Girl Scout Cookie Selling is Voluntary-Leaders Need to Lighten Up

In many parts of the country, troop leaders and cookie moms are gearing up for the exciting/busy/stressful Girl Scout cookie selling season.

Last year, my troop sold cookies for the first time since they were Daisies. My Cookie Mom was experienced and very detail oriented, so it was smooth sailing for the girls, parents and other leaders. We profited over $1,200 and that money helped us finance our first camping trip this fall (that I promise to write about in the future!)

Girl Scout leaders need to stop stressing so much about cookie sales. Here are the reasons why.

Photo from Pixabay

On all of the Girl Scout forums and Facebook groups where I belong , this is a hot button issue for leaders.  There seems to be a great divide because some leaders believe they do not have to follow the rules of the GSUSA in regard to cookie selling.

Directly from the GSUSA the website:

Does a Girl Scout troop or group have to sell cookies if they don’t want to?

Girl Scout product sales offer girls a great way to finance their Girl Scout activities and special projects. Participation in the Girl Scout Cookie Program is voluntary  (italics mine) and requires written permission by a parent or guardian. Annually, about 65 percent of registered Girl Scouts choose to participate in the program.

So why is it that leaders get their knickers bunched up over this year after year?

You do not have to tell me that we, as leaders, have much more vested into the troop than the other parents who are not leaders. After all, we are the ones who volunteered for the job! For many families, Girl Scouts is an activity that is on the bottom of the list, so there is not much time or emotion invested as we would like. We oftentimes will buy things with money from our own pockets just to make sure that we have what the girls need for an outing or a badge.

We spend hours planning troop meetings, attending leader meetings, making trips to the store, buying badges, etc. We put so much of ourselves into our troop.

Girl Scout cookie booth

Photo by Hannah Gold

Is it REALLY too much to ask parents to help sell Girl Scout cookies?

For some families, YES IT IS.

Unless you live in another person’s home, you have NO IDEA what is going on with them. Many people do not want to share with you the personal details of their lives, and quite honestly, it is none of your business why a girl is not selling a lot, or any, Girl Scout cookies.

Just some of the reasons some girls in your troop are low sellers might be:

  • Parents are juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet and a booth sale is not on their priority list during the weekend when they have to catch up on chores, housework, or take on another shift.
  • Parents are not allowed to sell at work.
  • Parents are sick, working, disabled physically or mentally and are not up to taking their daughter door-to-door to sell cookies.
  • A parental separation or divorce prevents the girls from selling at a booth sale (I have had students who do not attend Hebrew School on the weekends they are with non-custodial parent because s/he will not take the child. There is nothing I can do about it.)
  • The family has multiple children selling Girl Scout cookies.
  • Parents have to care for a sick or disabled family member or have multiple young children to care for and have no help.
  • Limited family or no close family who will buy dozens of boxes to help out with sales.
  • They are simply not interested.

The bottom line is that TROOP MONEY IS TROOP MONEY and to get yourself upset because one girl sells 500 boxes and one sells 5 does not change the situation. You cannot divide the money up in proportion to who sells more cookies (at least not until Cadettes when separate accounts are fine for saving for big trips).

You cannot withhold money from a girl who does not sell a lot of Girl Scot cookies. Like it or not, the GSUSA has set up the "troop money is troop money" rule to protect the girls. Cookie selling is a voluntary activity.

Photo from Pixabay

I tell my kids that “Life is not fair and life is not equal.” The GSUSA has made it perfectly clear in it’s guidelines that selling Girl Scout cookies is an optional activity. You may not:

  • Set a quota for selling
  • Tell girls who do not sell that they will have to pay for troop events from out of their own pockets because they did not sell “X” number of boxes
  • Give out special prizes to top sellers (other than a fun patch that declares this…it is a nice thing to do)
  • Take girls who earn the most on a special outing paid for by troop funds (and even doing this by using your own funds is downright wrong on so many levels)
  • Tell the parents they can “buy out” their “required” number of cookies by writing a check.

As a leader, I dare you to look in the eyes of the daughter of a single parent who works two jobs and tell her that she cannot attend the Build A Bear trip because she did not sell your required quota of cookies.

Could you do it?

By going against the rules of the GSUSA you could get into a boatload of trouble if a parent goes to Council to complain. A really angry parent can take you to task via social media. These rules were set up to protect the girls…so why are you going against them?

Don’t let Girl Scout cookie selling season become a competition of who sells the most. Set up troop goals, and keep track of group progress. When cookie season is over, celebrate all that you have accomplished together.

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