It’s Girl Scout cookie season again. A huge fundraiser, as well as an opportunity to earn a badge or two for your marketing skills. Builds character, provides an opportunity for polishing your “soft skills”, and earns dollars for your troupe. But things have changed from the good old days when I was a Girl Scout.
Back then, we went door to door, telling our neighbors how tasty those cookies were, and urging them to buy several boxes. We begged our families and even distant relatives to sign off for a few boxes each. We went and talked to people, even if it was scary. We learned a little bit about subtle persuasion. We competed for the good of the troupe. And when the cookies arrived, we went and delivered each and every box, mostly on foot. We kept the sales record, we collected the money, and we totaled our sales. And we proudly earned our badges for the experience.
Once I became a teacher, I would have several Girl Scouts in each class I taught. I was, of course, approached by each of them every year. I had to come up with a system of distributing the purchases fairly…first come, one box per scout, or splitting up my maximum affordable number of boxes amongst the number of scouts in my class. And then, when I was no longer teaching, and was just an adult out there in the world, I was still a viable customer. But there has been a change in the way the Girl Scouts operate, for the most part.
For several years now, I haven’t been asked by an actual Girl Scout to buy a box of cookies. I have had co-workers pass around their kids’ order sheets for fellow staff members to fill in their orders, and then bring the cookies to work and collect our money for their sweet little scout offspring. I have had friends announce on Facebook that cookie sales have begun, and that I can let them know how many boxes I’d like, and they will get them to me. I am greeted with a table full of scouts and moms or dads at a table outside of the grocery store, with cookies available, but none of the scouts actually approaching me to purchase those cookies.
You might be saying to yourselves, “Well, isn’t it great that it’s so much easier for those scouts to sell their cookies these days?” Or maybe, “It’s nice to see the family all working together to support their little scout.” But I’m saying, “What are the scouts doing in all of this selling of cookies?” What has happened to building those soft skills, learning about making change, and hoofing it around the neighborhood? Who’s earning the badges these days? Now Girl Scouts earn prizes for their sales, but who’s earning the prizes? If the scout isn’t part of the marketing, sales, delivery, or accounting, then what is the scout getting out of this experience? Are the parents really doing them a favor by handling the whole affair for them?
I know there are many Girl Scouts out there whose families still expect them to do the selling, and I really respect those families for standing strong on responsibility in a time when others are bringing in the A Team to handle sales. I personally don’t buy Girl Scout cookies from any parent of a scout…if the scout wants to ask me, then they are almost guaranteed a sale. Bravo to those scouts and their families for letting the scout have the experience!