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Girl Scout Cookies – Supporting Girl-Led Travel and Empowerment Since 1917

Now that the holidays are over, the decorations are put away, and we have all hit our sugary treat, overindulgent, overloads, you might think that your waistline is about to get a much-needed reprieve. NOPE!

It’s that time of year again. Girl Scout Cookie season … You can’t see it, but I’m doing a happy dance … I am sure all you duckies have started seeing Girl Scout Cookie Booths pop up at your local grocery stores, parents imploring you to buy cookies from their daughters on Facebook, or been hit up by your local friendly neighborhood Scouts.

Have you bought any boxes yet? Or should I ask, how many boxes have you already purchased? How many have you purchased, eaten, hidden, then pretended never existed, and got more from the next Girl Scout you met? However you support the Girl Scouts, it’s a wonderful thing. From buying a single box each season to many boxes every week of the sale, you are supporting a long tradition of empowerment and community.

Thank you.

Now, you might be asking yourself. Why does this Fat Mama give a flying duck about Girl Scout Cookies? I mean, sure, they are delicious, and they certainly help me maintain my curvaceous figure. But what in the wide world of feathered friends do Girl Scout Cookies have to do with travel? Well, let me tell you.

Itsy Bitsy in our garage standing in front of the "Wall of Cookies" (Jan. 2022)

First and foremost, it's because I am incredibly proud of my Girl Scout Itsy Bitsy who is working hard to sell her Girl Scout Cookies to help her Troop cover the cost of activities and travel! To support her and Daisy Troop 15521, click here to purchase Girl Scout Cookies and have them shipped directly to you. But it is much more than supporting my daughter. The Girl Scouts are a long family tradition for me and I think it is fair to say a BIG reason why travel was such an important part of my childhood.

My Grandmother, My Mother, and Me

This November, two other moms and I worked together to start a new Daisy Troop for our daughters. The Girl Scouts did not have a Troop in our area open for kindergarten and first grade girls. This meant if our daughters were going to be in the Girl Scouts, a new troop would have to be started, and since no one was stepping up to start it, the three of us needed to take charge.

Our first Daisy Troop meeting (Nov. 2021)

Now, I feel very lucky. My Co-Leaders both very much wanted to be the primary Co-Leaders of the Troop (each Troop is supposed to have 2 Troop Leaders), while I desperately wanted to play more of an “assistant to the assistant manager” type of role. I really didn’t want to be the “one in charge”.

Additionally, our skills all complement each other’s very well. One leader is amazing at planning and organizing the meetings, another is on top of all the logistics, paperwork, and council relationships, and I get to be the “maker." That is, I make stuff happen. Whatever my Co-Leaders and our Troop need, I get it done.

So naturally, I’m our Troop’s Cookie Momster!

While this might be my first year as Cookie Momster, I wasn’t going into this completely blind. Oh no. You see, the force runs deep in my family. Wait … wrong movie.

Fat Mama Tip: Okay, this is less of a tip and more a fun fact. Did you know that Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher are both Girl Scout alumna? So the force really does run deep in this sisterhood!

When Itsy Bitsy expressed a desire to join the Girl Scouts, I was SO EXCITED! Not only had I also been a Girl Scout, but my mom had been one of my Troop Leaders. Not only had my mom been one of my Troop Leaders, but when Gigi and Fabby were girls, they both had been Girl Scouts. And you know what? Not only had they been Girl Scouts, but my grandmother had also been Fabby's Troop Leader.

I know it's a little blurry but this is a photo of Fabby's Brownie Troop from 1965, she is 3rd form the right, top row.

So, when I say that Girl Scouting is a long and proud tradition in my family, I really mean it and am proud that Itsy Bitsy is a fourth generation Girl Scout. I am also extremely proud to be one of Itsy Bitsy’s Girl Scout Leaders, just like my mother before me, and her mother before her. Someday, if she chooses to, I hope to help Itsy Bitsy lead a Troop of her own.

With all these generations of experience behind me, I might be facing Girl Scout Cookie season for the first time, but I do have some firsthand experience and plenty of secondhand advice to prepare me for what to expect. So I am very excited to jump into this adventure with both feet. It also helps that my Co-Leaders and the parents of our Daisy Scouts are excited about Girl Scout Cookie season too!

But I still have not explained how in the waddle Girl Scout Cookies are connected to travel. So here it goes…

You Got This G.I.R.L

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America (big, long name), more commonly recognized as the Girls Scouts, is a nonprofit youth organization that has been around since 1912. While the organization’s goals, vision, and mission have continued to change with the times, their core values focused on empowering girls and young women have always remained strong.

Since the beginning of the Girl Scouts, travel has been one of the primary experiences used by the organization to teach everything from leadership to forestry skills. Why? Because travel (be it camping, field trips to museums, or tours of countries halfway around the world) in all its forms has a transformative effect on the participant.

Travel has been a staple of the Girl Scout program since early in the organization's history. Harris & Ewing, photographer. GIRL SCOUTS. , 1919. Photograph.

Taking girls and young women out of their normal lives, comfortable surroundings, and daily routines helps them grow and discover strengths and traits they may not have known they possessed. Sure, learning to build a campfire is great, and it is a skill I still use to this day (one, I might add, that I mastered better than my Boy Scout husband). But knowing that I have that skill to rely on is very empowering.

I know what you are thinking, how does teaching a girl how to build a campfire empower her? Well, it’s not about building a campfire. The skill learned isn’t important, it’s the experience, especially of doing it not in a classroom or family setting. It’s a reminder that I can do the things I set my mind to. I can do things others cannot. I am capable of learning and mastering skills. It’s empowering girls to keep learning and leading.

But, of course, like all things in life, Girl Scout activities cost money. Whether Troops want to provide their Scouts with materials to make posters about Earth Day or pay for a trip to the Grand Canyon, the Troop must find a way to cover their costs. This was just one of the reasons why Girl Scout Cookie sales became a yearly tradition starting in 1917.

Gigi leading my Troop on a trip to the Queen Mary, paid for by cookie sales, I'm the one waiving (Spring, 1996)

Every year from the end of January to mid-March, Girl Scouts all around the country sell cookies as a fund raiser. The money raised is divided between the Girl Scout organization (national, regional, and local service unit) and each individual troop that participates. Like any fundraiser, the more cookies a Troop sells, the more money they receive to fund their events. The more Troops that participate in sales, the more money each Service Unit and Region have for putting on programs and providing services.

This year, Itsy Bitsy’s Daisy Troop voted and decided that they wanted to divide their Girl Scout Cookie money into three categories: something fun to do right away in a Troop meeting, a service project to give back to the community, and an activity to save for and do over the summer. Ultimately, they decided on baking and decorating cupcakes at a Troop meeting, donating supplies to an animal shelter, and this summer we will be taking them indoor rock climbing.

First Lady, Grace Coolidge, eats a Girl Scout cookie while meeting with leaders of the Girl Scout organization. Mrs. Coolidge eating cookies presented by a New York Girl Scout troop. , 1923. Photograph.

The Girl Scout Cookie program is teaching Itsy Bitsy and the other Daisy Scouts more than just how to make puppy eyes and get people to buy cookies. The Scouts are learning about money management, planning, saving, goal setting, projections, and other economic skills. Yes, these Scouts are only 5 and 6 years old, so their grasp on these subjects is tenuous at best. But the fact is they are being introduced to these concepts at an early age and will build on them every year.

Hmm, sounds a bit like the skills used when planning and budgeting for travel. Not to mention all the other practical life applications for these skills.

Every year, Itsy Bitsy and her sister Girl Scouts will learn more about running a business. They will learn how to market the Girl Scout Cookie season. Each Scout will learn how to be an entrepreneur and develop amazing leadership skills.

I did Girl Scouts for about five years as a kid. It is only as an adult, as a Troop Leader, that I am starting to realize how many of my leadership skills originated from the Girl Scouts. Sure, I’ve always been loud, outgoing, and a natural leader. But it was the Girl Scouts that first empowered me to not only pursue these skills, but it was in the Girl Scouts that I first experienced positive feedback for expressing these skills outside of home.

Skills and behaviors I thought I learned as a teenager and in later leadership positions, I am starting to realize originated so much younger. Seeing the way Itsy Bitsy responds to Troop meetings, events, and especially the Girl Scout Cookie program, I see how effortlessly the Girl Scout organization’s activities develop strong life skills in Scouts … in me … my mom … all women who are part of this sisterhood.

Itsy Bitsy has made posters, a video, and set up a lemonade and Girl Scout Cookie stand (Feb. 2022)

Part of the new Girl Scouts' messaging is “redefining” what it means to be a “girl”. For decades now, there has been a push in pop-culture and children’s media to promote this idea of “girl power” without really identifying what that is, and without breaking down the negative language around “hitting like a girl” or “acting like a girl.”

I feel like the Girl Scouts have done a good job with their new “G.I.R.L.” messaging and, of course, since this is a female-based organization, they don’t really have to address those negative messages about being female. For the Girl Scouts it’s simple, each G.I.R.L. is a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, and Leader. I think these are wonderful skills all our girls need to have, and the Girl Scouts are empowering young women to be all G.I.R.L.

Girl Scout Cookies Make the World Go ‘Round

Fabby's Girl Scout sash and badges, funded by cookie sales.

As I said before, Girl Scout Troops must cover the cost for ALL of their activities. Some Troops collect dues, others obtain grants or community funding, but all rely heavily on funds raised from the Girl Scout Cookie program. Since 1917, the funds raised by selling Girl Scout Cookies have helped launch girls and young women forward in society. You might even say that Girl Scout Cookies make the world go ‘round.

Did you know that more than 50 million women have been in the Girl Scouts?

That is more than 1-in-3 women who are part of the Girl Scout sisterhood. Chances are, you or someone you know, is a current or former Girl Scout.

Some of our country's most recognizable women are former Girl Scouts. The list includes multiple Supreme Court Justices, Secretaries of State, Senators, Congresswomen, Olympic athletes, industry leaders, academics, actresses, singers, writers, activists, artists, even royalty. You can check out the Good Housekeeping article on famous Girl Scouts here. That’s not to mention the countless everyday heroes in our own lives from first responders to teachers to doctors to our own mothers.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that the Girl Scouts “not only taught me great songs that I still sing, but lifelong lessons about leadership and the value of public service and friendships that go back all those years and keep me grounded." Clearly, the Girl Scouts played a formative role in Clinton’s development as a young woman, an experience shared by millions, including myself, and I hope, Itsy Bitsy.

Considering the extensive list of Girl Scout alumna, it’s clear that the Girl Scouts organization is doing something right. They have helped empower some of the strongest and most influential women in our country. Since 1912, the Girl Scouts have truly blazed the trail for today's female leaders and molded them into the … dare I say, ducking badass mother clucking … successes that they became. And each of them sold Girl Scout Cookies.

Have Girl Scout Cookies been responsible for shaping our current society? That might be a stretch, but not much of one. It makes me wonder what this world would look like without Girl Scout Cookies.

Without Girl Scout Cookies, Troops would not be able to pay for programs. That means no more camping trips. Sorry Jennifer L. your Troop trip to the UK in a few months, canceled, the Girl Scout Cookie program doesn’t exist (yes, I know a Troop paying for a UK trip from years of saving Girl Scout Cookie program funds). Oh, shucks girls, no more badges, the National and Regional offices have no money to develop programs without Girl Scout Cookie sales.

Does Sally Rider join NASA without empowerment from the Girl Scouts? How impactful was the Girl Scouts on Madeleine Albright? What does Queen Latifah’s empire look like without the Girl Scouts? Where is our societal consciousness on gender equality and the need for early STEM education without the Girl Scouts empowering women to keep pushing?

What does tomorrow look like if Girl Scout Cookie sales fail?

Without the money from cookie sales, do we even have the Girl Scout organization or Girl Scout Troops? How would these life-changing programs get paid for? If the Girl Scouts are not around to guide, support, and inspire young women, then who is? What institutions exist for the express purpose of empowering girls and young women? Where can girls gain leadership skills without constantly having to be confronted with male-dominated language and programs?

These are big scary questions to me. The fact that I can't answer them drives me to buy more boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. The more I buy, the more work the Girl Scouts can do to empower the next generation of female leaders. So here's a final question for you ...

Do we get a female-positive future without the travel and experiences paid for by Girl Scout Cookies?

$5 Per Box to Fund the Future

During Girl Scout Cookie season, when you see Girl Scouts selling cookies door-to-door, at booths, on social media, or wherever, take a minute to think about the real impact their Cookie Business is making in the community. More importantly, what impact you can have by supporting their fundraiser. Even if that means purchasing only one $5 box.

Sure, this is one girl or one Troop raising money to pay for a few programs. But it is also a future NASA astronaut learning leadership. It is a future Supreme Court Justice learning reasoning and problem solving. The Troop is encouraging a group of girls in your community to make the world a better place.

When you buy a box, or four, of a case of Girl Scout Cookies, you are not supporting a single girl or even a Troop. You are empowering the next generation of scholars, leaders, and glass breakers. Your box of cookies travels so much farther than you imagine. It reaches across time and space to impact the world.

Keep Calm, Quack On, and Support the Girl Scouts!


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