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!
Photo from Pixabay
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.
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.
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.