It’s Her Business, Let Her Run It: How The Girl Scouts Are Missing The Mark

by Gigi Ross on February 6, 2013

 

girl scout cookies

Samoas, Do-Si-Dos, and iconic Thin Mints  are piled up neatly in stacks on the dining room table. Empty boxes of cookies have been tossed in the corner.

My 7 year-old daughter is a Brownie, and it’s her first time selling Girl Scout Cookies.

She has been looking forward to this for the entire year.

I was, too.  There are important things to be learned: how to handle rejection, how to overcome “no,” making change and setting goals. These are things I want my daughter to experience.

The Girl Scouts reinforce the importance of these skills by allowing the girls to earn badges like “Money Manager,” “Cookie CEO,”  and “On My Own.” Many of the badges have this phrase emblazoned on them:

It’s Your Business – Run It!

Her little mind was racing as she thought up ways she could sell her cookies. There’s a reason she’s called Little CEO.

She talked about setting up a little table, lemonade-stand style, on our corner, to sell them. She wanted to decorate a big sign and wear her vest and sell cookies on the corner.

But then we got the Rules About Cookie Selling.

You must only go door-to-door to people you know.

Booth sales are organized efforts on specific days.

You could not sell until a specified time and hour on a specified day.

You can market cookies in social media channels (with the help of an adult) but you must accept cash or checks in payment.

Your mom or dad can take cookies into work to sell. (hm)

And you cannot, under any circumstances, set up a table on the corner of your street and sell.

My daughter was crushed. But we pressed on that first Sunday morning, trudging door-to-door, me schlepping around a giant duffle bag stuffed with boxes of cookies and Little CEO polishing her sales pitch.

On Monday, we got an email about all of the Cookie Crimes that were being committed in our local area.

People had set up booths at nearby gyms and at a local marathon event. Girls were being ratted out for standing on their own street corners trying to sell cookies. The response:

“There should be no cookies sitting still anywhere. No tables. No chairs. No anything that even remotely looks like a booth. You must keep moving unless you are ringing a doorbell or actively make a sale.”

The next girl/troop we catch breaking the rule will face consequences. There is no excuse for these rules infractions. Rules are in place to protect the girls and the integrity of the Girl Scout brand.”

It felt like wartime Europe.

On Tuesday, as we went door-to-door again, a neighbor drove by. She pulled her car over and said, “I’m stalking you for cookies! I need to buy 5!”

As Little CEO transacted the sale, I kept looking around, wondering if anyone was watching us. Was it ok for us to sell to someone in a vehicle? Were we wrong to stop between houses and sell cookies? We’re supposed to KEEP MOVING! Was my daughter going to get expelled from Girl Scouts for a rules infraction? And how ridiculous is it that I have to worry about this?

If this is her business, why isn’t she being allowed to RUN IT?

I didn’t make too much hay about it. She was enjoying selling cookies, and that’s all that mattered to me.

Until last night, when I came across an article in my Facebook stream. It’s about an 11 year-old Girl Scout named Emma Vermaak who participated in a Twitter party the other night to try and raise additional money to buy cookies to send to our armed forces. The Girl Scout social media team seemingly supported this effort initially, then backtracked and warned the Girl Scout that she was not able to take PayPal donations for her fundraising efforts (which is how people in a Twitter party would donate money quickly and easily).

Because she wouldn’t be learning “oh-so-important people skills,” the tweet read.

I’d venture a guess that this girl has all the people skills she needs – along with a healthy helping of creativity, social media savvy, entrepreneurial spirit and a passion to do good for others.

She built a business – her own little mini non-profit – and she’s not being allowed to run it.

She could make hundreds of soldiers happy. She could inspire other young girls. She can teach organizations a thing or two about using social media for cause-building and fundraising.

But I guess the Girl Scouts would rather that her parents take the cookies into work and collect money there, while she’s at school. That’ll teach her some life skills!

The Girl Scout Mission is:

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

What the Girl Scouts are losing with the overarching bureaucracy around cookie selling is this:

Every girl’s path to finding her own courage, confidence and character will be different.

Each of those paths should be embraced, encouraged, and nurtured.

Little CEO has 14 boxes of cookies left to sell. And if she wants to sell them off a card table on our corner this weekend, so be it. It’s her business, and I’m going to let her run it.

 

 

 

 

{ 63 comments }

Mrs. Jen B February 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I don’t get the whole “your parents can sell them but you can’t set up a table in your own neighborhood” thing. Like you said, that little girl was being creative, entrepreneurial and thoughtful.

Meanwhile, every time I’ve tried to get on or off a train in the evening for the past few weeks I’ve had to elbow my way through mothers chanting “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” at the top of their lungs. Again, way to show the kids how to work hard.
Mrs. Jen B´s last blog post ..#HonorMyself Monday – Living Intentionally

Gigi Ross February 6, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Yeah, it’s a little talking out of both sides of the mouth. I don’t get it.

Cameron February 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm

How I hate to start a comment with, “In MY day…” BUT:

In MY day, we were allowed to go to door to door and discouraged from relying solely on our parents’ offices. We held carwashes and sold cookies, we set up tables at events, we canvassed the neighborhood; we were not allowed to harass busy shoppers at the entrance to the Big D market (total pet peeve: I shop on a strict budget, the guilt I feel turning down a plucky Brownie is horrid–less so if it’s her pushy mother).

I know it’s not the same world now. I know we can’t let little girls wander the neighborhood with no parents, knocking on doors, but neither should we stymie their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. I sold the hell out of cookies, hoping to earn a campership to my summer camp. Times were tough.

Now, if there are current regulations that bind how GSUSA can market/sell their products that creates conflict with setting up a cookie stand in on a corner, GSUSA needs to be transparent as to what they are. Otherwise? I agree, Gigi, let Little CEO run her business.
Cameron´s last blog post ..The Story Circle, February 2013: The Candlestick Killer

Gigi Ross February 6, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I agree with everything you said. I know that there is a concern for safety, but really. If a mom has been tenacious enough to get through the Girl Scout registration process (you would not believe the information they asked for, including MY personal health history) and attend meetings and in our case, share in the hosting and planning of troop meeting with the troop leaders, and agree to help her daughter sell cookies, I’m pretty sure that they won’t be remiss on safety issues.

I think about how many kids have big ideas that need to be nurtured and it makes me sad that rules that aren’t really accomplishing anything would serve to stifle that.

Nicole @MTDLBlog February 6, 2013 at 5:01 pm

The twitter party idea was genius! And so thoughtful! Makes me sad they squashed it. Sounds like they’re really not standing behind their word. Disappointing. My Jordan is a Brownie too…we didn’t get creative this year but it’s disheartening to know that she wouldn’t really be allowed according to rules. Ridiculous.
Nicole @MTDLBlog´s last blog post ..A Life on Instagram #ShareYourLife

Gigi Ross February 6, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Their strict interpretation of these rules leaves no room for the Big Idea that so many kids have. I’m actually kind of kicking myself that I didn’t think of a way to utilize social media with my own kid to raise more money for the troops (I do think Operation Thin Mint is a praiseworthy effort).

Sharon at Momoif6 February 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Gigi- this is insane! How overly-regulated are we going to get here? We actually had to quit brownies last year because my daughter needed to “up her dedication” and with 6 kids, I decided it was more than I can handle. (I was actually being told that my family needed to choose scouting over our other activities). I say Little CEO bakes her own cookies and does her own fundraising to support causes she cares about!
Sharon at Momoif6´s last blog post ..Teaching Kids to Care for Their Heart

Gigi Ross February 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I know it. I keep thinking about what Southwest Airlines would do. They’re all about their employees breaking the rules when necessary to make sure the customer has a stellar experience. They understand that rules need to be bent or broken sometimes for the greater good. I think sometimes these large orgs get so big that they lose the forest for the trees.

Stephanie February 8, 2013 at 8:17 am

I don’t have a website, but that is one thing that makes me so mad , when a SU or council makes girls choose between GS or something else. Every year when we start our meeting the first thing out of my mouth to girls/parents, please don’t feel like you have to choose between this and a sport. we will be here when that sport is done, everything to my knowledge can be made up in GS. Sorry you had to make the choice.

Carolina February 6, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I so agree! As the ‘cookie mom’ I did more work than the girls themselves. Most girls’ parents took the order form to work, took orders, sorted the cookies when they arrived, handed them out and accepted payment. What did the girls learn??

Kerry Ann @Vinobaby's Voice February 6, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Oh, grrrr! I was a Girl Scout for far too many years than I was willing to admit at the time. I was fortunate enough to participate in total “Girl Power” troops.

Having only a son, I’ve faced the disappointment of not being able (due to their attitudes) to participate in Boy Scouts.

Step up girls.

——

But then again, all the Girl Scout troop leaders I know now have no clue. They won’t let their girls walk three houses down the block without being hand held. This NEEDS to change.
Kerry Ann @Vinobaby’s Voice´s last blog post ..Guest Post: Rita Arens — A Writer’s Pub Journey By the Numbers

tiffany February 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Hey Kerry Ann! You don’t have to have a daughter to volunteer with GS! You’d make a great leader or co-leader and we always need more adult volunteers!

Katie February 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I saw this story this morning and it makes me so mad.

I can’t believe girls can’t sell via social media or set up stands, yet we have a sell sheet sitting in our teacher lounge for weeks and then the moms of the girls collect our money and deliver us our cookies. I have never even met any of the girl scouts that I have bought cookies from. How is THAT “oh-so-important people skills”? I don’t even interact with the mom most of the time. I get an email (sometimes) that there is a cookie sale sheet in the lounge and I put the money in the mom’s mailbox in the lounge and cookies appear in my classroom.

Ridiculous.
Katie´s last blog post ..The Skin I’m In

Mindy February 6, 2013 at 6:34 pm

This sounds eerily familiar to an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond! Anyone remember troop leader Peggy and the Frontier Girls cookie drive?

Gigi Ross February 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm

No..maybe I need to go hunt it down on YouTube?

Mindy February 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Yes, you must watch that episode! You will totally appreciate it after this Girl Scout cookie experience…..and get a good laugh. Your line about how “It felt like wartime Europe” is what reminded me of the episode, because troop leader Peggy is a cookie Nazi!

Good for you, standing up for what is right for your daughter and the lessons you want her to learn, not just about conducting her own cookie business, but about life.

Mindy February 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

FYI, it’s season 6, episode 15, “Cookies”.

wendy February 6, 2013 at 7:20 pm

wow. tell little miss CEO that i’ll take 2 boxes of whatever isn’t selling. i’m happy to mail cash or a check.
wendy´s last blog post ..Who Do You Stand Up For?

Sarah Wills February 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Oh my LOL – I LOVE that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond – if you haven’t seen it Gigi, go check it out – it will make you chuckle…I think it’s on netflix now :-)

btw – I am so fed up of the ‘rules’ of how & when the girls can sell them that I got Ian to take our 12 remaining boxes out with him tonight to try to shift some…isn’t that bad?! Good grief we have to shift them before we move…

Julie {Angry Julie Monday} February 6, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Luckily…I have a boy. I don’t have to endure this drama, but I have heard about it. After school yesterday and at pick-up today, the moms were talking about the “corner selling” and other moms “reporting them”. It is so bad here that we actually have two different troops in our second grade, which only has like 60 kids total including boys. It seems like it is all about selling the most boxes possible, but you have to follow certain conditions, which is ridiculous. My husband asked tonight, “what happened to the pre-order cookies in advance method, and get them delivered later?” I responded, now you get them by the case and you have to sell EVERYTHING you take. We are perpetuating bullying and mean girls with these cookie sales amongst the moms and the girls.

I forwarded your post to one of the troop leaders, and she responded “Amen, Sister!”
Julie {Angry Julie Monday}´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday: Castles and Dragons

Cindy February 6, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I don’t understand. Every year there are Girl Scouts peddling cookies outside (or inside the lobby if it’s bad weather) every grocery store in town. The Campfire Girls get there first with candy (they’re selling now) and then the Girl Scouts follow with cookies. It doesn’t seem to mesh with these rules.

Or is it perhaps that the Girl Scouts set up those locations with the stores, so that makes it okay? I’m confused and I’d be very frustrated about the whole thing if I was the parent of a scout.

Gigi Ross February 6, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Girls can sell at specific pre-approved booth locations, but only after door sales have been going for a few weeks. At least that’s how it is here in our local area. I’m not sure if different regions run differently.

Stephanie February 8, 2013 at 8:27 am

it does vary from council to council to SU.
in my town our grocery stores will not let us set up in front. Small town. anyway, we door to door for two weeks then about a month later we get delivery. but girls only recieve what is on their order form, and the SU is responsible for the case exess.
AS the SU I’m responsible in our area for booths, I don’t dictate where a troop can sell, my thought is if they can get a booth sell your cookies. I would love to be able to order cookies and sell and hand the cookies over right then. I hate delivery so much, you usually end up chasing people for a few days to a week. maybe one day our council will try it that way.

Gigi Ross February 8, 2013 at 10:43 am

Thanks for your thoughts!

Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson February 7, 2013 at 7:10 am

This is stupid. I’m serious. And it’s one of those places where I’d get behind Little CEO. I hate when parents sell on behalf of their kids. But I cannot resist when I see kids doing it themselves.

I know people get all freaky-deaky about letting kids do things independently. That’s a damn shame. Gigi, let little CEO do things HER way. And if it means the Girl Scouts catch her and demand she leave her troop? Fight! These are ridiculous rules designed to coddle girls. They have ideas! Why don’t we teach them to use their wings to fly?
Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson´s last blog post ..Tingo Tuesday: Have You Ever Gone ‘Akihi?

Brittany February 7, 2013 at 7:39 am

Gigi this makes me so mad. I went through the troop leader training before we switched Sophia’s school this year and was so excited about the organization but the Cookie Sale training was over the top and so bureaucratic and I had moms drop out of volunteering because they couldn’t believe what cookie sales had become and were overwhelmed themselves with all of the rules. Now, I am trying to find one other mom to be my co troop leader and I am struggling because so many moms who did it before say that the rules and required trainings and information go past what they are comfortable with. Something is wrong here, for sure.
Brittany´s last blog post ..There is Nothing Like a Good Night’s Sleep

Shell February 7, 2013 at 7:55 am

If someone set up a cookie table on our street, they would sell the heck out of those cookies. Especially to me. It seems weird that they aren’t allowed.

And so bizarre that they can’t take paypal. It seems to me that as long as the Girl Scouts get their money for the cookies, it really shouldn’t matter what form of payment took place!
Shell´s last blog post ..Education Search Engine: Noodle.org

Sili February 7, 2013 at 8:20 am

That is so annoying! I hope that someone will write one big check and help that girl raise money for the troops. Hell, I’m going to go look for her and see if I can send her a check myself.

I wonder if you could do a table right outside of your own house. It’s private property, after all.

oxoxox
Sili´s last blog post ..On Writing

Linda Bowen February 7, 2013 at 8:44 am

Wow – you have the cookies in hand when you sell? We take orders, then delivery them a month later. That said, all the other rules apply and there are many.

I’ll be honest – I only let my daughters do the whole Girl Scouts thing because my parents didn’t let me and I’m still bitter about not getting to wear the cute little uniform. I spent years in 4H instead (which, truth be told, I think teaches a lot more useful skills).

I’m sure that the Girl Scout experience varies greatly depending upon the enthusiasm/organization of the leadership in the troop, but I’m over it. I can’t see that my daughter is learning anything useful from her membership. My first child quit after a couple of years as a Brownie and my second is (please, God) probably quitting after this year.

Amy February 7, 2013 at 9:15 am

Amazing. Why all the rules? It really makes me wonder about the thought process on the leaders’ part. The cash/check only rule seems archaic and hopefully will be revised when the group decides to evolve with the rest of modern society.
I am very impressed by the girls, though!! Hopefully they won’t let this deter their spirits – there are plenty of other outlets they could try (or create) to experience their own businesses.

Audrey February 7, 2013 at 11:15 am

Only to people you know? Wow. When I was a girl scout I walked miles through housing knowing pretty much no one, all by myself, just to sell cookies I didn’t even care about. I’m assuming this new rule is to protect kids from predators..but wouldn’t it be easier to just mandate that an adult be with them if they are door-to-door selling? But to the topic at hand..yes..you are so right. They need to get with the times, this girl should earn some sort of Savvy Social Networking Businesswoman badge..not get penalized.
Audrey´s last blog post ..BlogHer Bookclub: Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner

Wendy February 7, 2013 at 11:22 am

The part that bugs me the most about “the rules” is it is that the parents are “tattling” on those who are breaking the rules. I had a mom in my troop complaining because someone was collecting money during presales and someone else was selling early. I told her to simply concentrate on her daughter’s sales and not worry about others who are not in our troop. She probably wouldn’t be happy that I let Maggie make a video for me to put on Facebook!

The Girl Scouts are behind in the Social Media game, but I can honestly say they are not the only ones (many businesses can’t do it right). I’m hoping the Girl Scouts start looking at social media and paypal as ways to gather more for the Girl Scouts as a whole. As I get more active with Maggie’s troop and our own council, I’m hoping to help make those changes (and maybe get Maggie to help as well). Actually, this would be a great “Take Action Project” for the Twitter Girl Scout, to help Girl Scouts move forward with this.

I’m not sure why someone can’t just sell on their neighborhood street, though. I haven’t heard that rule. We may be setting up a sign if we need to pre-order more boxes to help Maggie hit her goal.
Wendy´s last blog post ..Day 2692

Christine February 7, 2013 at 11:31 am

This is one of the reasons why my oldest is no longer in GS. Cookie sales are the biggest fund raiser of the year, but individual girls weren’t really allowed to do their own thing. During group sales, our troop was “checked in” on regularly. Of course, we never actually saw the person spying, we just got a report of what we’d done wrong. I didn’t like it, my daughter got bored, we moved on to other things. I wish she had had a better experience.
Christine´s last blog post ..February Photo A Day

Betsy February 7, 2013 at 11:48 am

I want to give you all a different way to look at this. I was my daughter’s troop co-leader for her 13 years in Girl Scouting. (She’s a Jr. in college now.) She took full advantage of most everything Girl Scouts has to offer including traveling to Austria and Germany to an International Jamboree and earning her Silver and Gold Awards. But yes, Girl Scouts has a lot of ridiculous rules about cookie selling. And I believe the reason is that too many parents turn it into a competition. Now some of those parents are leaders but most of them are not. And Girl Scouts had to set up boundaries so one troop with competitive parents doesn’t sell 10,000 boxes while all the other troops in town sell 100. I believe that selling them outside your own home should be allowed. My daughter wanted to sell them at the huge shopping mall where my husband works but was told she and her troop couldn’t because it was in a different town, and in this case, a different Girl Scout council. That really got me mad but there wasn’t anything I could do about it so we sold at another of the mall’s he oversees and did pretty well.

Girl Scouts is about letting girls be exposed to activities and people they might not otherwise be exposed to. Good leaders make all the difference though and if you have a poor leader it won’t be the experience it could be. We had eight girls that stayed in our troop all the way until they graduated high school. We made it fun and relevant – not dorky and strange.

Even though Girl Scouts has some things they need to rework (and cookie sales would be a good place to start), it is an excellent organization (with the right leaders) and will open doors to your daughter that she might never have had the chance to go through were it not for Girl Scouts. Please don’t give up on them because they need to make changes. My daughter is an amazing young lady and I credit part of that to her entire Girl Scout experience.

Gigi Ross February 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I agree that there is a lot of good in Girl Scouts. And I have no real issues with our troop or our troop leaders. We have a nice group of moms and girls. They don’t have any control over the rules of our local area Council, and they’re in a tough position being the messengers of these overly restrictive rules.

We’ll stay in Girl Scouts as long as my daughter finds it fun and interesting. If we’re not thrown out for selling cookies on the corner, that is :)

Jackie February 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I knew that there was yet another reason or two why we never did the Girls Scouts with the girls. 1) silly rules and 2) all the stuff they need to know to join.

The twitter party idea…. awesome! The girls should be able to sell anyway that they want as long as they’re safe and not causing trouble.

The Girl Scouts need to get with the program or they’ll never sell more cookies!
Jackie´s last blog post ..Mom Hair

Shane February 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm

There must be different rules depending on what council you are in. One thing that remains consistent seems to be the number of rules that seem to prevent achieving the goals of the program. Here we have to sign up for pre-approved sites only, which have decreased every year due to retailers being unwilling to allow it because of troop behavior problems previous years. To make matters worse our system allows me to choose a site 75 miles away if we so choose, go there, behave badly, and lose the site for the girl scouts in that community in the future. It makes sense to allow troops to choose sites other than ones in their immediate communities because some towns may have more troops than sites and others more sites than troops, but there’s no limit or radius on how far you can go from your home.

We were told we CAN set up a booth though, on our own private property, so our driveway or front yard and not a street corner or parking lot. Again, seems like this all varies by Council.

TrulyRoxie February 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Girl Scouts are not allowed to use PayPal or other electronic payments due to regulations relating to their non-profit status and “ownership” of the funds.. Your specific council has some strange requirements regarding sales. We don’t have all of those restrictions.

Gigi Ross February 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I’m not sure how the GSA’s nonprofit status impacts how a child collects money for the cookies. The child’s parent would then convert the Paypal donation to cash and turn in cash to the troop. In fact, I’d venture a guess that some people are already using Paypal to pay for cookies – it’s just not anything that we’d know about since the troop sees the cash and not the original source of the payment.

I could see if the GSA itself was taking Paypal donations directly, but the sale of cookies is a person to person transaction. Feel free to shed some light on this! :)

Nancy Smith February 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Our council actually piloted a program for taking credit cards this year, if you have a smart phone then you can apply for the card reader to attach, I personally decided not to do this as there is a charge for the transactions unless you increase your sales by a certain percentage from last year and since I have less girls this year I decided not to take the chance that we wouldn’t be able to recoup that charge. And you are right Gigi according to GSUSA we are not supposed to take money before we deliver product….which makes it difficult when trying to collect money sometimes….

Nancy Smith February 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I am a leader(19 yrs), Service Unit Manager (more years than you want to know) and presently the troop cookie manager for my troop(mostly because I had no one to take the job and decided I wanted to make sure it was done correctly). That being said, in our council we have council booths that are available on a lottery basis, then we also have Service Unit booths that are set up by our Service Unit Cookie Manager and the troops select those booths at our cookie training. We as a council do a direct sale only and we pre-order our cookies and then we are able to pick up more cases as needed throughout our sale. Girls are encouraged to sell in their neighborhoods door-to-door but only in the company of an adult(unfortunately the world we live in makes this necessary and the safety of the girls is paramount) My girls take their order forms to school and ask their teachers, but are aware that if there are several scouts selling that the teacher may say no. The girls are not allowed to sell cookies on line but are encouraged to let people know through social media that they are in fact selling cookies. Also we have many girls that set up tables in their own front yards or driveways and this is allowed (unfortunately it is winter here on the east coast so that makes for a chilly day sometimes). It seems from reading many of the posts that people have a problem with the training and information requested by councils with regard to the adults working with the children and handling money but as a seasoned leader who has had money stolen(basically a parent not paying for their cookies) I assure you that a few can ruin it for many. And as far as selling early or taking orders before the start of the sale I ask you, what are we teaching our girls if we consider the rules applicable to everyone but ourselves( a prevailing attitude in our society) I try to apply the Girl Scout Law to everything we do ( I have Brownie Girl Scouts) and I will say that my 23 year old daughter who spent 13 years in Girl Scouts earning her Bronze and Silver award benefited greatly from Girl Scouts.

Good Luck to all the Girls out there selling cookies and to the parents and volunteer leaders giving of their time and talent to help our Girls become Women of Courage, Confidence, and Character.

Gigi Ross February 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Thank you for all of this great information.

I might have missed a comment or two, but I don’t see too many folks complaining about Girl Scout adult training. I do take issue with the fact that the Girl Scouts wanted my personal, detailed health history and I am not a troop leader. I don’t think that knowing if I’ve ever had cancer should be required information for me to be able to attend an event with my daughter or lead a meeting, so I refused to provide it. I’m fine with a background check – I want all girls to be safe – but there’s no need for knowing my medical history.

I also have no issue personally with going door to door; my daughter enjoyed it. I just would have liked for her to set up her little table on the street corner. We are on a cul de sac and setting up a table at the end of the driveway would have had gotten no traffic whatsoever.

I also don’t think anyone has taken issue with not being able to sell early. I was just stating in my post that we had a specific date and we could not sell prior, so that my readers could understand the sheer number of rules that are imposed on parents when trying to help their girls “run their business.”

As a former prosecutor, I’m generally one of the biggest rule followers you’ll find. :) But when rules stifle creativity more than they help girls learn, I think it’s time to revisit those rules and see if maybe they’re due for a change.

Stephanie February 8, 2013 at 9:04 am

I’m little confused about your health history too.
I’ve been a leader going on 6 years and have never been asked for my health history, and really not sure what they would use it for.

Gigi Ross February 8, 2013 at 10:27 am

You know, I’d be okay with giving my family doctor’s name and telephone number. But this was a full one page document asking about various conditions I might have had. It must be this particular council.

Troop Mom February 8, 2013 at 8:32 am

I am sorry but all I hear is “complain, complain, complain.”

I am a first year Girl Scout parent AND a troop leader and I thank GOD for the rules that Girl Scouts has set for cookie sales. In my Council 2 adults, registered & background checked required at booth sales. All girls must at least have an insignia tab. All parents who plan to stay must be background checked. And about the health history form: What if something happened to you and they had to call 911? Who would know your health history? Your daughter? I doubt!! All the leader has to do is hand over the form and off you(and the paramedics) go to make sure you are safe. The #1 care in Girl Scouts is SAFETY. Making sure girls, parents and the public are safe.

And about online sales: If you want to know why GSUSA is so against girls using the internet to accept payment for girl scout cookies just hop on over to ebay or amazon….where you can buy girl scout cookies that are, more than likely, sold by mommy or daddy instead of the girl. Some parents are so hard-up on getting their daughter to “be the best” they don’t care about breaking the rules(and it is against GSUSA & Ebay rules for anyone to sell girl scout cookies on there without GSUSA permission). And I do my part in following the rules by reporting those people I see doing that online.

And remember……if you don’t like the way Girl Scouts runs their program you can always have your daughter participate in the HEAVILY conservative Christian-organization American Heritage Girls and Frontier Girls. Where parents, leaders and girls have to do everything themselves…including finding funding for their troop.

Gigi Ross February 8, 2013 at 10:42 am

We’ll have to agree to disagree on why the GSA needs my detailed health history. I’m fine with providing a doctor name and phone number. But the rest is not warranted. I’ve never had to provide that information to my kids’ school when I volunteer, my workplace, my church, coaching my kids’ teams, you name it.

I also never said I’m opposed to safety or background checks. I’m a former prosecutor. I took abused and neglected kids away from very disturbed people. I have no problem with background checks.

Let’s be clear about online sales, though. The girl that is the subject of this controversy was not trying to SELL COOKIES online. She was trying to accept monetary donations through Paypal to raise funds for our armed forces. There is a big difference between someone going on EBay and shilling cookies and the little girl trying to raise cash. That being said, if EBay and Amazon sales are banned because the parents are selling the cookies (hopefully minors are not selling on eBay anyway)…then the GSA needs to make their policy consistent and forbid parents to take order forms or cookies to work to sell them there. That’s why I don’t buy this argument that online sales or online cash donations aren’t allowed because they’re not teaching the girls the skills that are the lynchpin of the program. Parents taking cookies to work is, as far as I can tell, not tolerated, but openly discussed and approved in the rules (at least in our area).

If this is really about teaching girls skills, then make the policy consistent and not have convenient exceptions.

Thank you for letting me know about those other organizations. What you may not understand is that I don’t have an overall complaint with Girl Scouts generally. If I did, I wouldn’t have participated. We have a great troop and my daughter has fun. My sincerest hope is that the Girl Scouts can be open-minded enough to look at some of their inconsistent rules, as well as other rules that perhaps limit innovation, creativity and a passion for social good in girls and find ways to work *with* the girls in exceptional cases versus against them.

Jennifer February 8, 2013 at 11:05 am

I missed the health history part, but they should NOT be asking you for a detailed health history. As for as my permission slip for outings, I provide exactly what you described. For Cady I have to give more information because of the insurance issue, but nothing that I think is over the top. I gave the health history form to the parents and asked them to complete it. I made clear I would be the only person to see it, and it was only in case of an emergency. I will not wait for them, but will take their daughter directly to the ER. Now that I think about it, I didn’t even check them when they turned them back in. I just filed them. Of course I know not everyone is like me.
Jennifer´s last blog post ..Dads, Kids, Fever, & Vomit

Jennifer February 8, 2013 at 9:14 am

I’m a leader so I can give you my perspective.

Table = Booth, and booths are hard fought over territory that they make every effort to distribute equally. In the past, the GS have had lots of arguments and problems over who gets a booth when and that troop got more booths or a better location or… I’m sure you can imagine. That is why they are so strict on where and when booths can be set up. They also work really hard with businesses to ensure the continued use of their storefronts as sell points. That has also been a problem in the past.

The safety instructions are a liability issue. The GS carries insurance on all girls and volunteers. Any time a girl is participating a sponsored GS activity, like cookie sales, they are covered by that policy. That is why the safety rules are so stringent.

As far as the Twitter/Paypal thing I’m clueless. I know that we are only allowed to accept cash and checks in our council, and the checks can not be over $120 each. I have no idea why that is. I heard in some areas they are rolling out the credit card machines you can use with your phone, but that isn’t being done everywhere yet.
Jennifer´s last blog post ..Dads, Kids, Fever, & Vomit

Gigi Ross February 8, 2013 at 10:48 am

The more I read perspectives from GS leaders who have commented here, the more I’m inclined to believe that parents are a big part of the problem with this booth issue specifically. I don’t really care about the booth sales in front of businesses and when those happen – I was more including that “rule” in my post to show what the rules were and how many there are. But I do think there should be a distinction made between a girl selling on her corner and a troop booth set up at a grocery store. But if booth sales are so heavily regulated because they want it to be equitable, it means that somewhere people were complaining about it NOT being equitable. Who cares? Everyone who apparently has a quota. So maybe where there are large quotas in place to sell, they should be done away with. Everybody sells what they can or want to sell. Period. If there isn’t enough money for the troop to fund their activities, then parents have to kick in. We did not have a large amount to sell this year, so I didn’t have to worry about that. Another mom in a different area I talked to last week had a quota of 500+ boxes to sell individually with her girl. It’s the quotas that probably incite this competition and all the problems that result from that.

Jennifer February 8, 2013 at 10:59 am

A quota like that is insane. We talk to our girls about what we can do with the money and how much they’ll earn per box, and then we work with them to pick a goal (we don’t use quota, that makes me feel kind of icky). Our goal this year was 50 boxes per girl.

I completely agree it is the parents that mess it up for everyone else, and in my opinion, probably the parents that don’t even bother to volunteer to help. I was going to set Cady a booth up in our driveway too, but then I heard about the “you can’t do it at your own home” rule. Completely ridiculous. I even saw someone locally ask if they could set up a table in their church for all the scouts, and they were told no. That’s considered a booth and must be open to all girls. But then of course the church will say no to the booth. They want to support their members, which I totally get.

I haven’t seen any competition between troops in our area, but then I don’t get really involved in all of that kum bah ya stuff either. I just take care of my girls and make sure they are having a good time and are learning to be strong, independent women.
Jennifer´s last blog post ..Dads, Kids, Fever, & Vomit

Myrinda February 8, 2013 at 9:31 am

I’m a leader and 3x Troop Cookie Manager. This year my girls have gone independent, so now I only have to manage 2 girls instead of 30 *whew*.
Where we live, you CAN put a table in your yard, but not until booth sales start Council wide (usually 2 weeks after sales start). We’ve had many stores pull their participation due to poor behavior on the part of girls (or more likely, parents!) Some of the parents seem to see this as a personal competition and it’s just embarrassing!
Our Council is VERY clear about the rules, but people continue to break those, so they get tighter and tighter every year. My oldest has always been a stellar seller, she does ALL the asking herself. The only time I sell cookies “for her” is if someone flags my decorated car down and she isn’t with me.
Also, we ARE allowed to take credit cards now, but I’m vetoing that. The troop has to pay for the fees and I’m not into encouraging people to go into debt for cookies, I think that is irresponsible.
My girls DO run it, but within the rules. All businesses have rules they have to comply with…

Betsy February 8, 2013 at 11:49 am

As far as I know, Girls Scouts has a rule that no girl can raise money for another non-profit organization and I think that has to do with keeping their own non-profit status. So, if she’s taking money through PayPal, she’s raising money. Girl Scouts are allowed to collect items to donate to other organizations, just not money. Again, I was a 13 year leader and on the service team for our area as well and that’s how it was explained to me.

Gigi Ross February 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Hm, that’s interesting. THAT would make sense to me..although that’s not the reason the GSA gave for not letting that little girl participate. THanks for sharing your perspective.

Rhonda@Laugh-Quotes February 10, 2013 at 5:43 am

We have fewer issues here in New Zealand for Girl Guide biscuits. We just want to get our allocated biscuits sold. Our rules are more territorial, the boundary for each district. I think if we were given the rules you have, we would all just give the biscuits back and not sell any.
Rhonda@Laugh-Quotes´s last blog post ..It’s That Time of the Year Again – Girl Guide Biscuits are Here!

Cynthia_Writes February 10, 2013 at 8:49 am

If I had girls and they were in GS, I’d be tempted to pretend I didn’t see those rules. Maybe that’s what these parents in my neighborhood did — their daughter had a table in front of their house selling cookies. And in a quiet neighborhood, isn’t it like going door-to-door without taking the steps? Booths ARE fun for them and it gets them more involved in the process (making signs, etc.). A few summers ago, my son wanted to sell lemonade. On the day of the sale, he made the signage but then he deemed me the Manager, told me what to charge, and went off to play. I think he may have a future in business!

AJ Collins February 11, 2013 at 11:16 am

:) I have a brownie, and I agree that the restrictions they put on the kiddos is a little ridiculous. But we are doing a “moving booth” in another week (when our cookie drops begin) and will be walking down the street dragging a wagon full of cookies… wearing our GS t-shirts and selling door to door to complete strangers.
I hope the Cookie police don’t arrest us! ;)
AJ Collins´s last blog post ..The Mind-Body-Soul Experiment

Tracie February 12, 2013 at 8:31 am

These rules are completely crazy.

I see girl scouts in my neighborhood selling from card tables all the time.
Tracie´s last blog post ..Field Of Peace

Stephanie February 14, 2013 at 9:41 am

AMEN!!! We picked up our cookies last Friday…and spoke to the Service Unit product manager, while we were there. She asked my DH if we were doing a lot of booths this year….(she schedules ALL OF THEM) and he replied no. SHE NEVER ONCE told us that we could not sell until the NEXT Friday. Our families were scheduled to pick up their cookies that night, and low and behold, a nasty email went out stating that we were not to direct sell before the first booth date, and if we did, the troops in our service unit area would loose incentives. WE WERE NEVER TOLD THIS upon picking up cookies….nor were my Cookie Coordinators told this at the “mandatory” meeting before selling cookies. I TOTALLY AGREE, and honestly, my intention is to make money internally with our troop, to help fund service projects, and regular functions within our troop. YOU GO GIRL, and I would LOVE to stop by your daughters booth and buy some cookies (on your street :)

Michele March 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Hi I am somewhere in the middle I think on rules and I also think they vary by council. We were encourage to go into neighborhoods (of people we didnt know) and sell to make sure they had access to cookies. We had an email blast we could send out to accumulate orders that way (this was only to people I know that will pay because they had to send checks in). I am with you though on being a fiercely independent entrepreneur and good luck in your future prospects!

Christy @quirkyfusion April 16, 2013 at 8:10 pm

I think the thing about the table on your corner might have been specific to your Service Unit. Rules are interpreted differently in each area. Could be a safety concern, or a mis-read of the booth guidelines. Who knows? If you have a rule you’re not happy with (or more importantly, your daughter does), why not question it in your council? Blogging your complaints doesn’t teach your daughter much and won’t change anything.

As for not selling online, I don’t know this for sure, but I think it has to do with territory. Each council can charge something different for cookies, so it’s possible that the girls who are selling cookies for $3.50 in an area where that goes a lot farther could undercut girls who are selling for $4 in an area with a higher cost of living. And even ignoring the price difference, it ensures that your neighbors aren’t buying their cookies from Honey Boo Boo online instead of your daughter.
Christy @quirkyfusion´s last blog post ..Building with Girder and Panel – Review

Rachael September 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm

You are really unfair to the Girl Scouts with this post. Cookie sales are for all Girl Scouts in your community, not just your daughter. Most of the rules you site are for fairness between girls and safety. With the Twitter Paypal issue, that exists because the GS Council cannot track the money if it going into an unknown Paypal account. How do they know the money is being donated to the troops? GS is a nonprofit and is accountable for the money girls collect in their name. Also how would it be fair for one girl to allowed to do it & not all girls. Even in adult businesses, there are rules & regulations, so it good for girls to experience that too. Cookie sales are supposed to be for girls to learn about how to run a business right, not however your 7 year old thinks it should be done. There is a lot more to GS than cookie sales too. A Brownie age girl should only do be doing 1 or 2 booth sales and a small amount of door to door. They learn just as much selling 100 boxes as 1000.

savings October 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm

When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same
comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
Bless you!
savings´s last blog post ..savings

Gigi Ross October 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I don’t have a feature on my site, that I can see, that offers this. And the post is old, so it really doesn’t get any comments anymore. Sorry!

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