We believe that all girls deserve the opportunity to participate in a collection of unique experiences that help them to discover who they are, develop important life skills, and take action to make the world a better place.
That’s why GCNWI is focused on establishing just the right mix of owned and leased properties so girls now and in the future can select from a wide variety of choices and activities that are progressive, exciting, and rewarding.
It’s an ever-evolving, strategic and thoughtful process that comes to life when we see girls flying overhead on the new zipline and adventure ropes course installed this year at Camp Butternut Springs, thanks to the generosity of Al Hanna.
To understand the history, current state and future steps of our master property plan, please read the sections below, and check back often as we add updates on our progress.
New Girl Scout locations are on the horizon to better serve our members and families in South Cook County and Indiana!
Over the course of several years, Girl Scouts GCNWI has sold several owned spaces in Merrillville, Homewood, and County Club Hills as part of our evolving master property plan initiated more than 10 years ago in collaboration with volunteers, property experts, and staff. The previous buildings and locations were no longer serving us well, so we are opting for leased spaces in high-traffic locations instead.
We recently opened our “satellite” Gathering Place location within the Homewood Science Center (HWSC) for members in our South Cook County communities. Our lease agreement with HWSC means it is a shared space with the science center and is available to Girl Scouts on a scheduled basis. Generally, the space is available to troops Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. Prescheduled programming will be held once per month on a Saturday or Sunday (watch our website for details). Recruitment events and parent meetings can take place 5-8:30 p.m. once per week. Cookies will be available January through March from the HWSC. Retail operations will be available on Wednesdays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and the second and fourth Saturdays 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
This location within Camp Palos is open and ready for use! All Girl Scout activities will be available on a scheduled basis with details coming soon. Retail will be available for pick up only.
We just signed a 7.5-year lease for a 3,328-square-foot-space at 702 US Highway 41, Schererville. Currently, we are working on plans to build out the space and expect to open around January 2023. The space will accommodate a variety of services including retail, office space, training, programs, events, service unit meetings, troop meetings, and Girl Scout Cookie Program support.
Our beautiful camp will serve as a satellite Gathering Place for families and volunteers in Porter County, Indiana, and the surrounding areas once we finish up a few more improvements. More information will be available soon.
We are in final contract negotiations to lease a 2,500-square-foot space in Burbank on 87th Street near Cicero Avenue and anticipate opening in January 2023. All Girl Scout activities will be available at this location to serve families and volunteers in our South Cook communities.
More details regarding all “coming soon” locations will be shared on social media, our website, and in our newsletters as soon as they are available. Any questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2008, we inherited a large collection of properties when seven Girl Scout councils came together to form one council serving 245 communities in 10 counties (six in Illinois and four in Indiana).
After the merger GCNWI had to face some tough decisions about those 12 camp and program-related properties, as well as numerous office spaces, including some that needed extraordinary amounts of TLC. We knew we needed to do something intentional and thoughtful to keep our focus on our mission and not on endless repairs and maintenance.
The GCNWI Long Range Property Planning Committee (LRPPC) was formed at the request of our board of directors to study all our properties and make recommendations for a plan.
The LRPPC was comprised of a phenomenal group of dedicated volunteers and professionals alike who devoted hundreds of volunteer hours each over the course of nearly two years to draft an initial master property plan that best reflected our focus on current and future generations of Girl Scouts.
The members of the LRPPC made on-site visits to get an intimate look at the current state of each property. They also reviewed each property’s potential to support future programming directions, the resources located near each property, and analyzed detailed documents filled with usage statistics, anticipated costs for repairs and ADA requirements, and many other relevant financials.
Then, in 2011, GCNWI took its first steps to bring the plan to life by identifying several properties that best matched our vision for girls and volunteers now and in the future. We knew that it would be best if we concentrated our resources and energy on enhancing those properties.
That also meant embracing a decision to retire and sell several properties, a difficult but necessary process that would allow us to move forward as a council.
More than 10 years ago Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) diligently began work on a Master Property Plan designed to honor its pledge to “use resources wisely.”
Our vision is to invest our limited resources in a smaller number of dynamic camp properties for greater appeal to current and future girls, families, and volunteers. In addition, we are planning to utilize more local, leased options for some of our offices and program spaces, rather than owning buildings that need significant maintenance and repair.
The plan focuses on investing in four primary properties that were identified back in 2011 as key to serving our council footprint: Camp Juniper Knoll (Wisconsin), Camp Greene Wood and Camp Palos (both in Illinois), and Camp Butternut Springs (Indiana).
Due to our financial situation in the years between 2010 – 2015, no property improvements were made. Then, between 2016 – 2019, as our finances stabilized, we started to invest again. To date, GSGCNWI has invested approximately $7 million dollars into new or improved amenities at several of our properties.
Those improvements focus on enhancing girl experiences. We have added a high ropes course and zipline to Camp Butternut Springs and completed construction on two troop camping cabins which are waiting to welcome girls after the pandemic subsides. A new sewer system at BNS, downed-tree removals, painting, and numerous maintenance projects at many of our other properties have been part of ongoing efforts to keep our properties running and safe for girls and volunteers.
In fall 2019, GSGCNWI announced that we would be listing for sale several council-owned properties as part of our GSGCNWI Master Property Plan.
All future updates will be shared and posted here.
May 20, 2021
For more than a decade, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana have been taking steps to create a portfolio of owned and leased properties that will enable us to best serve the current and future interests of our girls, volunteers, and families in a fiscally responsible way.
Today we announce that we have closed on the sale of Friendship Center in Country Club Hills. We also have negotiated an extremely competitive deal for renewing the lease for the Chicago Gathering Place at 20 S. Clark Street.
In the months ahead, a team of volunteers and staff will seek to identify additional leased space that provides accessible services and program experiences within our 245-community footprint in Illinois and Indiana.
Leasing spaces rather than owning them will help us reduce expensive maintenance costs for buildings no longer suitable for delivering girl programs and customer service for our member families and enable us to be nimble for future needs.
These decisions and others have been guided by a Master Property Plan that was originally recommended by our Long Range Property Planning Committee and approved by our GSGCNWI Board of Directors 10 years ago.
The Long Range Property Planning Committee was comprised of geographically representative volunteers with relevant professional skills and who are passionate about their involvement in the Girl Scout Movement.
Our Master Property Plan also has guided enhancement efforts at our signature day and resident camp properties – Butternut Springs, Greene Wood, Juniper Knoll, and Palos – as well as the divestiture of several properties inherited during the 2008 consolidation of seven local councils.
More information about our Master Property Plan is available at www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org. All inquiries and comments related to our properties may be directed to email@example.com.
Sept. 22, 2021
GSGCNWI Continues on Master Property Plan Path
Several generations of Girl Scouts from near and far gathered recently to sing, rekindle friendships, and honor their memories of camping and exploring Camp River Trails.
Shortly after that closing ceremony, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) successfully transferred the property to a new owner who intends to continue the tradition of camping experiences for their members.
Girl Scouts camps are the heart and soul of our Movement. Any decision involving properties requires planning, thoughtfulness, vision, analysis, and input over the course of time.
In 2008, seven Girl Scout councils merged to form GSGCNWI. Each owned multiple offices and camp properties. Shortly thereafter a committee of volunteers, staff, and experts evaluated girl, family, and volunteer feedback about what they wanted in a camp experience and evaluated the potential of each property to offer those experiences.
The result was the beginning of a long-range master property plan.
The goal of the master property plan is to own and lease a mix of properties that will enable us to best serve the current and future interests of our girls, volunteers, and families in a fiscally responsible way.
To create that desired state, some difficult decisions had to be made along the way. Many of the properties had significant deferred maintenance issues which would drain the council’s financial resources over time without direct benefit to girls.
These difficult decisions are also giving us the ability to focus our resources and energies on the four main properties at the heart of our camping vision. We operate two beautiful day camps – Greene Wood and Palos – close to the center of our council footprint to provide troops and younger girls with convenient access to amazing outdoor experiences.
Our two resident camps, Camp Butternut Springs in Indiana and Camp Juniper Knolls just over the border in Wisconsin, collectively feature sailing, canoeing, high ropes courses and ziplines, and more for girls who are ready to embrace more progressive high-adventure experiences.
November 19, 2021
Master Property Plan Moves Forward with Sale of Merrillville Gathering Place
Ten years ago, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Board of Directors approved an original set of recommendations from our Long-Range Property Planning Committee (LRPPC) that thoughtfully represented the committee’s intensive research about which of our properties could offer the best experiences for girls and volunteers.
The Long-Range Property Planning Committee, comprised of geographically representative volunteers with relevant professional skills and who are passionate about their involvement in the Girl Scout Movement, knew that our property portfolio would need to reflect changes over time in girls’ interests and Movement strategy.
Over the past decade our Master Property Plan has guided enhancement efforts at our signature day and resident camp properties – Butternut Springs, Greene Wood, Juniper Knoll, and Palos – as well as the divestiture of several properties inherited during the 2008 consolidation of seven local councils.
The Master Property Plan also recognizes the need to follow a more fiscally responsible plan to own fewer permanent office spaces and eliminate expensive maintenance costs for buildings no longer suitable for delivering girl programs and customer service for our member families.
Therefore, GSGCNWI is announcing the sale of the Merrillville Gathering Place. The closing is expected to be completed by the end of calendar year 2021. Staff will continue to work remotely for the near term. Additionally, the new owner has graciously agreed to allow Girl Scouts to hold their cookie cupboard in the Merrillville location for the duration of the sale from its inception at the end of January through the end of March 2022.
In the months ahead, a team of volunteers and staff will seek to identify a new space for our office, retail, and program opportunities in a Northwest Indiana location that will be convenient to highways and local transportation and serve volunteers, girls, and their families.
It is our intention to lease a space that provides convenient access for our volunteers and families previously served by the Merrillville Gathering Place.
With GCNWI in a financial healthy state, and a three-year strategic plan to guide our decisions, it is time for us to launch the next phase of our master property plan.
Just as before, GCNWI intends to be thoughtful and strategic about carrying out our plan, keeping our decisions focused on what’s best for current and future generations of Girl Scouts.
Our objective will be to implement a plan that will:
All properties will continue to be open and in use until such time as the property is sold. Every effort will be made to honor existing programs and activities at those properties during what can often be a very lengthy selling process.
In the meantime, we will be forming task groups to help us consider:
Our plans are continuously evolving and will continue to do so as new options and opportunities present themselves. We will continue to share updates in this space and through other forms of council communication as those plans unfold.
In the meantime, if please send any questions and comments related to our properties to firstname.lastname@example.org.