Our Say: In praise of the Girl Scout cookie

An article from The Capital Gazette by Wendi Winters

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Wendi Winters is a local journalist, public relations consultant and photographer. She is a community news reporter for the Annapolis Capital and writes unique community feature stories.

If the knock did not come at your door this past weekend, it could come sometime over the next few weeks. On the other side of the door is a Girl Scout, maybe a cute 7-year-old Brownie or a worldly 17-year-old Ambassador.

It’s Girl Scout cookie time.

Folks who’ve moved here from Washington, D.C., or beyond, find the timing unusual. Girl Scout cookie sales, in most areas of the U.S., begin in January. Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, encompassing Anne Arundel, H

oward, Harford, Carroll and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City, marches to its own drummer.

“We get right into it,” said GSCM spokesperson Danita Terry. “That way, the girls have the proceeds to use for the rest of the school year.”

Girl Scouts have been selling cookies as a fundraising operation since 1917. They appeal to all types of appetites. This year’s flavors are a mix of traditional favorites and new ones, including two that can be enjoyed by vegans — Lemonades and classic Thin Mints. In December, the girls also will be selling a test market cookie that’s gluten-free.

Why sell at all?

It’s not just about schilling cookies to earn money. Or, to tempt you to go off your diet.

The Girls Scouts, at all age levels, learn how to set goals. Working at a cookie booth, once the cookies arrive in late October, the girls experience team building in real time while developing the people skills needed to get passers-by to stop, look and reach for their wallet.

They learn basic money management skills: taking cookie orders, handling customers’ money, even doing smartphone credit card transactions. Marketing techniques are rapidly adapted: ebullient booths plastered with signs, staffed by Girls Scouts costumed as waving cookies usually sell more cookies.

The girls earn an average of 56.6 cents per $4 box. Most sell slightly more than 100 boxes. Last year’s top seller, Emily Newland, a Brownie from Crownsville, sold 2,713 boxes. A Glen Burnie Junior, Jenna Diehl, sold 1,192.

The baker gets $1 per box. The council retains $2.37, which goes to operate programs, services and training for the Scouts, leaders and volunteers; maintain several large regional Girl Scout campsites, run programs for inner-city girls, develop new initiatives and events, and pay the GSCM staff.

For girls who succeed in Girl Scouting — not just selling cookies — but who’ve participated in camping and field trips, worked on badges and earned Bronze, Silver or Gold awards, the sky is not the limit. According to Terry, every U.S. female astronaut has been a Girl Scout.

Most of the female legislators on Capitol Hill and in the Maryland State House were Girl Scouts — some are lifetime members.

If a Girl Scout doesn’t come to your door in the next few weeks, there’s a variety of reasons. The major one: these days, fewer people are home from work before sundown. But, you’ll see the cookies for sale at booths at shopping centers.

And, yes, most cookies are $4 a box. Some grumble about the cost. Do a reality check. Stroll down the cookie aisle at your favorite food store.

Click here for the article.

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