Saturday, January 21, 2012

This Is The Meaning Of Girl Scouts

I was a Girl Scout growing up. Or I was for a couple years anyway in middle grade school. My mom was my leader, and I remember singing a lot (and I do mean a lot of songs). It's where I first learned the word "repertoire" in fact. We did a little of the camping, but not much. And of course, we sold Girl Scout cookies.

Except that I don't really remember selling them. I don't recall going door to door, although perhaps I did. I'm guessing my dad sold many of them at his work, and the rest went to relatives. That said, I don't recall earning any great badges for my cookie selling or doing anything super great. This year, Little Miss is selling Girl Scout cookies for the first time.

Or at least, her troop was going to sell cookies if someone aside from the current leaders would step up to be cookie mom. There are twelve girls in our troop, and two leaders. With the explanation that being Cookie Mom would require simply taking the money from the girls and distributing cookies once they were delivered, I figured it wouldn't be too bad. Plus, by agreeing to be Cookie Mom, I could say I'd done my part for the troop. I waited a week, then sent an email saying I'd do it if no one else had signed up yet - fully expecting that someone else would have already stepped forward.

Nope, the other moms apparently didn't have the giant "sucker" attached to their foreheads the way I do. I am officially the Cookie Mom. Which meant I had to do a background check. And that I had to do a ton of online training. And that I had to attend a two hour in person training meeting. And that I was in charge of setting the goals. And that I was to set up our troop's online tracking since orders are now all done online. And that I had to organize and run our cookie booths. And that I had to determine and order the proper incentives. And that I had to chase down all the permission slips from the moms that are required for the girls to sell.


The work is actually not too bad, although I wish that I had known about it upfront. The Cookie Program - it's no longer selling cookies - is way different from when I was a Girl Scout! The intent, while still to make money, is to have the girls learn responsibility and entrepreneurship and sales skills and more. I have to say, they're actually doing a better job with Little Miss than I thought - she's figuring out in her head how much each order costs, calculating change, and the like.

Plus, I'm one who is actually making her go out and sell. My husband isn't taking the order form into work, and even the Cookie Club (where you can send emails for people to make online "cookie promises") is something I'm making her do. She had to dictate the email to me and tell me which of my friends I should send it to. Since she's only in first grade, I figured it was fair for me to help her with that part.

The door to door selling? That's all her though. I'll go with her and stand on the sidewalk, but she has to approach each house and do the selling. Surprisingly, she loves it. In fact, after about the tenth house, she turned to me and told me that she loved it even better than Halloween. Yes, my heart swelled. I'm happy to see her figure this out, especially when people turn her down and she has to manage her disappointment. That's a huge life lesson, too.

There is a new part of the Girl Scout cookie program that wasn't around when I was younger, too. They now do "gifts of caring" where people can purchase cookies to donate. The girls have the option to donate them virtually to troops both overseas and stationed in the States (meaning they never see the cookies but they get shipped directly from the warehouse) or to choose a local organization. Our girls - first graders, mind you - insisted that we find a local charity. They wanted to feel the cookies in their hands and actually drop them off.

The troop leaders and I worked with the girls to come up with four different ideas of local places we could donate. After hearing discussions for and against each of them - arguments proposed by the girls themselves - they decided their cookies are going to the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago. They love the idea of helping children like themselves and their families who are going through some tough times. Several of the girls know families who have stayed in the RMH previously, making it even more personal.

What really tipped the scales for the girls, however, was the opportunity to actually make a meal in the house for the families that are staying there. They are going to use some of the money they raise through the cookie program to purchase ingredients to cook there. I love the fact that the girls are wanting to go above and beyond the minimum of "just" sending cookies to troops - and let me clarify that I think that's a great program and a great way to do it - because they want to be able to do something else special for the charity benefiting from their boxes of cookies.

Yeah, I'm a little proud of these first graders. They've already figured out what it means to be a Girl Scout!

PS While no, this is not a solicitation for you to purchase cookies, if you would like to help the girls provide more cookies to the RMH in Chicago (ahem or for yourself), please let me know ASAP.


Sandra January 21, 2012 at 10:10 PM  

Little Miss was adorable and very professional on the phone. It's great that she is learning so much from this wonderful experience. Can't wait for the cookies!

Laura January 22, 2012 at 1:33 AM  

can I pay by paypal? also do you have any transgendered kids? I said I'd buy two boxes from any troop with lesbians or transgendered girls...

Heather E January 22, 2012 at 9:56 AM  

This is really cool Michelle. I wasn't involved in Girl Scouts as a kid but clearly I loved the cookies. It just wasn't my thing- I had lots of friends that did it and it was fun for them but I really liked reading this because it's showing EXACTLY what the girls are learning by doing this. Sounds like a great program and lots of fun!

(Although the Cookie Mom thing sounds CRAZY! hahahhaa.)

Tami @ Not Just a HOCKEY MOM January 23, 2012 at 12:14 PM  

We have a troop that sets up a table at the grocery store. I always buy the cookies because 1. I'd feel guilty if I didn't and 2. They taste so darn good!!

Bless you Michelle for taking the time to help out with a worthy cause!

Michelle January 23, 2012 at 9:38 PM  

Sandra - Aww, thanks. She has so been loving this, and I want my cookies, too!

Laura - Yes, once I figure it out on my end ;) And no, we don't. There aren't that many out there wanting to be Scouts, I don't think, and none who have approached our troop. I'll shoot you an email separately.

Heather - I do like that it isn't just "Boy Scout lite" the way it was when I was growing up but that there are actual skills and a focus on empowerment that she's learning.

Tami - We're trying that, which will be interesting. We have to buy all the cookies upfront to sell at the booths and cannot return any we don't sell, so there's a bit of a risk. Wish us luck!

Pat January 24, 2012 at 11:20 AM  

It is awesome that those little girls are planning to cook for people at the Ronald McDonald House---what great kids!

I was a Brownie/Girl Scout from 1955 through 1960 and I remember going door to door selling GS cookies and also in the fall selling GS calendars. That was in the days when kids walked around their neighborhoods by themselves...a simpler, safer time. The Girls Scouts must have dropped the calendars since then. "Cookie Mom" sounds like such an easy thing, when in reality it is quite involved. I suppose if women knew how much was involved, no one would volunteer!

Michelle January 24, 2012 at 1:26 PM  

Pat - You have no idea how excited they are. It will be fun to figure out what to have the girls make... something they can do mostly themselves, for sure. I have never heard of the GS calendars. I'll have to ask at the 100th anniversary celebration this spring!

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