Every other Thursday for the past three years, I’ve spent time with 11 little girls, 10 of whom are not my own. Each girl is unique and I’ve come to love each of them for their individuality, their spark, their “thing” that makes them . . . them. We talk about school, their weekends, what their favorite animals are and why . . . and we also, without them realizing it, talk about current events, marketing strategies, helping others, and making the world a better place.
I am a Brownie (almost Junior) Girl Scout troop leader.
On October 11th, we celebrated International Day of the Girl. And it was then I noticed a bit of noise surrounding the Girl Scouts organization and it piqued my interest. Or more so, piqued my concern. The more I read and the more I listened, the more I recognized there is little to no knowledge of the Girl Scouts of the United Stares of America organization outside of annual cookie sales. After noticing this more and more in the public, it began to irk me.
One Facebook user set me over the edge with her declaration: “The Girl Scouts do nothing but sell cookies.”
My feathers were officially ruffled.
Women all over the country are fighting for equal rights to men, but to clarify, I do not believe that entails building fires and tying knots. It means more women CEOs; it means entrepreneurial women successfully opening and operating their own businesses; it means being strong on the inside as well as on the outside. And every other week since they were in kindergarten, I’ve witnessed some of these future CEOs.
The future lies in the hands of these girls and let me tell you as a Girl Scout, their future is as bright as the sun on a hot summer day.
The world wants female leaders. The world wants equality. The world wants women to have a voice, have power, and have brains. While Girl Scouts is certainly more than “just selling cookies,” please allow me as a troop leader to explain the cookie program in detail to you:
Since the year 1917, the Girl Scout cookie program has been the largest girl-led business in the country.
This means girls (women) were running their own “business” years before they had the right to vote. As a “cookie customer” you may not realize it, for but every girl you are buying from, big or small, you are supporting her business.
Even as Daisies (the lowest level of Girl Scouting), Scouts are creating a marketing plan, setting business goals, calculating revenue, and putting in the hard work to drive the results they desire. You see them outside your local supermarket in the cold selling. They aren’t out there because they’re enjoying themselves (trust me); they’re out there as 5-year-olds to earn that stuffed monkey. They’re out there as 7-year-olds to earn that Target gift card. They’re out there to market and sell their products for their own success. When you stop and purchase, you become their customer. They know and understand this. In short, the cookie program is 100 percent led by the girl you are purchasing from.
Cookie selling aside, this organization provides all the outstanding leadership one should expect from a future CEO, beginning with STEM.
I was not introduced to STEM until I was a Girl Scout leader. For those unfamiliar, as I was, STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM jobs are traditionally thought of as male-dominated; however, Girl Scouts has a robotics program, a computer science program, and a space economics program—all of which are required at some point as patches earned during their career as a scout.
Oh, and don’t worry, we also make time for mother/daughter tea parties and father/daughter dances. Beyond the rock climbing, canoeing, and mad scientist adventures lies a beautiful girl.
In today’s world, because of the knowledge gained and the experiences shared, I believe Girl Scouts should be more popular than ever as long as the education for parents is there. The arguments abound that female CEOs are hard to come by and even so, they make less money than their male counterparts. Girl Scouts provides the tools to succeed and the experience in leading to level that playing field.
Every female Secretary of State has been a Girl Scout. Girl Scout and famous redhead Lucille Ball made history as the first woman to run her own film production studio. Taylor Swift, also a former Girl Scout, once joked she learned to sing around a campfire . . . and look at her now! Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton are all not only former Girl Scouts but also former First Ladies who made names for themselves alongside their husbands. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, is a former Girl Scout.
Girls in Girl Scouts are empowered to make a difference by making the world a better place. And they truly do.
So the next time you see a Girl Scout at a cookie booth sale, please try to remember why she is there. She isn’t there to be a nuisance and ruin your New Years’ diet resolution; she is there to run her business. She knows you are her customer. Ask about her favorite cookie; ask what her goal is for cookie selling; ask why she set these goals and what her future plans are. Her answers may surprise you and she will be so happy you asked. Engage her. Set her up for success. These girls are our future and their future is so bright. With engagement from educated adults such as you, their future only gets brighter.
Goal setting and achieving at age five. Marketing designing and strategizing at age eight. Money management and planning at age 10. Camping, tea parties, archery shooting, horseback riding, dancing, hiking, canoeing, being a girl. We can—and do—do it all.
More than just cookies? Yes. Yes, we are.