at Camp Butternut Springs

From May 6-7, 2023, ten members of the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Associate Board gathered at the beautiful Camp Butternut Springs to recharge, strategize and enjoy each other’s company. They enjoyed lunch with fellow Butternut Springs campers in the main mess hall to kick the weekend off. The associate board then trekked up to Cedar Cabin, their home away from home for the weekend. Everyone settled in, unpacked groceries, and were ready to begin the weekend’s adventures.

The associate board started with a property tour from the Director of Camp Properties, Peggy Brothers.  Associate board members were able to see both the growth and development of the property as well as the wealth of beautiful natural scenery.

After a walk around the property, it was time for something more daring – the zipline and High Ropes Adventure Course! The campsite motto was “challenge by choice,” so while not all members of the associate board made it through all the obstacles, they all participated to the extent they were comfortable with. They cheered everyone on, strategized on the best ways to help everyone reach their individual goals, and supported one another along the way.

At the end of all that fun, the associate board had worked up an appetite, so in true Girl Scout fashion, they started a fire and cooked a delicious fireside meal with s’mores, campfire songs and games, and more bonding.

The associate board started Sunday bright and early with a strategy session – discussing their goals as an associate board and how those goals align with the council’s strategic plan. They came up with some great ideas, and they can’t wait to develop their ideas into action items and share them with the council. As always, the associate board talked about Smart Cookies – the associate board’s flagship fundraiser (which will be held on September 21, 2023, at Cafe Brauer). The associate board took a break from brainstorming for a service project. For reasons unknown to anybody, there was a section in the woods with piles of old glass – pottery, crystal, pop bottles, and any other type of glass you could think of – it was all there in the mud just off one of the camp roads. The associate board rolled up their sleeves, threw on some gloves, and went to work. In about two hours of work, they cleaned up more than five large barrels of glass, and while that area will likely still be out of bounds for a bit, there’s now one more reason to expand the extensive trails of Butternut Springs.

The associate board took one last walk back to Cedar Cabin, finished their strategy session, had lunch, and packed up. It was a great weekend full of team building, adventures, and all things Girl Scouts!

Camp Butternut Springs Gets New Pool and More! 

Rendering of how the new pool and shower house will look once completed.

Over the past year, Girl Scouts GCNWI has been working on planning, designing, and constructing a new pool and shower house at Camp Butternut Springs, allowing for improved facilities for campers. This 3.2-million-dollar project is the largest capital project that the council has ever worked towards and will be completed before the start of Summer Camp 2023. 

The old pool was over 50 years old, and it was time to replace and upgrade. The new pool will have a diving board and will be accessible. For those hot summer days, campers will stay hydrated and ready for camp activities with two separate water drinking fountains that include bottle-filling stations while enjoying the shade of a large canopy on the new pool deck. Along with the construction of the new pool, a brand-new shower house is to be built with 16 individual shower rooms with a sink and toilet to provide privacy for everyone using it. 

GCNWI has been working with VJS Construction and Whiteco Pool company to complete this work. GCNWI has previously worked with VJS Construction to complete projects, including the new dining hall at Camp Juniper Knoll and two new cabins at Camp Butternut Springs. 

A Groundbreaking Ceremony will take place on October 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Camp Butternut Springs to highlight all the hard work being done to improve our Summer Camp program for all Girl Scouts. The ceremony will last one hour. If you would like to attend, you must RSVP to no later than October 18.

Valparaiso Girl Scouts ‘Take Action’ for Camp Butternut Springs

Valparaiso Girl Scouts ‘Take Action’ for Camp Butternut Springs

Troop 30364, from St. Paul Catholic School in Valparaiso, Indiana, took a “sit” against littering and for recycling at nearby Camp Butternut Springs and donated a bench made out of 400 pounds of recycled plastic water bottle caps.

The plaque on the bench reads: “Enjoy resting on this bench made of 400 lbs. of plastic caps – a Porter County Community recycling project made possible by Brownie Scout Troop #30364 and Pines Village Retirement Communities, Inc. 2016.”

The troop delivered the bench in April with the help of Pines Village Retirement Community’s CAPs Crew, which cleans, sorts and bundles un-recyclable plastic bottle caps.

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Troop 30364 from Valparaiso, Indiana worked with a local retirement community to create a bench made from plastic bottle caps.


Members of the troop came up with the idea to create a sustainable bench while earning their Brownies Quest Keys Award.

“Through this award, we learned that together their three Keys – Discover, Connect, and Take Action – unlock the meaning of leadership,” they explained. “To earn our last Key, we had to take action somehow in our community.”

The girls decided that recycling would be their focus and started their research.  They came across an article from Pines Village Retirement Community about transforming recycled caps into benches, and decided to partner with the crew. With the help of Lu Krieger-Blake and some of their Girl Scout Cookie sales money, they participated in a program called “A Bench For Caps.”

Troop members Dina Nguyen, Kylie Starkey and Elise Maxey thought that the hardest part of the project was collecting 400 pounds of clean, non-metal, plastic caps.  According to the community’s website, these caps can include:

  • Snap-On cottage cheese, coffee can, and yogurt lids
  • Twist-on medicine, drink, and milk bottles, including the ring
  • Flip-top ketchup and condiment bottles
  • Large twist-off lids (such as detergent)
  • Spout lids (such as squirt mustard)

While there were some challenges to the project, they said the most fun was when they went to the Pines Village Retirement Community and met with Lu and the CAPs Crew.

“We spent time with them sorting caps while learning about each other,” said the girls.  “Before we left we sang them our favorite Girl Scout anthem: ‘Make New Friends.’ It was a great time and we can’t wait to go back!”

This project has inspired their troop to make more change in the world by continuing to save caps and work with Pines Village Retirement Community CAPs Crew. In doing this, they hope to help put brand new sustainable and eco-friendly benches around the community for people to enjoy, all while keeping plastic caps from ending up in landfills.

“We are so proud of our Brownie Troop 30364,” said troop leader Diane Nguyen.

“And we look forward to many adventures in the future!” said troop leader Tiffany Maxey.