Should You Spend Girl Scout Cookie Money on a Big Trip if All of the Girls Cannot Participate?

How can you fairly spend your troop's Girl Scout cookie money?It’s that time of year again where the Girl Scout forums and Facebook groups are lighting up with questions about end of the year activities and what a leader should do if a girl cannot attend the big end of year trip.

This is a very delicate subject. After all, one of the topics I am going to assume you discussed with your troop when cookie sales were taking place is what to do with the cookie profits. If the girls voted on a trip to Build-A-Bear, a tween salon or a trip to the water park, then it is in your best interest to make sure that the girls can attend.

In fact, one of the first things your co-leader and you should do is pick a date as far in advance as possible (one that works for both of you) and let the parents know via email. Then you have in your possession a time stamped, dated email that you can refer to if a parent starts the “you did not tell me”  or “I didn’t know” nonsense. Just resend the email and remind them that you did, in fact, tell them.

As a back-up for the first email, I would send a “Save the Date” email about eight weeks before the planned event just to remind the parents who did not put it on their calendars the first time.

How should a Girl Scout leader handle the issue of girls being unable to attend the field trip they are going on that uses their cookie profits?


Some leaders send out a survey to the parents to help them select a date. Tread lightly with this idea and give out a choice of only two dates, with the majority winning.  Those who cannot go on the selected date that was voted on may counter with a third date, and that may not work for you or your co-leader. Be firm and consistent.

Of course, you do not always know four months out that there is a sports competition or an out of town relative visiting. That can cause a monkey wrench in your plans, as well as those of the girls who could originally attend.

In fact, this has happened to my daughter this year. The troop had big cookie profits, and they decided to spend their money on a theme park trip. It just so happened that a big Girl Scout event was planned by our Council at a theme park in June, so the planning was made easy for the leader.

However, the big event is on the day of my daughter’s dance recital. In fact, out of 10 girls, only 5 can go on the trip due to dance and sports commitments.

My daughter was disappointed, as was I, but there was nothing one can do. Life happens and there are times when you have four things to do in one day and then a month of nothingness. I consider it a life lesson, and since she is a 6th grader, she can handle it. She has worked all year for the recital and that cannot be missed-and of course, she does not want to miss it!

No one has given our leader a hard time…it is what it is. And that is how parents should handle this situation for their daughters.

Girl Scout field trips-how to plan them so they are fair

However, the question does arise to the “fairness” of the situation. If  “cookies=a special trip”, what happens to the children who cannot go on the trip?

I believe the younger the girls are, the more a leader needs to try to be fair without going crazy and becoming stressed over the situation. Even if parents insist, girls cannot be given money if they cannot make the event, as troop money belongs to the troop and not the individual girl.

What are some workable solutions?

Is there money in the budget for the trip and a special treat or guest during the regular meeting time? Can you plan two smaller trips so that each girl can go on at least one? Can one of your fall meetings be a trip like a hayride or corn maze to help launch the year on a positive note?

We are going on our first big camping trip in the fall, and the date is set in stone and has been given far in advance (six months). The cookie money will be used for that venture, so my daughter and the others who are not going to the theme park will have a chance to have a different great experience.

Another solution, one which worked for me, was to schedule field trips during our regular meeting time or during our half-days of school. Parents who worked needed child care anyway, so that was a win-win for them. No classes or lessons were scheduled for that time since on a regular day, the girls would have been in school. Is that possible for you plan this year or keep on the back burner for next year?

Have you found a workable solution to this Girl Scout leader dilemma?

5 thoughts on “Should You Spend Girl Scout Cookie Money on a Big Trip if All of the Girls Cannot Participate?”

  1. I am a leader of 9 Brownies. We used troop money to go on two campouts this year. I don’t have any qualms about it at all. That’s what it’s for, if there’s any left over after meeting supplies and badges… Two girls in our troop have not made it to any of the campouts (three in total). Basically the girls’ moms did not want to send them without a parent, but the moms also didn’t want to camp out. The dads were welcomed, but were not available. Keep in mind, at this age we are still camping at GS camp in cabins with toilets and running water. It’s a very safe and comfortable environment for learning outdoor skills. Other moms who went said it was very comfortable and fun. They were grateful for the retreat weekend! So, I feel bad for the girls who are being held back by their moms, but that’s what the troop is doing. Period. Thanks for asking this question and giving me a reason to vent a little! 🙂

  2. Thank you for your response, Katie. I am all for doing what the majority wants to do, after all, making decisions is a life skill. As the girls get older and schedules get busier, it is necessary to go with the date when most of the girls can go. You cannot please everyone.

    I do believe that younger girls need to (hopefully) all be able to go on the trip because what is the incentive for the next year’s sales if there is a chance that they were unable to go on the big outing the first time?

    While it is a shame that the girls with overprotective moms cannot go camping, I am curious if you have spent the money on an indoor adventure all the girls can do. Have the mothers been vocal about their daughters not being able to do a big trip because they do not want them to go outdoors or don’t they care how the money is being spent? I find it strange that parents want their girls in Scouts but do not want them to camp!

    I appreciate your response!

    1. It’s not that they don’t want them to camp, they just don’t want them to camp without one of their own parents, the moms don’t want to camp, and the dads weren’t available. Keep in mind the presence of several other moms who are well-known and trusted friends. It’s just an arbitrary rule. And it’s sad for the girls to miss out. The troop money is from dues, not cookies. Our troop doesn’t sell cookies right now. The parents have no objection to the money being spent this way.

  3. That really is a shame that there is a lack of trust. And good for you for not selling cookies and proving that you can do great things with dues and careful planning! I did that for six years and we did a lot of fun things.

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