Girl Scout Troops build confidence and leadership through sales

Girl Scout Troops build confidence and leadership through sales

Everyone’s got their favorite — but whether you’re a fan of Thin Mints, Samoas or Trefoils, nearly everyone can agree, Girl Scout cookie season is one of the best times of the year.

Girl Scouts have been using the annual cookie sale as a fundraiser as far back as 1917, using the money they raised to finance troop activities. The girls, with their mother’s oversight, would bake in their own kitchens and sell the cookies in high school cafeterias.

Throughout the next 10 years or so, Girl Scouts in different parts of the country continued to bake their own simple sugar cookies which were packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker and sold door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen. Eventually things went commercial and the selection went from one flavor to four. As membership in the Girl Scouts grew, so did the cookie sales.

These days, customers can choose from 10 varieties including Do-si-dos/Peanut Butter Sandwich, Peanut Butter Patties/Tag-a-longs, Savannah Smiles, Thin Mints, Shortbread/Trefoils, Lemonade, Chocolate Chip Caramel, Carmel Delights/Samoas and two kinds of Girl Scout S’mores.

Sales benefit Girl Scouts

Kim Schon, of Lewisburg, Troop Leader of Junior Troop 61421 and Senior Troop 61371, is the Service Unit No. 624 cookie liaison and the cookie cupboard manager for Lycoming County. Her daughter, Katy, is a Senior Girl Scout. Kim became involved when Katy joined as a Daisy Scout, and has been a leader ever since. She also is the alternate service unit delegate for the Service Unit.

In other words, if anyone knows about Girl Scouts and cookie sales, it’s the Schons.

“Since Katy was a Daisy she’s always sold over 1,000 boxes of cookies,” Kim said. “Last year she hit an all-time high of 3,310 boxes which included 18 booth locations plus personal sales.”

Cookie sales, Kim said, continue to get better for Katy each year, and she credits the latest boost in sales, partly, to the introduction of the online sales opportunity. Whereas girls used to have to go door to door or rely on their parents passing the order form around work and among family, these days, getting your cookie fix is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse.

“This is the first year Katy used the online link,” Kim explained. “This allowed customers to purchase cookies with a credit card but still allows us to deliver in person.”

In case you’re wondering, the most popular cookie choice nationwide is Thin Mints. However, Kim said, in this area there are four cookies that share the spotlight — Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs and Do-Si-Does.

How the money made from cookie sales benefits each troop varies, Kim said.

“Every Troop is a little different,” she said. “Many troops earn money so their girls can go to camp. The girls in my troops usually go to camp in their early years of scouting, and now we take adventure type trips in the summer”

The Senior Girl Scouts have been whitewater rafting in Tennessee and last year they went on an adventure trip to Ohiopyle. This year the girls are headed on a Destination Quest Adventure Trip in Orlando, Florida. Meanwhile, the Junior Troop has traveled to Washington D.C. and this year will visit Philadelphia.

“The girls in my troops decide as a group where they would like to go each year and I help make it happen,” Kim said.

Both groups also do community service projects with their money every year as well.

Cookie season

Kristin Adams is also a Girl Scout troop leader as well as the mother of a Cadette level Girl Scout, Maggie. She has been involved with the Girl Scouts for the past 15 years, having served as a troop leader and parent volunteer first with her older daughter, Evelyn, and now with her younger daughter, Maggie.

The Adams’ have lived in several states throughout the years, and Kristin Adams said she is thankful for Girl Scouts, which “provided my daughters with a program that was consistent from state to state in terms of activities, goals and leadership training.”

Kristin, who also is the cookie liaison for Maggie’s Troop, Troop No. 60232, this year, said selling cookies is something for which these girls should be proud.

“The Girl Scout cookie program is the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world,” she said. “It allows girls the opportunity to learn so many practical skills that can help them now and in the future. It teaches goal setting and goal achieving. Girls learn decision making while working in marketing sales and money management. They develop people and leadership skills and build confidence along the way.”

Kim Schon echoed those thoughts.

“Especially at cookie season time, both of my troops learn to count money, give change, greet customers, set up their booth and activity,” she said. “They learn leadership skills, how to deal with customers that say no and learn that giving back to your community is a great thing. We try to teach them that there is life outside of their cell phones.”

Kristin said that when she asked her daughter what her goals are for this year’s proceeds, she stated that she would like to use the money both toward her Silver Award — she would like to set up a clothing closet for the homeless — and for a future Girl Scout trip to Costa Rica, planned in 2020.

Last year the Troop decided to use the money for a trip to Williamsburg, visiting Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown and Virginia beach.

“It was a great combination of being educational and fun,” she said.

Despite all the positives, Schon said it can be hard keeping girls involved long-term.

Program enrollment

“The thing about programs like Girl Scouts is the older girls get, the more involved they get with other things,” Kim Schon explained. “Girls have to make Scouting a priority if they want to continue.”

If a Troop is not very active, many girls go along the way side and don’t continue with Scouts.

“They don’t always realize the many opportunities Scouting can provide in their high school years,” Kim Schon said. “It can help prepare them for jobs, obtain scholarships, and looks great on school transcripts.”

Kristin said she has seen membership fluctuate over the years, but feels they still have consistent, strong presence locally.

“I would like to see more involvement of girls and parent volunteers,” she said. “We can always use more leaders.”

She agreed that keeping troops active is always difficult.

“As the girls get older there are more and more programs available that compete with their time and energy,” she said. “My hope for my daughter is that she will keep one foot grounded in the Girl Scout program with its emphasis on girl-led activities to develop leadership skills through participation in the cookie sales program, camping, STEM activities and community outreach while the other explores her other interests.”

Maggie Adams said Girl Scouts has provided her with the opportunity to make new friends and work in the community.

“I like the leadership skills and confidence that I see in her develop as she moves from year to year in the program,” Kristin said.

For more information about the Girl Scouts of America visit www.gshpa.org.