Monday, December 16, 2013

What Girl Scout Cookies Mean to Me

We love our volunteers--their hard work and effort is part of what makes this organization great and our programs so successful. Most of all, it allows girls to experience so much. 

The following entry is by Karen Stewart, Mariner Volunteer Coordinator. Her motto is "Keep the OUT in scOUTing." We couldn't agree more!

What Girl Scout Cookies Mean to Me

Growing up in West Texas, Girl Scout cookies meant I could go to camp.  If I sold my 96 boxes, I would get a scholarship to camp.We attended Camp Booth Oaks outside of Sweetwater, TX.

We only sold cookies for 2 weeks. If I didn't get out there and sell my cookies, other girls got there first, and I couldn't go to camp.    I had a list of my customers' phone numbers, and I called and got their orders.  I was the only girl in town that went to camp.  I would have lived at camp if I could have, but we couldn't afford it.  Those of you who know me… know I would still live at camp!

As a teenager, I recorded a spot for the radio selling Girl Scout cookies in my southern drawl--I was nervous for some reason.  Back then, we went around selling cookies by ourselves, went into stranger’s houses…  I tell people, "our parents never knew where we were."  I probably even took cookies on my bicycle, but I can’t think how.  Boy, I miss those boxes with the handles!  Snyder, Texas has oil millionaires and an assortment of people.  One house we all raced to was a large “mansion.”  The man that lived there was a hunter and hunted in Africa.  We all thought it was so cool that he had a stool made of an elephant’s foot.  Now that makes me sick, but as a 9 or 10 year old…that was something!

We had Thin Mints, Chocolate and Vanilla Sandwich, Peanut Butter Sandwich, my favorite, and of course Shortbreads.  The Thin Mint box was covered in paper and opened like frozen spinach does now. I don’t know why the Sandwich cookies sold.  You could buy those anywhere.  Everyone says… I remember when cookies were….­­­____ (fill in the blank) a box!  I remember $1.50, but not sure when that was.

Many years later as a mom, my oldest and I would sell cookies. She hated it. I finally convinced her to approach a man, and he ignored her!  Many years later, she was selling lawnmowers at a big box store.  I told her all those cookies paid off!

I wish parents realized the value of selling cookies  (I sold various other things as a child as well). Watching the girls grow in their confidence, watching year by year as their money counting and math skills improve.  My daughter was recovering from an illness one year, and we said "just sit there to sell cookies."  She said "no, that’s not how you sell cookies. You need to be standing up greeting your customers!"

Few other situations are offered to kids to learn such skills.  Selling cookies is one of the largest components of building girls with confidence. Selling cookies is a historical event!  It is the largest girl owned business in the world.  By giving regular troop finance reports, everyone knows how much money the troop has.  With planning, the girls know how much it will take to do the activities they want to do.  

Not every girl wants to go to camp, but how will they know if they don’t go at least once?  Staying at home watching TV doesn't benefit anyone.  Girl Scouts is more than cookies, camp, and crafts, but they are strong building blocks for strong, lifelong skills.

What did Girl Scout cookies do for me?  I became a girl/adult with “courage, confidence, and character.”

-Karen Stewart

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