The Good Life: The Tradition of Girl Scout Cookies & Personal Growth

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

It’s Not About the Cookies

This month in “The Good Life,” Sarah shares her experience as a Girl Scout leader as to the motivations and inspirations of young girls selling Girl Scout cookies.

The winter days seem longer than ever this time of year, and hope remains distant with all the ice and darkness.  However, I don’t have to look very far to find inspiration, and you don’t, either.   The Girls Scouts are coming your way, fueled by goal-setting websites and friendly competition.  It is Cookie Time, and I am a Girl Scout leader.

I was not a Girl Scout as a child, but I wish I had been.  I didn’t know much about it, but knowing what I know now makes me a believer.   These girls are smart, achievement-oriented women-to-be, and I now understand that the Cookie Sale isn’t about the cookies.    The girls set personal goals, and order the number of cookies they think they can sell months in advance.  There are incentive prizes for the  youngest girls, and they pour over the brochures, dazzled by the enviable stuffed animal they can earn by selling 125 boxes.  This year it is a “plush cheetah,” and  it is the object of  every ten-year-old’s intense desire.

However, something happens as the girls grow over the years, and they seem to love the challenge more than the prizes (well, almost more) as time goes on…   Some are trying to beat their personal best from last year.  Some have a friendly rivalry within the Troop, and will  go  to great lengths to stay a step ahead.  Some love the merchandising that goes along with the booth sales which happen in places like Big Box Store parking lots.  Some love the patches they earn for selling, gathering cookie donations for deployed troops, or donating to their local food pantry.  They load cases, they unload cases, they make change.  They learn to look people in the eye and say “Thank You.”  The girls speak very little about what they would like to do with the money they earn.  They are in it for the fun.  They are in the moment.

Much like a lemonade stand that pops up on the very best summer mornings , a Girl Scout selling cookies is an opportunity too wonderful to pass up.  In fact, in order to make the world the kind of place we want to live, we should stop at every lemonade stand we can.  We should drink the lemonade even if the cups are a little dirty (we’ve done worse), and we should buy cookies even if we don’t normally eat them.  Maybe give them away to someone deserving or treat someone you don’t know.  It’s not about the cookies.

It’s a little-known fact that when you become a Girl Scout Leader, you pay membership dues and become a Girl Scout yourself.  I’ve been a “member” for three years now.  Every time I think it’s time for me to turn in my notice, something pulls me back.  There is a part of the Girl Scout Law where the girls vow to “make the world a better place.”  I believe that they do that by inspiring us every February, and it is a vow that makes me want to be a better person.  So I will continue to schlepp cases through the slush, and do my best to be a good role model.  It’s not about the cookies, but the Thin Mints keep me coming back.

[Photo credit: (cc) brian]


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Mattison Buhl

As a mother of three, Sarah appreciates the extraordinary beauty of the ordinary. She makes her home with her family in Northampton, MA.

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