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GSNI's Program Strategy

Over the last several years, Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois (GSNI) has been busy listening to what our community and our girls say they want. As a result of the Long Range Program Study, GSNI has redesigned our programming around four new focus areas that reflect what YOU, our members, say you want to see. Throughout the coming months, we will continue to mold our program design and events around these areas. 

NOTE: GSUSA has created Program Pillars and has developed new Program Content. This handout helps outlines how the Program Pillars integrate with GSNI's focus areas. 

Use the links below to help you navigate this webpage:


Data and Research

The first phase of the Program Strategy included the Long Range Program Study, designed to identify what girls want and need, right here in Northern Illinois. Feedback was collected through a variety of methods:

  • Girl and Adult Surveys (for our current members)
  • Informal Discussion Groups (for our current members)
  • Online Discussion Forums (separate forums for our members and non-members)*
  • Parent Phone Surveys and Parent Focus Groups (for non-members)*
  • GSUSA national research and strategies

GSNI is well-connected with its members, has the means to communicate with them, and has seen a high level of engagement with surveys and other feedback methods over several years. In addition to seeking valuable feedback from current members, GSNI chose to engage with non-member families in the community to gain an understanding of their needs, and whether they’ve ever considered joining Girl Scouts (plus, why or why not). By gathering feedback from both member and non-member families, GSNI will ensure that its programming is aligned to serve all girls, and reach even more members in the future.  

*GSNI engaged experts from a third-party research firm, Horizon Insights, to conduct these methods of gathering data and feedback.


Research Works - Here's How:

How do we know Girl Scouting works? What kinds of benefits does Girl Scouts give to girls? How do we find out what parents and girls want out of Girl Scouts? These are the questions Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois answers each year with research and program evaluations.

Each spring, Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois sends out electronic surveys to parents of Girl Scouts and our Girl Scout volunteers. This research gives us valuable feedback that helps us offer the programs and trainings our members want. Your voice matters to us!

In 2015, we also conducted a Long Range Program Study to gather important information from our members and parents of non-Girl Scouts. We wanted to find out how to make our programs and properties even more exciting for girls and their parents. For a copy of the results, you can download it here: 2015 Long Range Program Study.

Girl Scouts of the USA also conducts their own research on topics important to girls and their families. To view this research, please visit the Girl Scout Research Institute Site.



Program Strategy Development Process

After combining and synthesizing all of the available data and feedback, GSNI staff selected four focus areas, based on topics, skills, and values that:

  • Girls want to experience in a hands-on way 
  • Parents want their girls to gain, and
  • Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois is uniquely positioned to provide 

GSNI next engaged a Program Strategy Consultant to work through the development process, including four phases for each focus area:


From this research, GSNI has created four primary focus areas for girls to learn and practice new skills. By combining these skills, we’ll develop independent, confident girls who make the world a better place.

(Click on each title to learn more about that particular focus area.)

 Practical Life Skills

  • Between all the fun and adventure, Girl Scouts are learning critical life skills in everything they do. They’re prepared for a positive, healthy, and independent future.
  • Includes: Financial Literacy, Healthy Living, Cooking, DIY (Do It Yourself), and Adulting
  • Find more information about Practical Life Skills (Coming Soon!)

Outdoor Activities & Adventures 

  • In the outdoors, girls’ learn and practice important skills, experience unforgettable adventures, triumph through individual and group challenges, and get inspired to care for the environment. Each new adventure boosts girls’ confidence!
  • Includes: Outdoor Skills, Environmental Education & Action, Outdoor Adventures, and Aquatic Adventures
  • Find more information about Outdoor Activities & Adventures (Coming Soon!)

Travel & Global Community 

  • Girl Scouts love to travel and explore the world—from field trips as Daisies to globe-trotting adventures as teens. Girls love exploring different places and cultures, either up close or from afar. They’ll meet interesting people, explore unique places, and make memories to last a lifetime.
  • Includes: Travel (Local, U.S., International, Service), Understanding Cultures, Global Issues
  • Find more information about Travel & Global Community (Coming Soon!)

Career & Interest Exploration 

  • Each girl’s interests and hobbies are as unique as she is. Thankfully, there’s a world of possibilities to explore through Girl Scouts. Girls delight in trying new things when they’re young and start exploring potential careers as they get older. For girls, the future is bright!
  • Includes: The Arts, STEM, Career Exploration, Entrepreneurship, History & Traditions
  • Find more information about Career & Interest Exploration (Coming Soon!)

A note about Leadership & Service:

Elements of leadership and community service will be woven throughout all four program focus areas, as cornerstones of the Girl Scout experience. As girls develop their leadership skills and work toward leadership awards, the type of activities they do to practice leadership can be drawn from any of the focus areas. The same is true for girls’ community service initiatives and Take Action projects.


Ways to Get Involved

If you like what you see and want to get involved, there are a few ways to jump in:

Stay informed.

We’ll be posting updates to this page, as well as the individual pages for each focus area. Stay up-to-date on the breaking news and new developments on Facebook and by ensuring you receive our email updates. 

Join a committee.  

Current committees accepting new members include:

  • Activities Team (Committee) – The Activities Team will ensure girls in all geographic areas of the Council have access to all focus area activities by: understanding girls’ needs and GSNI’s research data, recruiting and onboarding new community partners to provide programming, and planning and hosting council sponsored events. 

  • Aquatics Committee – The aquatics committee will include a cross-section of individuals, representing various stakeholders of GSNI and with expertise in the areas of aquatic program management, swimming (for recreation or skill building), boating, fishing, and/or water quality and conservation. The aquatics committee will provide insight and resources as an advisory group, but also provide direct service by coordinating and implementing programs and trainings. 

  • Highest Awards Committee – The Highest Awards Committee supports girls through the awards process and encourages girls to earn their Bronze, Silver, and/or Gold Award. Committee members join a subcommittee: Girl Support or Celebrations, and/or serve as a mentor to local girls within their Service Unit.