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Why I Don’t Help My Daughter Sell Girl Scout Cookies


Image: Marit and Toomas Hinnosaur via Flickr

Girl Scout cookie orders are due today with our troop.  ChickieNob has sold exactly zero boxes.  This is partly because we only got our order forms a few days ago due to a snowstorm cancelling our pre-winter break meeting.  Plus my back issues and the book deadline has gotten in the way of me even reminding her to sell some cookies.  The rest of it is because I won’t do much to help my daughter with sales.  I won’t post it to my Facebook timeline, I won’t put it on the town listserv, I won’t ask my co-workers to purchase a box, and I’ll only sit there during booth sales (those times when you see Girl Scouts selling cookies outside a store).  The most I will do is casually remind people within the confines of conversation that my daughter is selling cookies*.  If she wants to sell cookies, she needs to pick up the phone and call family members or ask me to walk with her door-to-door.

It’s not because I’m lazy, or I feel badly asking friends to help out my daughter’s troop.  It’s because it defeats the whole purpose of the cookie sale if I become too involved in the process.  Does her troop use the money?  Yes.  But you don’t have to sell that many cookies to earn enough money to hold weekly meetings plus have a little leftover for a special activity to celebrate the sale.  The point of cookie sales isn’t to make as much money as possible; at least, it isn’t when you’re only a Brownie and your troop isn’t saving for an enormous goal like a trip.

The whole point of cookie sales is to teach girls financial literacy with the hope that they can manage money later in life.

Sure, Girl Scouts hopes that your daughter will go on to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company so they can claim her for their statistics (by the way, only 12 Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs), but regardless of whether or not these girls run a business in their future, they will need to balance a personal budget and operate within the world of commerce, even if it’s just at the local grocery store.  The same skills are necessary on a small scale to run a life as they are on a large scale to run a business.  And the Girl Scouts cookie sales are the “largest girl-led business in the world.”

Girls are supposed to learn 5 skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, communication skills, and business ethics.  It’s part of Girl Scout’s larger financial empowerment program.

When adults sell the cookies for the girls, it’s like doing their math homework for them.  There’s a big difference between sitting with your child as she does her homework so she can ask you questions and doing her homework for her while she goes off to play on her iPod.

Listen, cookie sales are hard.  Sometimes a parent’s schedule or a child’s schedule or logistics of a living space make sales nearly impossible.  And I think it’s okay to sell only two or three boxes of cookies if that’s the child’s best effort.  I think it’s okay to sell no cookies when there’s a perfectly good reason for why there are no customers.  I just don’t think it’s okay for me to do the work for her.

It means that the ChickieNob is always one of the lowest sellers in her troop.

It’s a bit of an embarrassment for her when the other girls are talking about their numbers, and she participates in as many booth sales as she can, since those sales count towards a girl’s personal sales figures.  But she can’t compete with girls who have parents who do the work for them, bringing the form to their work place or putting up a link to the online order form on their social media account.  She doesn’t have a parent who is willing to do that.

And I would go so far as to wish aloud that other parents would step back and allow their child to lead their sales.  For a Daisy, that may mean selling 10 boxes to family and a few close neighbours.  For a Brownie, it may mean selling 20 boxes as they expand to running their own booth sales.  They may not get the joy of selling 1000+ boxes and earning the iPod shuffle incentive. (Please, my feelings about the incentives are a whole other post.)  But that’s okay.  They figured out that it’s hard work to make money.  And maybe it will give them a clue that we should think twice before we spend money because it is so hard to make.

I would love to hear your memories of Girl Scout cookie sales as a kid, because I don’t remember it being any more intense than the lemonade stand we set up at the end of the driveway in summer.  In the same way that my dad didn’t take our pitcher of lemonade to work and ask his colleagues to purchase a glass, we sold our Girl Scout cookies like we sold our lemonade: to a few family members and neighbours.  Back then, selling any amount of boxes was cool.

Please: Oh… and a side note since we’re entering the official cookie selling season: when you see girls selling boxes — especially when the adults with them are allowing them to take center stage — swing by the table and purchase a box. (You can donate it; you don’t have to eat them yourself.)  When you do, you’re helping a girl learn about financial literacy.  And that’s an important skill for every woman to know.

* I’ll even go so far as to tell a group that if they’re looking for Girl Scout cookies, my daughter is selling and they can contact her.  To me, this is akin to letting my neighbour know that I noticed that a new restaurant opened in town.  Which is very different from doing the publicity work for the restaurant such as handing out flyers and walking around town, trying to drum up business.  Or even worse, going into the restaurant and running it for them — from ordering ingredients to cooking the meals to balancing the books.  That’s not my role.


1 Catwoman73 { 01.16.14 at 8:24 am }

I’m sorry, you lost me at the picture of thin mints. Mmmmmm…. thin mints….

Kidding. The only activities I participated in as a child were swimming and gymnastics, so I missed out on all the cookie-selling fun. I know there’s a lot of pressure with my daughter’s school fundraisers, though. Fortunately, she’s too young to care at the moment, but it will be interesting to see if she gets heavily involved, or feels pressured to perform. I suspect she’ll end up more like her mama though- I am incredibly lazy when it comes to any sort of fundraiser. I would rather just donate some money to a cause than work my ass off to raise a few dollars.

2 KeAnne { 01.16.14 at 8:34 am }

I dread fundraisers. I like your stance. You’re right: you teach her nothing if you do all the work for her. I was only briefly a Brownie (not much of a joiner apparently!), but we would do Krispy Kreme fundraisers for Forensics, and I hated doing those. I maybe sold a couple of boxes each time.

3 a { 01.16.14 at 8:35 am }

I was never in Girl Scouts (or Daisies or Brownies), so I have no memories of selling cookies. In high school, we did have to sell candy bars as a school fund raiser, but it was done VERY grudgingly, since there was no direct benefit for me. My parents were already paying tuition, FFS. I hated it – we had a quota and I was not interested in selling any of those candy bars. (I was, however, interested in eating them!) Then I switched to a different high school and we did a fundraising walk (my aunts gave me the minimum required amount), and went to a benefit concert at the symphony. No one took anything to work. No one did my sales for me.

We were debating this at work recently – I refuse to bring the fundraising crap in here (although everyone just leaves it on the break room table – no high pressure sales) because I never buy anything from anyone else. I’m not getting into the obligatory endless circle of buying fundraising stuff so someone will buy yours. Coworkers said “Oh no – just bring it. Sometimes people might need stuff.” And then the very next day, one of our regular visitors brought in raffle tickets and asked for a specific coworker, saying “I always buy his raffle tickets. He owes me.” (Most of this is because I’m also very opposed to buying stuff I don’t need at prices I would never ordinarily pay.)

And don’t get me started on the incentives! I spent a long time explaining to my daughter that I wasn’t going to bother people for her school fundraisers. She could sell to her dad and me, and if she wanted to call and ask grandma or her aunts, she could. But that was it – they’re not allowed to go door-to-door. I’m not taking the stuff to work. I wouldn’t be making the phone calls. She was very disappointed that she wouldn’t be getting the lunchtime limo ride like some of her classmates. Sigh – I just wish the school would stop the sales and incentives and start encouraging people to just send in a check. That’s my kind of fundraising!

4 a { 01.16.14 at 8:39 am }

I do appreciate the Girl Scout Cookie fundraiser though – those things are delicious. Usually, I have a niece somewhere who is selling cookies, but I don’t know about this year. I might have to start looking outside the family…

5 Brookes4boys { 01.16.14 at 9:51 am }

I COMPLETELY agree! I hate the incentives for any child’s fundraiser. My boys came home with one from school the other day that required them to solicit our family and friends addresses and information. They were trying to buy personal information from us for cheap trinkets!! And they had my boys so brainwashed that they were in tears when I refused to do it. They were dangling a carrot of a trip to Disney so my children were convinced that if I would just fill it out then we would get to go to Disney for free! ARGH! I hate it!

6 nicoleandmaggie { 01.16.14 at 10:22 am }

What if she asked *other* adults besides you to take her forms to their work-places? That would seem to me to be a pretty good marketing strategy.

7 Melanie { 01.16.14 at 10:28 am }

I was in brownies for a year. I did the cookie sales once and I was really little. All I remember is that the other girls got to sell in front of the grocery store or kmart and I got the video store in the basement of the hardware store. And they made us set up in the back corner, not by the door. So I sold a few boxes and that was it. And mom bought some for us to keep. I don’t remember any other selling. We didn’t try to sell to family friends or neighbors or anything. So I guess I do remember it feeling a bit like a competition since I was peeved about the location I was assigned, but that’s all I thought it was, a day of selling. My mom was probably too busy to try and help me sell outside of that day.

For school fundraisers, we did the usual walk around our neighborhood and mom took the form to work and left it in the break room. I remember coveting some stupid piece of plastic junk “incentive” and wanting to sell a bunch to get it, but I never got the past first level. I’m pretty lazy about things like that.

My son is in private preschool now, and the fundraisers drive me MAD. We already pay tuition, they shouldn’t need any additional funds. They aren’t aimed at the kids for participation at all. It’s solely a request for parents to peddle things to their family and coworkers. They do a bunch too. Every time I check his cubby there’s a new order form or reminder about the current one. Luckily since my son doesn’t know about them I can just ignore them.

8 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 01.16.14 at 10:29 am }

I was a Camp Fire girl, not a Girl Scout, so I can’t speak to cookie sales, but I can speak to candy sales. In my case, my mom didn’t take the order sheet to work, because she was the executive director of the Camp Fire council where I was a member that was, you know, *hosting* the sale, so that obviously would have been pretty pointless.

When we did candy sales, we did lots of booth sales, and while there were lots of parents around to help with questions, we did all of the selling ourselves. We approached people, we gave them our sales spiel, we totaled the order and calculated change. I don’t think we had goals, beyond the various incentive levels (which were *much* less grand than many of the incentives I see now, like we would get recognition at the annual meeting, or a special patch. I think there was a crappy bracelet or something you could get if you sold an extra lot of candy). Anyhow, the incentives were never emphasized, beyond each kid’s desire to get recognition within her own group or within the larger group.

Another thing we did, which was obviously arranged by the parents, but led by us, was taking our group to the local fraternity houses (sororities were notoriously less interested in buying candy, but the frat boys were *always* game for buying candy). Sure, you may not want to expose your kids to fraternity boys these days, but it was a great way to expose us to different kinds of customers– ones who were captive, and hungry, and had cash to spare. Hit them right before dinner time, and they’d buy the heck out of some candy (or cookies…). Anyhow, in that case, we always ended up selling a lot, and yes, it was somewhat of an effort on our parents’ part, but *we* were 100% responsible for doing the selling.

And I think that’s kind of age-appropriate– provide them the opportunities, make suggestions, and where appropriate, make *general* contacts for them (like, I’d say it wouldn’t be appropriate for a 7 yr old to call up a frat house, but it would be appropriate for a 7 yr old to hang out with mom while she set up a time with the frat house, so that in a couple of years, she *could* make the call herself). I think my mom would casually mention, once or twice a selling-season, that now might be a good time to go door-to-door in our neighborhood. She didn’t go with me (times were different, right?), and she didn’t force it, but she made sure there was a free afternoon on a weekend, and then asked me if I wanted to do it. Again, age-appropriate–not forcing, not too much hand holding, but creating opportunities, and then stepping back.

It was intense, at times, because I *made* it intense (competitive, much?). I was highly disappointed when I found that selling candy got harder the older and older I got– people love to buy stuff from cute kids, not so much from awkward pre-adolescents, plus, of course, my mom stepped back more and more each year, and my ambition did not step up to take the place of her effort…

Ah, thanks for the trek down memory lane. I’d forgotten about the candy sales (delicious, delicious candy– chocolate cashew caramels, dark chocolate mints, toffee, and some awesome snack mix with tiny sesame sticks… mmmm. Where’s my local Camp Fire kids when I need them??).

9 Aislinn { 01.16.14 at 10:33 am }

When I was a girl scout, I went door-to-door in our neighborhood as well as calling family that lived out of town. My dad would put up the sign up sheet on his door at work, but if anyone purchased a box, I would have to go hand deliver them with a smile and a thank you. This was a big deal for me because I was painfully shy, and having to talk to adults I wasn’t familiar with was really scary for me.

I’ve been thinking about this lately since there’s a 50% chance that this baby could be a girl and end up in Girl Scouts. I think that I’d be willing to bring the order form to my work (of 4 coworkers,) but if anyone purchased a box, then my daughter would have to come and hand out the boxes with a thank you. I would not be willing to put it up on social media or call family for my daughter, that would be up to her if she wanted the sales.

10 Brid { 01.16.14 at 10:57 am }

Oh, don’t get me started! The worst is (don’t know if this happens in the states) the Jump Rope for Heart. They do it through the schools here in Canada and we’re basically forced to fundraise for the Heart and Stroke. Not that I don’t support heart health and research, but we have a long list of charities we donate to every year (they may even be on it sometimes), but to have the schools run competitions for them is beyond annoying. Further, they have a crazy incentives program, so if I do let Jack go and raise some money, he ends up bringing a box full of crap home… does not fit in with my plan to de-crap my house. We also have to fundraise for swimming, skiing, and for the various extra-curricular school events….it’s too much. Sort of off-topic, but I agree. If the goal is for them to it themselves, standing back is the only way they’ll learn how to do it. It’s the difference between having of goal of a learning experience or a goal of simply raining funds.

11 Sharon { 01.16.14 at 11:18 am }

FWIW, I agree with your approach.

I was a Brownie but didn’t continue past that level in Girl Scouts (why not is kind of a long, unrelated story). My parents did not assist me with my cookie selling either. We lived in a small town, and I went door-to-door, asking our neighbors to buy. I think I only sold about 40-50 boxes.

12 magpie { 01.16.14 at 11:18 am }

I love this post.
My kid isn’t in girl scouts so I can’t speak to the actual selling of cookies – but I’d be with you all the way. And what I really don’t get is the people on FB who are flogging their kid’s cookies and what, are going to ship them to me from far away? Crazy. No. I’ll buy a box at the train station, maybe.

13 Lori Lavender Luz { 01.16.14 at 11:29 am }

I’m with you. “When adults sell the cookies for the girls, it’s like doing their math homework for them.”

And what do you mean “have to eat them”? Does not compute.

14 Shannon { 01.15.16 at 8:31 pm }

How do you think girls learn how to sell? It’s a family affair at that age…

15 Sarah { 01.16.14 at 12:01 pm }

I was in Girls Scouts for all of 3 months when I learned that I had to sell cookies. I was painfully shy, and faced with the prospect of having to sell anything, I thought it was only reasonable and honorable that I drop out of Girl Scouts altogether. I don’t know what kinds of conversations I had with my mom about this, but as a single mom, I’m guessing she didn’t have time to 1) sell cookies for me or 2) help me sell cookies. I didn’t realize there was a 3) sell no cokoies at all AND stay in the troop.

There’s doing thing for your kids and then there is supporting them in doing these things for themselves. I think it is important to lean towards the latter, rather than do nothing at all. But it’s a fine line, I’ll agree.

16 deathstar { 01.16.14 at 12:02 pm }

I was neither a Brownie or a Girl Scout. In fact, I rather disliked the name Brownies when I was a little girl, because well, I was brown. But I do love Girl Scout Cookies and purchase them whenever I see a stand outside a store and hubby really likes the mint cookies that are only available once a year. The ones that have come to our door do the selling themselves as the parent (mum usually) stand back. If they were cheaper ( I think they’re $4 or $5 now) I’d buy more. As for the financial literacy part, I had no idea that was the point. Do they actually explain this to the kids and their parents? They should have this in school, don’t you think? I never actually balanced a chequebook in my life which is why most of my generation is up to their asses in debt.

17 Kasey { 01.16.14 at 12:06 pm }

My Mom never helped me either. It was my lesson to learn not her burden to carry. She walked with us through the town to make our sales though to keep us safe. Maybe we didn’t make the top sellers, but we learned about what we were doing.

18 Wee Hermione { 01.16.14 at 12:19 pm }

“When adults sell the cookies for the girls, it’s like doing their math homework for them.”

A-FREAKIN-MEN. I will buy cookies from my coworkers, but only one or two boxes. If I see girls selling them outside a store, I’m more likely to buy more, because I see them working hard, out there in the cold, even if their moms are there with them. The whole goal of the cookie selling is to teach them skills, and having the parents — who, sure, have more connections to sell them — do it defeats the purpose.

19 Isa { 01.16.14 at 12:37 pm }

When I was a Brownie, my dad worked at the biology department of a public university. One of the other scouts’ parents would leave her sales sheet in the mail room and a couple of people would buy some boxes. My dad would take me in and supervise as I roamed the halls for grad students who were hungry, isolated, and easily impressed by how cute I was (it was the uniform, not me). I always sold tons. But other than the invitation to accompany me and the suggestion to dress the part, it was all my business to get the orders, manage the money, and hand out the boxes. He ended up leading the troop later in my GS career, and I maintain that although they wanted women leaders, he was the best one we ever had–more camping, adventures, and general fun with him in charge, and it seems much less creepy to me that he wanted to spend time with his two daughters as a scout leader than with random little boys.

20 Stacey { 01.16.14 at 12:41 pm }

My parents were not fans of me selling stuff to people, so we didn’t do it much. I do remember selling girl scout cookies, I think we went door to door, but just on our street to the neighbors we knew, and maybe some family friends. I remember having a friend in a different troop, and they funded trips with their cookie sales. They were very aggressive, and I’m pretty sure it was all run by the parents. I was jealous at the time (because of all the cool swag they got, not to mention the trips), but I understood even as a kid that they were missing the point.

21 loribeth { 01.16.14 at 1:46 pm }

I wrote a comment, hit send & it seems to have disappeared into thin air??

What I think I said (?) was that I was never a Brownie or Girl Guide (as they are called here) so I never did sell cookies. However, I do remember selling candy & boxes of fresh oranges & grapefruit from Florida for our school band program. If I remember correctly, we were assigned neighbourhoods of our town (12,000 people) & went door to door, taking orders & then delivering the boxes when they arrived. I know a lot of parents these days are squeamish about sending their kids door to door to sell to strangers, but I don’t remember my mom or dad going with us (although they may have been nearby in the car). The selling was strictly up to us, and there were no incentives, other than the fact that our fundraising helped subsidize our band trips, which were always fun. 🙂 I agree with you, Mel — selilng door to door to strangers might not be fun, but it teaches kids perserverance, presentation & salesmanship skills, and how to deal with constant rejection. 😉

The neighbour girls on either side of us are both teenagers now, but we’ve bought cookies from them and donated to their Jump Rope for Heart events, etc., over the years, when they came knocking on our door. I’ve given to other kids in the neighbourhood for school stuff too, even when I didn’t know them. I won’t buy overpriced chocolate bars or chocolate-covered peanuts being hawked by teenagers for some vaguely named charity, though — I’ve read too much about how too many of those organizations are scams.

22 Ellen K. { 01.16.14 at 3:25 pm }

I was a Brownie and Girl Scout from first through eighth grade, so I’ve sold lots of cookies (and spent several Saturday mornings unloading the truck). My mom was the troop leader. I was pretty quiet, but I did spend a couple of afternoons going door-to-door on my street. The subdivision was rural but large and there were several troops, so there was an unspoken agreement that we should stick to our own streets. It was good sales practice, sure. But some girls in our troop lived on farms, so obviously you’re not going to encourage kids to bike miles up and down 2-lane country blacktop roads, bothering their farmer neighbors at an incredibly busy time of day. Phone sales were standard for everyone.

Many of my sales came from family. I had to call some of my aunts and uncles and grandparents, who always ordered a couple of boxes. Only my uncle ever placed a big order. My dad also took the order form to his department’s break room, and many of my sales came from there. Thinking back, I would estimate that a third of sales were to neighbors, a third to relatives, and a third to my dad’s co-workers.

I almost always buy at least one box from every kid I know who is selling cookies. This is usually at the grocery store or via email/Facebook posts from their parents. It doesn’t bother me in the least, because ME WANT COOKIE and although we have lived in this house for 12 years, not once has a Girl Scout actually come to my door. We live in an urban, working-class neighborhood with lots of immigrants, non-English speakers, and elderly people on fixed incomes. There is not a neighborhood school; there is not a neighborhood troop. It is very splintered, with kids going to schools all over the city. I only know a few of the families on our block. The neighborhood is dark on Halloween. Cookies are now $4/box. I’m not going to encourage the girls to go up and down the block, not for a long time (and I will be standing on the sidewalk when the time comes). It has something to do with safety, sure, but much more to do with the demographics and economics of our neighborhood.

I’m very much looking forward to the girls joining Daisy Scouts next year in kindergarten. Here the Daisies get in on the cookie selling (I think this is far too early). I’m not sure about FB posts, but I am not intrinsically opposed to using it. I will help the girls learn to call nearby relatives and encourage them to brainstorm potential customer lists. But more important, I’m going to tell them that it is NOT a competition. As twins, they aren’t likely to each rack up a lot of sales anyway.

23 Battynurse { 01.16.14 at 3:45 pm }

Yummy! Cookies!
I was never in girl scouts or brownies. I wasn’t allowed to be. Something to do with church but I don’t remember what. The few school sale things I did that weren’t holiday related I never did very good at as it was all on my own and I wasn’t allowed to go door to door except neighbors which meant I usually sold about 10 of whatever we were selling.

24 Buttermilk { 01.16.14 at 4:01 pm }

I always hated selling crap for school fundraising but the GS cookies were different. The cookies sold themselves.

25 Persnickety { 01.16.14 at 4:13 pm }

Yeah, my parents took a back seat on the selling. My father flat out refused to take the order sheet into work. The explanation was that he was the manager and didn’t want to be seen to be pushing his staff to buy them. ( huh, maybe there is an underlying reason for some of my high principle expectations of work). By the time I was in cadet tes and seniors we had realized that the little kids were always going to do better at door to door, and we all had other activities that cut into door to door time, so we were one of the first troops in the area to have the booth sales at various stores.

I always hated the door to door stuff. My soccer team did a frozen pizza fundraiser, where we actually made the pizzas. And a pecan one. Mmm the pecans were awesome.

26 Mali { 01.16.14 at 5:50 pm }

I totally agree. I lived in the country, and so my mother would drive me around the near neighbours, but I had to go in and knock on the door, and try to sell the biscuits (cookies to you). I was shy, and it was good for me.

I have another US blogger friend (non-ALI) who has regaled her readers with hilarious stories of crazy cookie-Moms, who are totally obsessed with selling more cookies than anyone else, and yet their daughters do none of it, and consequently learn nothing. Your approach is far more sensible, and so much better for your daughter.

27 Pepper { 01.16.14 at 8:09 pm }

I agree. My parents didn’t sell for me. I prefer to buy from girls who sell the cookies themselves. I’ve received an email already from a neighbor who let me know her daughter is selling. Unless said daughter comes to my door herself, I will be buying from the girls who sit at our local grocery store. And sell the cookies themselves. Nothing against my neighbor, but I agree that this is a great learning opportunity.

Side note – I admit I was at a distinct advantage because my parents loved the cookies themselves and had a chest freezer in which to store them endlessly so I did a good bit of selling in my own living room.

28 Cristy { 01.16.14 at 8:24 pm }

So this may get me lynched, but I was one if those Girl Scouts with record cookie sales. My mom was involved with helping me go door-to-door, but in my defense I was selling cookies in Minnesota, which is usually pretty cold during this time of year, and I was the one who had to ring the doorbell, give my sales pitch and deliver the cookies. My mom was there simply to make sure I didn’t disappear due to a dangerous situation and I was the one who determined when we stopped selling. All this prior to booth sales at grocery stores. First child overachiever syndrome: I haz it.

To be fair, it helped to have adults give us the gentle push to get out the door every February. And later on the money we raised did result in funding trips (my sister’s troop funded a girl to Europe based solely on cookie sales). That said, I really loathe seeing the current state of cookie sales, which is mainly driven by adults doing the work for their daughters. It completely negates the purpose of the experience. These tend to be the same individuals who will later fill out college applications and write entrance essays for their kids. Wha they teach their children is that all they need to do is sit back and Mom will take care of everything.

And people wonder why the millennialist have some of the highest rates of depression and nihilism.

I believe in self-motivation and having to be responsible for one’s actions. But I also believe that sometimes a little push can be helpful. Those days of selling cookies with my mom in tow are some of the happiest memories I have as it gave us time to be together. In addition, I also believe in instituting troop minimums, where each girl had to independently sell. Though Girl Scouts is a great place to learn and grow, the reality is most girls grow bored over time and it really is a drag on moral to have girls who didn’t sell a single box of cookies get to be a part of events that are sponsored by troop funds, which are mainly made up of cookie sales. The minimum gave those girls an out from otherwise overbearing parents. Something which is still sorely needed in a world where parents are too afraid to allow their children to fail.

29 Kimberly { 01.17.14 at 2:31 am }

I’m in Canada and a leader with Brownies so I sort of have first hand knowledge. But our cookie selling program is so very different. We don’t even sell the same cookies. We have two campaigns, one in the fall, the other in the spring. In the fall, we sell chocolate mint cookies; in the spring, the chocolate and vanilla cookies. We don’t send them via order forms, but have the cases pre-ordered by the district and dispersed between the groups, the district takes an educated guess that we vote on (our district has already voted and ordered our spring campaign cookies) and we need to sell them all or eat the cost, which comes from our profit. Girl Guides of Canada likes it if we take two cases of cookies for each girl. Each case has 12 boxes, so 24 boxes for each girl per campaign so 48 boxes per year. As leaders, we also take cases to sell. Though, if we are being honest, they sell themselves. People go crazy for them and generally seek us out. When I was a brownie, we had a cookie day and went door to door to sell in groups but our numbers dropped through the years and we couldn’t handle the whole town so they take them home to sell on their own now. I post once to let people know the start date for cookie season and again once they are available while reminding everyone that while I sell them, if you know a Girl Guide selling, to approach them and support that troop because money goes back to that girls troop and its a wonderful for the girls to learn that responsibility first hand. That being said, when I got back into brownies as a leader, many of my “standing orders” from childhood carried over to adulthood and now, most of my boxes are sold before we even get the cases.

In the case where other siblings are in Sparks, Girl Guides, Pathfinders or Rangers, we offer them one case unless they want more. We want them to try to sell, but we don’t want to stick a family with extra cases unless they want them. For instance, we have a set of twins this year and we gave them a single case each and they came back for one more when they were ready. But if the girls can’t sell the case, they can take it back to us (its rare but girls have taken back unsold boxes). We only encourage them to sell but understand that sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

We encourage the parents to let the girls go door to door with the boxes (they even have handles for them) instead of selling them for their kids. We talk about it at our meetings. And as long as the girls make an effort to sell them, we give them a special cookie badge for their sash. And when they come in, some of the girls even proudly give us the money for the cookies to show us their hard work.

We have 20 girls in our troop and where we make so much money off of 40+ cases, plus a lot of girls who just love to sell (one girl went door to door and already sold 5 cases just for the first campaign) the extra money pays for us to spoil them at for special nights throughout the year (Halloween, Christmas, a pizza party), enrollment, advancement, and an extra surprise. Last year, we treated them to the movies and treats at the end of the year. This year, we may be able to do that again and pay for their camp fees too, which is a break for the parents because we not only have our normal district camp, but we have a special area camp with the rest of the island too.

Sorry I got a little winded. Girl Guides is a bit of a passion for me.

30 Heather { 01.17.14 at 9:37 am }

I was a Girl Scout for one year. I sold the cookies by myself door to door. My mom was not involved. I hated it. But I hate hard sales anyway so I think it was more a personality conflict than anything else.
My daughter is in Daisy Scouts. At this age she makes the calls to our family members, writing down how much they order, and will add up their total. I then bring in the order form to work and tape it outside my door. I never ask people to order, I never push the cookies. Most of the time I get maybe 6 boxes ordered (I work in a small office).
What I DO push on the people at work is giving me the box tops that they are going to throw away. Our PTO has funded a lot of things through those box tops. Things that our district can no longer buy due to budget cuts. We bought the workbooks for the kindergarten classes for writing: Handwriting Without Tears.

31 Justine { 01.17.14 at 11:45 am }

To be honest, I think a lot of parents do their kids’ homework for them, too. I am finding out how difficult this line is to draw in the sand, especially when it’s not realistic to expect that an assignment can be done without an adult helping, even though it’s not written as a collaborative project. I think it’s important to articulate the learning goal (formal or informal), and then align the process with the goal. Though most parents, I suspect, don’t think that way.

32 Bionic { 01.17.14 at 8:44 pm }

I have mixed feelings on this one. Yes, what you write strikes me as reasonable. I might well use your method, if the opportunity arrises. But there is another side.

When I was a brownie, my dad took the form to work. I also called some relatives and so on, but the bulk of the sales were from that form. It certainly irritated some members and parents that I then ended up with a fancier badge than some of the other girls. (I don’t remember any other incentive.) I understand why, though maybe not why they parents spent so much energy making sure I knew at age 7 that they disapproved.

But I wonder if they understood that the reason my parents did it that way is that I didn’t grow up in the kind of households most of them had. My dad worked all the time and my mother, though “at home” for at least one of my brownie years, was often bedridden with chronic illness. No one was going to take me door to door, and I was too young to go alone where we lived. Having a parent who is able to do those things is a kind of privilege, and like lots of health privilege, often an invisible one. (No, there were not neighbors who would have taken me, and my troop didn’t do table sales.)

For what it’s worth, selling cookies was still work for me, even with the form in the office. A whole lot of cookies would arrive at our house, and sorting out who had ordered what, organizing the deliveries, and so on really was a learning experience. (And a more complicated one, I’ll wager, than for troop members who had fewer orders to organize.)

33 Jessie { 01.18.14 at 12:04 am }

I’m with you! I was a 200 box a year seller when I was in GS, but that was all because I busted my ass in my mom’s and my dad’s neighborhoods. My parents weren’t selling at their offices. Parents weren’t going through offices on the first day of sales getting everyone to buy cookies. I wasn’t told when I hit the neighborhoods that “oh, I already bought from so-and-so at the office.” I did my work and I got rewarded based on my work.

Granted, I did get lucky because my mom and dad lived in 2 different councils that sold at 2 different times, so when I lived in the area that sold first I could sell before the other neighborhood could get cookies and when I lived in the area that sold later I could sell when the first neighborhood had run out.

(Mel, if you didn’t know this, Baltimore sells in the fall, so if you need some next year to get you through until ChickieNob is selling again, you can head upstate)

34 Liz { 01.18.14 at 9:46 pm }

I continue to be convinced that, if we lived next door to each other, we would stand in our driveways in the morning time, drink coffee, and nod our heads in agreement over these things.

My son starts kindergarten in the fall, and one of the things I’m really NOT looking forward to is all the freakin “fundraising.” Which involves him selling something. Ugh.

35 Brandi { 01.19.14 at 8:24 pm }

I hve a small troop. When we start cookie season we want to sell as many as possible so that we have funds for the year. We do community projects and charity events and without funds we wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we do. I encourage all parents to help their girls as much as possible. This doesn’t take away from their learning, it adds to it and helps us.

36 Shelly { 01.20.14 at 11:52 am }

From what I read it doesn’t sound like your daughter really cares about selling cookies, nor do you feel the need to encourage her. This is our first year and I have not “done the work” for my daughter. We went door to door in our neighborhood to get orders (we stopped when she decided that she was tired), she asked her Dad to take the form to his Model Train Club and will be writing thank you cards to each member who made a purchase. (She loves to draw!) Today we will be finishing up the door to door order taking. My girl is a Daisy and seeing as how this is our first year I thought it would be good to give her options on how she wants to approach the cookie sales. I don’t think being uninvolved is the best way to teach her this important life lesson. Now, next year, when she is a Brownie, I will expect her to remember the things we did this year as well as come up with one or two of her own ideas. I think THAT is a better approach.

37 Erica { 01.21.14 at 1:13 pm }

I was a Brownie for not even a whole year – the meetings weren’t really my cup of tea and the same cliques at school were present in the Brownie troop, too. But the real reason I left was the selling – we sold cookies and Christmas wreaths. I walked door-to-door (outside the few blocks we lived on, Mom would sit in the car while I rang doorbells and she would remind me to call relatives, but I did the sales pitches myself). As a shy person, being forced to go door to door and ask people to buy things was pretty much torture and after driving me around to deliver wreaths in December (our car got stuck in snow at least once), Mom was not so sad that I didn’t continue.

I liked 4-H much better because it was project-based (learn a skill, do a project, get credit) and the fund raisers were group events like holiday silent auctions and bake sales. No badges, but I learned a lot about photography, basic sewing, animal tracks, and embroidery.

38 Lisa { 02.13.14 at 4:39 pm }

I can understand your point but I totally disagree. Let me explain from a leaders point of view.

I’ve been a leader for 7 years now. We keep our dues small so that all parents can easily afford them. I will admit, I hate selling cookies!!! That being said, our troop has to sell cookies to keep from nickel and diming the parents all year long. We only make $0.65 a box and that’s a $0.10 raise from years past. Speaking in cookies we need to sell 3 boxes of cookies to purchase 1 average priced patch. So if a Daisy only sold 10 boxes that would only pay for 2 patches and that’s it. That doesn’t take crafts, field trips, paper goods, snacks, event supplies, swap supplies, community service donations, and whatever else a troop might need throughout the year into consideration.

I am a leader right now for two troops. I’d say both troops spend an average of $150.00 per girl for the entire year. This can go up or down depending on what special activity they choose to do for their end of the year “fun thing”. A small portion of that money is from dues and from the fall product sale, the majority is from cookie sales. So you can see we do rely on those sales.

For selling the cookies yes, I have my girls make calls, go door to door, set their goals, deliver the boxes, but I also try to help them sell cookies myself because I know that the troop truly needs it. After all they are just little girls and they do need help. If a parent would rather donate monetarily to the troop than sell cookies that is wonderful, otherwise by not helping to sell more than 10 or 20 boxes they leave the burden on the other girls to raise money to pay for their daughter’s activities and patches. That’s not fair to the rest of the troop.

I know that it isn’t fun, and it’s not my favorite thing of the year to sell cookies but if you have a daughter in a troop and you don’t help your daughter sell or don’t sell at all please take time to talk to your daughter’s troop leader. She might be able to explain and/or show you just how they money raised from cookies helps the troop and in turn your daughter. It might change your point of view on the subject. 🙂

39 Nan { 02.14.14 at 7:28 am }

I didn’t read all of the other comments, except the last one. I agree with the troop leader above, including the price per year per girl. It is your option not to help your daughter sell cookies, but you should really think about making a cash donation to the troop in lieu of selling cookies. It does cost us a considerable amount per girl (the $150 is about right) and if you aren’t selling much, other girls and parents are having to work harder to support your girl.

40 Jamie { 02.27.14 at 9:34 pm }

I’m the mom of a Girl Scout. This is her third selling cookies. I agree that it is often too much the work of the parent, but it really is up to the parent as to how involved their child is. As with anything else in life, the skills that can be learned by selling cookies must be learned. The parent shouldn’t expect to just to just throw an order form at a girl and they sell a bunch of cookies. It’s up to the parent to help them set a goal and develop a strategy. Each year the girl takes on more and more responsibility as she gains experience. Yes, the first year I did most of the effort. But she watched & learned and now is comfortable setting a goal, taking orders, calling customers, counting money and keeping track of everything. It didn’t happen overnight, and she needed help to get there. I see cookie sales as a learning tool, but it’s the parents job to take advantage of it and teach the child.

41 Sandra { 02.27.14 at 11:55 pm }

As a girl in Girl Scouts, we did not have “booth sales” back in the 1960s. Nope is was all hauling your little wagon with Mom or Dad following behind, sometimes, in frigging cold weather. I was never “Top Seller” and never much cared about it. Even as a Senior Girl Scout and I was the troop’s “Cookie Chairwoman.”

There were also no prizes, no incentives, no pins, no patches, and no big hype either. It was also a supplemental thing, not the main source for funding for the Council.

As an adult troop leader, mostly overseas in the 1980s, we could not sell cookies. In the States, I had a couple of great parents that did the hard stuff with cookies, I just went along with the girls. One mom had been doing it for 10 years, her youngest girl was in my troop and she joked that she would have to adopt a daughter somewhere to keep at it. She was good, very good.

A few more years later, and our daughter in Girl Scout;, I had not realized just how bad it was getting. The prizes, the patches the trips (sell so many and a “free” trip) There were little girls in tears that they missed a “goal” by only a box (or case of 12 boxes).

I found that the entire business of cookie selling upsetting. But then again, in the 1990s, Daisy Girl Scout Troops DID NOT SELL COOKIES and Brownies only did booth sales.

Today, with so many Councils relying on “product sales” for over 80% of their annual income, is it really a girl program anymore? Year round hype? Elaborate booths that are mini structures, not a folding card table and some cookie boxes. Oh, and in many Councils Daisy and Brownie Troops (the parents) are selling over a thousand dollars worth of cookies! It is to the point and the public associates Girl Scouts only with cookies.

42 Essie { 02.28.14 at 12:33 am }

My daughter recently started Girl Scouts and I am a mom who hustling to sell cookies. My daughter loves to go and deliver them and count the money herself. But more importantly the money from the cookies is allowing her to participate in other things that I simply can’t afford to give her. She’s been to camp on cookie money, she went to basketball games on cookie money, and she was able to buy supplies to make blankets for shelters on cookie money. So I’ll continue to help her sell cookies and learn about money, because there are girls that work for years to earn a trip to Disneyland or France on cookie money. It isn’t just about letting the girls figure out on their own. It’s about teaching them what hard work, goal setting gets you. To see them accomplish a long goal, will teach them that hard work pays off.

43 Kay { 02.28.14 at 9:40 am }

I remember going door to door selling cookies to fund my GS camping trips. When my daughter was a GS, my husband & I took our order forms in to work on two conditions: that she make a poster describing her GS activities and goals and that she write a personal thank you to each person who bought a box. I now have a troop of 3rd & 4th graders, and do the same with them – I make it clear that THEY are selling the cookies, I’m just facilitating.

At booth sales, the adults often sit – and are behind the table. The girls are out front, selling. Adults are there to secure the money, and meet safety guidelines.

I push cookies more that I did with my daughter’s troop, as the troop wants to go camping a lot, and several families are food-insecure. I can’t require dues or other family funding. (I do request funds, though).

One thing to remember – the troop gets a portion (my troop gets 71 cents a box this year), but after the baker is paid, it goes to the local council. I had a girl in my daughter’s troop who continued in GS through HS – funded almost entirely by grants which were funded by cookies.

44 R { 03.31.14 at 3:04 pm }

Hm….nope! If she wants to learn financial literacy she can get my attention! If I am not WOW’d going by that table then that little girl lost a customer. Just taking your advice, really. No free asspats from me! 😉 Hey that’s just the way the cookie crumbles in the bizz world.

Also I disagree with you entirely. You can’t learn something completely left on your own. Help the girl out at least once, show her the ropes, gosh.

45 Kalinda { 06.20.14 at 11:40 pm }

I remember going door to door selling cookies with my sister and delivering them with a wagon. Back then, it was sell if you want to, don’t if you don’t. I learned quickly that I got very little out of selling cookies. But I became a Girl Scout Leader anyway. And let the girls sell cookies. Now it’s all about “Send your order card to work with mom and dad” (Yes, our council really said that.) My scouts discovered in 6th grade that they were working for slave wages. My daughter asked “How does this teach me to be an entrepreneur? I’m working for someone else, and they get most of the money. If I want to donate money, I want to choose how it gets distributed “. (She was a smart kid) We stopped selling cookies after that. I taught my daughter how to start up a cottage business and now she runs her own business in high school, where she keeps 100% of the profits. It works better for her.

46 Leanne { 02.09.15 at 7:13 pm }

I’m also a leader and was a GS for many years. I agree with Lisa (post #38). People don’t understand why we sell the cookies and I hope more folks will take the time to read her post.

Also, to the gal who was offended by the name “brownie”, it’s not a derogatory term meant to anger people with brown skin. It was taken from a book written by Juliana Horatia Ewing. The Brownies were hard working MYTHICAL creatures.

As for my daughters, they sell their own cookies for the most part. Our troop doesn’t booth much because we have so many parents who work and can’t help. We also have lots of parents who work and can help sell cookies. My kids are not the top sellers in their troop but they’re getting a lesson in hard work and how to manage the money the troop brings in.

47 Karen { 05.16.15 at 1:58 pm }

I think I may be the silent minority but my daughter (7rs) is a Girl Scout and I am a leader and I do not agree with selling cookies. I whole heartedly believe in everything the organization embodies but not the cookie sales. It has a unsavory undertone of ethical flexibility in the name of making money. I have an MBA and a MA in Finance so I understand the notion of financial education and focus on this regularly with my daughter and our troop. However, the amount of money (profit margins) are extremely poor that are pasted back to the girls/troop. And the beholden attitude to sell or be ostracized is ridiculous and goes counter to everything the Girl Scouts hold dear. We have some significant irony in our own troop. My co-leader is in the military and used her position and her daughter to be the top seller in KC 2015. She sold for her daughter where I have the complete and counter belief of not inciting guilt to sell to make money for the larger organization. Keep in mind a low profit margin in most industries is ~25%- 30% in Girl Scouts these unpaid sales reps receive only 15% (i.e. $0.15 for every dollar sold). The bakers make 25%+ and local/national 60%. The girls get trinkets and trash which make them the most underpaid, largest sales organization in the USA. Last years cookie season generated $785,000,000 the girls got 15% …. Is this a labor law issue?

48 Karen { 05.16.15 at 5:00 pm }

I jest about the labor law because this is a not for profit volunteer org. But it begs the question why shouldn’t the service units, counsels & troop collectively bargin for higher rates. That would be a GREAT math and business world life lesson. 🙂

49 Mel { 05.16.15 at 5:05 pm }

It is an interesting point about how little money the troop makes from the sales, percentage wise. They work so hard for what amounts to so little, especially if the troop opts for the “prizes.” Ha — I like the idea of getting the girls to organize.

I still don’t sell for my daughter, though she has stepped up and made more direct sales as well as participate in the booth sales. If I had done the work for her, would she have found that confidence? Used the math skills? Probably not.

50 Karen { 05.16.15 at 5:54 pm }

I think I may be the silent minority but as a Girl Scout leader I do not agree with much of the cookie selling experience and the pushing of sugary sweets upon others. I whole heartedly believe in everything the organization embodies but not the cookie sales. As it has an unsavory undertone of ethical flexibility in the name of making money for the troop. I have an MBA and a MA in Finance so I understand the notion of financial education and focus on this regularly with my daughter and our troop. However, the amount of money (profit margin) passed back to the girls/troop is extremely poor. And there is a beholden attitude to sell or be ostracized. How ridiculous and goes counter to everything the Girl Scouts hold dear. Within our troop we have some significant irony. My co-leader is in the military, which brings great insight. But she used her position (& uniform) and her daughter “she is a cute age” to be the top seller in KC 2015. I have the complete and counter belief of not inciting guilt, pity, etc. to sell products. And I am a professional marketer, leading an organization for a Fortune 50 company.

Something to be aware of are the low profit margins. In most industries an average profit margin is ~25%- 30% for a commoditized product. In Girl Scouts these unpaid sales reps receive only 15% (i.e. $0.15 for every dollar sold). The bakers make 25%+ and local/national 60%. The girls get trinkets and trash which make them the most underpaid, largest sales organization in the USA. Last years cookie season generated $785,000,000 the girls only got 15% for their labor.

51 Mary { 11.13.15 at 5:12 pm }

Our girls get 75 cents a box! I don’t mind selling the cookies, but I do mind the idea of the Girl Scout CEO making 300k a year off of child labor.

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