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.


An Inside Look at How Council Historians Preserve Our Girl Scout Treasures

Who are the Historians you might ask? The Historian Team at GSGCNWI is made up of 26 volunteers who are interested in the history of Girl Scouts and actively work to preserve and present the story to our community.

History of the movement

Begun by Juliette Gordon Low on March 12,1912, Girl Scouts quickly spread throughout the country. Girl Scouts offered young women the opportunity to learn important life skills, as well as to live by the values of the Promise and Law – unselfishness, patriotism, loyalty and truth. Our current Council was formed in 2008 from seven councils in the Chicago media market following the guidance of Girl Scouts of USA (GSUSA). Those seven councils were the result of over 40 smaller councils that had been established, functioned and eventually combined over the years.

In the early days of the movement, individual towns were set up as councils that governed and guided their girl and adult members. Logistics, better governance and the opportunity to bring a better program to the girls brought these smaller councils together. What it also created was story after story about the local Girl Scout program.

Enter the Council Historian Team.

Historical Treasures

Some members of the team have been actively involved in preserving our memorabilia and stories since the 1980’s. GSUSA encouraged historians to step forward and provided professional level training in the preservation of all aspects of the history of Girl Scouts. Many of our team members have traveled to the Macy Program Center in New York, as well as multi-day programs held before National Council Sessions to learn the proper techniques to accession and store all the bits and pieces of history donated to us by our local community. Members of our team hosted “Learn to Preserve” in 2014 and were privileged to have experts from GSUSA and volunteer historians from throughout the Midwest attend our training.

When the words Girl Scout history come up, most people think of the uniform they wore and the handbook they used. We have all that and so much more. Each item that is donated to us is recorded and then passed along to the team member responsible for accessioning that category of material. We use simple excel spreadsheets to record our work and have over 70 categories of physical items in the council collection. Yes, we have magazines, dolls, camp canteens, mugs, postcards, volunteer gifts, tins, cameras, pens and pencils, membership cards…and the list goes on.

The collection is currently housed in the annex at the Joliet and Vernon Hills Gathering Place (GP). Team members meet on Mondays and Tuesdays each week at one of the GPs to process the literally thousands of pieces of historic memorabilia that have been donated to us over the years.

Over those same years, we have opened the gray archival boxes and shared the collection with our local communities. Sometimes it’s smaller displays at libraries, community meetings and events. We have produced fashion shows of uniforms for Alumnae and Service Unit events, as well as large scale shows at local malls. To celebrate our special anniversaries, we have held programs at Navy Pier (90-year anniversary) and at some of Chicago’s premier museums in 2012 to commemorate the 100 years of Girl Scouting. Currently there are displays in the Gathering Places in Chicago, Joliet and Woodridge. The displays are changed regularly to showcase just some of the treasures from the collection.

The team has offered Victorian themed tea parties throughout the council, taken books and uniforms to troop and Service Unit meetings, and participated in other council events, such as Trunk or Treat. We have put together kits that can be checked out by troops for use at their meetings – ranging from tea parties to history themed book and uniform bins from the 1960s and 1980s.

Take Home a Piece of History

This upcoming September 29 (10am – 4pm), 30 (10am – 6pm) and October 1 (10am – 2pm) will be our first sale of excess historical items from our inventory. We are always grateful for any donations, but we have limited storage space and must be selective about which items we accession. We invite you to the Joliet Gathering Place to shop for books, uniforms, badges and patches, and many of those extras that might be new to you.

Most of us are Lifetime Members of Girl Scouts and have served in many volunteer positions over the years. Our love of Girl Scouts and her history keeps us active in the movement and having fun. If you are interested in learning more about the team or donating some Girl Scout treasures, please contact our Archivist, Rosemarie Courtney at rdcourtney1940@gmail.com.

Colgate Brings “Bright Smiles and Bright Futures” to Girl Scouts with New Patch Program

Let your smile shine!

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is partnering with Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures to encourage Girl Scouts to learn about oral health and wellness. Since 1991, the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® initiative has touched the lives of more than a billion children in over 80 countries. Their mission is to connect underserved communities to oral health educationfree dental screenings and treatment referrals.

Working with members of the community, Colgate strives to promote lifelong learning opportunities and create a world of bright smiles and even brighter futures by ensuring that prevention and good oral hygiene remains a top global health priority. Colgate believes every child and their family has a right to a lifetime of healthy smiles, and to help promote its initiative, they created the Colgate Bright Smiles Patch Program where families can complete fun science experiments and build healthy oral habits.

Learn powerful habits like brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, how to build healthy oral habits, making snacks that are good for your teeth, and discover something new about your dentists.

Check out Girl Scout Daisy Troop #35683 having fun completing some of the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures activities below!

During their troop meeting, girls collectively completed the apple experiment. Rather than allowing the “tooth” (apple) to decay in the brown bag, they expedited the process by adding food coloring in the “cavity” (pencil hole):

After drawing a tooth on a Styrofoam cup, troop leaders added paste (flour + water). Decorating with sprinkles were the best part because the girls thought they tasted so GOOD. But what a messy “tooth decay” watching the Styrofoam cup dissolve in the acetone:

Next it was time to get those bright smiles checked out by a dentist!

At the end, girls created dental posters to help remind them to take care of their teeth. The troop completed their smile posters on different color paper to collectively show a rainbow!

Get Involved

Help Colgate in their efforts to reach two billion children by 2025 by completing the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program with Girl Scouts! Download this workbook to help get you started on this patch program as a troop or with your family! You can pick up additional copies of the workbook at our Girl Scout GCNWI shop (while supplies last). Learn more at www.ColgateBSBF.com.

Girl Scouts Gain Powerful Lessons in Confidence, Friendship, and Success at Camp CEO 2022

Nothing is more empowering than having someone believe in you!

Camp CEO is dedicated to creating a safe space for Girl Scouts to network and interact with women from a variety of industries and backgrounds who believe in girls and all that they can accomplish. 

The environment is fun, camp-based, and full of unique opportunities to hear about the twists and turns of the women mentor’s career paths and ask questions about how they got to where they are today. Their stories give Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 a “peek behind the curtain” and reinforce how tenacity, persistence, being curious, and taking risks without fear of failure can be the catalyst for interesting careers.

Read below as Girl Scout Program Specialist, Jauzlyn, shares highlights of the three-day event held at the Chicago office, culminating with an overnight stay at Camp Greene Wood.

Day 1

On the first day, 10 girls arrived to the Chicago Gathering Place with a look of uneasiness. Sure, there were a few who allowed a sliver of a smile to show on their faces, but underneath there was surely anxiety. Most of the girls were very quiet and hesitant to actively participate, while a couple of them were able to break out of their shells more as the day went on. The girls were able to make their first connections with the mentors during an activity where they created vision boards, in which many of the mentors and girls were engaged in thoughtful conversations.

The biggest highlight of the day was when we played “Cross the Line”. This is a game where the facilitator makes various statements and participants take a step forward if the statement applies to them. During this game, there were a variety of serious statements, with some goofy ones in between. When we discussed how the game made them feel, many of the girls shared that it allowed them to feel closer to other people in the room, it helped them trust us as mentors and other girls, it allowed them to learn new things about each other, and it made them feel better about speaking up.

As time went on, the girls began to come out of their shells and expressed how doing this game made them feel more open and excited for the next two days.

Day 2

The girls worked through a coding badge, thanks to our partner Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, at HCSC. The girls were tasked with taking data and creating a visual representation of the data to present to everyone. The girls were nervous at first, but once they began to work on the projects and had the guidance and coaching of HCSC volunteers, a whole new feeling of confidence was able to emerge. When asked who wanted to go first, there were a couple of girls who raised their hands quickly. In fact, a few of the quietest girls were first to raise their hands. The girls all did so well in presenting their projects. Some of the girls even helped their shyer peers speak up when it was time to present. Many of the girls stepped into the role of a leader during this time.

Once back at the Chicago Gathering Place, the girls participated in an activity called “Life Mapping”. During this activity, the girls were given the opportunity to identify different areas in their life that help them understand who they are and who they want to be as they develop and progress in life. Many girls shared that this activity helped them be more open and understand themselves a little better. They also enjoyed being able to learn more about each other and their mentors.

Later in the evening, we went to Camp Greene Wood. When we arrived at camp, it was safe to say that the girls trusted the facilitators and each other a lot more. By this time, the girls were looking as if they all came into this program knowing each other. During an activity called “Fear in a box,” we had the girls write down a fear and put it into a box, then, we sat around the campfire and I read each person’s fear. During this activity, the girls were given the choice to claim their fear, speak about it, and give advice and feedback to each other or not.

Each girl claimed and elaborated on their fear, and openly received advice and feedback from each other and the facilitators. The girls were then given the chance to burn them in the campfire. After discussing the activity, girls expressed that they felt comfortable because of the vibe of the group and because they felt like they could trust us and each other. Many of them said that they can see themselves being friends with all of the other girls after the program was over.

It later came to our knowledge that after lights out, the girls used the flashlights on their phones as light so that they can sit together and make friendship bracelets. They did that until they all fell asleep.

Day 3

On the final day, the girls were split into smaller groups with mentors and participated in a variety of leadership activities. Each girl was expected to take turns leading the group in an activity and work on their communication and leadership skills. The mentors guided them and gave feedback about their performances. Mentors shared that many of the girls were excellent in how they led activities and how creative they were.

During lunch, the mentors had an insightful discussion about networking and using social media as a way to promote themselves. In return, many of the girls downloaded LinkedIn and created accounts the same day. They spent the rest of the day getting each other’s LinkedIn information and the information of facilitators and mentors.

The end of the day concluded with a business pitch competition. During the competition, the girls had twenty minutes to come up with a business and pitch it to an audience. Many of the girls became more animated and livelier when presenting. They used this opportunity to show off their personalities and their creativity, which resulted in some amazing business pitches. It was clear that by the end of the program, many of the girls had a newfound confidence in themselves.

According to Girl Scout Alonda, her biggest takeaway from Camp CEO was that, “passion drives everyone to success. Having drive and passion will always keep you focused on your career path and understanding your purpose.”

“I really felt honored to be part of the conversations,” Girl Scout Program Specialist JT said in regards to an activity centered around being your authentic self and finding commonalities between the girls. “I think a lot of the girls were skeptical about how the day would turn out, but our mentors’ genuine interest in learning more about them and especially the vulnerability as they told their stories really resonated with the girls.”

Girls shared that their opinions of the program changed as their day progressed. They expressed being glad to be there and felt more connected to each other.

“I was really nervous to come here but after meeting everyone and getting to talk, I enjoyed myself!” exclaimed a Girl Scout.

Here are some more highlights from the event:

We want to thank all of the incredible women involved in making Camp CEO a success, from our sponsors and community partners, to the mentors, to the staff, to the Girl Scouts themselves!


GCNWI Shifts the Narrative on Outdoor Experiences for Families of Color

Girl Scouts of USA recently released a funding opportunity for up to six councils to each receive a $10,000 grant to support multicultural family camp events. Research showed that less than 10% of people engaging in outdoor experiences at recreational parks and camps included people of color. These events aimed to increase racial, ethnic, and social-economic diversity among our resident and day camps. 

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana invited specific girls to participate in the grant-funded program as part of an effort to include girls who would not typically engage with summer camp programs. A part of this program included early registration for summer camp programs in order to ensure these girls, who we do not typically see at camp programs, had access to attend during the summer camp season this year. The goal was to transition 30 girls to day camp and 10 girls to resident camp by start of camp season. This work is part of GSGCNWI’s continued work to improve inclusion and access across our council offerings.

Read along to see how it all came together and how Girl Scouts GCNWI was able to transition 38 campers for day and resident camp, 12 of whom were first time campers.

To ensure the campaign’s success, the council aligned itself with partners who could assist with promoting its mission. Members of the GCNWI Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) committee met with Earl Hunter Jr., Founder and President of Black Folks Camp Too, an organization dedicated to outdoor lifestyle education and works to remove the fears and inhibition’s affiliated with the camp lifestyle. Black Folks Camp Too presented at a GCNWI staff meeting and provided insight to help the council recognize the generational and historical ties the idea of outdoor experiences may have on these communities. The council wanted to provide a platform for those trailblazers willing to flex their resiliency, break free from molds, and create some of the best memories of their lives! 

Girl Scouts sought out to help shatter myths, break stereotypes, even make some introductions regarding outdoor experiences and the involvement of Black and Brown communities. From that stemmed the “Life Outdoors is LIT” event series, designed to create a safe space for families of color to grow more comfortable with outdoor exploration and expose our members to a lifestyle that may differ from their everyday experiences.

Girl Scouts we’re invited to participate in a series of exclusive, complimentary experiences where they could engage in fun outdoor activities, make new friends and earn badges. Each progressive activity led up to a culminating, overnight-optional event at Camp Butternut Springs.

Check out the highlights from each event below!

Virtual Family Camp In

The first event in the Life Outdoors is Lit event included a virtual family camp-in. What better way to get introduced to the great outdoors than to create your own camping grounds right in the comfort of your own home? Families learned how to set up a campsite in a room in their home, how to prepare for a winter hike, and participated in badge activities and a cool science experiment by making fizzy lemonade!


Girl Scout Bonfire

Next, it was time to get outdoors! Families braved the cold at Big Marsh Park and got ready for the next phase in their outdoor exploration. GCNWI camp staff walked families through how to build a fire, how to create a camp setup with tents, and bonded together while making s’mores over the fire.

Overnight at Camp Butternut Springs

Families were encouraged to take all of the knowledge they had gained so far and put it to the test at the Life Outdoors is Lit culminating event at Camp Butternut Springs in Indiana. Families had a chance to enjoy such activities as as archery, boating, letterboxing and geocaching, fun tie-dye crafts, and even got a chance to have a cookout, make a meal over the campfire, sing songs, and of course, make s’mores!

“Thank you for the fantastic program you provided the Girl Scouts and families at the ‘Life Outdoors is LIT’ finale event this weekend! The tireless dedication of your staff surely comes from a place of love & community, and did not go unnoticed,” exclaimed one Girl Scout Mom in attendance.

“My girl loved every minute of being at camp. I cannot wait until the next event!” exclaimed another.

Check out more pictures from Camp Butternut Springs below!

Council Historians Share Beloved Memories from Their Times at Girl Scout Camp

Over the years, forty historical councils have merged into what is now Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.  In that time, Girl Scouts have owned or leased at least 91 camps, program centers and Little Houses. Below, historians share memories of some of their visits to a few of these camps and how much girls enjoyed being there. If you have stories or photos you would like to have preserved in the council’s archives please contact Rosemarie Courtney via email at info@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Camp Woody Acres; Owned by Chicago Girl Scout Council 1944-1981

Girl Scouts of Chicago purchased the property in 1944.  It had one lodge named Redwood.  The only other building was the caretaker’s small farm.  Except for latrines, it was a primitive camp.  The council sold the property in 1981.  Today it has luxurious homes on 1 acre lots.

Lifelong Girl Scout Rosemarie Courtney remembers: “When Troop #298 in Chicago was founded in 1950, it did not take long for the troop to find it a wonderful place to learn all the outdoor skills a Girl Scout should know and use every day of her life. By that time, there were 2 cabins, a screened in pavilion and pitch-your-own-tents camp areas. The big treat seemed to be Sunday breakfast using the caretaker’s eggs that were speckled; somehow, they tasted better. My troop camped there at least 3 times a year, from cabin camping to tent camping.  The most memorable experience was when some of us bridged to Senior Troop 1615 in 1954 and decided to bike to Woody Acres the first weekend of June each year, a 20-mile distance.  We did this for 3 years.  The straight route would be Harlem & the Kennedy Expressway to Irving Park Road.  But safety rules had us planning routes through neighborhoods, forest preserves and country roads.  All our gear and food for the weekend was in our backpacks.  We followed the rules in the Intermediate Handbook and made shelter, if need be, under our poncho over our bikes; otherwise, we slept under the stars.  Unfortunately, in 1956 the Bartlett Police found the 2 miles we had to travel on Irving Park Road to be unsafe for bicycling with gear on our backs, as the road was being widened to 4 lanes to reach a rural road.  So, a parent came and picked up our gear. The photo shows us waiting for the police to give us the OK to bike 2 miles to the rural road:

The widening of Irving Park Road ended this yearly event.  Also, note that we didn’t wear helmets when we biked back then, and all our bikes had one speed.”

Camp Hickory Hills; Owned by Northwest Cook Council sold in 1929-1964

 The land was purchased in 1929 by Mr. & Mrs. Charles F Loesch for the purpose of a Girl Scout camp. They immediately donated the land to the Des Plaines Girl Scout Council. The first building on the property was named Loesch Lodge which is pictured here. When Des Plaines Girl Scout Council merged to form Northwest Cook Council, the newly formed council took on ownership.  Today the property is Hickory Hills Campgrounds which has a display of what the place looked like when it was a Girl Scout Camp, and many former Girl Scouts stop by to reminisce about their days at the camp.

Elise Gould remembers attending the camp on weekend overnights:  “We slept in raised tents, 4 girls in a tent.  We cooked outside over an open fire.  The camp had 3 units: Merriwood, Sherwood Forest and Hilltop.”

Camp Pokanoka; Owned by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana sold 2021

The camp was originally purchased in 1965 by Trailways Girl Scout Council.  When Trailways Girl Scout Council merged to form Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana the newly formed council took on ownership.  The camp was sold in 2021.

Kathy Webb wrote, “Being a Girl Scout for over 40 years and calling Camp Pokanoka my camp has always been the norm. My first visit to Camp Pokanoka was back in the late 60’s with my older sister and Girl Scout leader, mom.  From that first visit this young Girl Scout was hooked and couldn’t wait to be old enough to attend resident camp for 2 weeks.  One of my first years at camp I attended ‘Ride in the Wind’ with my no-speed bicycle and backpack.  I can remember our pool times and showers in the old, little shower house until the new one was built.  Hiking to the clay pits where we would wallow in the mud or sailing bars of soap boats down the Illinois River.  I even remember making torches from Kotex dipped in Kerosene to light up the road so we could see our way north to the river.  Cleaning the Latrines was my favorite or maybe cooking over the fire. Or was it songs we would sing everywhere we went?

The song Slap Bang after meals was always a highlight to watch all those dishes bounce up and down on those old round tables in the Oriole House.”

Not many changes were made at Camp Pokanoka.  Canvas tents in the Whippoorwill, Chickedee and Flicker which became “cabins” with more sleeping room and a roof, while Blue Jay remained the fun platform tent area.

As years past and I became a Girl Scout mom, Pokanoka was first on our troop’s agenda.  We made it out to camp three to four times a year and helped at council events.  Even though my troop has bridged to adults, I will always love Camp Pokanoka which has been and will always be a Girl Scout Friend to many from all over the world.

Camp Thorn Creek; Leased by Girl Scouts of South Cook Council 1951-1988

Camp Thorn Creek was leased from the Cook County Forest Preserve.  In the spring of 1934 the camp was opened in Sweet Woods Forest Preserve as a home for the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The men built military style barracks on the site to use as their lodging.   It was named Camp Thornton and later used during World War II to house German prisoners of war.  From 1946-1947 the Illiana Christian High School conducted classes in the buildings.  Then in 1951 the Girl Scouts of South Cook Council entered into a lease agreement for the sum of $1.00 per year to use the property as a camp and the barracks were converted to cabins.  The camp was honored by a visit from Olave Baden-Powell in 1953.  In 1988 when the Forest Preserve would not agree to any improvements on the cabins which were in disrepair, the council relinquished its lease on the property.  The barracks were demolished in 1989. Because of its historic importance, the Illinois Historical Society placed a marker at the site on June 26, 2010.

Karen Schillings had the good fortune to bring both of her daughters’ troops to Camp Thorn Creek.  As Brownies, the girls had the opportunity to stay in the barracks that were built during the Great Depression.  These barracks were very primitive and perhaps a little bit “scary” for 7 and 8-year-olds, since they were basic wooden plank floors and walls that the wind could whistle through.  I vividly remember one Sycamore Association (Homewood) spring encampment in the mid 1980s.  The Brownies were housed in the barracks and the Junior, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts used the platform tents or pitched council tents that were stored at camp. 

Karen recalled, “my Junior troop pitched their tents Friday afternoon excited to be in tents for the first time.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate.  In fact, it seemed that a deluge had befallen us.  The rain started coming down during the night, and although I had warned the girls NOT to touch any part of the canvas on the tents, the warning was not heeded by everyone.  Some of the tents started to leak profusely.  When morning arrived, many of the girls and their gear were totally soaked.  As the rain kept coming down, we had to figure out a way to prepare breakfast without cooking, since there was no way, we could start a fire.  We basically ate bread with butter and jelly, along with some orange juice – not the scrambled eggs and toast we had planned.  By mid-morning, we could tell that the rain was not going to let up, so we decided to break camp and started calling parents to come and pick up their waterlogged daughters.  That was the most exhausting camp experience I’ve ever had in Girl Scouting, but it didn’t deter my desire to continue taking my troops to camp!”

Camp Chippewa Bay; Owned by Girl Scouts of DuPage Council 1955-2000

Since the formation of the DuPage Council one of the main objectives was to own a camp property with a waterfront.  A search committee was formed in 1953.  For the next five years, while the committee continued its search, the council rented facilities.  At first, the committee was told to limit their search to within a 150-mile radius which proved to be fruitless.  With the help of an estate agent two sites were found in Wisconsin.  The Girl Scout Region VII Camping Adviser visited the sites and made a recommendation to the committee.  The findings were presented to the DuPage County Council board in 1955 and the property which became Camp Chippewa Bay was purchased.  The first Girls camped there in 1958.

When asked to write about why Camp Chippewa Bay (CCB) was so special, Anne Brennan posed the question to the CCB Facebook page (currently 504 followers strong) and received 40 responses and 27 hearts.  Most of the responses expressed similar sentiments: “Camp Chippewa Bay was magic and still holds a special place in our hearts.  It helped women young and not so young find who they were and then allowed them to be that with support and without judgment.  To try new things and challenges and escape from the “real world.” We learned skills in leadership, teaching, empathy, outdoor life and more that has lasted in us all to this day.  Music and singing were also a major theme so I will leave you with a condensed version of our dedication song: ‘We came here as strangers, learned the way of the wind and of the wood and the waves, and left as lifelong friends.  We still gather as much as we can and thank the Girl Scouts for creating this wonderful place.’”

Camp Tocanja; Owned by Girl Scouts of Calumet Council 1956-1988

In 1956 Calumet Council purchased 315 acres on Clear Lake in Twin Lakes, Michigan for a summer camp.  The first girls to camp there were in 1957.  The Scouts did two weeks of primitive camping.  Over the next three years the camp was developed, and Calumet Council declared 1960 to be “Camp Tocanja Year.”  The last summer camp sessions were held in 1985 and the camp was sold in 1987.  The property remains undeveloped and forested. 

Beginning in 1961, the second year the camp was open, Peggy Tuck-Sinko spent many happy summers at Camp Tocanja.  She recalls, “while I enjoyed almost everything (with the possible exception of some of the government surplus food that was served in the dining hall), my favorite memories are of the canoe trips.  Camp was where I learned to canoe, but we all got very tired of practicing strokes, and tip-tests, and maneuvering on Clear Lake.  Why couldn’t we just go out and paddle on the river?  Two different trips around 1963 and 1964 on the White and Pere Marquette Rivers really stand out.  On the White River we slept under overturned canoes at Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery – which still operates today, burned leeches off each other, and tried somewhat successfully to keep the food supplies dry.  I think Happy Mohawk is where I lost my Girl Scout knife.

We also encountered a group of boys who, in one tricky part of the river crashed into rocks and trees, and even overturned some canoes.  They pulled over beyond the “white water” (not raging, but scary enough to us), ready to laugh and catcall at our mistakes.  Now we knew why we had practiced!  One by one, our canoes threaded their way through the snags and churning water.  I’m sure it wasn’t flawless, but there was no crashing of aluminum on rocks or tipped-over canoes.  We waved at the dripping and silent boys as we paddled by, barely containing our glee.  An active Camp Tocanja Facebook group keeps these and other memories of this special place alive.”    

              

The History of Bridging in Girl Scouts 

Bridging is the term that Girl Scouts use to identify the work that a girl or troop does to get ready to move to the next level.  This work is not mandatory but is meant to give a girl an idea of what is waiting for her at the next level.  Bridging insignia are worn on the next level uniform, not the level where earned.  For example, the bridge to Juniors is worn on the Cadette uniform, not the Junior uniform. 

The first bridging was started about 1927 when Brownie wings became available. Since Brownies were at one time called Brown Owls, the idea was for them to “fly-up” to Girl Scouts.  The first wings were red, green and white embroidered on brown cloth and were used until 1935.  In 1931 the wings were brown embroidered on gray-green Girl Scout cloth.  With two types of wings, Brownies who had earned the Golden Bar were awarded the brown wings, while Brownies who had earned the higher award of the Golden Hand were awarded the multi-color wings. In 1935, both types of wings were discontinued.  The new wings were bright yellow embroidery on dark green felt that we still have today

In 1977, the Bridge to Juniors patch was introduced.  The original patch was a green arch with Bridge To Juniors embroidered in gold.  The arch was meant to go over the three Brownie B’s that were earned by Brownies at that time.  In 1980, the Bridge to Cadettes patch was introduced.  The patch was a yellow rectangle with a small trefoil embroidered in yellow in the middle. In 1987, both of these patches were changed to coordinate with the new Five Worlds program.  The Bridge to Juniors patch was still an arch but was embroidered in the colors of the five worlds (red, yellow, blue, green, orange).  The Bridge to Cadettes remained a rectangle but was embroidered in the same manner as the Bridge to Juniors. 

In 1987, the Bridge to Seniors patch was introduced.  It was a chevron embroidered with the same rainbow as the Junior and Cadette patches.  The Bridge to Adults was also introduced at this time.  It was a small rectangular pin with the rainbow colors surrounded by a green border. 1993 saw the introduction of the Bridge to Brownies patch for Daisies.  This patch was an arch shaped top over a rectangular bottom. 

With the new program changes in 2008 the girl bridging patches were redesigned. They all are arches but with different multicolored designs. The Bridge to Ambassadors patch was introduced in 2013.  The Bridge to Adults pin was not changed. 

The requirements for earning the bridging patches have changed in number over the years but the intent has remained the same.  Girls are to find out about the level the are going into and meet with the older girls, then they are to share what they learned with younger girls-planning their bridging ceremony at the end of their work. 

2022 Gold Award Class Welcomes 61 Girl Scouts and Six Scholarship Recipients

The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. It is the result of a girl taking everything she has learned and experienced throughout the Girl Scout leadership program and using those skills to tackle issues she is passionate about and drive lasting change in her community and beyond. It can also serve as proof to colleges, universities, and employers that she is diligent in creating the change she wishes to see.

This year’s Class of 2022 Gold Award Girl Scouts includes 61 young women, six of which have received GCNWI scholarship awards in addition to their highest award. Read about their projects below!

GCNWI Scholarship Recipients

Moorea G. The Journey: A Girl’s Guide to the Challenges of Life

For my Gold Award I created The Journey:  A Girl’s Guide to the Challenges of Life. It is a book meant to empower girls of all ages and guide them through the many obstacles that they will face when transitioning from a young girl to a young woman. This book discusses topics such as setting boundaries, bullying, sexual assault, gender inequity, systemic racism, homophobia, body image, and mental health. Through this book, young girls will begin to understand these essential concepts and apply them in their own lives as they go through the journey of life. 

Megan G. Sweet Dreams

My project addressed the lack of resources available to families impacted by domestic abuse. With the help of a previous Consumer Science teacher, I constructed an ongoing project to help raise awareness of domestic violence to local students by allowing them to sew and donate pajama pant bundles to the shelter as part of their curriculum.  I made a video to explain the project to the students and how they can contribute to the cause.  I also donated extra fabric to the program to encourage the students to make additional pants if they choose. 

Faith H. Rooted Paradise Club (RPC)

My Gold Award project addressed the issue of bringing the topic of black hair in the conversation and the things that some may feel uncomfortable to talk about aloud pertaining to their appearance. I created the Rooted Paradise Club (RPC) as a space for those to reemphasized that our differences are our biggest strength and it is what brings us closer together as a community than ever before. Hair has been a central topic in my life and the lives of so many other girls and guys, so founding this club allowed me to create a safe space for all to discuss different kinds of hair, which is the first and biggest step we can all take in order to acquire knowledge about the forever evolving society we live in.

Emily J. Let It Rain

My Gold Award project addressed the excess storm water in Vernon Hills and the declining pollinator population in North America by designing and implementing a 300 square foot rain garden at the Vernon Hills Arbor Theater. The rain garden will absorb the storm water before it can enter the stream. I educated my community and inspired them to consider taking action to install their own rain garden. Throughout this project I exhibited at the Vernon Hills Public Works Open House, I was interviewed twice for Channel 4 (posted on YouTube), made an English and Spanish brochure for the Vernon Hills Public Works to use on their drainage calls, and educated several Girl Scout Troops in the area about rain gardens.

Abigail M. Accessible Garden Bed

For my Gold Award project I created a raised garden bed for Woodview Elementary School in order to make participating in their garden program easier for kids with special needs. Over the course of my project I did lots of research, made blueprints, and constructed the garden bed, which was ready to use this spring. It was amazing working with different members of my community to make this happen and I am so grateful for all of their help! 

Priyanka P. Native Bee Conservation

I created and implemented bee houses for native bee species at Fullersburg Woods and worked with the Dupage Forest Preserve to add educational information pertaining to these bees to their center. I made these houses in order to attract more bees to the location and allow a habitat for them, something that is continuously being lost from the natural world. In addition, the education allowed visitors to the preserve to learn about the conservation of these insects and the efforts that it requires. I was responsible for the design, research, and creation of the houses, along with the majority of the educational add-ons. 

Animals

Grace N. Greyhound Adoption Awareness Children’s Book

My Gold Award project focused on raising awareness for the growing number of retired racing greyhounds in need of homes in the United States, especially after greyhound racing was effectively banned in the state of Florida in 2020. Through the creation of a children’s book, this project sought to raise awareness of the breed in the Chicago Northwest suburbs, as many families in that area have the means to support an adoptable greyhound. The book, titled “Born To Run,” was published in March of 2021 and donated to local institutions across the Chicago Northwest suburbs. This included 10 libraries, elementary schools, pre-schools, summer camps and pediatric offices. It was published with the generous help of Greyhounds Only, Virtuoso Press and illustrator Sara Niemiec. 

Abigail R. Pollination Awareness

My Gold Award created a native plant garden in my local community to give animal pollinators a safe place to rest and pollinate the local plant life while beautifying the town. My goal was not only to help animals, but also to educate the community on the importance of pollination and the benefits of native plants. I encouraged them to make a difference by creating a series of step-by-step videos and a Facebook page on how to create their own garden from scratch. 

Arts, Culture, and Heritage

Courtney R. Youth Flag Retirement and Education 

I combined a flag retirement ceremony with a youth educational event. I taught young adults and kids about the history of our flag and importance of respecting and retiring flags. The youth involved in this ceremony were also taught the proper way to fold a flag.

Children’s Issues

Madison D. Helping to Prevent Illiteracy in Young Children

For my Gold Award I began by looking at some key issues in why illiteracy was occurring in America. I found that an important part of cognitive development and education for young children is access to books in homes and at school. To help with this, I hosted a book drive to collect books for children at the pre-k level for a lower income school district. I collected over 500 books to be distributed to 185 students across 3 schools and be donated to classroom libraries. In addition, the locations that aided me in book collection agreed to collect books in future years to be donated to the same school district.

Inaya G. Party with a Purpose

“Party with a Purpose” aimed to address the issue of how domestic violence and foster care impact children. All too often, children who are affected by domestic violence and foster care have to deal with “adult issues” rather than being allowed to just be children. Children housed in a local domestic violence facility and some who participated in its foster care program were provided with a temporary “mental escape” from domestic violence and foster care while they were allowed to reclaim their innocence and enjoy being children through the enjoyment of a celebratory birthday party (with food and gifts) hosted in their honor. The goal of the yoga and stress management mini-workshop component of the party was to provide participants with strategies to better manage stress and their temperaments, which can lead to domestic violence situations and poor short- and long-term mental health if not properly managed.

Emily F. Give a Toy, Take a Toy Box

Playtime is an important part to childhood because it helps to support crucial development in children, yet many children don’t have access to toys. For my project, I installed ‘give a toy, take a toy’ bins in two different communities. One is outside of Little Beans Cafe, a children’s play center in Evanston, IL that offers free programs to low-income kids in my community. The other is at a public beach on a small lake in Mudeline, IL that is always in need of sand toys. These bins are for people to donate toys they no longer use, and people to take toys that they need. It is modeled after the Little Free Library book boxes found around many neighborhoods. To expand my idea, I created a step by step guide to help others create a give a toy, take a toy box in their own community.

Faith S. Project Bears that Care

For my Gold Award my mission was to distribute stuffed animals to children who are experiencing the deportation of their parents or guardians. With these bears, children will feel comfort while they are going through these trying times. I hope to spread the awareness of the immigration and deportation process a nd the toll it has on those affected, especially children.

Sarah N. Blankets for Isolettes at the Rush Copley Medical Center’s NICU in Aurora

For my Gold Award, I Ied four teams to create 30 hand-tied blankets for the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, IL. The blankets aid in the development of premature babies and provide comfort to their families. I created an instructional video and editable Google Slides and sent them to Rush Copley for future blanket making projects. I also made a NICU experience video with my parents (as I was born prematurely) that was shared on my social media, and sent out a Google Forms survey to the nurses regarding the impact of the blankets.

Caroline S. Rehoming Victims of Domestic Abuse 

Along with the help of a woman and children’s shelter, I was able to create a program to donate home furnishings to women transitioning out of shelters. My project also focused on creating a donation event to fully furnish an entire apartment for a transitioning mother and her children, with the excess going back into the program for other women. After that was completed I created a implementation and process packet for other large nonprofits to adapt.

Molly S. Busy Bags

For my Gold Award, I created 120 Busy Bags and donated them to a local hospital to help kids have a distraction while they are in the hospital. With the help of my generous community and those around me, I was able to create 30 bags for four different age levels to best fit the needs of the recipients. 

Lauren T. High School Confident

My goal was to create a website with a variety of resources (videos and text aids) with advice for incoming high school freshmen. The middle school to high school transition can be scary and I was determined to ease some students’ minds with my advice. My website contains advice and information about my high school specifically and high school in general. For example, how to schedule classes, how to manage time, how to be involved, etc. 

Civic Engagement

Jacqueline B. Jackie’s Biblioteca

Jackie’s Biblioteca was a project that came from my love of reading and my wish to share that with other little girls. I collected over 200 books, written in Spanish, to establish a library in an all-girl’s elementary school in my hometown in Mexico. I wanted the books, ranging in topics, genres, and reading levels, to be able to provide the girls with the ability to literally take their education in their own hands.

Caroline K. Coping Cards

For my Gold Award, I used my own knowledge of coping skills alongside the knowledge of other specialists and those in my community to create concise “Coping Cards”. I placed these cards in local businesses around my community to spread information about mental health skills and to help break the stigma of mental illness.

Disabilities

Mikaylah B. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Accommodations and Badge Programs

My Gold Award is solely based on the purpose of inclusion and making Girl Scouts enjoyable for all girls. I wanted there to be accommodations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people whether it be the Girl Scouts themselves or the parents/troop leaders.

Emma G. Accessibility in the State Park

The root cause of the issue addressed by my Gold Award was the accessibility for all visitors of the Indiana Dunes State Park. My family and I enjoy visiting State Parks throughout the year. My sister has a disability that does not allow her to walk long distances so the utilization of accessible parking is very important to my family when we visit the parks. The Indiana Dunes State Park and myself recognized that throughout the years the wear and tear made the lines no longer visible to the accessible parking spaces. Not only were the lines not visible, some parking spaces were not up to ADA code. I worked with the park to fix these issues as well as create awareness surrounding the importance of ADA accessible parking and pathways. 

Kayla H. The Viking’s Library

For my Gold Award I built a mini library in one of the most diverse zip codes in Chicago. This library would provide residents with access to all kinds of books, flyers for community resources and events, and encourage community connection. I included books for kids, adults, books in different languages, and braille books. My hope for this project is that it will help everyone have equal access to books to ultimately decrease the illiteracy rate in some communities. 

Molly M. Better Together 

There are over 200 million people worldwide with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).  This project aimed to help end the isolation of individuals with IDD by promoting inclusion. A video and resources for Munster High School was created with the participation of members from Best Buddies to be used for school orientation and beyond. 

Zoe M. Diabetes Education

I created a website that could help educate people on diabetes. I focus more on Type 1 than Type 2 because I am a Type 1 diabetic. It is meant as a resource for newly diagnosed diabetics but also anyone just wanting to know more since the disease is becoming more common to see. I want to help my friends and other people to learn more about what I and millions of other people live with on a daily basis. 

Education

Sara B. Calm Corner

I worked with second and third grade students at Forrestal Elementary School in North Chicago. My project was aimed at helping these students relieve anxiety from the trauma they experience at home and the pandemic.

Samantha F. Math and Reading Flashcard Kits

I created over 100 math and sight-word flashcards.  These were given to tutors to use with underprivileged in Pre-K through 2nd grade.  I worked with the tutors to create kits which were split into different age groups and personalized ability levels.  I also included in the kits given to each student stickers, bookmarks and a chart to keep track of their progress.

Margaret H. Planting the Seeds of STEM

I established a hands-on educational program at my former elementary school that serves to encourage enduring interests in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) among its students. I supervised the construction of garden beds on the grounds of the school. Three-Sisters (corn, beans, squash) gardens are now planted and harvested in these garden beds by students as part of their course of instruction. I also established a sustainable service-based educational program whereby an extracurricular organization helps tend to the gardens during non-school hours and then finds a successor organization at the conclusion of its participation in the program.

Sophia I. Promoting Books With Female Empowerment

My Gold Award project promoted books with female empowerment and well-written girl protagonists as I donated book club materials that specifically focused on these topics along with the corresponding books. The donations were sent to organizations and community houses that ran after school literacy programs so that they could essentially serve as a “book club in a box.” Anyone could pick up these books and materials and start a book club with a group of middle schoolers. To make sure the materials I was donating were effective I ran a book club with my local middle school where I got to see how students responded to the discussion questions and activities that I wrote, as well as some that I compiled from the Internet. 

Molly K. Scouting the Rainbow

Scouting the Rainbow is a Gold Award project that provides Girl Scouts and troop leaders with a brief but robust education about the LGBTQ+ community. The project is broken down into three concise lessons, each of which highlights topics critical for gaining a basic understanding of the diverse LGBTQ+ community, including historical contexts and current issues. The project aims to show how Girl Scouts can be inclusive, effective LGBTQ+ allies.

Jui K. Open-Source Artificial Intelligence (AI) Curriculum for All

My Gold Award focused on the lack of representation in women in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). I created open-source AI curriculum this is accessible to anyone in hopes to alleviate the discrepancy between men and women in the field of AI.  

Grace S. Page Turners: Giving Old Books a New Use

Books are unarguably an essential aspect of education. However, they are often costly or difficult to obtain. Academic books can be incredibly expensive, and gently used books in large quantities can be difficult to come by. In light of COVID-19, further budget cuts and decreases to school libraries are being made. Now more than ever, book donations are essential to maintaining the quality of education in schools. I worked with schools to host book donations to decrease book waste and increase the ability to help less privileged schools. 

Thea S. Seniors Getting Virtually Connected 

As the rates of online scams against the elderly are especially high, technology literacy amongst the group is pertinent. As part of my project, I created materials to educate the elderly on subjects such as video conferencing and password management. Through these efforts I was able to make my audience more aware of these online threats and arm them with the knowledge to realize and/or prevent them from happening. 

Environment and Sustainability

Carlie C. The “BAG IT” GO GREEN Program 

My project helped to bring non-perishable, non-food items to families at risk of poverty or lack of housing. The concept of the ‘BAG IT’ program is to bring awareness of feasible solutions to students from both public and parochial schools to connect them with their community. The solution- a free, reusable, eco friendly bag made from tshirts filled with the aforesaid items to be distributed along with the Greater Chicago Food Depository food program.

Melissa G. In My Backyard

In My Backyard is made up of a series of kits to be checked out at the library. They provide information on rocks/fossils, the sky, bugs, and flora/fauna that the kids can explore at home, with examples that can be found in their own backyards. The activities, crafts, and information provides some of my favorite aspects of scouting to kids in the community.

Sarah D. School Pollinator Garden

For my Gold Award, I decided to plant a pollinator garden at my high school. Throughout 3 years of high school, I researched, prepared, and brainstormed plans for the garden.  By planting a variety of flowers and plants, and additional spots for the pollinators, such as rocks for butterflies to sun and a bee bath, I was able to create an environment for pollinators that I am very proud of.  Throughout the project, I also write multiple articles for the school newspaper about the issues regarding pollinator decline, the project, and how people individually can help at home.

Rebecca N. Bluebird Build

The issue being addressed by my Gold Award was the lack of bluebird houses in a forest preserve in Lake County Illinois. This work is important because it helped to establish a healthy animal community and a more balanced blend of native species in the area. Having sturdy, well-built, and weather-proof houses will encourage bluebirds to nest and raise families.

Kavya P. Fresh Food-Prints

I created a website that gave consumers a wide range of local farmers’ markets in the Northern Suburbs of Illinois where people can sustain their diets with locally sourced foods. This brings awareness to the fresh food grown locally and the farmers who grow the food. People can learn about the processes of growing food when they visit farmers’ markets and meet the farmers themselves, which encourages them to eat locally. 

Ella V. Green Sense Sustainable Food Packaging

My Gold Award project aimed to spread awareness about the sustainability of different types of packaging and how consumers can make the most environmentally friendly shopping habits when shopping in the grocery store. It is extremely important for consumers to recognize and understand the environmental impacts of the food packaging they purchase. Raising awareness about this unknown is the first step to spreading environmentally friendly shopping habits.

Health and Wellness

Lauren E. Cooking Up a Healthy Lifestyle 

My Gold Award project taught kids how to cook for themselves by hosting a class for kids as well as handing out cookbooks to many people. The class and cookbook taught the basics of kitchen safety and healthy eating. By teaching children the skills to cook for themselves, they are able to take more control over their health and decide what kind of lifestyle they want to live. This gives kids a sense of ownership over their life and provides an important life skill. 

Hermella F. Let’s Escape Anxiety

My Gold Award project was a way for teenagers to learn how to cope and identify their stress and anxiety. Learning certain techniques can help you get through your daily life and eventually for the long term. I wanted to make a difference and spread the word that no one is alone when it comes to stress and anxiety. I made a PowerPoint presentation explaining what exactly stress and anxiety are, along with several exercises that help calm you down and focus on the right thoughts instead of the wrong ones. Then I had a group of teenagers take a quiz before and after the video to observe if they had learned anything new or just feedback in general. 

Riley H. Pollinator Garden for Wings Program

Life threatening domestic violence affects more people than we think, and it happens on a smaller, local scale, which is why I decided to work with WINGS, an organization that provides housing, counseling, and education for survivors of domestic violence. There was a lack of decoration surrounding the WINGS building, making it plain and unwelcoming for clients who visit for counseling. I addressed this issue, and improved the ecosystem, by beautifying the area with colorful plants that attract pollinators. The native plants I implemented will come back year after year, enduring the Illinois weather so the counseling center will continue to be a pleasant sight to greet the clients and staff for years to come. 

Ellie H. Vegetable Information Binder

For my Gold Award I created a vegetable information binder that included recipes and information in both English and Spanish about different vegetables. I made this binder for the Roberti Community House (RCH) in Waukegan because they distribute unique vegetables that are donated from surrounding grocery stores to people in need on a weekly basis. Sometimes the people receiving the vegetables are not familiar with them or how to prepare them. With this binder the volunteers at RCH can copy the relevant vegetable page and include it with the food being handed out that day. In this way when the people receive the vegetable they can learn a little about the health benefits and how to prepare it instead of having it go to waste. 

Emily L. Mental and Physical Benefits of Volleyball for Under Privileged Children

For my Gold Award I taught underprivileged elementary and middle school boys and girls the importance of playing a sport that will not only benefits their physical but mental well-being. I provided the kids with valuable skills of volleyball and athleticism that they will hopefully continue their whole lives. I addressed the importance of teamwork, health, and life skills throughout the clinic. I also provided Beacon Place with 18 volleyballs donated from Wilson Sporting Goods and my family.

Victoria P. Body Positivity and Fitness (Zumba)

I demonstrated the importance of fitness in everyday life while connecting how being body positive is also a great health benefit that can better a person’s physical and mental stability. I taught and demonstrated a choreographed Zumba dance to a group of younger adolescent Girl Scouts. I also made a video that is posted on my YouTube channel and will be demonstrated in the Galowich YMCA Zumba program for a introduction to Zumba to the community.

Allyssa S. Conquering Teen Anxiety in the Midst of Chaos

When the world was hit with multiple crises at the same time it cast teenagers into a world of unknown, stripping them from their normal coping mechanisms and the inability to gather together. My Gold Award aimed to supply teenagers with new coping mechanisms to not only survive but to thrive and push forward with rebuilt foundations.

Suzy S. Kindness Connection Rocks

My project, Kindness Connection Rocks, involved putting painted rocks with inspirational messages in multiple Chicago Park District parks. These rocks were meant to give park visitors something to look for while visiting and serve as a reminder of their community and the fact that people are thinking of them. On the back of each rock was the link a website that I created. The website has introductory resources about mental health and how to get help. My project helps address the decrease in access to mental health resources during the pandemic and foster community and positivity in a time where people are feeling disconnected.

Kendall W. Play Hard

The issue my project addresses is the proper nutritional and hydration elements needed to assist athletes between the of ages 11-18. Sports nutrition is a foundational element for players to perform at their best. Educating players and establishing good fueling and hydration habits will help players to arrive prepared, perform, and recover from a practice, training, or competition, Athletes often realize the importance of training and continued dedication to practicing their athletics skills in order to develop their game. However, the emphasis and impact of fueling and hydrating can be overlooked causing injury. It is important for athletes to understand proper nutrition strategies can help maintain their basketball athletes performance. Nutrition is important factor among many behaviors that can be used to successfully drive individual performance.

Ava Y. Mental Health

My Gold Award aimed to address the mental health crisis in our youth and across all ages. Many people, not just people with mental illnesses, face tough challenges and emotions, and a lot of people don’t know how to cope. I taught children the signs of depression and anxiety, and how to cope with these feelings. 

Human Rights

Avery M. Selah Freedom Patio Space and Games Area

For my Gold Award, I worked with the Selah Freedom home in Florida to raise awareness surrounding sex trafficking. I helped to organize a virtual run with runner from across the United States. In assisting with the virtual run I was able to fund new sport equipment and patio furniture for the Selah Freedom house. 

Micaela M. A Helping Hand for Women Across the Globe 

For my Gold Award I created a website for women’s right issues that are not spoken about enough in the mainstream media. I covered topics like female genital mutilation and digital sex crimes in hopes that people would gain enough knowledge to make a difference for the women experiencing these tragedies. I also included why learning about these issue is important and specific ways people could help. 

Life Skills

Katherine O. Friendship Jamboree

My Gold Award aimed to address how many children suffer from feelings of loneliness or a lack of deep friendships. This program gives children opportunities to discover what they love and build strong and lasting relationships. Also, my program taught young kids coping skills.

Outdoor

Julia S. Picnic Tables for St. Francis Xavier Parish

The church I go to, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, sits on a large plot of land. We hold many events (including festivals, cookouts, bible summer camps, and even Sunday masses) outside, but it requires a lot of time and labor to haul up folding chairs and tables from the church basement. I worked with the church to create picnic tables that will be stationary and not require time and labor to set up.

Poverty

Kayleigh G. Little Food Pantry

My Gold Award project aimed to address the issue of families and students who are experiencing food insecurity in my community. This is especially important since the pandemic has taken so much from our community such as jobs which allow people to buy necessities to survive. I created a Little Food Pantry where locals could donate food or take food based on their need. 

Alma F. Creating a system for providing clothing to the homeless

For my Gold Award, I worked with a local Evanston non-profit, Connections for the Homeless, to organize their storage room. When I began my Gold Award, Connections for the Homeless was having a difficult time getting clothing to people because their storage room was unorganized and lacking materials such as sorting tables, laundry baskets and racks. I worked to gather these supplies and provide a solution for their storage and organization needs. 

Grace L. Pack Up Homelessness

Pack Up Homelessness was a two-part project. The first part was collecting donations and sorting through them. These donations were then sorted and used. The donations not used for the second part of my project went to WINGS, Home of the Sparrow, and the food bank. The second part of my project was packing goodie bags or survival bags for people experiencing homelessness. During this packing, over 20 volunteers participated in helping with the packing and over 100 bags were successfully handed out!  

Linnea M. Fix It Up

I addressed the issue of homelessness with my Gold Award project. There are many people living in America who do not have stable housing. This is especially dangerous in the winter time when sleeping on the streets may become deadly. The Interim Housing Program run by COOL Ministries helps families move into permanent housing, and gives people the life skills they need to stay off the streets. Helping COOL Ministries with their mission will allow them to help more homeless families for years to come.

Sheila M. Helping Food Pantries Respond to Allergies

Food insecure people with allergies are often unable to access donations at food pantries that safely meet their dietary restrictions. This can have life-threatening consequences, so for my Gold Award I decided to help pantries provide more options for those with allergies and dietary restrictions.

Public Safety

Katherine B. Bike Safety and Conservation Videos

I often see people riding their bikes in unsafe ways and they don’t know how to take care of the bike. My Gold Award worked to create videos about bike safety and maintenance. Through researching, creating and showing these videos I hope to raise awareness of bike safety in my community and beyond. 

Nicole P. Self Defense 

My project was about teaching  girls how to defend themselves if they are in danger. I talked about different ways you can be on the lookout for any strange behavior and to be aware of your surroundings. I also taught the girls a couple of moves to use if they are ever in need. 

Sports

Hannah F. Tennis for Everyone 

For my Gold Award I created a program for children to learn tennis. My friends and I taught basic skills and provided tennis equipment for each child to keep. I documented everything I did and created a step by step sheet for girls on my high school tennis team to recreate this program in the future. 

Cate R. Equestrian Jumps for DuPage County Forest Preserve

I worked alongside the DuPage Forest Preserve to build and install new jumps in the Equestrian Center. By building jumps for them I both enhanced their already existing
equipment and resources available, and taught others more about horseback-riding and what goes along with it. 

STEM

Erika V. When Women STEM

My Gold Award project is dedicated to getting girls interested in STEM at an early age and focused on closing the gender gap in this field. This involved interviewing women role models in STEM fields as well collaborating with them to create videos. Additionally, I also lead inspiring science activities with large groups of girls that proved very successful. Finally, I built a website that acts as a resource to inspire girls and let them follow their dreams. 

Girl Scouts “Keep It Cool” as Engineers For a Day at NASA!

Girl Scouts “Keep It Cool” as Engineers For a Day at NASA!

Nearly 100 Junior, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts took part in the NASA Keep it Cool Engineering Challenge last month and got to walk a day in the life of a real engineer.

The workshops, held at the Vernon Hills and Joliet Gathering Places, provided the perfect opportunities for girls to connect with Girl Scouts outside their own troop, or even from another city. Girls were assigned to groups of four and worked as a team throughout the day. They learned about the history of cryogenics, the steps of the engineering design process, and picked up some basic vocabulary to use before it was time to dive into the first hands on activity of the day- ice calibration!

This step challenged the girls to work together to create ice melt using measuring cups first packed with ice, then sealed inside plastic Ziploc bags, and set inside large bowls of warm water. Girls used thermometers to track the temperature of the water and graduated cylinders to measure and record the amount of ice melt. As the girls tested their process out multiple times, it became evident just how many STEMinists there are in GCNWI!

Working in groups proved easy for some, tougher for others, but by lunch all of the groups were working together well and had formed a real comradery with one another. Girl Scout Juniors Madeline and Peyton met each other for the first time when they arrived at the Joliet GP at 9 a.m., and by the end of the day, the girls were exchanging phone numbers and making plans to see each other again.

For the afternoon session, groups were able to utilize a wide variety of materials with the goal of creating an insulation for their model cryogenic tanks that would keep the ice in its frozen state for as long as possible. Groups worked together to strategize how to improve upon their designed prototypes, and by the end of the day, there were some truly unique creations. Cryogenic tanks with multiple layers of cotton balls, duct tape, cork, foam, felt, paper, and aluminum foil. The sky was the limit, and the girls challenged themselves and each other to continuing improving their designs.

The day’s activities concluded with group presentations, sharing what worked well and what could be improved upon next time. These two-day long workshops were made possible through funding from the NASA Glenn Research Center. Program Specialist Jauzlyn Hardy and Program Manager Heather Wirth took part in three training workshops in March, led by subject matter experts from NASA, in preparation for guiding Girl Scouts through the challenge.

“My Mom always asks me after an event – was it worth it?  And this one definitely was!” said Annabelle M.- Girl Scout Junior.

Girls Like Bugs, Too! Spark Day at Rose Pest Solutions

Girls Like Bugs, Too! Spark Day at Rose Pest Solutions

Earlier this month, Rose Pest Solutions welcomed Brownie and Junior level Girl Scouts to indulge in their fascination with bugs and nature with a fun filled career exploration event at their headquarters.

Rose Pest Solutions provided girls with lots of great history about their company and its mission- to preserve and protect the environment with chemical free solutions- and gave them a tour of their home office. Of course, our inquisitive Girl Scouts had questions for the staff who made themselves available, including an operator who showed them the call system, talked about some of the craziest calls she’s received, and a technician who demonstrated his equipment and talked about the kind of calls he goes out on.

Then it was time to meet the bugs!

Girls got a chance to touch and hold live Madagascar cockroaches and examine specimens under microscopes! While working towards their STEM badges, the Brownies and Juniors also had the opportunity to look inside a real wasp’s nest and learn about the important role honeybees and other pollinators play in keeping our fruits and vegetables growing plentiful.

Other engaging, interactive activities included providing stations where girls could dress up like beekeepers, do bug/butterfly/ladybug/bumblebee themed crafts, and even included a pollinator station where girls could make gifts to bring home to the special person in their life.  

Check out some highlights below!

Girl Scout Spark days were designed to provide girls the opportunity to visit several different companies to learn about STEM careers. From engineering to distribution to animal care, there are many exciting careers to explore! Our girls have connected with industry professionals at such Spark Day events as Scout Out Engineering at Groupon, NIPSCO Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, Animal Aptitude at the Shedd Aquarium, and Spark Day at IKEA.

Want to facilitate a career exploration event with Girl Scouts? Join the Expert Connections!»