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

By Karen M. Schillings

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

By Chris Caragher, Girl Scout Historian

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

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

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

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

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

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

The itinerary as told by a Girl Scout:    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would be only a little better than a TENT, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girl Scout Adventure in India: Part 1

This summer, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts from across the U.S. embarked on an incredibly exciting voyage across the sea to India to visit Sangam, a center affiliated with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). From unexpected bus mishaps and interacting with locals, to riding rickshaws, these Girl Scouts experienced an unforgettable journey; one, they want to share with you all!

Read the story of their India trip below, then learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

The First Days

After two days of bonding and exploring in Chicago, the group hopped on a 16-hour flight to Mumbai, something none of the girls had experienced before! Once they landed, the girls boarded a bus to take them to Sangam. Even after their long flight, their trip didn’t come without additional challenges. On the way there, they realized the road was closed, but, just like the resourceful Girl Scouts they are, the girls decided to ride rickshaws through the neighborhoods in Pune to their destination.

Upon arriving in Pune, they tasted delicious food, met and interacted with the locals, then visited ancient temples and a Punjabi fabric market. The Girl Scouts also practiced yoga, embroidery, painting, and explored the vibrant city around them. The girls met with local Nivedita Guides—local area Girl Guides—together, they sang and danced; teaching the WAGGGS Girls the “Cotton Eye Joe” line dance and in-turn learning a traditional Bollywood dance.

Serving a Community Internationally

After visiting holy temples in Alandi and Tulapur, the girls traveled to an organization called Ishwari—a Sangam community partner. The girls worked with Ishwari to help local women create crafts like embroidery, cards, and food, in order to make money to support their families.

Why Travel?

Experiences like these are so important for Girl Scouts, not only because they get to see different parts of the world, but different parts of humanity. International travel and cross-cultural exchange is good for the soul!

Learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

The journey continues: Part 2 coming soon!

Related Travel Blogs

Dreaming About Travel

Best Ways to Research Your Girl Scout Trip in the Mind of Gen Z

Why You Should Try Backpacking on Your Next Travel Adventure!

Fund Your Girl Scout Travels

A WAGGGS Adventure in Mexico

By Kim DeWitt, Global Action Volunteer

Kim (top left) and her troop.

In November 1975, I had the opportunity to visit Our Cabaña, one of the WAGGGS (Girl Scouts is part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) World Centers located in Cuernavaca, Mexico. My fellow Girl Scouts at Mitten Bay Council (now Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan) planned out trip to the center established in 1957, about 50 miles outside of Mexico City. We were incredibly excited to not only venture out of the United States, but also to have the opportunity to meet Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world. Although I don’t remember everything about the trip, it certainly was an experience of a lifetime and began a lifelong interest in travel! 

Planning for Mexico

We started planning the trip a year earlier using funds we gained from many money-earning activities. We sold crafts we had made at a number of craft fairs; I especially remember decoupage soap – think I may still have a bar somewhere! We also hosted Sarah Coventry jewelry parties. The estimated cost of the trip was $462 (about $2,000 today) and as a troop, we collectively worked hard to achieve our goal of traveling to Mexico. 

By the time we were ready to leave, I was a sophomore in high school. We had planned our trip to take place during the school year so we all got to miss school.

For most of us, it was our first airplane trip. We flew to Mexico City and visited a number of the tourist sites, including the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, meaning the “Place of Flowers”. One of the more memorable sites was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was amazing to watch some of the parishioners crawl on their knees on the cobbled stone to the entry of the Basilica as a means of giving thanks. 

Learn more about My Cabaña

Hello Our Cabaña!

Then we were off to Cuernavaca. I remember Our Cabaña as having many flowers and great food. Trying the local cuisine, like pigeon, was a new and exciting experience—also delicious. During our time at Our Cabaña we met Girl Guides from other parts of the world including Mexico and El Salvador. We also volunteered at an orphanage. And we visited the city of Taxco, a city heavily associated with silver. We all bought souvenirs to take back home.

At the time, a trip to Mexico was quite unusual and we were in the newspaper several times before and after the trip. Back in 1975, it wasn’t that common to take an airplane trip out of the country (or in the US for that matter) especially for high school students. The fact that we were going to Mexico was a big deal especially in our smaller council in Michigan.  Amazingly, I had saved most of the mementos from the trip in a travel bag we received from the airline – a trip that truly was the experience of a lifetime. 

I encourage EVERY Girl Scout to travel to a new place with their troop or even on their own. Girl Scouts of GCNWI has amazing travel opportunities both nationally and internationally, and Girl Scouts USA has Destinations!—for those individual adventure seekers!

Kim and her fellow Cadettes at My Cabaña 1975

Travel with Girl Scouts

Learn more about the WAGGGS World Centres here, and more about how you can visit Our Cabana here.

GSGCNWI hosted a trip to Our Cabana in 2017; see more about our trip here.

Check out the GCNWI travel page for more information on how to plan your own trip or join a council-sponsored trip!

Best Ways to Research Your Girl Scout Trip in the Mind of Gen Z

Ever been overwhelmed by the thought of planning a Girl Scout trip? We’ve got you covered! Global Action Volunteer Team member Madison Carroll shares her tips and trick for travel planning for the tech-talented Gen Z-er, as well as her take on why planning a trip teaches great skill-building skills any Girl Scout can gain and carry with her as she travels and beyond.


“Don’t call traveling a dream, call it a plan.”

Traveling somewhere new is a huge decision and takes a ton of courage! Taking the first step to decide that you are going to travel as a troop, on a council-sponsored trip or GSUSA Destination is always a step in the right direction – but it can be overwhelming!

How do you decide where to go? How will you get there? Where will you stay? What do you need to know before you arrive? Are there language, currency, or cultural differences?

The best part about traveling in today’s world, is that you can find answers to all of these questions online in a matter of minutes. This past year, I planned a trip to Peru to climb Machu Picchu and was super excited, but also incredibly overwhelmed at the amount of planning needing to be done! I used the following 6 resources to research my trip (which turned out to be the trip of a lifetime!)

  1. Google
  2. YouTube
  3. Pinterest
  4. Blogs
  5. Travel Guides
  6. Instagram
Madison at Machu Picchu

Google

I always start with a google search of any place I’m headed. Googling the location is going to bring up MILLIONS of articles, information, history, politics, food, tourism, etc. – everything you could possibly want to know! Then, I always make sure to Google, “What should I know before traveling to X location?” This is where you’ll find awesome insights on exactly what you should prep and plan for!

YouTube

Get a lay of the land and a look at the city before even leaving the comfort of your couch! There are tons of YouTube videos on tourism for nearly every city in the world that offer you the chance to familiarize yourself with the location so you know what to expect when you get there.

Pinterest

Pinterest is great for seeing suggested itineraries and things to do! And to be honest, you get to see tons of photos of your destination so you know where to head for the best photo-ops! You can also save all of your pins on one board and come back to revisit later. I call my travel planning board, “Take Me There!”

Blogs

Do not underestimate the power of travel blogs. There are thousands out there and they can be found with a quick Google search. This is a great way to see how other people have visited the location you’re going to (and learn from their mistakes!). I recommend following blogs written by solo, female travelers; they are the best resource for tips and tricks–and safety measures– when it comes to both group and solo travel!

Travel Guides

Although it may not be the most tech savvy way to plan a trip, I still love grabbing a travel guide on my destination from my local library before traveling there. It’s helpful to learn more about the city through a quick read. I love Rick Steve’s Travel Guides and he has them for nearly every place in the world! There is also the Rick Steve’s Travel App for your phone which I would highly recommend for free in-country walking tours!

Instagram

You’re already a pro at it, so why not use your hashtags for travel good?! Search for the locations you’d like to go, or as a hashtag. Many tourism boards have made hashtags for their locations to help collate all of the photos for travelers (like #sunshinestate or #floridalife). We’re also loving the hashtag #girlscoutswhotravel!

Overall, no matter how you research your trip, as long as you do so thoroughly, will make your trip an adventure to remember! And of course, should you be planning any travel and want advice, help planning, tips or tricks, reach out to the GSGCNWI Global Action Volunteer Team! We are always more than happy to help make your dream trip a reality!


You can also read more about our Global Action Volunteer Team! Check our Blog 1 and Blog 2 now! And read our other travel blogs about backpacking and study abroad!

Daydreaming About Travel? Study Abroad

By Maureen Ewing

As a Girl Scout, you’ve grown curious about the world, eager to ask questions and challenge yourself with new experiences. As a Girl Scout traveler, you’ve honed important leadership skills like budgeting for a trip, money-earning to make it possible, and working together to plan a great itinerary. You’re an independent young woman who wants to see the world!

Some of the most fulfilling benefits of travel come from learning about new cultures and meeting new people. When you think about travel, you might think about vacation with your family, a troop trip, Girl Scout Destinations, or council-sponsored trips – trips that are often a week or two. Now, it’s time to think longer!

See the World While You Study!

When you spend a summer, semester, or year studying in another country, you will immerse yourself in a new culture, expanding our horizons while learning more about the country and cultures around you. Start daydreaming now about where you’d like to study!

In high school, some schools offer exchange opportunities through language departments. If your your school doesn’t offer them, there are many organizations and companies that offer opportunities for high school students, such as Rotary International and EF Tours. There are also scholarships available for travel through organizations like Hostelling International and ACIS. You might even consider doing some travel and volunteering before going to college through organizations like AIFS, Greenheart Travel or Cross Cultural Solutions.

Most people study abroad in college because there are more opportunities. When choosing a college and a course of study, do research about what study abroad and exchange programs are available. Most colleges and universities offer some type of study abroad, but each school differs as to what credits transfer and when you can go during your degree. If your school doesn’t offer programs that appeal to you, consider an organization like IES Abroad, which offers independent study abroad programs.

Dream It & Make It Happen

If you want to study abroad, you can make it happen; it just takes curiosity and motivation! You’re a Girl Scout – You’ve Got This! Start early by visiting the International Programs or Study Abroad office on your campus to see what programs you can attend.

Here are some things to consider as you daydream:

Once you start asking daydreaming, you’ll find it difficult to choose where to go. Travel is a lifelong adventure, and there’s always somewhere new to go!

There are scholarships and fellowships available to travel all over the world. You just need to do your research and stay organized! As we say in the Global Action Volunteer Team: Dream It, Plan It, Travel!

Maureen Ewing is a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts with 12 years as a girl member and over 25 years as an adult volunteer. She currently serves on the Global Action Volunteer Team and is co-leading a Destination to India and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) World Centre Sangam this summer. Maureen studied abroad for a full academic year at Nottingham University in the UK and did graduate studies at Rhodes University in South Africa, where she earned her Master’s Degree.


Travel with Girl Scouts GCNWI!

If you are not headed off to college or university next school year, check out the GSGNCWI Travel page for information on how to plan a troop trip—where you can choose to go backpacking—or join a GSUSA Destination!

Future Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, if you want to try your hand at camping and experiencing another part of the world, apply for the Camping in the UK 2020 trip!

Why You Should Try Backpacking on Your Next Travel Adventure!

Why You Should Try Backpacking on Your Next Travel Adventure!

Want to try something new for you first or next Girl Scout travels? Consider backpacking for your next adventure! Global Action Volunteer Team member Alex Porter shares her take on why backpacking is an awesome option as well as highlights the benefits and skill-building skills any Girl Scout can gain with this challenging and rewarding form of travel.

You can also read more about our Global Action Volunteer Team! Check our Blog 1 and Blog 2 now!

Backpacking?
You mean, you’re going to travel with just a backpack?

Those two questions summarize many of the responses I get when I tell people that I’m going on another “backpacking” trip.

Alex at the Great Wall of China.

To me, backpacking is about feeling free to move around easily and without restrictions. It is about being able to wake up in Paris one morning and arrive in Berlin the next. Backpacking also teaches you organizational and planning skills that are not easily mastered. When you are forced to fit all of your clothes/toiletries/etc. in one backpack for a week or a month (or in my case, four months+), you really test your understanding of necessity over convenience.

When it comes to the planning and execution of travel, you have to constantly make decisions based on necessity—this especially includes the items you carry with you on your back. For example, do you really need that hair straightener for the one to no times you will actually use it or would you rather have that headlamp to help you navigate?

Backpacking teaches you that you can live without nail polish, makeup, 100 different shoe and dress options, and still have an absolutely amazing time.

Since you are not fully stocked, you learn to be resourceful in many aspects. Through trial and error, you will learn, for example, what food you can take with you on a 12-hour bus ride overnight through Indonesia without it melting or smelling. You learn how to communicate in hand signals, smiles, nods, and gestures—essentially learning a different language!

Alex staying in a hostel.

One of my favorite parts of backpacking is staying in hostels. If you’re not familiar, a hostel is an inexpensive accommodation, similar to a hotel, where travelers, who are strangers, bunk together for a short time. Hostel-dwellers typically share a bedroom—think bunk beds or dormitory style—as well as common areas like a restaurant and/or a kitchen. My absolute favorite part of staying in a hostel is being able to meet people from all over the world! I would argue that I’ve learned more about different cultures from my time spent in hostels than all my time spent in both college undergraduate as well as graduate programs.

All in all, backpacking is a wonderful way to explore the world, meet amazing people, and learn more about yourself.   


Travel with Girl Scouts GCNWI!

Check out the GSGNCWI Travel page for information on how to plan a troop trip—where you can choose to go backpacking—or join a GSUSA Destination!

Future Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, if you want to try your hand at camping and experiencing another part of the world, apply for the Camping in the UK 2020 trip!


Global Action Volunteer Team: Who We Are Part 2

The Global Action Volunteer Team (GAVT) is a group of volunteers who LOVE all things global and travel. They’ve traveled extensively locally, nationally and internationally with Girl Scouts and on their own. The team is here to serve the members of GSGCNWI to make global, cultural and travel experiences fun and accessible to our entire Girl Scout community. These adults are here to help you every step of the way, ensuring you are ready for your next adventure.

We interviewed each of the volunteers and asked them for their tips and tricks when it comes to local, national and international travel. Here are some of our favorite local destinations and where we’re headed next!

Madison in Peru.

1. What’s your favorite local destination (no flights involved)? ? 

Fawna: I like going to Milwaukee and exploring the lakefront there. The Garfield Park Conservatory and all of the beautiful parks in Chicago are also great places to visit.

Maureen: I love the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I enjoy wandering around the various gardens and photographing the flowers in bloom. I especially love the English Walled Garden and the Japanese Garden

Clarissa by a gorgeous waterfall.

Clarissa: I love to visit Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in DuPage County. I can hike for hours off-trail, climb up muddy walls, trek through water, and enjoy the peace and quiet. Sometimes I run, walk my dog, take my family, or take my Girl Scout troop. 

Camille: I grew up in Northern Indiana so my favorite place(s) to go are the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Warren Dunes in Michigan. I like to hike up and down the woodland trails and along the beach. In the winter you can sled down the dunes in Michigan, the fall has the colored leaves and the summer the beach.

Karen: My favorite local destinations are Traverse City, MI, Milwaukee WI, and Saugatuck, MI. 

2. Where are you going next? 

Shari: Our next three trips are Portland, OR, NYC and Montreal, QC.  We haven’t planned much yet. We’ll spend time on the coast in Oregon, horseback ride in the mountains and sight see with friends who live there. In NYC, we’ll see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, tour some attractions, hang out with some friends and then drive to Niagara Falls. We’re not certain about Montreal yet.

Alex: Germany! Road tripping around the country. 

Madison: This summer, I’ll head to Paris, London, Madrid, and Lisbon for work! I’ll be kicking off our international internship programs and consulting programs in all four cities!

Fawna on one of her many adventures.

Kimberly: My next vacation will be to Arizona/Utah – to see Antelope Canyon, Bryce and of course the Grand Canyon!  Plan to spend some time hiking, relaxing by the hotel and maybe take a helicopter ride if I get gutsy. 

Rosy: Southeast Asia – I plan to visit Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore for my birthday!

Clarissa: My family are going to Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize, to enjoy the local culture, scuba dive in the Blue Hole in Belize, ride on speed boats between countries, and swim in the ocean and cenotes (a natural sinkhole). 

Maureen: Summer of 2019 will be busy for me. I’ll be traveling to India and Scotland. In India, I’ll be co-leading a Destination to the WAGGGS World Center, Sangam, and we’ll be heading to the Taj Mahal at the end of the trip. In Scotland, I will travel through the Highlands, see friends, and celebrate with family. 

Camille: For Spring Break our family is planning a trip to the San Francisco Bay area to see the sights and visit relatives.  We are planning on going to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Monterey Bay Aquarium, ride a trolley car and hopefully hit a baseball game.

Fawna: I’m going to Ireland! I am going see the Giant’s Causeway, Cliffs of Moher, Kilkenny Castle and the cities of Dublin, Belfast, and Galway.

Karen: I’m going to Savannah, GA. I’m going to do the polar plunge on New Year’s Day on Tybee Island (and other fun stuff). 

Shari on one of her many family adventures.

Interested in taking your own adventure?

Learn more about traveling with Girl Scouts GCNWI

Plan your trip with Girl Scouts Destinations!

Are you an adult interested in becoming a GAVT Member? APPLY NOW!

Girls can ALSO join GAVT! Email Ashley at achristensen@girlscoutsgcnwi.org for more information.

Global Action Volunteer Team: Who We Are Part 1

The Global Action Volunteer Team (GAVT) is a group of volunteers who LOVE all things global and travel. They’ve traveled extensively locally, nationally and internationally with Girl Scouts and on their own. The team is here to serve the members of GSGCNWI to make global, cultural and travel experiences fun and accessible to our entire Girl Scout community. These adults are here to help you every step of the way, ensuring you are ready for your next adventure.

We interviewed each of the volunteers and asked them for their tips and tricks when it comes to local, national and international travel!

Maureen in Tanzania.

Get To Know GAVT

When were you first bitten by the travel bug?

Maureen: The travel bug bit me when I was in 7th grade, and I applied for my first Destinations (called Wider Opportunity when I was a girl), a trip to Wyoming (National Center West) for horseback riding. I loved traveling by myself, meeting girls from across the country, having my own horse for two weeks, and learning how much more traveling I could do. I ended up going on five Destinations! and I never stopped traveling!

Fawna: When I was in second grade my grandparents took me to California and I was blown away by the ocean and how different it looked from where I lived in Michigan. After that I was really interested in exploring other places and seeing as much as I could.

Shari: Growing up, my cousins lived in different states and we spent every Winter and Spring Break driving to see them. I loved exploring different parts of the Unites Stated and it inspired me to continue to travel as an adult.

What Inspired You to Continue Your Involvement with Girl Scouts?

Madison: I am currently involved as a volunteer on the Global Action Volunteer Team to help advocate for travel for girls from a young age. I want girls to know they can truly run the world (and seeing the world is the first part of that!).

Maureen: I was a Girl Scout for 12 years, then immediately became a Lifetime Member, volunteering first as a Campus Girl Scout and in various ways over the past 26 years. I still volunteer because I believe that Girl Scouts gave me the courage and confidence to dream big, give back, and engage in the community. I want to help more girls learn about different cultures and to see the world! 

Alex: I believe that all girls should be given the opportunity and the resources to experience the world. 

Karen: I joined Girl Scouts in 1977 and have been involved at all levels since then.  I have helped with or run many troops, been a national delegate 4 times, earned my Girl Scout Gold Award and everything in-between.

Camille in Machu Picchu, Peru.

What (So Far) Has Been Your Greatest Adventure?

Camille: The most adventurous thing I have done is take a boat trip down the Amazon.  My traveling partner and I had to take a ponga (smaller speed boat) to reach the larger cargo boat to travel from Iquitos, Peru to Manaus, Brazil.  We slept under the stars in net-hammocks that we tied up on the ship.

Clarissa: Recently, I traveled to Colombia, and I trekked for four days in the jungle during the rainy season to visit the Ciudad Perdida (“the Lost City”), which is a city built in approximately 800 AD by the Teyuna indigenous people.  Through this adventure, I met people from multiple countries, slept in hammocks, hiked barefoot after blisters prevented me from wearing shoes, crossed roaring rivers by only holding onto a line, and learned about indigenous Colombian peoples. It was amazing!

Rosy: I swam in a spring at the top of a mountain, on a cliff, overlooking a petrified waterfall in Oaxaca, Mexico. It was terrifying but the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. 

Karen: The most adventurous things I’ve done are night diving the coral reefs off an island close to Cuba, hiking my first 14er (a mountain over 14,000 ft high!) in a snow storm and taking my Girl Scout troop to Europe for 3 weeks!

Madison: I have a 3-way tie: riding a camel in Chefchaouen, Morocco; canyoning in Interlaken, Switzerland; and climbing Huayna Picchu in Peru!

Alex: Taking the Trans-Siberian rail all the way across Russia!

Rosy in Italy.

Interested in taking your own adventure?

Learn more about traveling with Girl Scouts GCNWI

Plan your trip with Girl Scouts Destinations!

Are you an adult interested in becoming a GAVT Member? APPLY NOW!

Girls can ALSO join GAVT! Email Ashley at achristensen@girlscoutsgcnwi.org for more information.

Fund Your Travels: Financial Assistance and Scholarships for Girl Scouts to Travel

A blog series to help girls, parents, and leaders learn ways to fund your Girl Scout travels!

Girl Scouts exploring the beautiful Door Co.

Are you ready to travel the globe and see what the world has to offer? Maybe you’re interested in joining a Girl Scouts Destinations trip or a Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) council-sponsored trip such as our upcoming You-and-Me Trips to urban/hip St. Louis, MO, or Door County, WI for the outdoor adventurer!

Whatever your future Girl Scout travels may be, you’re going to need some money, and now is the perfect time to start planning and earning!

Financial Assistance

Financial Assistance for travel is available through our council and GSUSA.

  • Juliette Low World Friendship Fund: If you apply for a Girl Scouts Destination to one of the WAGGGS World Centres, you will automatically receive $500 toward the cost of your trip;

Use these money saving tips towards upcoming You & Me trips! There is still availability on the beautiful Door County, WI trip!

Door County Trip Includes:

  1. A boat tour on Ride the Fireboat: Originally designed as a City of Chicago Fireboat, the “Fred A. Busse” was built in Bay City, Michigan in 1937 as a way to combat city fires from the Chicago River and Lake Michigan! Girls on last summer’s trip even got to try using the water hose! 
  2. Next up was a stop at The Farm where Girl Scouts can feed baby goats, cuddle with kittens, milk cows and see what life would be like working on a real farm.  
  3. A guided tour of The Ridges Sanctuary – state park that preserves the natural area with ridges and swells along the coastline.  
  4. A meal at Al Johnson’s where you can pet goats that live on the roof!
  5. Spending time with family members exploring Sister Bay and Egg Harbor
  6. A swim party! This was a favorite of many of the girls.

Explore the outdoors with your fellow Girl Scouts on You & Me Door County.