I was a Campfire girl. We didn’t sell cookies. We sold almond roca and mints. And it wasn’t a very big deal. We walked the neighborhood, called grandma and sold at the local grocery store.
To be fair, I don’t think Girl Scout cookies were a great big thing in the 80s either.
Teresa is a Gold Award Scout. That’s the Girl Scout equivalent of an Eagle Scout. Over the last 15 years, I have bought my fair share of cookies from her. Cookies were always a big thing for her, but I just assumed she was good at selling them, and probably the exception, not the rule.
The last month—our first foray into Girl Scout cookie selling—has disabused me of that notion.
Every single movie parody, stand up routine and Saturday Night Live send up of the Girl Scouts is deserved. Maybe not where the girls are concerned, but I promise you that the adult Girl Scout world is a virtual Jonestown and you better drink the koolaide.
From the Family Guide to Cookies 2014 published by the Girl Scouts:
Why a cookie program?
Did you know that participating in a Cookie Program helps build self-esteem? Learning that you can set a goal, budget for your needs, create a marketing plan and then go and make it happen teaches our girls to believe in themselves better than any “self-help” training.
Doesn’t that sound like a creepy recruiting pitch for selling timeshares in the Caribbean?
When you couple this with the understanding that only $.70 of each $4 box goes back to the troop or scout and that our leaders were required to commit to a certain number of cases before ordering started, that little blurb is pretty impressive spin for what is a massive fundraising campaign for the organization. GSA gets $2.08 per box.
Also in the Family Guide to Cookies:
If you can’t see it, these are the guidelines on Whistleblowing and Divorces. Third party whistleblowing is not acceptable, along with anonymous whistleblowing. If you are going to call out your five year old neighbor for doing a walk-about after the walk-about sale window has closed, you better be ready to give your full name.
My favorite part of this little publication:
I’ve tried for three weeks, but cannot begin to imagine a situation where a border treaty seemed like the only, best, last solution.
I’m running a huge risk by writing this. It says very clearly in the Adult Code of Conduct—which both Shea and I had to sign—that willful creation of discord is a violation. Uh-oh.
Because I haven’t even said what I really want to say.
How on earth can an organization which claims to want the best for their scouts, including physical health, sell these things, which are pure crap??? Tons of calories, sugar, palm oil and unpronounceable ingredients.
The Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties are vegan. How can that be when they are covered in chocolate, I wondered. Turns out, chocolate comes from a bean. That’s vegan. The higher the percentage of chocolate, the more pure it is.
And yet my ingredients list clearly states that the Thin Mints and Patties contain less than 2% of cocoa. Animal by-products are not vegan, but chemicals are? Talk about the letter and not the spirit of the law.*
And how about the math of it all?
If a young lady sells 1250 boxes of cookies, she qualifies for a Google Chromebook. She’s earned her troop $875. She’s earned GSA $2575. She’s earned herself $400 in Cookie Dough that she can apply towards Girl Scout trips and costs. The troop and GSA take-away from this child’s efforts is $3050.
A Google Chromebook retails for $199.
Maybe these details are the man behind the curtain when we’re talking about building self-esteem “better than any self-help training”.
Two weeks ago, I got called in to help pick up our cookies because I have a Tahoe. I drove to our local semi-pro baseball stadium where I was directed by a woman wearing a tutu to park in the holding lot. I joined two of our troop leaders in their big cars. At our appointed time, we lined up our cars to drive through the parking lot. At this point I was kind of out of words because we were following behind a U-Haul that someone rented to pick up their cookies. Across the parking lot, I could see toy haulers and horse trailers. I was told not to get out of my car at any time for any reason once I entered the cookie line, where soccer moms and dads wearing tutus were loading boxes of cookies and grooving to Taylor Swift.
When our leader hit the front of the line, the lady with the clipboard laughed. Threw her head back and laughed.
“You’re only getting 67 cases? You don’t need all these cars! You only need one. We can get 230 cases into the back of a mini-van!”
Our troop leader, who I love and who I know will never drink the Koolaide, waved me off with a roll of the eyes and a smile. I knew what she was thinking: Now we’re that troop.
*I’m not saying that I didn’t eat a whole box of Thin Mints all by myself. I’m just saying it was bad for me.