Girl Scouts learn life lessons selling cookies

Published 8:35 am Friday, January 29, 2010

Next time you bite into a Thin Mint, think about the young lady who sold it to you. By selling those cookies, she learns important lessons at a relatively young age.

Through selling their famous cookies, Girl Scouts across the country learn the values of teamwork, money management and responsibility. More importantly, they learn the meaning of giving back to their communities.

Local senior troop leader Selah McBride said selling cookies builds a substantial amount of confidence in the girls early on that translates into useful life skills as they develop into young women.

“We’re looking at building their courage, confidence and character,” she said. “By doing that, that gives them the ability to do whatever it is, be it in business or life. That’s what they stand for. We’re trying to give the girls those essential skills to help them.”

McBride serves as the leader for Troop-467 in Chilton County as well as the county’s service area manager.

The scouts are halfway through cookie season, giving you just enough time to find a local troop and place that all-important order.

Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Lemon Chalet Cremes and Dulce de Leche are all available.

One new cookie, Thank U Berry Munch, is also available. It contains white fudge and cranberries.

Each box sells for $3.50.

Hilary Perry, director of communications and advocacy for Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, said goal setting, money management and teamwork are skills needed in the workforce, and starting as early as 5 years old helps shape the girls into strong and smart women ready to enter that arena.

“The earlier they can learn to set and achieve goals, manage their own finances and learn how to work in a group environment, the better off they will be in school and when they enter the workforce,” Perry said.

Girls begin selling cookies as their first year as troops. Daisies (grades K-1), brownies (2-3), juniors (4-5), cadets (6-8), seniors (9-10) and ambassadors (11-12) all sell the products, though some challenges arise as the girls get older.

“It’s a product that sells itself,” she said. “That helps the girls by giving them confidence as they make those sales. When they’re little and cute, they sell fairly easily. It’s hard to tell a 5-year-old ‘No.’ As they get older, they aren’t as cute and cuddly as the 5-year-olds, so they have to learn marketing skills and become more business-savvy.”

McBride said some college student and adults are even still registered as Girl Scouts, including herself.

She said some college aged girls are currently selling cookies. Several parents are also registered, but the main focus is to keep the girls as the ones selling the cookies. High school and college students are even selling as many cookies as the daisy scouts.

All proceeds from a local council’s cookie revenue remains in the area where the cookies are sold. The money is used to benefit the girls, some of it remaining in the troop treasury.

Some goes back to the council to provide programs for the girls to participate in.

“Troops use their funds to help finance their service projects, go on exciting trips that they may not have the chance to do otherwise or attend other council programs that teach science and technology, leadership, healthy living or financial literacy skills,” Perry said.

McBride said the girls set personal goals for how many boxes they want to sell. It could translate into a trip the girls take in the future. Girls often send boxes to military troops overseas and are currently planning to send boxes to Girl Scout troops in Haiti. Along with cookies, some funds are donated to charitable organizations chosen by the girls.

The Girl Scout Web site said many successful businesswomen claim they got their start selling cookies. Perry said it is the premier leadership organization for young women that can lead to great things in the girls’ careers.

“Girls begin developing leadership skills very early,” she said. Our goal for the girls is that they will have courage, confidence and character to make their community and their world a better place however they choose to do that.