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 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?