Girl Scout Cookies: Rite of Passage or Forced Sale?Danielle Sullivan
Did you sell Girl Scout cookies when you were a girl?
I didn’t. Even as a child, I had a strong distaste for forced community sales and drives. I was not in Brownies, Daises, or Girl Scouts. My Catholic school forced us to sell candy bars once a year and even that I rebelled against but ultimately endured.
Girl Scout cookies go on sale this Friday so droves of girls will be ringing doorbells and asking neighbors if they prefer Samoa or Thin Mint. Thousands more will just hand the order form to mom and dad who will bring it to the office to force the cookies upon co-workers. While, I don’t mind buying a box from a friend, what always annoyed me at the office was when people who were not your friend, perhaps barely an acquaintance, would innocently drop their list on your desk. Then you’d see them in the hallway, and they’d say “Oh by the way, I left an order form on your desk, just pass around, OK?”
So I would go back to my desk, pick up the form, and in most cases begrudgingly order a box, as would the rest of my co-workers. If it wasn’t cookies, it was candy, or wrapping paper, or handmade ornaments during the holidays.
So where does this leave the girls who don’t have pushy parents who work in companies with hundreds of employees, and girls who actually sell their own loot door to door? Probably out of luck on the patch front.
The Girl Scouts maintain that each individual council is responsible for guidelines surrounding cookie activities. According to the website, selling cookies is not mandatory but they have found that “most girls in Girl Scouting thoroughly enjoy this activity and look forward to it each year.” Do they really? In the days of mean girls and bullying, cookie stats just seem to be another marker on the comparison chart. Take the girl who sells 10 boxes on her own and should be commended for that versus the girl who hands her mom the order sheet and “sells” hundreds. Here come the patches and the glory. It seems counterintuitive to teaching girls strength and self worth if they don’t earn the patches themselves.
While on the subject, is there nothing else girls can do to fundraise other than sell cookies? The Boy Scouts don’t sell cookies and still manage to gather necessary funds. The Girl Scouts say that they also teach the girls to advertise (in fact part of badge earning is comprised of advertising), but surely in 2011, product development beyond cookies would teach girls to also be creative and enterprising.
I understand that to some extent selling Girl Scout cookies is an American tradition and people like cookies, but I’m just wondering if it’s time to up the ante for today’s girls.
Is it time to change this outdated practice or does tradition trump progress?