Longworth at Large: G.I.R.L (Scout) Power
Every year about this time, thousands of girl scouts in our area hit the pavement to sell cookies. It’s their signature project. It’s what they’re known for. But selling cookies isn’t just about selling cookies. It’s about leadership, empowerment, and a tradition of service that dates back over a hundred years.
In 1917, America was in the throes of World War I. It was supposed to be the “war that ends all war.” What is was, was expensive and it severely strained our resources back home. Reacting to a food shortage, girl scouts, who had been organized five years earlier, volunteered to preserve fruits and vegetables. But a girl scout troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, went one step further. They baked and sold cookies, then donated profits to the war effort. Today, proceeds from cookie sales go to support a myriad of activities, ranging from summer camps to collecting clothing, toys, and food for families in need.
“I’m glad that the Girl Scouts include Second Harvest in their community engagement activities,” said food bank CEO Clyde Fitzgerald. “Our community at large is blessed by the benevolent activities of the Girl Scouts. It’s great to see our young people educated about and committed to helping their neighbors.”
And while the profits from cookie sales help support the girl scout mission (to make the world a better place), the process of selling those cookies helps girls learn five valuable skills, those being: Goal Setting; Decision Making; Money Management; People Skills; and, Business Ethics. Armed with that knowledge and experience, it’s no wonder that today’s girl scouts are more engaged than ever when it comes to hands-on preparation for their future careers. For example, each year Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont teams with Inmar, a data analytics company, to field a competitive, all-girls robotics team. The girls learn about science, math, and technology in designing and constructing their own robot. Meanwhile, local girl scouts attend informal events where they hear from former scouts who now hold management positions in high profile companies.
It’s also no wonder that girl scouts have adopted an appropriate acronym for their gender: “G (go-getter) I (innovator) R (risk taker) L (leader).
“We help girls tap into their leadership potential. Our girls try new things, take risks, and take on challenging roles,” said Lane Cook, CEO of Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont, a council that covers 40 counties in North Carolina, serves over 13,000 girls, and enlists over 6,000 volunteers. “The message to our girls is clear. Nothing can stand in their way,” Cook told me.
It’s hard to believe that so much service to the community and so much empowerment for girls stems from a century-old decision to sell cookies to help others. But that doesn’t mean today’s girl scouts aren’t willing to break with some traditions to achieve their goals. For example, Girl Scouts no longer have to rely solely on a written order pad to keep up with supply and demand. Now they can also avail themselves of the Digital Cookie Platform, which, according to a recent press release, is a web-based program that helps girls run and manage their cookie businesses online.
As always, girl scout cookies are sold door to door, and at event booths, and, as always, proceeds from the sale of cookies stay in our area to support scouting activities, and help girls become empowered. And let’s not forget another reason to buy girl scout cookies. They taste great!
For more information, visit www.girlscoutsp2p.org.
Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 am on WMYV (cable channel 15).