Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It’s Not About the Cookies; It’s About the Girls

Owen White is a service unit product sales manager at Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida. He started his Girl Scout volunteer experience as a troop cookie dad, through which he was excited to see firsthand how influential the cookie program can be.

I have two daughters who are Girl Scouts. The oldest joined as a Daisy in 2009. At the time, a family friend was the troop leader, so my wife and I went to the meeting. It was nice to see some fellow dads there, and I figured there would be a social aspect to getting involved.

But after my wife and I volunteered as the troop’s cookie parents, I saw firsthand how much the girls learn through the cookie program. For instance, I’ve seen shy Daisies open up and become confident in their speaking abilities. Watched their real-world math skills grow. And through the Digital Cookie® platform, the girls have a hands-on way to use the internet as a business tool and not just a social platform.

After being a cookie parent for two years, I took on an assistant service unit manager role before becoming the product program manager, my current role. I talk to troop leaders before cookie season begins, who often feel lost and overwhelmed; I try to remind them that this is about the girls, not the cookies. The purpose of the Girl Scout Cookie Program is for girls to learn to set goals and reach their goals, whatever those may be. I think that makes it less stressful for the girl; she doesn’t need to set aggressive cookie goals if she’s not ready.

People sometimes focus on the cookie selling and forget what the girls learn as they sell. My two daughters sold 3,000 boxes each year for the last four years; they always find clever ways to upsell. But they also find ways to give back to their community. They enjoy donating cookies to members of the military and volunteering at organizations that send care packages to those who have been deployed. Service members who’ve returned home have reached out to us to say that they loved their cookie care packages. It’s so important for the girls to see how their cookie money can help them give back.

My oldest daughter just finished her Girl Scout Silver Award, and my younger daughter is going for her Girl Scout Bronze Award. My oldest wants to be a newscaster one day; among her many accolades, she’s the president of her school’s speech and debate club, vice president of the student body, and a member of Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida’s Media Girls team. She’s a leader and a go-getter, and Girl Scouts is helping her reach the goals that she sets for herself.

Kids grow up quickly, and there's a limited time to be with them and help them make good decisions. Take the time to get involved and volunteer with Girl Scouts or any other activities they enjoy—you may not see it immediately, but you’ll begin to notice their maturity grow over time and witness who they become as young women. As a volunteer, I'd like to take credit for that . . . but Girl Scouts offers so much in that aspect. It’s an honor to participate in their life in this way.