Stepping into Confidence

On November 11, 2023, Girl Scout friends and family joined Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) for a ground-breaking cultural stepping workshop with Step Afrika!.  

Step Afrika! is a world-renowned dance company that focuses on the art and history of stepping. If you’re not familiar, stepping is a percussive, highly energetic art form that Step Afrika! shared was first developed through the song and dance rituals performed by African American fraternities and sororities. In stepping, the body becomes an instrument, using footsteps, claps and spoken words to produce complex polyrhythms.   

The event was filled with over 150 Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and many adults who were excited to learn all about stepping. To get things started, Girl Scouts and their families watched a 15-minute demonstration of what stepping is and how it is performed. Then, Step Afrika! dancers explained the historical and cultural relevance of stepping and how it is celebrated. After learning about the history, Girl Scouts were very eager to join Step Afrika! on stage to learn and practice beginner-level stepping techniques. Once they were confident with their movements, Girl Scouts followed along with the dancers from Step Afrika! in a performance, which was enjoyed by Girl Scout staff and families. At the very end, Girl Scouts and adults were given time to ask any questions to Step Afrika! in a Q&A session. 

“I learned so much, I want to do this again,” said a Girl Scout attendee.  

The stepping workshop was a great opportunity for Girl Scouts to broaden their cultural awareness and have fun doing so!  

Click here to view the photos and videos from the day.  

Meet the 2023 Class of Pinnacle Awardees!

The Pinnacle Award, a Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana specific award, honors Ambassador Girl Scouts who have demonstrated leadership in Girl Scouting and their communities! We are excited to recognize and celebrate ten outstanding Girl Scouts and young alums as Pinnacle Awardees this year! Continue scrolling to learn more about each awardee and their involvement in Girl Scouts in their own words.

Ainsley G., Lansing, IL 
Ainsley earned the Pinnacle Award by earning her Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, providing leadership in a service unit and in capacities outside of Girl Scouting.  

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life? “Girl Scouts has been a valuable part of my life since I was a Daisy. I genuinely believe in the things that Girl Scouts value and spend every day doing my best to embody the Girl Scout Law. I have spent most of my life as a Girl Scout and hope to continue as one even once I have bridged to an adult alum. I have also made so many friends through Girl Scouting that I hope to carry with me through the rest of my life, holding on tightly to the sisterhood that Girl Scouts has aided me in creating. I will always do my best to make the world a better place and be a sister to every Girl Scout.” 

What is your favorite thing you have done as a Girl Scout? “My favorite thing that I have done as a Girl Scout is my Gold Award, A Lifetime of Literature. In the post-pandemic world, I noticed how centered on technology education had become and how this change was affecting students negatively, especially the younger grades. To change this, I worked with the kindergarten classes at my alma mater elementary school to help foster a love of reading like the one that I had at their age, as well as assist in dismantling the growing frustration with education that they were experiencing at such a young age. I visited each of the five kindergarten classes multiple times throughout the school year, reading a new book and completing a new craft with them each time. I also handmade 100 reading buddies to distribute to them as an incentive to continue to read. In addition, I built and installed a book box at a local church to make free books more readily available in the community.” 

What keeps you going? What drives you to make a difference in the world? “Staying involved in my community is what drives me to make a difference in the world. As a very involved member of my town, I see problems first-hand that need addressing. Together with my sister Girl Scouts, I work to solve these problems and hopefully prevent future issues from occurring. The gratification I get from knowing that I have made at least one person’s life easier is reason enough to keep me going.” 

Ainsley is currently finishing high school and applying to colleges, planning to major in elementary education. Ainsley plans to stay involved in Girl Scouting as an adult, working with troops and maybe leading a troop one day, too. 

Annabel H., Chicago, IL 
Annabel earned the Pinnacle Award by earning her Silver Award, serving as a volunteer-in-training (VIT), being a district delegate and national delegate, providing leadership in a girl-led interest group and in a service unit, and in capacities outside Girl Scouting.

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life? “Being in Girl Scouts has really allowed me to connect with such an inclusive and supportive community. I want others to be able to share in it because if you need help, your sister Girl Scouts are always willing. I think Girl Scouts has taught me to always care for others and do my best to help those who need it.”  
What changes need to happen in society, and how can Girl Scouts affect these changes? “I think society needs to be more kind, understanding, and inclusive. These are key traits that Girl Scouts teaches you, and understanding and supporting others’ perspectives and lives gives you so much more insight into the world.” 

What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts? “I wish others knew that Girl Scouts has so many things that older girls can do. Not only do you get access to this wonderful community full of people who want to help you, you learn how to be a leader, can connect with people from all over the world, explore different fields and career paths, and more.” 

What is your favorite thing you have done as a Girl Scout? “I love going to help set up tents at Girl Scout camps with my troop. It is a lot of work, but it’s very fun to help put up and take down these huge tents with a team. I’ve also loved being a national delegate because I got to meet so many people at the National Council Session.”  
Annabel is finishing high school and applying to college, hoping to major in chemistry. She hopes to continue in Girl Scouts, helping local troops, mentoring, and encouraging other Girl Scouts. 

Calla S., Chicago, IL 
Calla earned the Pinnacle by earning her Bronze and Silver Awards, serving as a counselor in training (CIT), traveling with Girl Scouts, and providing leadership to a service unit and in a capacity outside of Girl Scouting.  

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life? “Girl Scouting brought me closer to other girls my age, gave me a love for the environment, and taught me skills I can apply in every aspect of my life. Two of my favorite things I have done as a Girl Scout are plan and take a trip to London with other Girl Scouts and participate in the counselor-in-training program at Butternut Springs.” 

What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts? “I wish others knew that there’s more to Girl Scouting than just the stereotype of little girls selling you cookies. It also teaches you so much, and you will become so much closer with the people you do it with. I learned so much from it, and I hope other girls get to do the same.” 
What changes need to happen in society, and how can Girl Scouts affect these changes? I believe we need to have more respect for others, ourselves, and the planet. Girl Scouts helped me expand my views on all these things, which, in turn, made me gain more respect for them.”  

What keeps you going? What drives you to make a difference in the world?I’m driven by a desire to make the world a better place for myself and others through compassion, a wise use of resources, and respect for others.”  

Calla is headed off to college to study environmental engineering.  

Dorothy L., Munster, IN 
Dorothy earned the Pinnacle by earning her Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, serving as a volunteer-in-training (VIT) and girl rep to the board, traveling with Girl Scouts, and providing leadership to a service unit and in a capacity outside of Girl Scouting.  

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life? “Girl Scouting has been a major part of my life. As I enter my thirteenth year as an Ambassador Girl Scout, I have been able to reflect upon all my experiences. I found my best friends in kindergarten when I joined Girl Scouts. I have learned so many new things and life lessons. Girl Scouts gives me a place to be myself. I think my experience as a Girl Scout has been priceless. I have earned my Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. No value can be placed on my journey these past 12, going on 13 years.” 
What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts? “I think Girl Scouts is all about the leadership that you have. My mom and one of my best friend’s mom are our leaders. They put in lots of time to make sure we have an amazing time at whatever we choose to do. I wish others would know or have my same experience. I hope they don’t give up in tough times and stick Girl Scouting out. I’m one of ten high school seniors in my troop. I get questioned all the time about my troop. They are mostly amazed at the large number of older girls that we have been able to retain. I think leaders need to think outside of the box. Girl Scouts can have fun in high school, too.” 
What keeps you going? What drives you to make a difference in the world? “I grew up volunteering and doing community service at a young age. It’s now programmed in me. I keep going by helping others, volunteering where I’m needed, and on many occasions, introducing friends to the joy of volunteering. I like to see the results of my hard work. Nothing is better than a little Girl Scout looking up to me or the joy of seeing people smile when you help them. I believe you should help when you can in the world. One day, you may need to ask those same people for help.”  

What changes need to happen in society, and how can Girl Scouts affect these changes? “One of the biggest things we need to do is upgrade our education system. We are so laser-focused on test results that we miss out on teaching our youth about the importance of humanity and the world around us. In my community, we can use our voices to help make these changes through voting and speaking out. Girl Scouts is a big platform that can be used to help demonstrate how being a well-rounded person in society and helping in your community can help make these changes.” 

Dorothy is in her senior year of high school and is applying to colleges to study sports journalism. She has a fun final year of being an Ambassador planned with her Girl Scout sisters and looks forward to getting involved as an adult Girl Scout at the nearest council to her college!

Lia R., Chicago, IL 
Lia earned her Pinnacle Award by earning her Bronze and Silver Awards, serving as a volunteer-in-training (VIT), and providing leadership to a girl-led interest group and service unit, and in a capacity outside of Girl Scouts.

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life? “I have been in Girl Scouts since I was a first-year Daisy, and I have made many relationships and learned many life skills from the activities I have done. Being in Girl Scouts for so long has allowed me to learn how to be a leader and given me opportunities to be in leadership positions within my troop and in bigger group settings. These opportunities also helped me become a leader at my school and in other activities outside of Girl Scouts.” 
What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts? “There is something for everyone in Girl Scouts, and there are many more activities offered than what most people know of, such as camping and learning survival skills.” 
What is your favorite thing you have done as a Girl Scout? “One of my favorite things I have done as a Girl Scout is participate in “Work Camp Weekend” at Camp Juniper Knoll, where we set up and take down the tents for the summer campers.” 
What changes need to happen in society, and how can Girl Scouts affect these changes? “One big change that I think needs to happen in Chicago is for the government to work harder toward helping people who are experiencing homelessness, as well as adding accessibility to housing, as one of the biggest causes of homelessness is lack of housing. Girl Scouts can help affect these changes by helping with food pantries and volunteering at shelters to show that people care about what happens to people experiencing homelessness and to destigmatize helping people experiencing homelessness.” 

Lia is a senior in high school and is planning to go to college and major in art, education, or psychology. She plans to stay involved in Girl Scouts after graduating and continuing to help with the troop she is a part of.

Madi P., Flossmoor, IL 
Madi earned her Pinnacle Award by earning her Bronze and Silver Awards, serving as a counselor-in-training (CIT) and district delegate, traveling with Girl Scouts, and providing leadership to a service unit.  

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life? “Girl Scouting has helped me to be more social and outgoing.” 

What is your favorite thing you have done as a Girl Scout? One of my favorite things I have done as a Girl Scout is going camping.” 
What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts? “I wish others knew that Girl Scouts don’t just work on projects and that you are able to explore with your troop.” 
What keeps you going? What drives you to make a difference in the world? “I try to make unpleasant things for me, a little bit more pleasant for others.” 
Madi just graduated high school and is now in college. She has continued to stay involved by working at Camp Palos and volunteering with younger troops in her community.  

Megan R., Chicago, IL 
Megan earned her Pinnacle Award by earning her Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, serving as a program aid, counselor-in-training (CIT), and girl rep to the board, attending Camp CEO, traveling with Girl Scouts, and providing leadership to a girl-led interest group and in capacities outside of Girl Scouts. 

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life? “I have learned so many great lessons from Girl Scouts including, confidence, business skills, and creativity.”  
What is your favorite thing you have done as a Girl Scout? “My favorite thing I have done as a Girl Scout is travel! I had many travel opportunities through Girl Scouts, including choosing your own adventure trips, Colorado, and London. I enjoyed planning and participating in these trips.” 

 What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts? “A lot of girls quit Girl Scouts early on, but I think the experiences that Girl Scouts offers get better and better as you get older.” 
What keeps you going? What drives you to make a difference in the world? “I have a sense of purpose in helping people and being able to see an impact.” 
Megan has started college and is still exploring what she wants to study, but she plans to major in psychology and environmental studies.

Kate L., Glen Ellyn, IL 
Kate earned her Pinnacle Award by earning her Bronze and Gold Awards, serving as a national delegate, providing leadership in a service unit and capacities outside of Girl Scouting. 

Keelin K., Hammond, IN 
Keelin earned the pinnacle by earning her Silver and Gold Awards, providing leadership in a service unit and a capacity outside of Girl Scouting.

Sydney K., Lake Forest, IL 
Sydney earned her Pinnacle Award by earning her Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, serving as a girl rep to the board, attending Camp CEO, and serving in leadership capacities outside of Girl Scouting. 

Congratulations to our 2023 Pinnacle Awardees! 

The application for the 2024 Class of Pinnacle Awardees will open by January 2024. More information will be available on our website here.  

Do you know Juliette Gordon Low? 

Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born in Savannah, GA, on October 31, 1860. Nicknamed Daisy by an uncle, who said she looked like a Daisy, she retained that nickname throughout her life. 

Juliette’s father served in the Confederate Army, and the family took in relatives, which strained the family’s resources. Her Northern grandparents sent packets of food to assist the family. After the surrender of Savannah, GA, during the Civil War, Juliette and her family traveled to Chicago to stay with her maternal grandparents, Juliette Magill Kinzie and John Harris Kinzie. Mr. Kinzie was well known in Chicago and very politically active. Their home was on the north bank of the Chicago River across from Fort Dearborn. 

Juliette Magill Kinzie wrote the book Wau-Bun which described their life in Portage, WI, where John served as the Indian subagent at Fort Winnebago. 

As a young girl, Juliette enjoyed artistic pursuits – writing, drawing, painting – and, at sixteen, created the Helping Hands Club, a sewing club that made clothing for the less fortunate in Savannah. She was brought up to be a proper Southern lady, Juliette attended boarding school in Virginia and finished school in New York City.  

An infection in her ear led to partial deafness when she was just 25 years old. 

In December of 1886, she married William (Willie) Mackay Low. At the wedding, guests threw rice as a good-luck tradition, and a grain of rice got lodged in her ear and left her with total hearing loss. 

Beginning in 1887, Juliette and Willie traveled to England and spent many years entertaining and being entertained by royalty. They had homes in Warwickshire (Wellesbourne House) and Lude (Scotland). At Wellesbourne House, there were pets and horses but no children of Willie and Juliette. She loved her nieces and nephews and friend’s children, though. Juliette would invite them to visit her home and take them on adventurous trips. 

Following Willie’s death in 1905, Juliette remained in England in the summer and returned to Savannah in the winter. She traveled, became a proficient sculptor, and continued to meet new friends, including Lord Baden-Powell, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 1912, Juliette started the first Girl Scout troop in Savannah, which, over the years, ignited a movement across America where every girl could unlock her full potential, find lifelong friends, and make the world a better place. 

Juliette Gordon Low diedfrom breast cancer onJanuary 17, 1927, in Savannah, GA. She was buried in her uniform with the following note in a pocket: “You are not only the first Girl Scout but the best Girl Scout of them all.” 

Juliette’s story has been told by many authors through the years. Pictured are a few of the biographies that share more of her “Crazy Daisy” antics, as well as her work to establish Girl Scouting as the premier organization for girls in the United States. In 1925, she wrote in her birthday message, “Truly ours is a circle of friendships, united by our ideals.” 

The story of her Girl Scout years is well documented, and the following websites can provide much information:

A Weekend of Empowerment at Camp CEO  

From October 6-8, 2023, Girl Scouts and leading career and industry professionals came together for a weekend of empowerment for Camp CEO. Camp CEO is a Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana signature event that connects Girl Scouts with leading career professionals to practice setting goals, collaborate on college and secondary career paths, and strengthen leadership skills. 

This year, Camp CEO went camp-based and was hosted at Camp Butternut Springs in Valparaiso, Indiana, creating a fun and unique environment for mentees and mentors. 60 Girl Scout mentees arrived at camp on Friday night, bonded with their sister Girl Scouts over fun ice-breaker activities, and then got situated in their cabins.   

On Saturday morning, the mentors arrived at camp. Girl Scouts had the opportunity to get to know the mentors better through speed interviews. Girl Scouts would find a mentor who had open seats at their table and ask them as many questions as they could before the two-minute timer went off and it was time to find another mentor to interview. This activity was a great way to break the ice. It was full of giggles and “insta-moments” as Girl Scouts got to capture a selfie with each mentor they interviewed.  

After learning about all the mentors, Girl Scouts heard from mentor L’Oreal Thompson Payton, who gave a presentation about self-esteem and what it takes to be a leader. Some key takeaways from her presentation are to embrace your imperfections, remember you are enough, and dare to dream big.  

After L’Oreal’s confidence-boosting presentation, everyone headed outside to embrace their leadership in a unique way. Girl Scouts and mentors showed confidence and leadership by scaling the climbing tower and learning archery. Following the outdoor adventures, mentors and mentees worked together on team-building activities. After the team-building exercises, Girl Scouts and mentors gathered for a Q&A session, which allowed Girl Scouts to ask the mentors some more profound questions and get insight into future career paths. The night wouldn’t be complete without a traditional camping experience. Girl Scouts gathered around the campfire for a self-reflection activity and a tasty s’more. 

On Sunday, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana welcomed Kathleen Sarpy, who gave an empowering presentation about embracing your talents, embracing resiliency, and being true to who you are on your journey to your life ahead. Kathleen shared personal stories that showed Girl Scouts that life may not always be easy, but with tenacity and resilience, they can thrive in a life that feels true and authentic.   

Following Kathleen’s presentation, Girl Scouts welcomed Yasha Sterling, who shared her expertise in personal branding and planning for your future. Yasha led Girl Scouts through an interactive trivia game that piqued the girls’ interest in different career paths. 

After all the motivational presentations, Girl Scouts got time to finish their vision boards and present them to their mentors. 

As the weekend came to an end, Girl Scouts said their goodbyes to their mentors and their new and old friends.  

Camp CEO 2023 allowed Girl Scouts to adventure out of their comfort zones, learn about many career paths, and discover themselves. It allowed mentors to connect and inspire the future generation of women leaders. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana would like to extend a big thank you to all the mentors who volunteered their weekend and made a difference in the lives of Girl Scouts.  

To view Saturday’s photo gallery, click here.  

To view Sunday’s photo gallery, click here.  

We would also like to thank our sponsors, who are listed below. 

A Girl Scout is a Model Citizen

Told by council historian, Carol Macola

From 1920 to 2011, Girl Scouts could earn a Citizen Badge, that was recognizable by its eight-pointed star symbol. The name varied from Citizen to Junior Citizen to Active Citizen to Model Citizen, but the look of the badge only differed in the colors, varying from black and white on the khaki uniform to green and white and finally blue and white.

The badge was first presented in the 1920 handbook. However, Juliette Gordon Low’s 1913 How Girls Can Help Their Country included a whole section on patriotism, requiring Girl Scouts to know about their town and state to earn their Tenderfoot rank. A few more requirements about the American flag’s history and display rules were incorporated into the Second Class rank.  

The new Citizen Badge in 1920 was a requisite badge for First Class rank. A Girl Scout had to know what constitutes a citizen, what are our government’s responsibilities, what are our President’s duties, and how laws are made. Qualifications to vote, secret ballots, and party affiliation were also part of the badge work. Remember, women only got the right to vote in 1920! 

In 1934, the badge was renamed Junior Citizen and was green and white. The requirements were more directed at community responsibilities and activities. A Girl Scout had to know who to contact for different emergencies—without a telephone or 911! She had to know public buildings and places of interest in her community and draw a map or give clear directions to get there. She even had to explain how garbage is disposed of in her community and how she could help keep areas clean and attractive.

In the 1938 Girl Scout Program and Activities and the 1940 Girl Scout Handbook, Junior Citizen requirements returned its focus to patriotic symbols, how one becomes a citizen, and how one can help with the responsibilities that accompany privileges. Girl Scouts were to identify patriots in history, find out about various types of taxes, learn about voting procedures, and care of public property.

The 1947 handbook added three mandatory activities: community service, a presentation on what democracy means, and what the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights provides. In 1953, the name was changed to Active Citizen. The requirements were tweaked to incorporate the government and patriotic activities with community life activities.

With the new Junior Girl Scout program in 1963, the badge had fewer requirements but still focused on “finding out about and putting into practice the responsibilities of a citizen of the USA.” Active Citizen in 1977 brought in the blue and white symbol. Then, in 1980, Girl Scout Badges and Signs had both Junior Citizen for Juniors with the eight-pointed star and Active Citizen badge for Cadettes with a state capital symbol, expanding the importance of knowledge about our government and our communities.

In 1990, the name Junior Citizen carried on for Junior Girl Scouts; Cadettes now had Interest Projects. 

The last change came in 2001, with the name changed to Model Citizen. The familiar blue and white eight-pointed star remained the same, as the badge was now connected to the part of the Girl Scout Law with a promise to “make the world a better place” by understanding what it means to be a model citizen.

By 2011, the Citizen Badge was transformed so Girl Scouts at all levels can still strive to become active and model citizens. Today, the badges are named Good Neighbor (Daisies), Celebrating Community (Brownies), Inside Government (Juniors), Finding Common Ground (Cadettes), Behind the Ballot (Seniors), and Public Policy (Ambassadors).

All About Troop Proceeds

It’s Girl Scout Fall Product season! From now until October 18, Girl Scouts can sell a variety of products to start earning troop proceeds in the first half of the Girl Scout year. NEW this year, troops that sell $1,000 worth of fall product items will receive an additional $0.05 (five cents) in troop proceeds per cookie box sold during cookie season!  

What are troop proceeds? 

On top of the patches and rewards Girl Scouts can earn when participating in the Fall Product Program, the Cookie Program, or both, their troop will receive money back for every item sold. 

Fall Product Program Troop Proceeds 

Daisy and Brownie troops earn 15% of gross sales.  

Junior, Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador troops can earn 15% of gross sales (by opting in for rewards) or 18% of gross sales (by opting out of rewards).  

Cookie Program Troop Proceeds 

Daisy and Brownie troops will receive $1.05 in proceeds per cookie box sold.  

Junior, Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador troops who chose to opt out of rewards will receive $1.15 in proceeds per cookie box sold.  

But remember, troops that sell $1,000 worth of fall product items will receive an additional $0.05 (five cents) in troop proceeds per cookie box sold during cookie season! This means that Daisy and Brownie troops can earn $1.10 in proceeds per cookie box sold, and Junior, Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador troops who chose to opt out of rewards can earn $1.20. 

So, what can troops do with the proceeds? 

The possibilities are endless as long as it supports Girl Scout program experiences! 

Here are some common ways troops in our council spend their proceeds: 

  • Service projects  
  • Hosting a party for their community 
  • Going to the theatre  
  • Visiting their favorite amusement park  
  • Uniforms 
  • Badge activity books  
  • Summer Camp registration fees 
  • Council programs 

Looking for inspiration on how to build troop proceeds to fund travel adventures?  

Using Troop Proceeds to Fund Exciting Adventures

Meet Troop 60314, a multi-level troop from Lansing, IL, who used their troop proceeds for an amazing Girl Scout travel experience to Mackinac Island. 

The troop has funded many great experiences through fall product and cookie proceeds, such as camping at Camp Palos and Camp Butternut Springs and visiting the Art Institute and other landmarks in Chicago, but the troop had yet to travel outside the council for a multi-day trip.  

With six Girl Scouts in the troop graduating this spring and many Girl Scouts having jobs and other after-school activities, the troop decided this was the perfect time to go on a big trip. Girl Scouts brainstormed places to go, set their budget, and agreed that Mackinac Island was the perfect destination. 

From June 12 to June 16, nine Girl Scouts and their families explored the beautiful scenery and learned about the history of Mackinac Island. They went on a ferry tour, a carriage ride, and walked through a butterfly house. They also hiked Munising Falls, and on their last day, the troop toured the old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. The entire trip turned out to be an unforgettable experience for the troop.

Heather, a co-leader of Troop 60314, shared some tips for new troop leaders who are interested in beginning the trip-planning process: 

  • You know your troop and what they’re interested in. Do your research first and share with your Girl Scouts what is reasonable.
  • Keep it simple: the girls will enjoy spending time together regardless of the destination. 
  • Mention that you are bringing Girl Scouts to the places you are interested in visiting – they may offer you a discount! 

You can count Troop 60314 in for participating in the fall product and cookie program this year, as they have already begun planning for their next big troop adventure!  

Learn more about our Fall Product Program by clicking here.

Smart Cookies Badge Bash

On Thursday, September 21, community members and leaders in Girl Scouting came together to support the Girl Scout Mission at Smart Cookies Badge Bash. Hosted by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Associate Board, Smart Cookies Badge Bash allowed guests to embark on their own Girl Scout journey through an array of interactive booths that shared what Girl Scouts are up to today.

Each booth was led by Girl Scouts from our council, and with their infectious enthusiasm, these young trailblazers guided participants through a series of engaging activities to earn a “badge”. From testing the limits of their knot-tying speed to unleashing their creativity through robot operation challenges, attendees gained a firsthand understanding of the dynamic world of Girl Scouting and the impact of investing in Girl Scouts.

Thanks to your support, we have raised $108,000 and counting! We also thank our generous sponsors for making this evening possible!

We invite you to relive the magic of the night by exploring the gallery of photos available here.

The Evolution of the Simple Meals Badge

The number of badges offered over the last 110+ years of Girl Scouting is truly amazing. You can find everything from architecture to zoology, but only one badge has survived for 110+ years: the Cook Badge (now known as the Simple Meals Badge).

Several other badges have had a long tenure. The First Aid Badge and the Citizenship Badge started in 1938, and both continue to this day. The Cyclist/Bicycling Badge and the Swimming Badge started in 1912, but the Cyclist/Bicycling Badge ended in 1980 and the Swimming Badge in 2010. The Birds Badge has been around off and on during our 110+ years. Close to the length of the Cook Badge, the Art Badge has also been around for the past 110+ years, but it has had many different focuses, including painting and clothing design, to name a few.

The first Cook Badge in How Girls Can Help Their Country said that Girl Scouts must know how to:

  • wash up
  • wait on a table
  • light a fire
  • lay the dishes correctly for a table for four
  • clean and dress a fowl
  • clean a fish
  • make a cook-place in the open
  • make tea, coffee, or cocoa
  • state the approximate cost of each dish  
  • cook two kinds of meat
  • boil or roast potatoes and another vegetable
  • boil rice  
  • make two salads 
  • preserve of berries or fruit, or can them

The requirements in the 1920, 1929, and 1933 versions of the Girl Scout handbook are essentially the same. They add knowing how to cook eggs and operate a gas stove (if available). 

With the end of the depression in view and the war in Europe threatening to involve us, the Intermediate level for the Cook Badge was started in 1938. The Intermediate level of Girl Scouts is what we now refer to as our Junior and Cadette Girl Scout levels. Back then, the Intermediate level was for Girl Scouts in grades fourth through eighth grade. The Senior level was for Girl Scouts in ninth through twelfth grade. 

The 1941 handbook had the revisions for the Intermediate level and showed the new badge. A Girl Scout had to complete ten of the fourteen requirements and five of the chosen activities required cooking. The requirements also changed with the focus on planning menus and nutrition.  

The 1950 handbook listed twenty activities, with a Girl Scout having to complete ten to earn her Intermediate Cook Badge. Eleven out of the twenty activities required cooking.

In 1963, Juniors were now an official Girl Scout level, and the handbook had ten requirements to earn the badge. A Junior Girl Scout had to complete all ten to earn the badge, but only three required cooking.  

The 1990 Junior handbook renamed the badge “Exploring Healthy Eating” and showed the badge with a red border as part of the Worlds to Explore Girl Scout Badge Program. It had nine activities, with six, including two mandatory cooking activities, required to earn the badge.  

The 2001 Junior handbook renamed the badge to “Let’s Get Cooking” and returned to a green border. This badge had ten activities, and a Junior Girl Scout must complete six activities to earn the badge. Five of these activities required cooking, so cooking has made a comeback compared to the last version, where only two activities required cooking!  

In 2011, the Junior badge was renamed to “Simple Meals” and pictures a steaming pot on the badge with a purple border. All five steps must be completed, but there are three choices for each step; only one of the choices for each step must be completed to earn the badge—four of the five steps require cooking. 

The Simple Meals Badge has changed over the years to reflect what our society at the time thought Girl Scouts should know. Today, very few of us have to dress our own chickens or turkeys, and our recipes are more likely to come from an internet search than a magazine, but we still want Girl Scouts to be able to cook for themselves.

To earn your Simple Meals Badge, check out the activity book and badge available for purchase here.

Hiking the Swiss Alps Recap

Embarking on a Girl Scout international destination trip is an incredible journey that expands your global horizons and builds memories, friendships, and fun. To prepare for your trip across the globe, you must have completed the Girl Scout travel progression timeline, starting with field trips for Daisy Girl Scouts and working your way up regional travel as a Junior Girl Scout. When you bridge up to Cadette’s, you will have built the foundational travel skills needed to take the lead and see the world!

After six months of planning, preparing, and connecting over Zoom, 12 Girl Scouts were ready to connect in person and travel to Switzerland. Girl Scouts immersed themselves in the Swiss culture for two weeks, where they went hiking and sightseeing, toured Our Chalet (the first World Centre for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts!), ate lots of fondue, and so much more! Read on to get a daily recap of their trip and hear from some of the world travelers.

All Girl Scouts arrived in Chicago, then flew together to New York:

Unfortunately, the flight to Geneva was delayed a couple of days due to severe weather. But luckily, Girl Scouts were in New York and had an opportunity to explore the city! While in New York, Girl Scouts shopped at Hudson Yards, took a lovely scenic stroll on the Hi-Line, had a delicious lunch at Chelsea Market, visited the Stonewall Monument, and enjoyed some classic New York pizza.

The following day, before heading to the airport, Girl Scouts were able to visit the Cradle of Aviation Museum and learn about the history of flight from their awesome, friendly staff.

First full day in Switzerland:

For their first full day in Switzerland, Girl Scouts explored Lausanne. They visited Lausanne Cathedral and climbed up to the top for some amazing views of the city.

Girl Scouts also had time to explore the Old Town and stop in all sorts of shops before stopping in a creperie for lunch.

 After lunch, they hopped on a ferry to cross Lac Lemon into France!

 Girl Scouts spent a few hours exploring Evian and filling their water bottles at the official source spring that started Evian Bottled Water.

Once they returned to Lausanne, they gathered for an authentic Swiss fondue experience!

Second day in Switzerland: 

Girl Scouts took the train to Montreux on their second day! Girl Scouts saw the Chateaux de Chillon, a castle built in the twelfth century. They toured the castle for the morning and then went into downtown Montreux for the rest of their day. Girl Scouts first stopped at The Queen Experience, a small museum where the band Queen recorded one of their albums.

Then, they all gathered around the Freddie Mercury statue for a photo together. The group decided to split up for a little while in the afternoon. A few of the Girl Scouts went on a hike while the others went into the old part of Montreux to explore. They all met for dinner before catching the train back to Lausanne for the night.

Week in Adelboden: 

For the first night at Our Chalet, Girl Scouts attended a Pinning Ceremony and received their exclusive pins.

The next morning, Girl Scouts were up bright and early for a hike up an actual alp! They hiked all day, stopping for the amazing views and to say hello to some cows. It was a challenging hike, but their months of preparation paid off.

“My most vivid memory is walking up the side of a mountain surrounded by cows and hearing the gentle ringing of their bells. To me, this was a quintessential experience to have in Switzerland,” said Girl Scout Leah.

When they got back to Our Chalet, they enjoyed Swiss Night! Girl Scouts learned about Swiss history and folklore, played trivia, and enjoyed chocolate fondue.

The next day, Girl Scouts had their onsite day. They spent the whole day at Our Chalet participating in activities about knot tying, team building, orienteering, fire building, shelter making, and whittling.

That night, Girl Scouts attended International Night. They got to learn more about where all the Our Chalet volunteers are from and the other guests. They also shared about the 12 different states they were all from. 

“It was really interesting to learn how Girl Scouts is different, but also how the Girl Scouts themselves are similar to me and that we have much in common,” said Girl Scout Abigail.

Girl Scouts had one free day at Our Chalet, where they could plan their own activities. Girl Scouts decided to take a hike up to the Trummer Woodcarver. It’s a family-owned business where everything is handmade, and you can have your name hand-carved into a cool souvenir.

Girl Scouts then hiked back into Adelboden to spend some time shopping! Everyone bought some Swiss chocolate to share with their family back home. 

“Being exposed to the cultural differences on this trip has inspired me to save my money and seek other unique experiences in the future. Now, I have an appreciation for European culture and a drive to experience other cultures around the world as well, said Girl Scout Calleigh.

The next day was their favorite activity of the whole trip – the adventure park! Girl Scouts had two different activities for the day: zip lining and rock climbing. The rock climbing wall was challenging, but a ton of fun, and the zip lines were so exciting! Girl Scouts all got to work together as a team to cheer each other on and help each other through the different levels.

That night, all the groups at Our Chalet gathered for a campfire. They all shared songs with each other and learned songs from different countries!

The last full day in Adelboden was one last big hike. Girl Scouts hiked a steep trail to a beautiful lake with cows hanging out on the beach.

They stopped for lunch and then headed to the toboggan run, followed by a cable car back down towards town.

Girl Scouts spent the evening packing up their rooms and attending the Closing Ceremony.

Being at Our Chalet with people from all over the world was such an amazing experience, and all Girl Scout travelers made some great friends they hope to keep forever. 

“The overall experience was unforgettable and one that I will cherish forever. This trip pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It was my first time traveling to a different country without my parents. I was nervous and anxious to leave my family for so long, but once I made it to Chicago, I felt included and welcomed by all of the Girl Scouts and leaders. This experience has also taught me to persevere during times of adversity,” said Girl Scout Camdyn.

“Coming back from this trip of almost a month in a foreign country with people I hardly knew, I can confidently say that I grew mentally and emotionally,” said Girl Scout Amelia.

For more information on Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana travel opportunities, please contact