I knew I wanted to be in Girl Scouts as soon as I had a daughter of my own. I signed her up to join a troop when she turned five. While I was extremely excited, she was nervous about selling cookies for the first time. It didn’t take too much time before she turned it into her own business, that she runs ‘like a boss’ and we can enjoy together.
The Cookie Program has fostered a sense of independence, achievement, and financial knowledge in her. My daughter, Annabelle, has gone from “going along for the ride” as a new kindergartener – to beginning to seriously examine the reward card and set goals as a bright first and second grader. I was impressed to see her interest grow throughout elementary school. Her participation in the Cookie Sale Program reinforced her math lessons and put those skills into real-life action for her. As her mom, I’ve never seen anything more compelling!
I’m watching as she sets up her booth with boxes in “rainbow order” with an emerging sense of marketing savvy, greets potential customers, answers questions politely, and impresses adults with her math skills. Selling cookies has taught her how to confidently tell a stranger how the troop’s proceeds helped them buy a dozen seedlings for their favorite camp property, donate food for a local food bank, and fund a quilt project. Annabelle looked him square in the eye and said, “Your purchase helps me make the world a better place, so why not buy an extra box?” It filled my heart!
Each cookie box lists 5 essential skills that girls gain through the Cookie Program, but for me, there is also the immeasurable benefit of fostering an unbreakable bond with my child. I think a lot of moms want to hold on to the precious few years we can spend with our girls, being girls. I admit that I have good – yet selfish – reasons for participating with Annabelle in the Cookie Program every year. I get to spend those hours with my child, focusing on her goals and cheering her on following each big sale. Cookie booths have given me an opportunity to be there with her, so she can see and feel that her mom is supportive – this is a tangible way I know that she knows I champion, love, and support her. I get this unique way to show Annabelle that I trust her – to set her own goals, decide how to display cookies at her booth, count money, and keep inventory organized. I love our “business talks” where she tracks her sales goals and sees how much she has accomplished. I love seeing her altruism in action when she transfers her sales to other girls in the troop so that they are closer to their goal. I love the way she immediately turns to me with a victorious smile after convincing someone to buy the whole case instead of a few boxes.
Those weekends every year represent something very special to us. Hours side by side with my girl, benchmarking her changes in my mind, as she grows a little bit closer to the woman she will become. I know she will be a woman that will know how to speak up, how to set out a course, and find her way. I know because I was there to see it.
Written by: Carolina Thompson, GSSEF volunteer, and Girl Scout mom