What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie? Is it the rich Caramel Delites? The indulgent new Adventurefuls? The bright Lemonades or the classic Shortbreads? Or are you a diehard Thin Mints fan? (Remember, a sleeve is a serving!)
Whatever your favorite, Girl Scout cookies are more than just delicious. For the girls who sell them, the cookies are boxes of opportunity.
I recently sat down with some members of the MediaCorps of the Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains, our local council, to talk about what opportunities they have gained from the Girl Scout Cookie Program. The members of MediaCorps are Cadettes (sixth through eighth grade), Seniors (nineth and tenth grades), and Ambassadors (eleventh and twelfth grades) who represent Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains to print, online, and broadcast media.
MediaCorps members Savannah Hayes, Riley Lynch, and Lelani Hoff were kind enough to talk with me. Savannah is a Senior Girl Scout, Riley is a Cadette, and Lelani is an Ambassador. Between them, they have almost three decades of cookie selling experience.
Each troop uses the money earned from the Cookie Program differently. Savannah’s troop travels, as does Lelani’s. Savannah has gone to the Grand Canyon and Sedona and to Washington D.C., and the troop is aiming for a two-week trip to Europe in a couple of years. Riley’s troop donated over $1000 to a local women’s shelter last year. Lelani’s troop, while they have traveled in the past, is focusing on their Gold Awards and hopes their profits from the Cookie Program will fund each girl’s project. The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, inspiring girls to change the world by tackling issues they are passionate about to drive lasting change in their communities.
In addition to the money each troop makes from the Cookie Program, each Girl Scout earns “Cookie Bucks.” Cookie Bucks can be applied to Girl Scout summer camps, council programs such as the national and international travel program, and Girl Scout merchandise. Riley, Savannah, and Leilani have all gone to summer camp, with Riley returning as a Counselor in Training this summer.
But more than the monetary rewards, the Cookie Program teaches leadership, goal setting, community engagement, and business and people skills that will serve each girl throughout their lives. The Cookie Program, like the rest of Girl Scouts, is girl-led, each troop’s members deciding on goals and strategies as a team.
Riley’s troop gave their profits to a women’s shelter. Leilani’s troop always sets aside a portion of their cookie proceeds for a community outreach project. Last year, they made hygiene kits for the homeless. Savannah started a give-back program that donates cookies to the nurses at Cook Children’s Hospital. Her little brother has asthma that has him frequently hospitalized, and Savannah saw that while the patients were getting gifts and treats, the nurses weren’t. “I really wanted to find a way to thank the nurses and staff.”
Riley said that the Cookie Program has taught her business and people skills. She said, “I’ve learned a lot of business skills… and people skills that I use every day in my classes because I am in STEM, I have to advocate for myself every day.” (Riley attends a STEM academy.)
“I’ve learned how to basically run a business,” said Savannah, “because that’s what the cookie program is for us. I’ve learned to set proper goals for myself… and I’ve become more comfortable talking with people. I’ve also gotten to meet a lot of different people I usually wouldn’t meet, which is really enjoyable for me.”
The veteran of the group, Leilani said, “The number one thing that I feel like Girl Scouts has done for me as a person is that it’s made me become someone who’s not afraid to get out of my bubble, my shell… [the Cookie Program] has made me a very goal-oriented person… I’ve become super goal oriented. I kind of apply that to everything now. I work really hard in school and in everything I do…”
Each of these impressive girls is aiming for Cookie Diva status and has reached it several times before. In Girl Scout parlance, Cookie Divas are girls who have sold at least 1, 550 boxes of cookies. Let me repeat that. These girls want to sell at least one thousand, five hundred fifty boxes of cookies.
Of course, the most important question of the day was, “What’s your favorite cookie?” Riley likes Peanut Butter Patties. Savannah goes for Lemonades and Adventurefuls. Leilani has broken her favorites into categories. With milk, she prefers Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Shortbreads. With tea, she prefers Lemonades. To eat by themselves, it’s Adventurefuls and Caramel Delites.
This coming weekend, February 18 through 20, is National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend. Girl Scouts across the nation will be selling boxes of opportunity, engaging with their communities, and achieving their goals. The Cookie Program runs through March 6. You can find your nearest cookie booth at http://gs-strong.org/findcookies.
So if you know a Girl Scout or happen to see one selling at a booth or online, buy a box. You’re helping that girl, their troop, and our community.