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?

2 thoughts on “Girl Scout Cookie Rewards-How Should Leaders Hand Them Out to Their Girls?”

  1. I lead two troops (third-grade Brownies and sixth-grade Cadettes). My daughters are typically the top first or second sellers in each of their troops.

    I am VERY sensitive to the dynamic that every family is different. Let’s face it, selling cookies is a family affair! Whether walking the neighborhood, booth sales, selling to coworkers, it takes tremendous parent involvement, and every family is different. Within my troops, I have families who are struggling as single parents, trying to make ends meet, raising large numbers of kids, and recently immigrated to this country (and brand new to the idea of selling cookies).

    All the girls do their personal best — and I celebrate that. I’m proud of them for whatever they sell — whether its 12 boxes (to get a participation patch, which I encourage) or 525 boxes to earn a free week of summer camp.

    When it’s time to hand out the cookie rewards, my cookie moms bring them as a surprise at the end of one of our meetings. Each girl gets a bag with her prizes, and they are NOT allowed to open those bags there at the meeting. This is a little awkward when some girls are getting a gift bag with a patch, and others are getting an over-flowing stuffed to the gills bag. But it all happens so fast and I try to de-emphasize that I think it’s ok.

    I tell all the girls how proud of them I am. We celebrate our overall success as a troop in meeting our troop goal. We honor the cookie moms with flowers and a gift card at that time too.

    Sometimes I hear the girls saying, “so and so only sold 12 boxes last year,” and I nip that in the bud right away.

    My overall goal is for cookie sales to be a positive learning experience for them. I love the skill set they build through the experience and, in my mind, the number of boxes they sell is so much less important than the lifetime lessons they learn.

    1. Kristen, thank you for your comments and for leading two troops! You appear to be the kind of leader I wish more women were like…treating cookies as a learning experience and appreciating whatever contribution families can make. Each family is different and when leaders call parents “lazy” and take it out on the girls, my heart breaks for that child. The way you hand it rewards is fine…it is what it is when you earn a bag of incentives! And nipping the attitude in the bud is what I would do.

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