The National Council Session – A Sustained History of Girl Scout Governance

Starting in 1915 in Washington, D.C., the democratic process has been continually promoted by our organization through the National Council Session (NCS), a.k.a. the National Convention. 

Orlando, Florida, will host the 56th National Council Session from July 18-20, 2023, followed immediately with Phenom by Girl Scouts from July 20-22, 2023. This triennial meeting, comprised of delegates from each council, is charged with giving clear direction to the future of the Girl Scout Movement. It is the central link between Girl Scout councils and GSUSA. Each local council is allotted delegates on an adjustable formula to keep the National Council close to the optimal size of 1,500 delegates. Once elected by their local councils, the delegates serve a three-year term.

So, what do these National Council delegates do once they are elected to their positions? During NCS, National Delegates represent their local councils as voting members. They gather input, debate, and vote on proposals that impact the future of the Girl Scout Movement, including changes to the Constitution and the Blue Book of Basic Documents. In addition, National Delegates elect the National Board of Directors and the Board Development Committee. However, during the interim three years between each NCS, the National Delegates can also develop and submit proposals to the National Board for consideration as agenda items. In Girl Scouting, a proposal is a leading motion to bring a recommendation before the National Council for a vote. The National Board of Directors decides whether each submitted proposal is worthy of being on the agenda. 

However, if any proposal developed by a local council receives support from 15 percent or more of the Girl Scout councils, then the National Board of Directors is obliged to have that proposal on the agenda so the National Council can act upon it.

This may sound boring and mundane, but the National Council Sessions are vital to keeping the movement forward-thinking. There has been a wide range of proposals since that first Girl Scout convention in 1915, and it’s quite interesting to look back on what has transpired at NCS.

My first encounter with the National Council Session occurred in 1990 in Miami Beach. At that convention, I was the chaperone for the two girls from legacy South Cook County Council who were sent as visitors. Since I had no previous association with NCS, I didn’t realize how many councils would actually send girls as delegates. I then began to lobby for a change to any subsequent South Cook County delegations to include at least two girl delegates.

After Miami Beach, I attended all but one NCS either as a delegate, a girl chaperone, or often both! However, Miami Beach was an experience I will never forget. The keynote speaker was the author and poet Maya Angelou who captivated and inspired the attendees. The Spring 1991 Leader Magazine described her address in this manner: “. . . she held everyone spellbound. In song, in prose, in poetry, she captivated one and all with her wisdom, her insight, and her humor.”

The Miami Beach Convention Center during the 1990 NCS.

An additional highlight of the Miami Beach convention was the launching of GSUSA’s national service project on literacy with the help of an unexpected visit from our Honorary President at that time, First Lady Barbara Bush. Leader Magazine depicted it this way: “The excitement of the First Lady’s visit began with the arrival of the Secret Service people who checked the arena thoroughly. A surprise for those stern-visaged gentlemen must have been the immediate silence resulting from our Girl Scout quiet sign!”

First Lady Barbara Bush at the 1990 NCS.

The 1990 NCS is memorable for another reason, too. At this triennial meeting, the National Council passed a proposal to establish the designation Girl Scout “Gold Award” as the highest award to be earned by a girl member. After having the name of the highest award change several times in our Girl Scout history, this proposal dictated that the name “Gold Award” could not be altered.

You probably already know that the Girl Scout Promise and Law have been changed several times. However, you may not realize that some changes were voted upon during a National Council Session. The first-time changes were made at NCS took place in 1972 in Dallas. The delegation voted to approve this wording of the Promise and Law:

The Promise

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God,

My country and mankind,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

The Law

I will do my best:

—to be honest

—to be fair

—to help where I am needed

—to be cheerful

—to be friendly and considerate

—to be a sister to every Girl Scout

—to respect authority

—to use resources wisely

—to protect and improve the world around me

—to show respect for myself and others through my words and action

The Promise was again revised by the NCS delegation in Detroit in 1984 to its current form:

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God and my country,

To help people at all times,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

However, The Law did not undergo additional changes until the Fort Worth NCS in 1996, which is the version we use today:

I will do my best to be

honest and fair,

friendly and helpful,

considerate and caring,

courageous and strong, and

responsible for what I say and do,

and to

respect myself and others,

respect authority,

use resources wisely,

make the world a better place, and

be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Perhaps the most misunderstood proposal concerning the Girl Scout Promise was passed by the National Delegates in 1993 at the Minneapolis convention. The proposal was titled “Flexibility in Wording for Spiritual Beliefs in the Girl Scout Promise.” It stated:

THAT, since the Girl Scout organization makes no attempt to interpret or define the word “God” but encourages members to establish for themselves the nature of their spiritual beliefs, it be the policy of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. that individuals when making the Girl Scout Promise may substitute wording appropriate to their own spiritual beliefs for the word “God.”  

Having attended the 1993 National Council Session, I still remember the headlines of that time declaring that the Girl Scouts had taken “God” out of their Promise. The intent of the proposal was to promote inclusivity for girls of various faiths whose religious beliefs might have a different terminology for “God,” such as Allah or Yahweh. Many media outlets totally misrepresented what had transpired, so GSUSA had to do damage control and make numerous explanations on what the proposal intended to do.

Members of the South Cook County Council delegation wearing their convention casual attire during the 1993 Minneapolis NCS.

At other National Councils Sessions, the delegates have reviewed the request to increase dues. The Constitution was amended in 1975 during that year’s Washington NCS, giving this authority to the delegates. It stated: Decision on annual membership dues shall be by ballot and shall require a majority of votes cast. However, the wording in the GS Constitution concerning membership dues was somewhat altered at the 2008 NCS in Indianapolis. Within its rationale for the changes, the National Board included the statement that after the 2008 NCS, it would be the one to set dues amounts going forward and included a lengthy explanation as to why it felt it had the authority. At their January 20, 2012, meeting, the National Board raised annual membership dues from $12 to $15, effective with the 2014 membership year. This was the first time since the 1975 amended Constitution that the National Board raised annual membership dues without the National Council’s approval. Then in 2016, the National Board raised the dues again, going from $15 to $25. A lawsuit initiated by the Farthest North Council against GSUSA claimed that the dues increase violated the Constitution. The lawsuit went all the way to the Alaska Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the Farthest North Council.

This controversy on who has the authority to raise the membership dues caused the delegates of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) to write a proposal for the 2020 NCS that would create a compromise between the National Board and the National Council. The proposal inserted into the Constitution has this wording:

The National Board of Directors must seek approval from the National Council whenever planned dues increase will increase by more than 25% in any triennium. This amendment to the Constitution passed, making it one of the two proposals submitted by GSGCNWI in 2020 to be approved.

Delegate Marty Poch (right) served as a resource person for the GCNWI dues restriction proposal at the 2020 virtual NCS

Another proposal associated with membership dues was passed at the Houston NCS in 1981. However, it was at this time the Lifetime Membership category was established. Then in 1999, at the Kansas City NCS, a vote was taken to have a special Lifetime Membership dues be offered to any girl who was a registered Senior Girl Scout at the time of her high school graduation or equivalent. In 2017 in Columbus, the delegates approved the elimination of the multiplier formerly used to establish the cost of a Girl Scout Lifetime Membership and voted for a flat rate of $400 or, for alums under age 30 and currently registered volunteers with ten or more years of service, a $200 cost. This change was supported by the GSGCNWI delegation.

GCNWI Delegation at the 2017 Columbus NCS.

There have been other significant proposals passed during NCS, such as those concerning the National Board. For instance, the Denver National Council session in 1978 reduced the number of National Board Members from 65 to 51. This number of National Board members was again reduced in 1996 in Fort Worth to 35. During the Atlanta NCS in 2005, the number of members of the National Board of Directors was amended to 25, which is the number that is in place today. Also, in 2005, the number of consecutive terms for the National President was reduced from three to two.

As I mentioned before, GSGCNWI had two proposals pass during the virtual NCS of 2020. Besides the proposal to restrict any dues increase to not exceed 25% in a triennium unless voted upon by the National Council, the GSGCNWI delegates also developed a proposal for the movement to establish a feasibility task group to research the formation of a National Gold Award Scholarship Foundation. When both proposals received positive outcomes, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana made NCS history. We were the first local council to have two proposals pass during a single NCS. As one of the authors of the National Gold Award Scholarship Foundation proposal, I was asked to sit on the feasibility task group. Our findings will be shared at the NCS in Orlando this coming July. Stay tuned!

Karen Schillings at the virtual 2020 NCS presenting the proposal to initiate a task group to research the feasibility of a National Gold Award Scholarship foundation.

The GSGCNWI delegation is really looking forward to attending the Orlando NCS this July. After having the 2020 NCS held virtually due to the pandemic, it will be so satisfying to be in a convention hall once again with Girl Scouts from across the country. Being a National Delegate is a huge commitment with the numerous meetings before and even after the National Council Session. However, it’s extremely gratifying to know that this work is tremendously important to the vitality of the Girl Scout Movement.

Finally, I want to share a uniquely GSGCNWI tradition that was started for NCS in 2011. As a National Delegate who is also a Council Historian, I have had the capability to acquire vintage uniforms for our girl members who attend NCS as either delegates or visitors. The girls always feel special when delegates from other councils can identify the era of the uniforms they are wearing. Because 2020 was virtual, this tradition was suspended during that NCS, but it will definitely be brought back for 2023!

From Savannah to Wellesbourne, The Story of Juliette Gordon Low in Warwickshire, England

By Karen M. Schillings

It may seem curious to discover that the woman who eventually founded the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, Juliette Gordon Low, spent a good portion of her life in Wellesbourne, England, in the county of Warwickshire.

Most Girl Scouts are familiar with the William and Eleanor Gordon home in Savannah, referred to as the “birthplace,” where Juliette had her start in life and became known to family and friends as Daisy. They also might know that the first Girl Scout meeting took place in the Andrew Low estate carriage house, which Juliette’s father-in-law had originally owned. However, when examining Juliette’s life, it becomes clear that the residence she and her husband owned in England, the Wellesbourne House, was the place Daisy considered to be the home that really belonged to her. So how did this 19th-century Southern debutante end up so far away from her upbringing in Savannah? It all has to do with the family into which Juliette married.


Eleanor Kinzie Gordon, Juliette’s mother, came from a family of well-educated women, and she expected the same from her daughters. Early on, Daisy was learning to read and write in the home of a local teacher. At the age of twelve, she was sent to a boarding school in New Jersey. A year later, she attended the Virginia Female Institute and, afterward, Edgehill School, also in Virginia. She studied mathematics, English grammar, spelling, French, piano, and drawing. Daisy was quite artistic, so she enjoyed drawing the most.


Her studies concluded at a finishing school in New York City, where she learned how to dance, curtsy, and sit properly, the important skills of the day for members of polite society. In this era, it was understood that an elite Southern girl was being educated to take her place in society and to be a good wife, not to espouse a profession.

William “Willy” Mackay Low came into Daisy’s life when she needed someone the most. Her sister Alice had died of scarlet fever in 1880, and Daisy was grieving deeply over the loss. Willy had been in England for some time, studying at Oxford, but had come to Savannah for the summer to stay with family and friends. He was the son of Andrew Low, an immigrant from Scotland who became the wealthiest cotton merchant in Savannah. Andrew had built a large house on Lafayette Square just a few minutes’ walk from the Gordon home. In 1864, when Willy was four years old, his mother passed away.


Andrew moved the family to the Warwickshire town of Royal Leamington Spa. However, he maintained the Savannah home and only returned there when he was on business. It should be noted that Andrew Low disapproved of the relationship developing between Willy and Daisy since he wanted his son to marry someone of equal status. On the other hand, Willie Gordon wanted Daisy to marry a man who could support himself through his challenging work rather than marry an idle rich man.


When Willy returned to England in 1881, the impetuous couple continued to correspond, disregarding parental objections. Daisy was given the opportunity to see Willy at Beauchamp Hall in Leamington when her father consented to her first trip to Europe in 1882. Her second voyage overseas in 1884 gave her another prospect to encounter Willy, even though Daisy assured her parents that her trip to Beauchamp Hall was to visit with the Low sisters. Juliette and Willy strengthened their commitment to each other that summer. A few months later, Willy came to Savannah, and the courtship continued. When the couple announced their intention to marry in February of 1886, Andrew Low insisted on a year’s waiting period. Otherwise, Willy would forego his inheritance. Willy and Daisy agreed to the arrangement, but Andrew died suddenly in June. Even though it was customary to have a year of mourning, they decided to get married as soon as possible. Willie Gordon, unwilling to relinquish his daughter totally, requested that Daisy come home to Savannah for six months each year. The couple agreed, and the date was set for December 21, 1886.

At first, the newlyweds resided in Savannah and occupied the luxurious Low home. However, during the summer of 1887, the couple returned to England. At this time, Willy had two rented homes, one in Leamington, near Beauchamp Hall, and the other near Blair Atholl in Perthshire, Scotland. However, he wanted to own a country manor befitting his social position. To that end, he purchased Wellesbourne House in rural Warwickshire in 1889, a fifty-five-acre estate. Having inherited 750,000 pounds from his father’s fortune, Willy could well afford the purchase price, and then he set about making improvements. The estate grew to twenty bedrooms with a stable for forty horses, a cottage for the gardener, a separate laundry facility, a greenhouse, and a garage where the first Wellesbourne automobile was housed. This was a home for entertaining and living the good life. Daisy was excited to have a home of her own and thoroughly enjoyed selecting the furnishings. From all accounts, she was delighted with Wellesbourne House and relished being the lady of this stately home.

As a part of the Marlborough set, a group of high society individuals close to Edward Albert, the Prince of Wales, Willy and Daisy had many social events on their schedule. Willy became president of the Wellesbourne Cricket Club and was also a member of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, his voluntary cavalry unit. In May 1895, the Prince of Wales attended a Warwickshire Yeomanry dance. Daisy was flattered to be the only woman in the room with whom the Prince asked to dance. In 1896, Prince Edward visited Wellesbourne House with his entourage. Daisy presided over a lovely luncheon for her honored guests.


Another celebrity of the time graced the Wellesbourne House. Rudyard Kipling and his wife Carrie frequented the home because Daisy’s mother was Carrie’s cousin. Once they had become acquainted, Juliette became good friends with Mr. and Mrs. Kipling. Daisy enjoyed this refreshing couple, who were quite different from the social elites to whom Willy was attracted.


Because Willy was away so much on hunting trips, racing his horses, or gambling with his friends, Daisy started to feel lonely. She had been an artistic soul from an early age and delved into various pursuits to take up the time whenever Willy was absent. Daisy had already proved herself an excellent portrait artist but branched out into other endeavors. She took up woodworking and carved a beautiful mantel for Willy’s smoking room and other ornamental pieces for her home. Then she took to metalworking. It’s not for certain who taught her how to forge, but it’s suspected that the village blacksmith John Thomas Thorpe was the one who instructed her. She took on a major endeavor by designing and then forging the gates for the entrance to Wellesbourne House. Those original gates were later shipped to Savannah to adorn the entrance of Gordonston Memorial Park, but they are now on display at the Birthplace. However, replicas made from Daisy’s design still hang at the Wellesbourne House entrance.

Although Daisy was thoroughly devoted to her husband, it cannot be said the same for him. Willy had a roving eye and was very keen on women. In 1901, Anna Bateman, an actress, was discovered to be Willy’s mistress.


This was particularly hurtful to Daisy since she had welcomed Mrs. Bateman to Wellesbourne House on several occasions.
Now Daisy had a dilemma; how to end her marriage quietly and honorably. If she filed for divorce on the grounds of adultery, then her husband and Anna Bateman would be subjected to embarrassment and shunned in polite society. Not wishing to bring scandal to either of them, Daisy decided to leave Wellesbourne and reside in London. At a later time, she did file for divorce, but on the grounds of desertion. However, before the divorce was finalized, William Mackay Low died of a seizure in 1905.


Without her knowledge, Willy changed his will and left his estate to Anna Bateman. Nevertheless, Daisy persuaded Willy’s four sisters to contest the will. In the end, Daisy did receive a small settlement, along with the house in Savannah.
Willy’s sister Amy Low Grenfell kept Wellesbourne House.


Daisy needed to put the heartbreak of her marriage and Willy’s death behind her. Without a career or the prospects of remarrying, she set her sights on traveling.

However, this strong woman wanted to have a purposeful life and continued to search for something meaningful to do. In 1911, she had by chance been seated at a luncheon next to Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who had just started the Boy Scouts. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I had the good fortune to visit Wellesbourne in July of 2017. At that time, the house Daisy so loved was an office complex. Then in 2018, the property was sold and converted into condominiums. However, it was nice to see the replicated gates and to imagine what an exquisite home it once was.


I’m sure the many people who enter those gates today are unaware of the lovely lady who once lived there.

Since there was nothing on the site to identify the property as once being the home of our founder, I started making inquiries as to how a historical plaque could be secured for Wellesbourne House. After much research and outreach, two local historians, who at the time did not know the property’s historical significance, offered to help. A plaque was affixed to the home at the end of 2019. Dedication of the plaque was to occur in March 2020, but this ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic.


It has recently been rescheduled and will take place in April 2023.


It’s good to know that the Wellesbourne House is now correctly identified for its distinguished history in the life of Juliette Gordon Low.

How to Make Girl Scout S’mores® Brownies

December 8 is National Brownie Day, and we have the perfect brownie recipe for you! Take your brownies to the next level by making Girl Scout S’mores® Brownies. These brownies are a combination of, you guessed it, Girl Scout S’mores® cookies and your favorite brownie mix – coming together to create the most divine chocolatey goodness your taste buds have ever feasted upon!

Now please keep in mind that Girl Scouts GCNWI is not a professional cooking blog, and this recipe may need a little tweaking given how many cookies you have available, the brownie mix you have, etc., but the best part is that they are made with love!

Get the recipe below and enjoy baking these delicious Girl Scout S’mores® Brownies.  Share with us how yours turn out!

Ingredients

This recipe will make approximately 12 large or 24 small Girl Scout S’mores® Brownies.

Bottom Layer

  • 2 boxes of Girl Scout S’mores® Cookies
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter

Brownie Layer

  • 1 box of your favorite brownie mix, follow instructions on box
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 Egg

Top Layer:

  • 1 bag of mini marshmallows
  • Optional: Girl Scout S’mores®
  • Optional: Hot fudge

Other Supplies

  • 2-3 large mixing bowls
  • Rolling pin
  • Zip-loc gallon bag
  • Spatula
  • Cookie scooper
  • Muffin tin
  • Baking cups

Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line your muffin tin with baking cups.

Step 2: Prepare the crust. Combine both packages of Girl Scout S’mores® in a gallon size zip-loc bag. Use a rolling pin to break the cookies into crumbs. You can also use a food processor.  Once cookies are crushed into crumbs, transfer into a medium mixing bowl.  Place 1 stick of butter in a microwave safe mixing bowl and melt in the microwave, stir every 15 seconds. Add melted butter to cookie crumbs and mix thoroughly.

Step 3: Depending on the size of your muffin tin, place ½- 1 scoop of crumb and butter mixture to each baking cup. Flatten the mixture so it creates an even layer.

Step 4: Prepare the brownie mix as directed on the brownie mix box.

Step 5: Add the brownie mix on top of the cookie crust and allow mix to settle.

Step 6: Bake for 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the size of your brownies.

Step 7: Once out of the oven top with 3 mini marshmallows.

Step 8: (Optional) Add a Girl Scout S’mores® cookie on top of the marshmallows. Drizzle hot fudge over the brownies once cooled.

Step 9: Enjoy!

Girl Scout National Center West Set Back in Time 

Have you ever had the wider opportunity to sleep under the Milky Way in a Girl Scout platform tent in the Big Horn Mountains in Tensleep, Wyoming? Welcome to Girl Scout National Center West (NCW). 

In 1968 Girl Scouts bought 15,400 acres of rugged wilderness in the Big Horn National Forest, making it the most significant purchase Girl Scouts made at that time. The center was a national destination for many. NCW’s primary emphasis was on the Girl Scout Program in The Great Out-of-Doors for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, ages 14 to 18. 

The camp was a place to explore Native American pictographs or for future geologists to sleep under a rock shelter called The Pow-Wow. Hiking The Peak was a 19-day pack trip up to Mesa and the backcountry. For novice backpackers, you could Tote n Trek 9 days out in the eastern foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. If you had a LOVE for horses, NCW was the Girl Scout Camp you sold a lot of cookies and fundraised for. Camp had three corrals on the property, and the programs included Ride Rap and Wrangle, Cadettes on Horseback, Buckskins, and Calico or Saddle Straddle. Each year a few new programs were added. Imagine your view of this country’s rugged wilderness from atop a horse, a priceless Girl Scout opportunity at its BEST!! 

If you loved western arts, the camp offered Stage in the Sage, Paint the West, Windows n Wildlife, Furs Feathers, and Fun for the eye behind the camera. NCW also offered Focus I & II, where you learned the art of developing your black and white, some color shots, and slides in the darkroom—capturing such beauty and friendships of the country and wildlife around them! Wyoming Trek offered a program for Girl Scout troops and families traveling to other destinations out west. 

National Center West ran programs from five base camps with pit latrines, running water, platform tents, a kitchen fly, a unit house with a staff office, showers, a food commissary, and a meeting room with a fireplace. We need to remember that NCW was a journey set back in time. For most participants, it was the first time they flew in an airplane. Just the red gravel Rome Hill Road up to camp had to freak the daylights out of you. But these strong Girl Scouts were prepared for this wider opportunity at National Center West. They each worked hard to be a participant in these programs and have the T-shirt, patches, and diddys to show from the famous Trading Post Log Cabin. 

Camp had full-time staff throughout the year and hundreds of summer staff members that came back year after year bonding with their Girl Scout sisters and brothers. Girl Scout sisters mostly ran the camp and were the hardest workers I had ever been around in the summers of 1983 and 1984. 

Sadly, in 1989, NCW saw the last campers. Due to high maintenance costs, the property was sold in 1991 to the State of Wyoming and Clay Ranch. 9,851 acres are preserved with the State of Wyoming Nature Conservatory, now called the Tensleep Preserve, and are open to the public. Clay Ranch picked up 4,749 acres. 

On July 5, 2018, after 35 years, I returned to the site of NCW, now Ten Sleep Preserve, for a bucket list trip and reunion on the property. More than 100 staffers/campers reunited like Girl Scout sisters do by picking up where we left off. On the day of the reunion, we hugged, hiked to The Pow-Wow, gathered for a pack-in lunch, sang and sang some more, toured the property on 

the cool school bus, and had the best Chuckwagon Dinner to end our day!! Time to get off the mountain and head into town to enjoy some live music.  

I can’t thank my mother enough, the Best GS Leader ever, for helping me make my dreams as a young adult to reach for those stars, even in the longest days. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer during my stay and passed away in May of 1984. I returned to the place National Center West that summer, where I knew I needed to be with my Girl Scout sisters and brothers. 

To this day, I (we) treasure these Girl Scout memories. When I hear the word “camp,” I know that these memories and moments truly last a lifetime! Thank you, Girl Scout National Center West! 

Yours in Scouting 

Kathy Webb 

gsgcnwi SU 714 support Council Historian 

The Cookie Rally Is Back! Join GSGCNWI for a Day of Fun.

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is thrilled to bring the Cookie Rally back as an in-person event at the Allstate Arena on January 7, 2023. GSGCNWI’s Cookie Rally is for Girl Scouts of all ages and their families to have some fun while preparing to #GoBrightAhead into everyone’s favorite program, the cookie program!

Doors will open only for Girl Scout Cookie Rally attendees at 3 p.m. There will be many family-friendly activities and photo ops, including:

  • Dunk your favorite Girl Scout Staff Member with our Dunk Tank
  • Family-friendly carnival games
  • Meet the Cookie CEOs 
  • Get a sneak peek of new Programs in STEM, Arts, and Outdoors
  • Get your photo taken at the Action Photo Booth

Have a pair of ice skates? Open skate will be from 3-5 p.m. Attendees must bring their own skates if they want to go onto the ice. Skate rental will not be available.

At 5 p.m., the Cookie Rally will take the ice to discuss all things cookie-related and tips on how to finish out phase 1 of the cookie program with a bang, and get ready to reach their goals in phase 2.

At 7 p.m., GSGCNWI will drop the puck and host the color guard presentation to kick off the hockey game and cheer on the Chicago Wolves!

Purchasing a ticket to our 2023 Cookie Rally includes entrance to the cookie rally, a commemorative T-shirt, a Chicago Wolves game ticket, and a Rally Patch for the Girl Scout. Tickets are $22 until December 4. Starting December 5, ticket prices will increase to $24.

Click here to purchase tickets. 

Get ready to rally this cookie season by learning this special cheer:

“C-o-o-k-i-e, Selling cookies is great for me.

C-o-o-k-i-e, We’ll reach our goals just wait and see.

C-o-o-k-i-e, Making a difference for you and me.

I’m a go-getter, nothing could be better.

I’m an innovator, nothing could be greater.

I’m a risk-taker, a mover and a shaker.

And I’m a leader, nothing could be sweeter.

C-o-o-k-i-e, selling cookies is great for me. 

C-o-o-k-i-e, We’ll reach our goals just wait and see.

C-o-o-k-i-e, Making a difference for you and me.”

Hope to see you at the Cookie Rally!

Why You Should Join the Girl Scout Go-Getters Chicago Marathon Team

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is incredibly proud to be a charity partner of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The Chicago Marathon is one of six Abbott World Marathon Majors and an experience of a lifetime. Each year, runners from 50 states and more than 100 countries run through 27 Chicago neighborhoods on a flat and fast course that starts and finishes in Grant Park.

Girl Scouts GCNWI is honored to compile a team each year to complete 26.2 miles around the city. The best part is — our runners work hard to raise funds that help to empower more than 25,000 girls in our council. 

A special shout-out to our 2022 Chicago Marathon runners; you fought through the muscle aches and fatigue and proved just how strong and resilient you can be. 

Take a look at what some of our Girl Scout Go-Getters said was the best part about running the Chicago Marathon. 

Experiencing 26.2 miles in a brand-new city — and supporting an incredible organization.

– Aliza Anderson

Finishing it! Honestly, the Chicago Endurance Sports community, the training, and the GSGCNWI support. It was incredible to feel the energy and cheerleading going into the race that morning – and on the course!

 – Jessica Wetmore

The community. The city of Chicago turns out for the marathon, and you feel the love and support along the entire course. I was so moved by the support from people I knew and strangers who gave their everything to cheer everyone on! Also, the community I built through the summer in my training program. I made some great friends who kept me going week after week! 

-Alaina Greene

“I am a Girl Scout alumnus, volunteer, troop leader, and lifetime member. I wanted to support Girl Scouts GCNWI and bring awareness to all the amazing things they do.”

-Katie Zabielski

Do you want to join the Girl Scout Go-Getter Team for the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon?

We are now accepting applications for the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which will take place on October 8, 2023. SPACE IS LIMITED – don’t wait to apply! 

Apply to run the 2023 Chicago Marathon with us » 

The fundraising minimum is $1,250 prior to November 16! After November 16, the required fundraising amount is $1,750.  

We will provide you with a personalized fundraising page and be with you every step in raising funds and running miles for the Girl Scouts! 

When you run with the Girl Scout Go-Getters, you will receive the following: 

  • Guaranteed entry into the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon  
  • Free virtual and in-person training options with Chicago Endurance Sports 
  • Official Girl Scout Go-Getters team running shirt and running belt 
  • Customizable fundraising page to help reach and surpass your goal 
  • Access to all team events (kick-off meeting, pasta party, and other events decided by team) 
  • Free access to Race Day Resort on race day (located next to the start line with food, drinks, and indoor restrooms) 

If you have any questions or need more information, contact Holly Johnson at 312-912-6329 or hjohnson@girlscoutsgcnwi.org

Troop 20450 Volunteers at Camp Trek

Safe, fun, and accessible to all is what Girl Scout programs are all about. Partnering with the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) – another community organization whose mission aligns with Girl Scouts – was game-changing in creating memorable experiences for all. 

A volunteer opportunity came from GLASA’s Camp Trek, a camp for youth with disabilities to participate in sports in an inclusive setting, which was looking for camp counselors for their weeklong summer camp, and 10 Girl Scouts answered.

The 10 Girl Scouts from Troop 20450: Aaliya, Aila, Alisha, Alyssa, Arianna, Ayra, Iman, Nuha, Zenia, and Zoha gained valuable leadership skills and experienced life from another person’s perspective, which they will carry for a lifetime.

“It was a great way to build leadership skills and help others while having fun!”

– Alyssa, Girl Scout Troop 20450

Before attending the camp, the girls had to complete training to learn about the responsibilities and duties of being a camp counselor. Camp started on August 1, and the girls worked Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their days consisted of providing day-long one-on-one support to camp attendees, who varied from ages 5-16, assisting them as they participated in every activity.

Take a look below at their activity schedule for each day.

Monday: Wheelchair Softball, Arts and Crafts, and Wheelchair Rugby

Tuesday: Wheelchair Basketball, Yoga, Tennis, Arts and Crafts, and Tennis

Wednesday: Kayaking, Fishing, and a Scavenger Hunt

Thursday: Wheelchair Football, Disk-Golf, Arts and Crafts, Obstacle Course, and Capture the Flag

Friday: Meeting Paralympians, Cookout, Talent Show, and Awards

When the troop was not providing one-on-one support, they assisted with management and administrative work as they shared ideas on marketing future programs for GLASA. The troop also helped with other camp logistics, such as meals and event planning.

Kelly Candotti Habas, Development Director from GLASA, shared that they expanded their programs to more students because Troop 20450 served as camp counselors.

“Camp Trek was a great experience – it helped me grow, learn, and meet many new people, and it was some of the most fun days I’ve ever had!”

– Alisha, Girl Scout Troop 20450

“I think volunteering at GLASA Camp Trek was an amazing experience, I loved meeting the campers, and I was filled with happiness and fulfillment after each day of the camp.”

– Zenia, Girl Scout Troop 20450

Thank you, Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, for this opportunity, and the Girl Scouts and leaders of Troop 20450 for being a part of Camp Trek and making great memories for campers this year.

Troop 606 – Leave: July 28, 1991, 8:30 a.m. from Mrs. Caragher’s House 

<strong>Troop 606 – Leave: July 28, 1991, 8:30 a.m. from Mrs. Caragher’s House </strong>

By Chris Caragher, Girl Scout Historian

After years of being a Girl Scout troop leader for Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes, I yearned to visit the birthplace of Girl Scouting, Savannah, Georgia. I viewed that as the ultimate pilgrimage to our founder’s home and, by extension, the birthplace of my Downers Grove-based Cadette Troop 606. It was the girls’ last year in this troop as they were faced with the decision to move on to a long-standing Senior Girl Scout troop, a “Mariner troop,” known as Ship 167, or end their active membership as they started high school.  

At our meeting, we decided the trip would be a great idea, and we had enough cookie money in the bank to do it! 

The troop applied for a date, as required by the birthplace, and chose a “high tea” program and house tour. Our reservation was for August 1, 1991. Now, all we had to do was to figure out the transportation costs, logistics, and the care and feeding of each member. Our troop loved camping and had been on short trips to Mackinac Island and Wisconsin and used Camp Greene Wood often, even in the winter, but this was much bigger! So, I called an airline. Tickets to fly would take all our cookie money plus more! We had to figure out another way. 

My co-leader, Ginger, and I wondered if we could drive to Savannah, so we thought we’d check with the parents.  We knew that we had parents who owned vans. We asked, and two dads volunteered, but they would need gas reimbursement  to drive and would go for free. We calculated the miles, cost of gas, food, and activities.  

At that time, the birthplace provided a booklet called Birthplace Bound.It had ads for accommodations, restaurants, local attractions, and some discount admission coupons for Girl Scouts. I called the hotels recommended for Girl Scouts and got a special Girl Scout rate reservation at Budget Inn.  

The trip down to Savannah would take time, so we decided to leave early to do some activities on the way down and some on the way back; it turned into a 10-day trip. It was like a family vacation. We had snacks, drinks, games, camping equipment, luggage, and uniforms in each van.  

The itinerary as told by a Girl Scout:    

7/28 We visited the Kentucky Derby Museum and toured Churchill Downs. Afterward, we drove to Cave City, tent camped and cooked at Mammoth Cave National Park. 

7/29 Mammoth Cave Tour and lunch in their cafeteria, then departed to Indian Springs State Park near Macon, GA, where we visited the Historic District. When we arrived at the campground at 7 p.m., we discovered we had lost our campsite for being late, so we just found a long stretch of grass, set up our tents in a single line, and shared a fire with the friendly campers next door. We made a snack and settled into our tents. After breakfast in the morning, we waded in the creek before we left. 

7/30 We visited the Macon Historic District and a trinket store tourist trap, then drove to Savannah, GA, through a torrential rainstorm and arrived at a flooded Savannah. As troop leader, I was elected to wade through the water to check in to the Budget Inn, 3702 Ogeechee Rd., Savannah. It was an old, one-story motel with outside doors looking nothing like the ad in the Birthplace Bound booklet, but it was clean enough and turned out to be safe. The promised swimming pool was out of order and filled with rainwater, but we went swimming at one of the owner’s other properties. We ate at a real sit-down restaurant and ordered off the menu! Thank goodness! 

7/31 Toured the Savannah Visitor Center, the Savannah Experience, and the Ships at Sea Museum. We walked along the ocean, visited the Andrew Low House and other mansions, learned about the city’s squares, had fun, ate popcorn, shopped for souvenirs, saw a movie about Juliette Low and her childhood, and more. We walked ’til we dropped and ate out, but not at the famous restaurant everyone else was eating at. It was way too long of a wait time for hungry girls! 

8/1 Birthplace Day! – JULIETTE LOW DAY AT HER HOUSE! We had a lovely tour and took pictures. Saw all the rooms, including her bedroom and the old library. We went to the garden and learned all about JGL, her art, her wedding, the history behind the birthplace, and some things about the Civil War. We saw the real oil painting of Juliette Low in her pink party dress hanging in the living room. The docent answered all our questions. Then it was time for our activity program in the basement. We did a project to learn about the Girl Scout history of helping others and interacted with another troop that had signed up to try-on dresses that girls and women might have worn in JGL’s time. We invited the “dress girls” to our tea party.We had fun. Then we went to the gift shop for souvenirs. We all got a Birthplace Pin with a Daisy on it. Our precious spending allowance was also used, so everyone could bring home a keepsake. 

One of our troop’s favorite fun songs was Boom Chica Boom.We came up with new lyrics that didn’t really fit the tune but went like this:  

I said a Boom Chica Boom – a little bit Southern Style: 

“So down to Savannah we went, I said a Boom Chica Boom, 

Little did we know that the Budget Inn, I said a Boom Chica Boom!  

Would be only a little better than a TENT, 

I said a Boom Chica Rocka Chica Rocka Chica Boom!” 

8/2 We started heading home but not stopping the fun. We made our way north to Stone Mountain. This was a place where a large bare rock was carved to show the Confederate Generals. Although we were mostly Northerners, it was interesting to see and part of our country’s history. We stayed in the beautiful campground behind the rock. It was a lovely place. At night, a laser light show reflected off the rock carving and special effects to make it look like the generals were actually riding their horses across. It was kind of like a fireworks show. Very cool. We had a good time, and I shared with the girls that my maternal grandfather, Josepha Bouska, who had been a stone cutter in Chicago, was one of the cutters hired to work on carving the rock.  

I bought a book with a picture of all the stone carvers in a big group. I told the girls I could not figure out which one was my grandfather, but I wanted it anyway. 

8/3 We went home a different way through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We stayed at the Tanglewood KOA Swannanoa, North Carolina, near Ashville, which had a swimming pool! It had a big hall in a red building with screens all around, but no windows. We visited the National Park Shop and signed up to learn horseback riding. We had hoped to do this activity while planning the trip, so we packed the helmets. We learned how to lead a horse, not be scared of the horse, and we went on a trail ride. Then we brushed the horses and helped put them in the stable. It was great! There were many water activities around the area as well. Although we could not do the tubing activity because no lifeguard was going down the stream with the group. We still interacted with the water at the edges of the stream and got very wet. This area was beautiful to drive through.  

8/4 Driving home through Indiana, it got to be late, so we decided not to camp. We found a nice hotel and a restaurant for a late dinner and collapsed from all the vacation activity.  

8/5 Arrived back home. We called our moms to let them know we were home. We cleaned out the vans and gave them a car wash to thank the drivers. We had a little goodbye ceremony on the front lawn. It was not only the end of the trip but the last thing for our beloved Troop 606, as we disbanded with hugs and tears all around. 

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 vking@girlscoutsgcnwi.org no later than October 18.

Donate to a Sweet Cause through Girl Scouts Gift of Caring 

Have you ever been in a coffee shop drive-through, and the car ahead of you has decided to pay for your entire order? It’s a wonderful feeling to be the recipient of someone who chose to pay it forward. You can join Girl Scouts through the Gift of Caring service project to make someone’s day even sweeter – literally!

 Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Gift of Caring service project is offered when Girl Scouts participate in selling either Fall Products or Cookies. Gift of Caring is an option on Girl Scouts order cards and online purchases. When chosen, the proceeds go directly to pay for the items that are chosen by the GCNWI Council to use as the donation. The items are then distributed to many different community-based organizations, such as the military, first responders, and essential workers.

This small gift brings pure joy and gratitude to the recipients, who share how much it means that others think of them.

Help Girl Scouts and the Community

One hundred percent of the proceeds from Gift of Caring donated products stay in the community to fund Girl Scout activities and service projects. These activities allow girls to make new friends, challenge themselves, and take action to change the world for the better.

Girl Scout helps Rush volunteers unload 800 boxes of girl scout cookies in front of the Brennan Pavilion for distribution to frontline health care workers. Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois. Thursday, March 10, 2022.

Last year, our council donated more than 14,000 items during the Fall Product Program. In 2022’s Cookie Season, more than 278,956 packages of cookies were collected for Gift of Caring by our Girl Scouts. One of the many cookie drop offs was made at Rush University Medical Center where a Girl Scout Cadette helped Rush volunteers unload 800 boxes of cookies for distribution to frontline health care workers.

You Can Donate During the Fall Product Program

You can donate to the Gift of Caring service project when you purchase products in our Fall Product Program starting September 23, 2022, through October 19, 2022.

During the fall product program, can choose the amount they would like to donate, and the Girl Scouts GCNWI Council will choose the items to be given in the Gift of Caring program.

To participate, a customer simply pays the funds and marks “Care to Share” on the order card or in the online storefront. When a Girl Scout collects seven or more donations, she’ll earn the Care to Share patch. Also, when girls participate in Fall Product, they get the chance to strengthen five essential leadership skills, including goal setting, decision making, people skills, and business ethics.


If you do not know a Girl Scout, and would like to participate in the Gift of Caring service project, you can do so here.

Your support of the girls and the community is greatly appreciated.

Click here to learn more about the items available in this year’s Fall Product Program.