Handing Out Girl Scout Cookie Rewards-Are You Considerate and Caring?

For the most part, it was a quiet season for Girl Scout cookie drama in the Facebook groups where I belong. Leaders mostly posted about being tired and stressed and about parents who did not pick up cookies or show up at booths.  There was virtually no mention of girls who were not selling.

Until last week.

In two different groups, leaders asked how girls should be presented their cookies selling awards and if top sellers should be recognized. It is at times like these that I am blown away that some of these women have chosen to be leaders, since their lack of care and consideration (one part of the Girl Scout Promise) for the young charges in their troop is so apparent. One leader called her low selling girls “slackers” and others accused parents of being lazy and wanting their daughter to get a “free ride” in Girl Scouts. These children need to be shamed, blamed and called out for their lack of sales so maybe next year they will work harder. Who cares if a six year old is in tears? They have a lesson that they need to learn!

How some Girl Scout leaders make their girls feel when they hand out cookie rewards and the girl had no parental support.

Photo from Pixabay

OUCH!

Yes, it is true that there are parents out there who are unwilling to help their daughters achieve troop or individual cookie goals (in the same way as an educator I have met parents who are too busy to help their kids with schoolwork).  There is no obstacle standing in their way to help out their child, such as an illness or disability, work obligations or other family obligations. But I ask you… how is this the fault of a first grade Daisy or third grade Brownie? More than likely, it is these girls need a loving and caring role model (a.k.a Girl Scout leader) to make them feel safe and have a place where they feel that they belong. If their own parent(s) are unwilling to give them help, it is up to us as leaders to step in and do what we can for them.

Are you a leader who hands out cookie rewards based on your feelings about the girls or their parents?

Photo from Pixabay

Does the total of cookies sold make a child a low achiever if the number is not what the leader wants (and no, you cannot have a cookie quota-selling is optional). Is it the low seller a “slacker” if she goes door to door with her parents and sells a total of 45 boxes because neither parent can sell at work? Or is the child whose has two parents bring cookie sign up sheets to work a slacker, even though she “sells” 200 boxes with no effort?

According to the leaders in the Facebook posts mentioned, who only go by the numbers, the girl who actually sold on her own and learned about the business of cookies is the slacker. In my opinion, this girl is the true winner and the other child is an example of why kids cannot leave the nest when they are older because their parents do everything for them. While there is nothing wrong with helping your child, there is everything wrong about her being rewarded for work that she did not do.

(For more discussion on this topic, you can read my other post about this here.)

Which leads me to the questions that leaders asked…

Do You Give Top Sellers a Special Award?

Overwhelmingly, the leaders said that they did not. A “Top Seller” patch was all they gave, and that was placed in the bag of incentives the child earned from sales. Some leaders did buy special items, but in my opinion, this is wrong.

Should You Hand Out Awards by Numbers Sold or Share How Many Boxes Each Girl Sold?

No and No. Again, I will take you back to the example I mentioned about girls selling door to door versus those who had Mommy and Daddy sell. Children may not remember the prizes you handed out, but they will surely remember how they felt when their efforts were downplayed.

When handing out Girl Scout cookie rewards, remember that you are dealing with little girls who cannot control how much their parents help them. But you can still make them feel like winners, no matter how many boxes they sold.

Image created by Hannah Gold on Picmonkey

Troop goals should be celebrated together at your meeting, not individual goals. The prizes/incentives offered by the bakeries are the girls’ incentives that they choose to earn. At the start of cookie season, you should have helped the girls set a realistic goal to achieve so you will have money for the things they want to do. If the girls met their goals, great! Celebrate!

If the girls did not make their goal, then you can still celebrate what they did achieve! You still have earned money for special activities for your troop.

As for the incentives the girls earned, most leaders hand them out in the same kind of bag without fanfare at the end of the meeting as the girls are being picked up. In the case where there is a girl who did not earn more than a patch, the leader can still put the item in a pretty gift bag and even add a piece of candy or a note that says “Thank you!”.

The bottom line is that how much a girl sells is out of her control if a parent is unwilling to help. That includes older girls whose parents will not volunteer at a booth or offer to take them door to door. A 7th grader is not going to defy her parents in the same way a 1st grader will not. Try to have the girls help in other ways, like making cookie posters or labels to put on the boxes.

As a leader, you need to seriously rethink how you treat your girls and their feelings. Girl Scouts is much more than cookie sales. It is about learning new skills, sisterhood and being considerate and caring of others.

Girl Scout Cookie Sales The Ultimate Answer on Sharing Money Earned Fundraising

As Girl Scout cookie sales begin to wind down in many parts of the country, leaders are feeling relief. This is the biggest fundraiser of the year and so much time and effort go into this.

Whether leaders like it or not, there is an official policy on troop money being troop money. This is meant to protect the girls.

Photo from Pixabay

As I have mentioned in several previous blog posts about dividing cookie profits, troop money is troop money. There have been many leaders in Girl Scout forums and Facebook groups that argue this point-how it is not fair to the girls who sell, how parents are uncooperative, etc. Some have questioned the “troop money is troop money” policy and want to know where it appears in writing by the Girls Scouts of the USA.

This policy does exist.

There is a Blue Book of Basic Documents from the GSUSA that is available online. This link will take you to the book.

Scroll down to page 21, and in the section entitled “Ownership of Assets”, it clearly states in the very last sentence of the final paragraph:

“Such assets are not the property of individuals, troops, geographic units, subordinate units, or communities within a Girl Scout council.”

As stated in the first paragraph of that section, the money your troop raises is money to be used for Girl Scouting and no one owns it other than the Girl Scout Council or the Girl Scouts of the USA. That is why if a troop disbands, all money left in the troop bank account goes back to Council.

No matter how you feel about the policy, you have to follow it. No paper accounts are allowed. If your girls are older and want to travel, then there are travel accounts you can set up once they are Cadettes.

Girl Scout Cookie Rewards-How Should Leaders Hand Them Out to Their Girls?

For Girl Scout leaders, the rewards for cookie sales is a full bank account. The profits of the troop’s hard work will fund trips, purchase badges and craft supplies, as well as provide the money needed for community service projects.

Most girls, my troop included, want to earn the  incentives provided by the cookie bakers in lieu of earning more money per box.

At the end of the scouting year, when the money has been collected and the leaders have the cookie incentives in their hands, they need to be handed out to the girls. My question is, how do you handle handing our Girl Scout cookie rewards?

How should Girl Scout leaders handle the rewards girls have earned or not earned? Do you praise only the high sellers or is it a group effort?

Photo from Pixabay

My perspective is colored by my almost three decades of teaching young children. While I am not a fan of the “everyone gets a medal” mentality, there is still a way to reward hard work and still preserve the feelings of all children. To be honest, I am no longer shocked by the responses I read on the Girl Scout Facebook groups where I belong. I silently read and shake my head, bewildered that these women who volunteered to lead a group of young girls can be so heartless.

I know that cookie selling season is stressful and frustrating for leaders. Some of that stress can be prevented while other stress is just part of the job. At the end of the day, it should always be about the girls.

So why do I feel that some leaders are “heartless”? It is because of their attitude towards girls who have not sold “enough” in their minds. I read over and over again in the comments on how a big fuss should be made over the top sellers. It is not fair that their hard work goes “unrecognized”.

No matter how many boxes of Thin Mints a girl sells, she should be included in all cookie celebrations.

Photo by Hannah Gold

Guess who is the typical top seller in a troop? The leader who is posting’s daughter!

I have said over and over again in many blog posts and articles over the years that we as leaders have way more invested into our troops and we should just let it go that parents do not. Unless you live another person’s life, just accept that “Lizzie” only sold enough boxes to earn a patch and move on. It is not her fault if her parents refuse to sell or will not let her work cookie booths.

Now these adult leaders want to throw that in Lizzie’s face when rewards are handed out!  They make a huge fuss at the meeting over the top sellers and disregard the others.

As a teacher, I would never make a fuss over the kids who got an “A” on a test, give them special treats and praise, and ignore the rest of the kids. Maybe a “B” or a “C” is the best a child can do (I squeaked by Chemistry in high school. My “C” was like another person’s “A”). As a parent, how would you feel if it was your daughter who got the low grade and she did her very best, and yet that was not recognized at all?

By The U.S. Army (Girl Scout cookies for the troops) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By The U.S. Army (Girl Scout cookies for the troops) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Selling Girl Scout cookies is a troop activity, and the reward for all girls is that they now have money to fund their activities. In my opinion, the troop should celebrate together the goals they set out to accomplish.  Handing out rewards should be done at the end of the meeting as the girls leave. Prizes earned can be handed out in a stapled brown shopping bag, with girls instructed to open them at home.

Should Top Cookie Sellers Get a Special Reward?

This was a separate discussion and again, the answers of some leaders astounded me. While most said, “No” or they bought their top seller a “Top Seller” patch, others made huge fusses at meetings, gave gift cards and/or took them out for a special lunch or dinner.

Top Seller patches are fine. A separate celebration? That is not the Girl Scout Way. That is not being a sister to every Girl Scout. Even if the leader pays out of pocket (as she should-troop funds are for all girls, not just top sellers), what kind of message does this send to the rest of the troop?  Many top sellers have had help from parents and family members at work.  Girls who have unsupportive parents or are not allowed to solicit at work are penalized for something beyond their control.

Cookie sales bring out the worst in some leaders and parents. It does not have to be this way if the focus stays on the girls (the troop) and not on a single seller.

How are you feeling about cookie sales and rewards?

Our Girl Scout Cookie Sales

This is our second year selling cookies as Cadettes. We are down to five girls from last year’s eleven, so things are a lot more mellow.

We had our cookie meeting last month and all parents were there to get their cookies and materials. Four of the five girls were also in attendance, and they had to decide to forgo the rewards for a higher profit per box. Because they had only seriously sold Girl Scout cookies once, they did not have prize burn out. They wanted to earn their rewards!

Here is how our Cadette Girl Scout cookie sales are going-with no drama!

Photo by Hannah Gold

There are many ways that troops deal with incentivesBecause we are a very tight-knit group who have been together for eight years. there is no competition. Our Cookie Mom ordered 1,000 boxes of cookies. Between booths and personal sales, each girl will get to the 200 level and earn the sweatshirt.

Easy peasy!

Everyone is doing all the booths (with five girls they are easy to fill) and trying their hardest at sales. They are all so close in numbers that they can all work as a TEAM to earn the sweatshirt. Presently, we have about 100 boxes left to sell before we get to the goal. With another booth sale at a busy venue next week, that should be easy to accomplish.

My next few posts about Girl Scout cookie sales will be about topics that are on the minds of leaders. I have read many upsetting discussions on forums and Facebook groups, and I feel that many leaders sometimes forget in all the stress of cookie selling that this is FOR THE GIRLS.

How are your Girl Scout cookie sales going?

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.