By Jess Iverson
Can selling cookies help girls make the world a better place? As a new Troop Leader in the Nation’s Capital Girl Scout Council, I already understand how it can. Cookie business season is one of the most anticipated times of the year. The Cookie Program is the world’s largest girl-lead entrepreneurial program with teaching skills including goal setting, money management, people skills, decision-making, and business ethics. In addition, the girls earn individual rewards, and vote on how they want to use their earnings. Last year, our Troop earned enough for a trip to horse stables for rides (the Cookie Season mascot in 2021 also happened to be Hope the Horse) and donated a portion of the proceeds to a local animal shelter where they received a virtual tour (due to Covid precautions) of the facility and animals.
When cookie season ends, the life lessons don’t stop; Girl Scout cookies are mere stepping stones for girls who will change the world. Juliette Gordon Low, nicknamed “Daisy,” founded the Girl Scouts with the vision of “a movement where all girls could come together and embrace their unique strengths and passions.” As a result, the Girl Scout mission is to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”
Over the years, the Girl Scouts have become a global sisterhood in which girls are empowered to become leaders, activists, adventurers, innovators, philanthropists or anything that they aspire to be. Adult volunteers in specific roles to support the troop are critical to that empowerment, as is the programming addressing issues ranging from environmental conservation to entrepreneurship. When my “Daisy” level scouts began in kindergarten, the troop engaged in learning the importance of each line in the Girl Scout Law and Promise as they earned petal-shaped badges that form a flower on their royal blue uniforms. A virtual format last year expanded our fieldtrip and expert guest options. The Troop learned about sea turtles from a conservation foundation in Florida, police work from a female detective who they could relate to as a role model, and recycling from the County’s Solid Waste Management Program. We even had a visit from our Girl Scout Council’s CEO, Lidia Soto-Harmon.
The best part of Girl Scouting, however, was getting to explore the great outdoors at local Girl Scout-owned camps; nothing beats hiking, roasting marshmallows, singing campfire songs and enjoying nature. One of the highlights for our Troop was at Camp Potomac Woods where we hiked to and climbed into a hollowed-out Sycamore nicknamed the “Pooh Tree” due to its resemblance to the tree in the beloved childhood classic story.
Now in the troop’s second Daisy scout year, the troop’s business profits are funding more stepping stones: various S.T.E.A.M. focused activities including coding, space exploration, designing, and engineering. While we are only halfway through the scouting year, the Troop has been busy with educational visits to a fire station/ambulance to learn about safety and a Girl Scout camp to practice slingshot and compassing skills. The Troop bonds through fun activities — an outdoor gymnastics class, a winter light show at a local botanical garden, and ice-skating lessons as a reward for participating in the Fall Product Program in which the girls sell chocolates, nuts and magazines.
The Troop has learned the importance of philanthropy by collecting and donating five boxes of food items and $250 worth of gift cards to a local non-profit serving people who have low incomes or are experiencing homelessness. In addition, the girls have been donating their spare change over the past few months to the Troop’s SHARE piggy bank, which financially assists fellow Girl Scouts and volunteers with membership, uniforms, training, camps and other resources.
While the experiences detailed above are specific to my Troop, there are endless Girl Scout activities happening on a macro level which benefit both the girls and the community. The pinnacle of our Troop’s second Daisy year will happen this month as the girls participate at the quintessential cookie booths for the first time ever. Please consider buying Girl Scout cookies to support our young entrepreneurs. Not only will you get delicious cookies, you’ll be providing stepping stones for Girl Scouts committed to “making the world a better place”. Since its inception in 1912, the Girl Scout Organization has become synonymous with decadent cookies – the ever-popular Thin Mints, coconutty Samoas, and peanut buttery Tagalongs, to name a few.
Cookie season officially runs from January through April every year but varies depending on each local council’s timeline; there are over 100 councils in the United States and 92 countries overseas that have Girl Scout Programs. Use the digital Cookie Finder (https://www.gscnc.org/en/cookies/find-cookies.html) online or app!
Girl Scouts are ranked in one of six categories based on grade level – from Daisies (K-1) through Ambassadors (11-12). To learn more about Girl Scouts of the USA or see how your family can join, go to https://mygs.girlscouts.org/
Jess Iverson is a local Girl Scout Troop Leader.