Happy Girl Scout Cookie Season! It's that time of year again but I just have one question: Where are the Scouts?
"Excuse me? Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies?" It wasn't the question that startled me out of my grocery-shopping-induced stupor -- if you've been in a public place at all over the past few weeks you too have likely been hit up by green-clad pixies waving boxes of Thin Mints -- but rather the questioner. Looking up from my list I saw that the hand holding the cookies belonged to a middle-aged woman and not only that, but there were no Girl Scouts in sight. Having been a Girl Scout myself back in the day, I asked where the little entrepreneurs were. "Oh our daughters are taking a break," she said vaguely.
It was this recent experience that came immediately to mind when Paddy Hirsch, senior producer of NPR's Marketplace Money, decreed in this week's show that Girl Scouts are mere "puppets" adding, "I'm told that this Girl Scout cookie experience is supposed to be educational in terms of business and economics. But I just don't see it."
Back when I was participating in the Great Cookie Sale I remember going door-to-door with my mom watching from the car and feeling really proud of the 20 boxes I sold, that is until when at the next meeting Catherine Hansen reported her 300 boxes sold. As I cried to my mom that evening she muttered under her breath, "Well it's because Catherine's dad is the CEO and he took the sign-up sheet to work with him." So clearly having parents doing the actual sales is a time-honored tradition.
But does this mean the wee Scouts aren't learning anything, as Hirsch contends? Several Girl Scouts beg to differ, saying that while they may not be doing much of the actual business they are learning skills like "how to be polite and to count money." One Scout's mom adds that selling cookies helps the girls to feel empowered in a business environment. Another mom cites safety concerns around having the girls do the actual selling. I'm also wondering if this is one more front in the Mompetition wars.
Or maybe I'm just still bitter about Catherine Hansen?
Calling all former Girl Scouts (or Girl Scout Moms!): From cookies to gift wrap, should parents be doing the selling for their kids? Take our Redbook quiz: