Thursday, April 23, 2015

After Girl Scout Cookie Sales: My Observations as a Troop Leader and a Parent

My older daughter joined Girl Scouts when she was in kindergarten.  She is currently finishing her first year as a Junior Girl Scout.  Her troop has always participated in the annual Cookie Sale, so she now has five years of experience selling Girl Scout cookies.  When talking with other Girl Scout troop leaders, the opinions about the Girl Scout Cookie Sale can be quite varied.  On the positive side, when selling cookies, the girls have an opportunity to learn and practice five essential life skills including goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.  Depending on the girls' ages and program level, there are numerous badges to earn while selling cookies.  Examples of these badges include the following:  Money Manager, Philanthropist, Meet My Customers, Business Owner, Financing My Future, and Good Credit...just to name a few.  The internet provides a wealth of resources for troop leaders to share their positive and negative cookie-selling experiences and to engage in conversations with other leaders about the Cookie Sale.  In this post, I will share a story about my daughter.  I believe this story would have been much different if she had not been involved in Girl Scouts (specifically the Girl Scout Cookie Sale). 

This spring, my daughter is playing softball on a newly organized team.  The coaches of the team arranged a fundraiser at our local Chipotle.  The girls were encouraged to promote the fundraiser to family, friends, and neighbors.  They were asked to come to the restaurant wearing their softball uniforms, and most of them sat together in a booth near the line of hungry customers.  They were instructed to ask the customers to support the fundraiser when paying for their order, and Chipotle would give a portion of the proceeds back to the team.  

At first, my daughter behaved as any typical nine-year-old would behave when asked to approach strangers.  She was shy and didn't respond to my encouraging nudges.  Most of her teammates were eating dinner with their families, so she realized she would initially be doing this on her own.  Sensing her hesitation, I started talking with some of the customers about the fundraiser.  After overhearing my conversations with several customers, my daughter looked at me and asked if she could talk to the next customer about supporting their team.  I gladly stepped aside.  I watched her approach a woman and her teenage son, excusing herself as she interrupted their conversation.  I heard her explain how the fundraiser works and how their team could benefit when they placed their orders.  After that initial interaction, I could see an increase in her confidence.  She then talked with a man who appeared to be grabbing dinner on his way home from work.  I wasn't the only one to notice.  One of her teammate's tapped my daughter on the shoulder and asked if she could help talk to the next customer.  Several moments later, another teammate asked if she could join them.  Not long thereafter, there were five girls taking turns asking customers to support the team.

On our way home from Chipotle, my daughter and I talked about the evening.  I asked her what she liked and didn't like about the event.  She told me she liked when her teammates joined her when talking with the customers.  We discussed how her experience selling Girl Scout cookies helped her help the team.  I made sure to point out that the lessons she is learning as a Girl Scout will be valuable to her throughout her life.  

Selling cookies is demanding from the perspective of the troop's Cookie Parent, the Troop Leaders, and the adults helping the girls at home.  That all aside, I couldn't ignore my observations that night at Chipotle.  It was clear that all of the work has been worth it, and I wanted to share the story on this blog.  It's exciting to watch blossoming leaders step into action--whether it's a girl in your troop, a girl on the softball team, or your own daughter.  The girls in our troop have come a long way over the past five years.  I invite you to scroll through the links under the "Cookies!" tab in the left margin and read about our experiences with the Cookie Sale through the years.  As always, thank you for reading!

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