Girl Scouts Embark on a Swiss Adventure

Girl Scouts Embark on a Swiss Adventure

Nearly a dozen girls from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana traveled to Switzerland this summer on a council-sponsored trip. Accompanied by five adults, the group arrived in Zurich after an eight-hour plane journey from the States. Once there, they hit the ground running on a walking tour of Altstadt, or Old Town, in the Swiss city of Zurich.

The next day, the Girl Scouts went to the Swiss National Museum and the Zurich Zoo, where they happened to see Beyoncé! Next up was Bern, the capital of Switzerland. The group enjoyed many free sites here, such as a bear pit, rose garden and botanical garden.

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Girl Scouts in Bern, Switzerland

The following day, everyone participated in a walking tour of Bern and was luck enough to see Le Tour de France as the cyclists biked through the town.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the nine days the girls got to spend at Our Chalet, which is an international Girl Guide/Girl Scout centre and one of five World Centres of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, or WAGGS. While there, the girls met other groups from the U.S. and Canada, including their pen pals from Canada.

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Girl Scouts white-water rafting at Our Chalet

While at Our Chalet, the girls also went zip-lining, abseiling into a gorge, white-water rafting, met a woodcarver and did a lot of hiking. The views of the country were phenomenal. Finishing up the trip was a day in Lauterbrunnen where the participants saw Trummelbach Falls, the only waterfalls in Europe you can see inside of a mountain.

This trip was a culmination of a year’s worth of planning. Once the girls applied in June 2015, they began discussing their itinerary. They also attended a panel with people who had either worked at Our Chalet or visited there to get a better sense of what to expect.

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Girl Scouts at Trummelbach Falls in Switzerland

At the end of the trip, the girls agreed that Switzerland was one of the most beautiful places they had ever seen and they returned to the States with bags of cheese and chocolate for souvenirs.

To learn more about council-sponsored travel opportunities, click here. For more information about traveling as a Girl Scout, please email our senior program manager of arts, cultural awareness and travel programs at achristensen@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

What I Learned on a Girl Scout Destination to Costa Rica

What I Learned on a Girl Scout Destination to Costa Rica

While in Costa Rica, things ran very differently than they would at home. No electronics-no phone, no iPad, no music, and no TV. We didn’t even have clocks! But we had each other. Every night, we had a share circle. We sat with the entire group and went around saying what we appreciated and our highs and lows of the day.

Towards the end of the trip, our sharing circle began right before dinner as usual. But this night was different. By this point, everyone knew all thirty names and could even list where most were from. Approximately halfway through the circle, one of my Sister Girl Scouts began her appreciations. She said, “At school, I couldn’t even imagine half of you approaching me, much less wanting to learn more about me.”

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She continued by saying how appreciative she was that we all took the time to get to know her, even though we may have had nothing in common. To hear something like that was so touching. Never before did I stop and realize that my being friendly or sharing a smile would mean so much to someone.

The rest of the trip was just as amazing as the first half. Most would expect that having thirty girls all together for ten days would lead to chaos and drama. These girls were different though; everyone wanted to learn about each other and we all shared a common interest in making an impact in the community we were staying in.

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Not only did we work with sea turtles and see firsthand the circle of life, but we were also able to connect with local children through soccer games. On our fourth day at the beach site, we were invited to a 1st birthday party of a little local girl. The entire extended family was there, and they made us dinner, let us partake in the games, and danced with us! They enjoyed getting to see the “chicas.”

Since coming home, I have made it my objective to be as genuine as possible in my everyday life. It’s so easy to get swept up in a small friend group and to isolate yourself from the rest of your peers. Additionally, I have come to realize all the luxuries I have here at home. For example, hot showers and toilets you can actually flush toilet paper down! Several times during the trip we were able to discuss just how lucky we were to be apart of this adventure and to be able to explore a new country with a great group of new friends. I am still in contact with all of these girls, as we have started our own group chat.

Olivia Ottenfeld is a Girl Scout Ambassador from Chicago.

Want to join Girl Scouts on a fun-filled travel adventure? Learn more about our Destination to Our Cabaña in Cuernavaca, Mexico next year and apply today.